Archive | August 2010

It Takes a Thief – excerpt

Jason Banes is a thief, he doesn’t deny it. However, his life takes a sharp turn when he hooks up with Orchid, mysterious and beautiful woman who seduces him, convincing him to join her in a heist. The job is successfully completed when Orchid decides to take hostages. She shoots Jason and then executes all the hostages, leaving him to die and take the blame.

Once on trial, Jason convinces the judge to let him catch Orchid. As he’s the only one who’s seen her and is alive to tell it, the judge agrees. She releases him to Special Agent in Charge, Taylor Driscole. Taylor doesn’t like thieves and something about Jason has her back up. Instead of seeing this job as a step up, she sees it as an unimportant babysitting job. The men on her team are trying to be friendly to the young thief, but Taylor really can’t stand him. Needless to say, first impressions haven’t been favorable.

This excerpt is taken from Chapter Four. Jason is talking and having coffee with the men on the team when Taylor walks in.

“So you steal things for the excitement?” Alex asked.

“There’s a thrill when a plan comes together and you pull the perfect heist that nothing, not even sex, can equal. Not even thirty-six hours of the most amazingly orgasmic tantric sex….” He stopped abruptly as Driscole entered the room.

The men all stood as she walked in. Puzzled, she looked around until she spotted Jason. He was blushing, adjusting his pants.

“Agent Driscole,” he muttered. “Sorry.”

“About?”

“Never mind.” He hoped she really hadn’t heard what he was saying.

“Nice little coffee clutch we’re having. Don’t you have a job to do?”

“Taylor, be nice,” Tim chided. “We’re having a coffee with Jason. It wouldn’t kill you to talk to the man. We’re going to be living together, we should be on polite terms, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, relax,” Greg said. “You’re too tense, Tay.”

“I suppose you think I’m uptight too?” She glared at Jason.

“No, I was simply wondering why you hate me so much. Have I offended you somehow? If so, please tell me so I can apologize.”

“You really don’t get it, do you? I became an FBI agent because I wanted to put people like you behind bars, not babysit you in your own mansion! I have better things to do, Mr. Banes.”

“Like what?”

He was angry now. She had insulted and belittled him repeatedly and all he’d tried to do was make conversation. He’d apologized, dammit! And he hadn’t even done anything wrong!

“Like—well….” She sputtered, trying to answer that question.

“Agent Driscole, I’m a decent man when you get to know me. I’m polite, friendly and some folks even find me more than a little charming. I’m a nice bloke, me. So I steal things! I take things from rich, snooty folks who have more money than God and redistribute the wealth. I’ve never stolen from anyone who wasn’t heavily insured.”

“So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re Robin Hood, eh?”

Banes sneered. “Robin Fucking Hood? That’s who you’re comparing me to? He was a rank amateur compared to me! And he killed people. I’ve never killed anyone. Spiders in the bathroom, that’s my speed. The occasional wasp. Anyone can shoot things up and do a smash and grab. My plans are like works of art. Like symphonies and Botticelli paintings. And you’re comparing me to a man who shot the sheriff and ran around in tights. Thank you, very much, Miss Driscole!”

“You’re a thief! Where’s the artistry in that?”

“Do I insult your profession? Do I compare you to a street thug who’s only interested in shooting up the town—who feels she can do it with impunity because she’s in the FBI? Your comments to me have been less than complimentary and I want to know why.”

“I got pulled off a better job to do this,” she griped. “I’ve been removed from my other case and I don’t know why.”

“And how is working with an international task force to catch a murderous, thieving bitch less important than what you were doing? You aren’t just babysitting me, Miss Driscole. You’re protecting an important asset. I am the only man who has worked with Orchid and survived. The bitch shot me and left me for dead, then proceeded to kill six innocent people. Do you for one moment think that their lives are less important to the people who loved them? Do you think that they aren’t important to me?”

He was yelling now, mere inches from her face. Furious, he wanted to kiss her—or hit her, he wasn’t sure which. Either would have done, but neither would have been appropriate.

Driscole’s face flushed a brilliant pink. She swallowed, blinked and looked very much like she wanted to cry. Jason felt sorry for about five seconds, then his anger came back tenfold when she punched him so hard he saw stars.

Clutching his jaw with one hand, he hurled his coffee cup across the room with the other. It shattered against the wall, splattering coffee all over the room. No one made a move to clean it up. The men were watching the exchange between Jason and Taylor with mute horror.

“I’m so sorry,” Agent Driscole whispered. “Oh, Jason, I’m so terribly sorry. That was completely unprofessional.” She ran to the bathroom and got a wet washcloth for him to put on the rising bruise.

Still seeing stars, Jason shook his head slightly, trying to clear it. His ears rang, his jaw ached and the stars were starting to change colors and spin. He sat heavily on the settee, rubbing his jaw as Driscole tried to apply the cool cloth.

“Goddammit,” he grumbled. “I liked that mug.”

The Vampire Hunter – Part 3

And continues….

His arms wrapped around her, crushing her to him. Her gun stayed near his head even as she held him with the other arm. Kissing her hard on the mouth, he held her in an unyielding embrace. The smell of blood from the dead man tingled his nostrils, making him hunger. Mouth descended to her neck, lips drawn back, teeth bared…. The sound of a weapon cocking stopped him.

Hunger burned in the blue eyes, turning them a murky purple. Fangs half out, he straightened up, hands high, away from his body.

“Never again,” she said. “Never again will you ever get that close. In a weak moment, I let you. No more, Dirk. It ends here.”

“You can’t kill me, Ella. I’ll heal. I always do.”

“Even you can be killed, Dirk. I’ll blow your fucking head off. Can you heal that?”

Her finger squeezed the trigger. Just as the hammer fell, he grabbed the weapon, the flesh between his thumb and index finger stopping the pin from connecting. Hissing, he wrenched the gun from her. Blood pooled on his skin. He licked it off as the skin beneath it healed to a faint scar.

Spinning away from her, he bent over the dead body, biting the neck. Blood drained from the corpse. It shriveled and turned to dust, blowing away in the hot prairie wind. Wiping his lips on his sleeve, he rose, turning back to her. Blue eyes sparkled with cold, blue fire.

This was when he was most dangerous, at least for her. His body swelled, vibrating as the dead man’s blood surged through him. His scent overwhelmed her, hammering against her.

“Rafaela,” he growled. “Come….” He held out his hand.

She went willingly, hating herself, but unable to stop her feet. She followed him to his office. It mattered little that people watched them from their windows and the street. All that mattered was Dirk’s hands on her, his mouth possessing hers….

“No,” she groaned as he ripped her shirt open.

His mouth fell on her throat and she felt the sting as his fangs connected with her tender flesh. Before he could fully bite her, she wrenched herself away, shoving at his chest.

“No!” She bellowed. “No! You won’t do that to me again, Dirk! You won’t make me like you! I won’t let you!”

“Do you love me, Ella?” He whispered hoarsely. “You used to love me….”

“Before all this!” She gestured at his body. “Before you became a monster!”

“I’m not a monster, El. I’m still a man. Give me a chance to prove it.”

“The only way you can prove it is to make love without biting me. I don’t think you can. I think the beast in you is too strong.”

He swept his desk clean, laying her across it. Mighty hands ripped at her clothing, undressing her in a flurry of lust. His body possessed hers, proving to her once again that he was the man she loved. More than once, he nearly lost control, his mouth dropping time and again to her neck. She took his face in her hands, kissing him.

Roaring with passion and fury, he climaxed. Rafaela clung to him, gasping as her body shook. With a shuddering sigh, he relaxed against her, his body pinning her to the desk.

“I knew you could do it, Dirk. I knew it! I love you. I’ve always loved….”

Red eyes flared as he bit her. Surprise filled her eyes as his fangs sank in deeper. Dirk lapped and sucked her blood even as remorse for his deed filled him.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry…. I….”

Pain lanced his chest. Grabbing at it, he saw a dagger hilt glittering from under his left nipple. Eyes wide with horror, he tried to pull it out. Something slammed into his back as he pulled the hilt forward. Eyes held a question as he dropped to his knees.

“Special present,” she whispered hoarsely. “It expands. You can’t pull it out.” She pulled a sword from its scabbard. “Goodbye, Dirk. As always, you were wonderful. Best lover I ever had.”

“Rafaela, no!”

The sword descended, ending his protests as his head rolled away. The blue eyes stared accusingly at her as she rolled it into a sack. She dressed hurriedly, avoiding looking at his body as much as possible. Even now, the magnificence of it overwhelmed her and she started to cry.

A quick search of the building revealed several canisters of fuel oil for the furnace. She emptied one over the corpse, another she used to dowse the head and the floor. She lit a cigarette, dragging on it until she got a good coal. With a flicker of regret, she tossed it into the oil, waiting until it caught, blossomed and spread.

Locking the door behind her, she headed out of town to the place where she’d left her Jeep. It would be night soon and she wanted to get away before anyone realized what she’d done. She wiped the blood from her neck with her bandana. The skin beneath it was already whole, the fang marks gone. Smiling, she strode from the town as the sheriff’s office erupted into flames.

“Goodbye, lover,” she whispered. “You were the best, Dirk. Just not good enough.”

Vampire Hunter – Part 2

The story continues….

“Sorry about the mess,” she said to the bar keep.

“Damn, lady! Who are you?”

Her smile didn’t reach her eyes as she led the man to a table. Shoving him into a chair, she pulled him to face her. The heel of her boot splayed his legs, pressing aggressively against his testicles. The knife came out, inches from his left eye.

“Where can I find him?”

“Honest to God, lady. I don’t want no trouble! Honest to G—!”

Her pistol tasted hot, burning his throat and tongue. He gulped, trying to swallow with it shoved in his mouth.

“You’re gonna tell me where he is, aren’t you?”

He nodded slightly, blinking hard, perspiration trickling down his cheek.

“So, I’ll take out the gun and you’ll speak. That’s how it works. Question—Answer. Got it?”

He blinked hard again. The gun came slowly out of his mouth. She wiped the spit on his shirt.

“Where can I find him?”

The man gulped, working his jaw. “Honestly, lady…..”

The gun cocked, pressed firmly against his jaw, under the ear.

“I’m gonna ask nicely one—more—time.”

The weapon pressed harder against his neck. He could see her hand, finger on the trigger, in his peripheral vision.

“He’s across the street. In the sheriff’s office.”

“Take me there.”

“Lady, it’s more than my life’s worth to do that….”

“You life’s worth shit right now. How much are your balls worth?” Her boot pressed hard, catching the tender skin between the sole and the chair.

Howling, he rose when she let him, crab walking toward the door.

“Open it,” she commanded.

Fingers shaking, sweat slicked, he fumbled it open. A breath of hot, dry air hit him and he sucked at it noisily. The woman shoved him out, the gun firmly at the back of his skull, her hand at his elbow.

A man stepped out of the building across the dirt road. He was tall, dark haired, devastatingly handsome. It was the looks that got her every time. How could she even think of ending something so beautiful?

Even here, twenty yards away, she could smell him. Earth, spice, evergreen…. Her nostrils flared and she bit her lip to keep herself from sighing.

He knew her immediately. The moment he heard gunshots, he knew it was her. It was only a matter of moments before she found him—again. How many times had this scenario played out? How often had she hunted him, found him, only to let him go once more so the ballet could begin again?

“You don’t need him, Rafaela. I’m not gonna shoot you.”

“You said that in St. Louis. Remind me why I ever listened to you then?”

He chuckled. His laugh was like honey and magic, making her weak. He took a step toward her and another. The gun flashed up and over the shoulder of the man in front of her.

“Go ahead and shoot him, Ella. I don’t need him anymore. He wasn’t all that helpful anyway.”

“He’ll take the first bullet for me,” she said. “Maybe two. Depends on what you’re packing these days.”

His chuckle turned darker, more seductive. “Baby, you know exactly what I’m packing.” His hand dropped invitingly to his groin. “As always, cocked and fully loaded.”

She snorted, raising her chin. “That’s close enough. How is it you’re free to walk around? Don’t they have any law in this town?”

Laughing louder, he slid his jacket slowly back, revealing his chest. A silver star winked and taunted her.

“No way! They let a demon like you be sheriff? What’d you do, bite them all?”

“I don’t need to bite people to convince them I’m good for the job. They saw me in action a few times.”

He shrugged, pacing back and forth in the street. He moved like a hungry jungle cat. Rafaela’s eyes followed him, waiting. Three paces, turn, three more, turn, set…. Her gun boomed as the chest of the man she held exploded in her face. Dropping fast, she rolled behind a concrete pillar. Two more shots chipped away at the concrete. Splinters of stone ricocheted off the building, making her glad for the glasses.

“You’ll have to do better than that, Dirk!”

“Learned a few things since I last saw you.” The crunch of his boots on the street reached her ears.

Rafaela rose slowly, hugging the post with her shoulders. His steps got closer, his scent stronger.

“Don’t be like this, Ella.”

His black booted foot took the first step. Her weapon pressed his temple before he followed it. He turned to face her, blue eyes placid.

“Hey, baby. I missed you.”

“Dammit, Dirk…!”

Vampire Hunter – Part 1

This short story was inspired by a silly thread on Facebook, the gist of which was “What if Hemingway wrote a vampire story?” After a short discussion, I got the idea for this story. Thanks Tim Cahoon & Bruce Sutton for the inspiration!

The bar door crashed open. Late afternoon sun streamed around the figure silhouetted there. Noises in the bar ceased. Everyone looked up, worried. No one ever came in like that unless there was trouble.

Raven wing hair whipped around the stranger’s face. Dark sunglasses covered the eyes. Full, red lips slashed across the lower part of the face. The firm chin was softened slightly by a shallow cleft. A long leather duster billowed in the wind. Broad brimmed hat covered the forehead, concealing the features. What was most remarkable about the stranger was the amount of armament. Of secondary importance was that the hunter was female.

A soft wolf whistle broke the silence. She turned her face to the sound, raising her sunglasses. The men in the room took in more details as she scanned the room. Her eyes were a dark green, the lashes long and thick. She was a tall woman, close to six feet. Her shoulders were broad, her waist narrow. Her jeans fit like a glove, her denim shirt gaping slightly over full breasts. Dusty boots showed the wear of years.

She clumped into the room, the door swinging shut behind her. Approaching the bar, she leaned on it. “Barkeep, water on the rocks.”

“Yes, ma’am. Coming right up, little lady.”

Her eyes followed him as he filled the glass with ice and water. He set it in front of her with a flourish. She thanked him with a nod, paying him for the water. She pocketed the change without a sound.

“What brings you here, stranger?” The barkeep asked.

“I’m looking for a man,” she began.

A chuckle scurried around the room like rats.

“Got a whole room full, sweet cheeks,” the whistler said behind and to her left. “Take yer pick.”

She ignored him. Instead, she sipped her water, elbows on the bar, one foot on the stool next to her.

“A particular man,” she added quietly. “Maybe you know him. Taller than me, dark hair, blue eyes. His skin holds a pallor the sun won’t brown….”

The men in the room exchanged a furtive look. None of them spoke. One of them got up, walking quickly and purposefully toward the door. A knife thumped into the wood next to his hand. The fellow froze, fingers half an inch from the quivering steel. The woman reached around him one hand held the door shut as she leaned on it, the other took the knife out. She examined the knife, green eyes following the line of the blade from hilt to tip.

The man smelled of fear and urine. A puddle formed at his feet. She scooted her boot away, spreading her legs. No one else moved.

“Want to tell me about your buddy?” She said, her voice husky and low. Any other time, he’d have found her irresistible. Now, he prayed she’d go away before she killed him.

“Not my buddy,” he whispered. “Just said if anyone ever come lookin’ for him, I’s to tell him.”

The knife blade hissed through the air, cutting the bandana around the man’s neck. It fell to his feet and a thin line of blood trickled to the open collar of his shirt. The hunter squinted at his neck, full lips pouted, thinking.

“What bitcha?” She pointed to the half-healed scar.

“Snakebite.”

“Pretty big snake,” she commented, twisting the blade before his eyes.

The light slithered up and down the blade making the man shiver.

“Some of them rattlers get to be ten feet or so…. One of ’em bit me t’other day.”

“Lucky you lived. That’s right on the jugular.”

He swallowed, nodding rapidly. “Peers I’m immune…. To snake bite….”

“You’re a lucky man. Come one, lucky man. Lemme buy you a drink.” She clapped an unyielding hand on his shoulder, leading him to the bar. “And you’re gonna tell me where I can find your master, or I’m gonna cut your balls off and make ’em into a necklace with bailing wire.”

He gulped again, Adam’s apple bobbing in his scrawny neck.

“Any of you other boys feel the burning need to leave,” she said to the room in general. “Think how nice your balls would look decorating my necklace. So, you boys itching for a smoke or heading to the privy, you recalculate and have a seat. I don’t want trouble. Just need my man and I’ll be gone.”

The men, who’d been thinking about leaving, didn’t. Those working their way toward the exits, stopped.

“She can’t take all of us at once,” the whistler said, standing. “Ain’t nobody that fast.”

Six gun drawn, he stood with his legs wide apart, snarky grin on his face. The hunter eyed him, sizing him up. A smile crept slowly up her cheeks, her green eyes glittered.

“Anyone not wanting to die, lay low,” she said. “Anyone thinks they can take me, rock on.”

Shoving her informant to the floor, she shot the whistler in the forehead with her right hand. With her left, she winged another, the third caught it in the chest, knocking him through the front window. Number four rushed her from the left, roaring like a tornado. His brains splattered on the mirror over the bar.

Four pairs of hands flew into the air, weapons clattering to the floor. The hunter laid money on the bar, lifting her informant by his collar.