Excerpts

Welcome to the excerpts page! This is a place to read a little of my books and whet your whistle for more. :) Because I'm a romance writer, some of the excerpts are of an adult nature. I have labeled those that might be inappropriate for younger readers, so if explicit sex is not your cup of tea, please skip those excerpts with the warning of "Adult Content".

Books and excerpts are listed in the order in which they were released, the newer books lower on the page. I'm using my wise author wisdom to get you interested in my backlist! :D Actually, it's just easier to add excerpts to the bottom of the page than to mess with the formatting each time I add something, lol.

So thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy a little snippet of story from each of my books. :)

HER DEVOTED VAMPIRE

Introductions:

“Do you remember me, Bridget? I met you at Snickerdoodles.”
Oh, she remembered, all right. She remembered the scent of his skin and the warmth of his body beside her. At least, she thought she did. He’d wrapped his trench coat  around her, hadn’t he?
She closed her eyes and shook her head to clear the cobwebs of mixed memories.
“I returned your book and tried to hail a cab for you. Do you remember that?”
No. Wait. Yes, she remembered the terrible kidnapping scene in the book and how she’d left it on the table in the coffee shop. Her memories played out in a reel until it ended with red eyes and searing pain.
Bridget’s eyes flew open, and she stared at her companion with dawning unease. His expression filled with concern and compassion, his eyes a deep chocolate brown. No sign of red anywhere. They weren’t even bloodshot.
“You’re Fredrick MacGregor.”
“That’s right.” A smile flitted over his lips.
“And you smell like spiced apples and vanilla.”
His black eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, one tendril falling across an eye. It looked soft and smooth, and she wanted to push it behind his ear for him. His smug look banished any tender feelings that might have developed.
“You were stabbed in the side, and I brought you to my home here in Gloucester to take care of you.”
Stabbed? She’d been stabbed? Gasping, she wrenched the emerald bedclothes away from her body and scanned the skin of her belly. The bruised pain she felt directed her eyes to her left side, but there was nothing there, not even discoloration. If she’d been stabbed, where was the scar, the scab?
Is he just teasing me? What kind of a jerk does that? Then the rest of his words sank in.
“Gloucester?”
“Yes. It was the safest place I could think to take you.”
Bridget narrowed her eyes as she raised her gaze to meet his again, her hands still holding the bedclothes up.
Safe for whom, you chocolate-eyed kidnapper?
“Normally you take injured people, like those with stab wounds, to the hospital. Or at least call the paramedics.” What was she doing in Gloucester in a richly decorated bedroom? Was it his bedroom?
There are worse places to be, a traitorous voice remarked.
“There was no time, and I knew I could care for you as well or better than any hospital,” Fredrick replied to her unasked questions.
Riiiiggghhhtt, that’s what all the sociopaths say to their victims.
“I have to go.” She tried to sit up again. She’d make it home come hell or high water. Goosebumps zinged along her leg when it appeared out of the covers.
“Whoa!” She jerked her legs back under the emerald sheets and stared incredulously at the man sitting next to her bed. “Where are my clothes?” And that sexy dress?
“I haven’t had time to get any from your apartment.” His eyes never dropped from hers. “I’ll send someone presently.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Presently? Who uses words like ‘presently’? And how do you know where I live?” She groaned, frowning. “You looked in my wallet from my coat.”
“That seemed to be the most logical place to look for your name and home address.”
“That’s just great. A perfect ending to a perfect day.” She sighed, slumping back in the bed. “Stabbed, kidnapped, and naked in a stranger’s bed. It just doesn’t get much worse.”
“Except, perhaps, being kidnapped by a vampire with a house full of werewolves,” he suggested, a half-smile curling his kissable lips.
She snorted. “Thank God there’s no such thing as vampires or werewolves.”
He stilled as if the life within him bled away, leaving nothing but a quiet, waxen shell, and his face lost the humor in it. Unease crept through her as she stared hard at him, clutching the covers so tightly her knuckles turned white. The scent of spiced apples shifted to a dirt smell, like moist earth or the desert after the rain, and her stomach cramped with visceral fear.
“Thank you.” She cleared her throat. “Thank you for whatever you did. I think I remember being stabbed. It hurt like hell. How bad was the damage, and how long have I been here?”
Life seeped back into him as he cocked his head to one side, his eyes narrowed in consideration. “You have only been here a few hours. We didn’t do anything but look at your wound. You healed all by yourself.”
“Yeah, I know I’m healing. I just want to know what you did to close the wound and how many stitches I needed.”
“I told you. We didn’t do anything. Your body healed on its own.”
“What are you talking about? What do you mean, ‘healed’?” She lifted the bed sheets away from her body again to get a better look at her left side. The skin appeared a little pink at her waist, but nothing suggesting a stab wound. She looked back up at him, anger coiling. “What did you do to me?”
Fredrick shook his head. “Nothing, Ms. Shanahan. I would like to know how you managed to heal so quickly, but it appears you didn’t know you could do that.”
“Of course I didn’t know I could do that!” Bridget dropped the bed sheet to her waist. “No one can do that except in science fiction novels.”
His gaze locked onto her chest, and a predatory expression flooded his features. An odd combination of exhilaration and lust zinged through her, which only pissed her off more. She growled and jerked the sheets back up.
“Nice.”
He coughed and had the grace to look chagrined. “Forgive me, but I’ve found it very difficult to turn down an opportunity to view such beauty.”


QUEEN BITCH OF THE CALLOWWOOD PACK

Julianna strode confidently through the house toward the front doors, her fury banked but still smoldering as she tightly gripped her purse, in which she’d dropped the token. She’d sought out Jeff, but he’d disappeared while Richard gave her the pendant, and he was nowhere to be found under the tents.
It figures he’d make me look for him so I can seek his approval for departure!
As she passed a darkened hallway to her right, a male arm reached out of the darkness and jerked her against a hard body. Rage blazed hot as she crashed into the wall of flesh with an unladylike grunt of surprise, but it dropped into icy fury as she slammed her elbow into her assailant’s gut.
Her Sister’s nature surged into the forefront of her awareness and she turned on her attacker with pent up ferocity.
He yelped as she stomped down on his instep, twisting in his arms. Then she shoved his shoulders back against the wall and slammed her knee into his groin. He collapsed, panting and groaning, when the irresistible scent of the desert rain penetrated her adrenaline rush.
Understanding dawned.
She’d just kneed Jeff Lightfoot in the balls! It would’ve been funny if she wasn’t so angry. His original grip had been sexually domineering, complete with raging hard-on.
“Jeff?” She grasped his shoulders. “What are you doing?”
“What the hell was that for?” he groaned, cupping his crotch protectively.
“Haven’t you learned never to grab a woman out of the darkness?” Julianna shook her head as some of her anger drained away. “I lived in the big city for a long time. More than one man tried to take me down. Are you okay?”
“No.” He sounded strangled, and she had to hide a smile. “Can’t breathe.”
“Sorry.”
“Damn, woman!”
“Damn, yourself! Why did you try to grab me?”
“I didn’t want you to leave yet,” he whispered as he slowly straightened up. His face looked a little gray, but it might have been the dim light. “I wanted to say a more private good-bye, but I think I’m only going to say good-bye to my balls. Shit!”
“I am sorry, even if I was defending myself.” She bit her bottom lip. “Do you want to sit down?”
He nodded, and she slid one arm around his waist, lowering him to the floor.
“Goddess above, you smell wonderful. How did you hide it for so long?” He dropped his head and nuzzled her neck and jawline as she sat beside him. Arousal pushed through her chagrin, tightening her nipples.
“I didn’t.” She snorted. “I threw myself at you for years, and you ignored me the whole time, remember?”
“More idiot, me.” He chuckled ruefully. “If I’d known you were a Moon Singer, I would’ve taken you years ago.”
Suddenly, rage obliterated all the lustful feelings in her, and she snarled, scooting away from him.
“Taken me?” she growled, pushing to her feet. “You would’ve ‘taken’ me? You asshole, am I nothing more than a piece of tail to you? If that’s the case, go grab one of those other bitches. I’ve already experienced being treated like a piece of meat. I’m sure Brenda would submit to you willingly enough, with her tits against the floor and her ass in the air!”
Jeff stilled, and his hands warily covered his groin again as he looked up at her.
“What’s wrong, Julianna?”
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” She barely held herself back from kicking him in the ass with her sandaled foot. “What’s wrong is that I’ve joined a pack that doesn’t see this”—she stabbed a finger at him sitting on the floor—“as something to be upset about! I want you, Jeff, but I’m not just a piece of ass that any alpha male can use when he’s feeling horny. I won’t be ‘taken’ unless I give permission. Do you hear me, Mr. Successor of the pack?”
Julianna whirled and stomped out of the house, leaving Jeff completely nonplussed on the floor behind her ringing heels.


NOT A DRAGON'S STANDARD VIRGIN

*Adult Content*

Jon snarled like a frustrated predator and leaped at Isabelle over the little fire. He caught her by the arms and slammed his body against hers as he pushed her up against the rough wall of the cave once more.
“You belong to me, Isabelle Andersen!” Then he smashed his lips to hers.
Her body reacted to his kiss before her mind knew what was going on. Fury and frustration shifted into needy desire, and she gave in to his kiss. Lustful fire burned through her veins as his tongue thrust into her mouth and caressed hers. She realized the hard object pressing against her lower body was not a dagger, but the hard ridge of his cock straining against his leather braies. She squirmed against him, but whether to get away or to get closer, she didn’t care.
Isabelle pushed against his hard chest, but Jon didn’t budge. His tongue licked her lips before he nipped them playfully, and she growled at him. He growled back and grabbed her hands, forcing them up over her head. He pressed his body against hers, pinning her to the wall with his weight. A combination of trepidation and excitement flared as she struggled to get away, but he held her fast.
Her nipples hardened against the flat planes of his chest, and she squirmed to relieve the aching tightness. Bloody hell, she swore she’d drown in the surge of the emotions he elicited from her. Lust, pleasure, fear, anger, frustration, desperation, and need washed over her as he clasped both her wrists in one hand. Isabelle jerked on her arms, and arousal flared at the ease with which he held her bound with a single hand.
Jon snarled low in his chest, and her juices soaked her thighs. Her core wept and ached for more of his touches.
His other hand dropped to worm its way between them, and he kneaded one of her breasts gently, making the nipple impossibly harder against his palm. He pulled back from the kiss to devote attention to her jawline and neck below her ear, sending delicious shivers of sensation straight to her pussy. Despite her best efforts to hold back, she moaned and rubbed her mound against the hot, hard arousal within his braies.
“That’s it, my sweet Belle.” He continued to kiss her neck and throat. “Rub your hot, sweet pussy on my cock, sa cherro. Oh, Goddess, your scent calls to me like a siren.”
His words pushed her arousal higher until she forgot her fury with him entirely in the face of his touches and kisses. She struggled again to free her wrists, but not to escape. She wanted to run her hands over his shoulders and thrust her fingers through his thick, glossy hair. Holy God, did she want to touch him!
Her struggles pushed her breasts against his hand, and she ground her core on his cock harder, making him growl with aroused response. Cream flooded between her wet nether lips, and her nub swelled with aching need. The scents of scalded rock and sex filled the little cave, and steam wafted off their woolen cloaks from their combined heat. His lips came back to crash into hers, but only for a few moments before he released her wrists and dropped to his knees, thrusting his hands beneath her skirts so he could massage her core.
They both groaned at the same time when his fingers found her wetness, and he rubbed her pearl like stroking a cat. Isabelle’s knees would have given out had she not been pressed against the wall. With each brush of his fingers over her sensitive flesh, tantalizing excitement surged through her, and her eyes rolled shut.
“Oh, sweet Mother, you’re wet for me, lassie.” Jon’s voice made her look down into his glowing blue eyes. “I can smell your arousal, and I want to taste your honey pot.” He ducked his head under her skirts and licked her aching slit.
Isabelle jerked in surprise. Jon’s hands caressed her thighs while his breath brushed the hairs on her pussy. She dissolved in a flood of sensation and lust as her knees finally buckled. He rumbled his approval as he held her up with his hands on her inner thighs, spreading her for his lips and tongue to worship her woman’s core.
Goddess, Jon. More, please. Never stop.

THE BELTANE WITCH

Darius turned his brilliant smile on the waitress and she fluttered and simpered, twirling one lock of hair around her pencil with a giddy smile. Sabrina sighed, hoping the girl wouldn't forget her order. Darius played up the charming, handsome, and virile male. She suspected women fell all over themselves to attract his sparkling gaze.
At last, the girl flounced away, her hips swinging in invitation, and Darius watched her retreat with a satisfied smile on his face. Sabrina shook her head in bemusement. You’re just mad because he doesn’t look at you like that.
Why the hell would she want him to look at her favorably? She wanted nothing to do with men. Selfish, manipulating, responsibility-avoiding bastards. Darius fit in just right. She bet he’d slept with more women than the flakes of snow falling outside the coffee shop windows.
Yeah, but think of how experienced he’d be.
She stifled a groan.
Darius’s gaze fastened on her like a magnet and he cocked his head in inquiry.
Crap, he can’t read thoughts, can he?
“Where were we?” His question accompanied a smug smile.
“You were just getting ready to suggest the Court should go to Sedona for Beltane.”
The warmth in his smile dimmed and she countered his hard look with lifting her chin. He spread his hands with mock regret, but his eyes remained chips of jade stone. “Would that I could, my lady, but once the Court has determined the place for the rituals, it cannot be changed. I’m afraid it’s Cloudburst, or nowhere.”
“Nowhere, then.”
He sighed. “Listen to me, Lady—”
“No, you listen to me, Mr. Winterbourne.” She used her best mommy-voice. “I have a family, school obligations, and a job right now. I don’t have time to entertain the Summer Court for Beltane. I have to bake brownies for my daughter’s kindergarten class, for goodness sake. I have no place for the Court, in my life or in my house, and besides, I haven’t done the High Beltane rituals in four years.”
“I’m sure it will only take a little brushing up—”
“I don’t want to ‘brush up’ on the rituals. You’re not hearing me. I. Am. Not. Doing. The. Rituals.”
Darius’s expression solidified into impassiveness and Sabrina crossed her arms over her chest in mute challenge. She wouldn’t be pressured into having sex for the Fae. She’d given up on the complex rituals after her ex Tommy left, and it suited her just fine. No male of any race, particularly one claiming to be from the Sidhe, would convince her to open up the hideous box of memories associated with Beltane. Not to mention threatening pregnancy.
Goddess, it’d be like running straight into the past.
Suddenly, Darius’s face softened and calculated compassion slid into his eyes. Sabrina had seen such a look on Tommy’s face enough times to know what would come. He’d play on her compassionate side just to get what he wanted.
Here we go.
“I understand your frustrations and life’s complications.” He smiled sympathetically. “It won’t take any extra time. These rituals are ingrained in you. They’ll fit within your schedule seamlessly. I’m sure we can work something out.”
Sabrina seethed. How typical. Doesn’t listen to a thing I say. Doesn’t care about my needs or my priorities. Just figures a little charm and he’ll get his way. Bastard.
Fighting to keep her anger under control, Sabrina clenched her hands into fists and stood. Spinning to leave, Sabrina collided with the waitress holding her order. The girl squeaked as she dumped the hot coffee down Sabrina’s belly. Searing pain accompanied the deep brown stain and Sabrina gasped, jerking back. She lost her footing and toppled over the chair she’d just risen from.
Oh glory! Her head slammed into the edge of a nearby table and brilliant points of light shot across her vision as pandemonium erupted around her.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” The waitress set down her tray and reached for Sabrina.
Sabrina hissed as agony flooded her awareness. She yanked her sweater away from her skin and tried to focus through the ringing in her head. Tears blurred her eyes as she struggled to breathe, her ability to inhale momentarily curtailed. The waitress tried to mop up the coffee on Sabrina’s belly with her bar towel, but she succeeded in only irritating the reddened skin.
Sabrina moaned and writhed away, batting futilely at the other woman’s hands as her head swam from the lack of oxygen. A shadow loomed over her, darkening her fading sight.
“Breathe, Lady Foxglove.” The rich voice penetrated her addled brain and she looked up into teal green eyes filled with concern.
What did he say? She frowned and shook her head in confusion.
“I said breathe. Remember to inhale.”
I can’t… Sabrina’s mind raised the white flag and surrendered to the darkness.


THE NAVY'S GHOST

*Adult Content*

As she lay dying on the grimy floor of the Nicaraguan warehouse, Magic’s feelings for Ensign Christiana Brickman had crystallized into blinding clarity. I love her. He’d ignored the thought in favor of saving her life, but now, with the squad around him and the action settled, it came roaring back into his mind, clear as day. Jubilation mixed with terror settled into his gut. No fraternization within the ranks. Too bad his heart couldn’t remember the rules.
“How’s she doing, Magic?” Retro shouted through the mic to Magic over the rotors.
“Stable for now. High as a kite, but stable.”
“Good to hear. Pilot says back on base in fifty mikes.”
“Roger that.”
“Why do they always use boys’ names for everything?”
Retro and Magic turned to the woman lying between them and met the clouded hazel gaze beneath the lowered brows. “Say again, Brickman?”
“Boys’ names. Why do they always use them for everything?”
“What are you talking about?” Retro raised an eyebrow.
“You know, Mike for minute, Roger for understood.” Brickman rolled her head to pin Retro with her focus. “Jimmy for futzing with locks. Hey, your name is Jim.” She licked her lips and swallowed. “I like your name, Jim Retro. And I like you, too. You’re handsome.”
“Yep. Definitely high as a kite.” Retro snorted and shot a smile at Magic. Todd tried to smile back, but his gut sank. What if she preferred Jim over him? Get your head back in the game. She’s never shown interest in any of us.
“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure she’s not in pain. With the dosage I gave her, she should be floatin’ on cloud nine by now.”
“You’re my cloud nine, Magic.” The hazel gaze hit him and he tried not to fall into it or the words she murmured. “So sexy and smart and nice. All the Navy bunnies just love you.” Her lips tightened in irritation. “Sluts.”
Magic raised his eyebrows. Don’t listen to her, she’s out of her mind. Except morphine often acted like a weak truth serum, stripping away inhibitions to expose real sentiments underneath. Chris turned her head away to mumble something under her breath as a mild frown creased her forehead.
“Not good enough for you.”
“Say again, Ensign?” Retro leaned closer to her.
“They only want dick, you know.” Her gaze slid slowly back to Jim’s face. “You deserve better, Retro. Mo’betta. ’Cause Bravo Squad does everything mo’betta. They should call it Betta Squad.” She trailed off in a dreamy, sing-songy voice.
“At least she’s got that right.” Retro shook his head, a half smile quirking his mouth.
“Bravo Squad definitely does it mo’betta.” Ghost fixed him with a hard stare. “Just like you, Retro. And you need someone who knows you. You, and Magic, too. Perfect, sexy, tall, and hard. Like bananas.”
“What?” Magic traded looks with Retro.
“Oh, shit. You better knock her out before she says something really crazy.”
“Bananas. You know…” Chris raised one hand, curling her fingers into a C-shape before swaying it back and forth as if stroking something. “Long, hard, smooth, and warm.” She grimaced. “Bananas. So much better than cucumbers. Mo’betta in Betta Squad.”
“Knock her out, Magic.” Retro growled as the other squad members snickered in the background.

BRONCO'S ROUGH RIDE

*Adult Content*
John woke to find himself tied to a bed tilted to give him a view of the door. Or to give someone else a view of him. A thick strap wrapped around his chest holding him upright. He tried to jerk free, but his body wouldn’t respond. At all. What the fuck?
As a highly decorated and experienced SEAL operator, John had honed his body into an efficient and responsive killing machine. But that same body now lay against the table as inert as rag doll. His mind screamed at it to move, to roll, hell, to even wiggle its toes, but the messages went nowhere. He wanted to turn his head, to scan the room around him, but his neck refused to respond.
John inhaled to roar, to scream for someone to help. His lungs expanded and his chest rose, but the muscles of his throat wouldn’t tighten to make sound, and the air slid out his nose. Holy shit, what’s wrong with me?
Panic built in his chest, increasing his heartbeat and tightening his gut. His limbs refused to move and a gut-felt moan issued from his chest. Dial it back, Andrews. There’s gotta be a way outta this. It’s just not clear yet. The pep talk dampened the fear and allowed him to focus on external sensory data. He couldn’t feel much, but the grayness had left his vision.
The room, while dim and small, smelled of dusty concrete, and the only sound inside was his breath. Probably not more than ten by ten feet. From what he could see the only portal in the room consisted of a steel door with a barred window roughly a foot on each side. The concrete dampened any sound coming from outside and heightened the sounds of his breathing.
Some sort of cell. He rolled his eyes. Ya think, genius?
The door rattled and muffled voices came from outside. Keys jingled just before the scrape of the lock turning heralded the motion of the door. John slitted his eyes as two women came in, both dressed in casual elegance. The taller, younger-looking of the two grabbed his attention immediately as she scanned the room with implacable serenity. Dark hair woven into an intricate pattern lay on the top of her head and his hands itched to pull it down. Her pale-gray eyes slid over his form and his cock rose in response to her causal perusal.
What the fuck? That works, but the rest of me doesn’t?
“I’m so glad you finally accepted my invitation to visit, Lady Aislynn. As I said before, it’s a great honor to have you here.” The older woman’s voice held admiration bordering on reverence and a smug smile curled her thin lips.
“I was intrigued by the rumors I’d heard of you changing your marketing strategies.” Lady Aislynn paused beside the angled bed and her mouth tightened as her gaze returned to John. “How will you increase outreach?”
“Like you, we have a very specialized clientele, so the more traditional advertising avenues are closed to us.” The other woman straightened her spine and strode to John’s other side. “But we have our chat and email groups through discreet channels. Of course, word of mouth is the best advertising out there.”
Aislynn nodded. “And who is this?”
“This is one of our latest acquisitions.”
“Acquisitions?” She raised an elegant eyebrow. “You don’t appreciate the male of the species?”
“On the contrary. I highly appreciate them.” The older woman leaned close, the cloying scent of her perfume swamping John’s nose. “Especially when they’re docile and immobile. The best man is bound and silent, am I right?”
Aislynn grunted a non-committal sound and studied John’s eyes. She raised a hand and stroked him from his shoulder to his hip. A fresh scent—like flowers and spring—reminded him of Washington DC. Cherry trees in bloom. Yeah, that’s it. Cherry blossoms. The flowery smell pushed out the cloying perfume and sent blood shooting to his cock. Her touches don’t hurt, either.
“He’s remarkably responsive for being so docile. What have you given him?”
“Ketamine. It allows the genitals to be useful while disengaging the more annoying traits of males—their mouths and their strength.” The perfume intruded again and his arousal ebbed. “I see he responds to you pretty well. A hard man is good to find, eh?”

CHRISTMAS I.C.E. MAGIC

Zach almost overlooked the location of the missing hiker in the swirling snow, but a yellow tarp waved like a garish flag and he cut the motor. Damn, she’s almost completely buried. He strapped on his crampons and grabbed his shovel. He didn’t have much time. The scents in the wind told him the Ice Demons hadn’t started to really play yet, but they were close, and he might lose the human in the fallout.
Zach knelt in the snow and attacked the ice around the tent. He didn’t have to dig long and satisfied surprise zinged through him. Well now, this little ice princess has some skill. She’d dug out a shelter in the snow, big enough for her to create cocoon of warmth to survive the night. Except the air within her little hideaway almost matched the subzero temperature outside. Where was her stove?
He leaned in through the entrance he’d made and unzipped the tent. She lay like a ceremonial mummy with only her face exposed to the air. Long gold lashes fanned her cheeks beneath arching gold brows. A straight nose pointed to full lips, quirking upwards at their corners. Spangles of snowflakes glittered on her skin and her lips moved as if she spoke to someone just out of hearing.
I have to get her warmed up. The snowflakes didn’t melt against her skin and though she whispered, her words sounded weak and slurred. I’m going to lose her.
Ignoring the worry churning in his gut, Zach checked her pulse and the woman jerked a little. Thank Freya she still has life in her. He unzipped her bag and nodded with approval. She’d dressed for the cold and seemed to have all the gear she needed, but why hadn’t she used her stove? He spied a little Christmas tree set up in one corner and shook his head. Odd way she had to celebrate.
“Linus, wait.”
Zach glanced at the woman and his heart lurched with the agony wreathing her features. “Please, Linus, wait for me. Don’t go.”
Sweet Goddess, he’d never heard such pain in his long life. Was this woman out here to suicide? Not on his watch, dammit. Zach reached into his pack and brought out the heat packs, breaking up the little crystals to generate heat.
“Come on, princess, it’s time to come back to this world.” He pulled out his phone to make sure he had the woman’s name. “Ms. Sinclair. Can you hear me?”
She gasped and opened her eyes, gray eyes like the cliffs of andesite in the spring melt. Their beauty stopped him a moment before she squinted against the light of his headlamp.
“Ms. Sinclair, my name is Zach Snow. I’m here to take you back to the resort.”
“No, don’t want to wake up. Just want to sleep. Linus, come back.”
She turned her head away and tried to burrow back into her sleeping bag, but Zach grasped her shoulders and held her flat against the ground. “Ms. Sinclair, you’re nearly frozen through and we need to get you warm. I’m going to add some heat packs to your bag. They aren’t very large, but they’ll generate enough heat to keep you warm until I can get you off the mountain.”
She shook her head and moaned, but she didn’t say anything coherent. Zach cursed. It sounded like she wouldn’t fight for herself, so he’d have to do the fighting for her. He didn’t know who Linus was, but Zach wanted to smack him for driving a woman this lovely to choose death.
The heat packs steamed lightly in the cold air and he tossed them in her bag then zipped it up and tightened the drawstrings around her face. She moaned again and tears leaked from her eyes, painting iridescent trails across her pale cheeks. Her sorrow cut him, but he forced himself to focus on the situation at hand. He didn’t have time to take all her gear with her down the mountain. He pulled out his GPS and marked the spot. Waiting for the little unit to connect with the satellite usually didn’t bother him, but a low rumble echoed in his breastbone and the ground shook a little.
Ninth Hell, the Blizzard & Fall Party. Zach left the woman for a moment to duck out into the snow and sniff the air. He listened hard as he inhaled the scents of the storm. The snow swirled in great plumes of white and energy crackled near the top of Mt. Charleston. The Ice Demons poised at the edge of sending an avalanche down the slopes.
“Fuck.” He’d just run out of time.
Zach ducked back into the snow cave and glanced at the GPS. It pinged happily, noting their position and Zach made sure to save the reading so he could find her gear later. At the moment, he had to get her out of the path of the snow flow.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Sinclair, but it’s time to go.” He’d never get her all the way down to the Lodge ahead of the avalanche. The only place close and marginally comfortable was his own personal ice cave. He’d never taken anyone there, not even Greta, but tonight he didn’t have a choice.
“I hope you like crystalline d├ęcor.” He hauled Ms. Sinclair’s dead weight out of the shelter and leaned her against the snowmobile, making sure she wouldn’t slip down the slope. He darted back for their packs and zipped up the tent, sealing the little tree inside.

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