TANGLED ROOTS Now Available Through Coming Together: Neat

ALL proceeds from the sales of Coming Together: Neat titles will be placed in a microlending account at Kiva, where they will help entrepreneurs in 3rd world countries launch or expand their businesses.

My erotic romance Tangled Roots has been on the market for a few years now, and while it's still available from eXcessica Publishing, if you buy this brand-spanking-new Coming Together: Neat rerelease, proceeds will benefit entrepreneurs in third world companies through Kiva. I love this concept because it's a hand up, not a hand out.

So if you're into helping people help themselves, a great way to get started is to buy a copy of Tangled Roots by Giselle Renarde! Though this book is set largely at the lakeside cabin, it's not exactly a fun-in-the-sun romance. It gets pretty dark, actually, as these characters battle with the weight of their shared identity.


Control. Over her relationships, her heritage, her career... and above all, her emotions. It is what Simone desires above all else, and what she had managed to keep. But now that is changing. She is lost in the wilderness, and it will take a man named Moses to lead her to a promised land she never knew she wanted. Together, they will untangle the roots of her past, so they can grow together into their future.



“I love you, Moses,” she said in disbelief. “I love you.”

Kissing her forehead, Moses replied, “Maybe you do. And maybe you’re looking for something beautiful to counterbalance the pain. Either way, Simone, you are loved. You are worthy of love. I guarantee it.”

The tears she cried turned from tortured to awed, like when she used to cry in church, never knowing why. Running her hands across the prickly hair of his head, Simone pulled Moses in to take comfort in the warmth of his mouth. His tongue still tasted of black liquorice and of her. She kissed him hungrily, desperately, like she could consume his spiritual knowledge this way.

Simone expected him to push her away, ask her to stop, thinking she was too emotional. He didn’t. No, Moses kissed her back, wrapping her body in his tremendous arms, leaning her down until her hair touched the pine needles. Hungry for love in any form, in all its forms, Simone pulled off her clinging top. No more weeping. Her awe was silent now, and she wiped the traces of tears from her cheeks. Firelight kissed Moses’ skin, making him look like an angel in hell, while it warmed her naked breasts.

“I’m sure,” she whispered in anticipation of the question he seemed about to ask.

Her eager nipples piqued in expectation, pointing up to the greener-than-green treetops. An errant raindrop found its way through the cover overhead, bursting against her chest. The bristle of Moses’ hair excited Simone’s skin as he followed the rain down her breasts. There he worshipped, taking the luscious orbs in his hands as he pressed his beautiful face into them. Softly, he kissed her flesh, leaving wet lip marks in his wake. Slowly, he ran his hot tongue along the cleave, from the base of her round breasts up.

His soft mouth against her nipples sent a message, like an electrical current through her body. The feel of his wet tongue on her breasts ignited her pussy, and that raindrop sensation came back to her abdomen. With every nerve-ending Moses touched, new feelings of beauty awakened in her. He wrapped her in his protective arms, sucking at her breasts. The dew of his mouth on her skin made her body bloom like a patch of white trillium flowers. In her mind, she could see pure white petals bursting through every precious green bud in the forest. The sun and rain together inspired new birth. As Moses planted loving kisses across her chest, a drop of crystal rain kissed her forehead. It flowed like holy water through her hair, cleansing her guilty conscience. Simone’s eyes opened wide. She was awakened.



  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Lady of the Stars, Regency-2010 EPIC Contest Finalist

If you like Regency romance, you may like LADY OF THE STARS, my Regency time travel novella from The Wild Rose Press and given 4 stars and 4 1/2 books. Lady of the Stars was also a finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC EBook Competition.

Romantic Times gave Lady of the Stars 4 stars (review here, contains spoilers) and LASR gave it 4 1/2 books (review here, contains spoilers).

All REVIEWS are here:

And you can BUY from here:

A legend spanning time and the man and woman caught in it.

Caroline knows something is wrong the instant she steps from her holiday cottage into that unusual gazebo with two doors. But when a man she knows she will never see again appears outside the gazebo, she flings caution aside and plunges through the back door, crashing into the man--and 1817.

A voyage through time? Impossible. Richard refuses to believe the strange woman's outlandish tale. Still, the lady is lost and alone, and he helps the stranded wayfarer.

But as attraction flares between these two lonely people, Richard's family legend grinds to its ultimate fulfillment--will it bring them together, or tear them apart forever?


Caroline followed him into the room she knew was the kitchen and he stepped up to the banked fire.

Fire? Where were the stove and refrigerator? And all the chrome and stainless steel of the ultramodern kitchen she had seen only this morning? This kitchen contained a scarred wood trestle table with several chairs pushed under it. Pots and pans hung on wall racks and reflected the dim firelight. A cupboard stood against the far wall, next to a sink with a pump. A pump?

With shaking hands, she set the lantern on the table and pulled out one of the chairs. She was in trouble, very deep trouble.
As she sank into the chair, she turned her stunned attention to her host.

Unaware of her gaze, he busied himself at the fireplace. His back to her, he placed the candelabrum on the mantle above the hearth, then drew the fire screen to the side of the grate. Dropping onto his haunches, he pulled several logs from the nearby basket, then arranged the wood in a neat pile on the smoldering embers. Almost at once, the flames blazed to full roaring life.

Silhouetted against the light, he straightened, replaced the screen, then removed his hat and tossed it on the table.

Her jaw dropped. Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.

Now if his face matched his form . . .

What was she thinking? She hadn't felt anything for any man in a long time. Not since . . .

He turned, and for the first time that night she fully took in his face. She gasped. Had she seen a ghost through the gazebo's back door? "Richard?"

Puzzlement spread over those chiseled features she now saw only in her memories. "How do you know my name?"

Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

New Year's Naughty

I was thrilled to discover a great little antho called New Year's Naughty available from All Romance! This book contains a sci fi story by Alysha Ellis and a contemporary erotic romance (with a crazy-ass twist--you'll NEVER see it coming!) by me. Oh, and my story is also ridiculously Canadian. I can't say exactly what that means...something about snow and Atom Egoyan-like weirdness. You'll have to read it and find out.

New Year's Naughty was released last year by Shadowfire Press, but until now it's only been available direct from the publisher's website. Well, now you can buy it from ARe, so...YAY! I'll tell you a little bit about it:

New Years Naughty Anthology

By: Giselle Renarde | Other books by Giselle Renarde

Alysha Ellis | Other books by Alysha Ellis

Published By: Shadowfire Press LLC

Published: Dec 18, 2009
ISBN # 9781935650645
Word Count: 24,000
Heat Index

Out of the Cold by Giselle Renarde.

Who will Amira ring in the New Year with when her online romance goes awry?


Timid Amira is desperately craving amusement when she meets the endearingly bashful Keith at a first aid training course. Too shy to ask for it, she sneaks a peek at his registration form to get his email address. After exchanging some very naughty notes, Amira decides they absolutely must get together on New Year's Eve. Imagine her surprise when she discovers she hasn't been communicating with cute Keith at all. Who will Amira ring in the New Year with now?

New World Order by Alysha Ellis

A New World. A New Year. A New Love.

After a pirate attack Aden Hircroft lands his damaged ship on Earth. He has to repair the damage and return to his own galaxy before the pirates trace him. They want his cargo and they won't care what harm they do to the people of Earth to get it. But Aden is torn between his need to escape and his desire for Lisa, the woman he meets when she comes to investigate the crash site. As New Year's Eve looms closer, Lisa and Aden race to refit his spacecraft and explore the passion that develops between them.

Out of the Cold by Giselle Renarde.

Ever since that fateful December day, she couldn't stop thinking about
him. Keith's body had been so close behind her, she could still feel it
there at times. Her skin sizzled. Her breath fluttered. Her auntie
asked if she was feeling sickish. "What? Sick?” she asked. Of course
she felt sick—lovesick! Family never understood. "No, Auntie, I'm
fine. Tired, maybe. I'll go to bed early tonight.”

Her auntie, sister, and cousins all stared at her from around the dinner
table. She tried not to miss meals. Since she'd moved into her
auntie's basement apartment, the family wondered what's up with that
girl? any time she didn't eat with them. They always mistook emotion
for illness. She couldn't wait to steal back to her own space and
daydream in peace. Even just thinking back over the time they spent
with his long arms wrapped around her curves made her ecstatic. It was
too bad they didn't get to practise mouth-to-mouth together. That
would have been nice. But no, they used a dummy for that nowadays.

By the time their first aid class was over, Amira was burning up inside.
She wondered if Keith felt it too, but how could she possibly ask?
When she opened her mouth, silence fell out. Anxiety won, as usual. He
left. For a few sad seconds, she thought all was lost and then she
caught sight of the registration list on Sheila's table. How sleazy
would it be to sneak a peek at Keith's personal information? All she
really wanted was his email address. And it's not like she was going to
spam him or anything. Was it really such a big deal?

Amira grabbed a pen from her purse and scrawled the address on the
inside of her arm as she set a direct course for the exit. Though her
body was burning up already, she put on her knit scarf, hat, mitts, and
baby blue pea coat. Out into the cold of another Canadian winter. It
wasn't even really the cold that bothered her. Mostly, she hated that
it got dark at four in the afternoon. No wonder Christmas, Hanukkah,
and New Year's all fell around the time of year, when the sun was at its
most evasive. Imagine how desperate the population would become
without all the little twinkle lights and giant glowing orbs that kissed
the cityscapes of North America.

Big, chunky flakes fell in wet clumps, melting against her hot cheeks.
It was a mild snowfall that day, she reflected as she stared at her
computer screen after dinner with auntie et al. "Packing snow,”
Canadians called it. Why did they call it that? Probably because it
was the only kind of snow you could pack together to build a snowman.
They should call it snowman snow. She laughed at herself as she eased
back in her chair. Naming the snow, eh Amira? Well, she'd already
exhausted every other avenue of procrastination. After a week of
postponing her plan to make contact—Not today; it's Christmas Eve.
Wouldn't want to interrupt his Christmas Dinner. Can't today, it's
Boxing Day—she was adamant the day had arrived. When she pictured
Keith's large hazel eyes contoured with thick, long lashes, and imagined
standing on tip-toes to kiss him, she was more determined than ever.
His caring eyes could melt the icicles from the eaves. She imagined
those eyes staring back at her from the computer screen. The time was
nigh. Now, where to begin?

Hello Keith.

No, too formal.

Hey Keith.

No, too casual.

Hi Keith.

Yes, that was perfect! Pulling her curly hair into a ponytail, she
stared at the body of her email. Okay, so she had the first two words.
What next?

Hi Keith,

My name is Amira. We met last week at the first aid training session. I was just wondering if maybe you might remember me?

Man, this attempt at flirtation was "like, so totally boring,” as her
little sister would say. Amira scrapped it all and started over.

Hi Keith,

Amira here, from the first aid course. I'm sure you must remember me, because I can't stop thinking about you.

Well, how was that for ridiculous? There was no way good, quiet,
respectable Amira could send anything so silly. It wasn't her.
Although, come to think of it, good, quiet, respectable Amira never had
much fun, did she? And why not? Because she was too afraid of
appearing foolish? Of being turned down? What kind of a reason was
that to always play it safe? Everybody needed a little bit of fun in
life, and after years of self-denial, she was desperately craving
amusement. Why not, just this once, tell someone what she was really
thinking? If Keith thought she was a total moron, that was fine. She
would probably never see him again anyway. But if Keith had the same
thing in mind, Amira's life might just become a lot more exciting.

New World Order by Alysha Ellis

He looked at her through half closed eyes. "Even before the drive went
bad, there was only a thirty percent chance I'd get through with my life
or the cargo intact. Conditions in the rest of the galaxy are harsh
and no one depends on anything. You survive on your own if you survive
at all. It would be good to have one night of peace, of softness. I'll
leave tomorrow.” His voice lowered. "So, Lisa. You haven't told me
yet. How long do we have to wait before we can fuck?"

He opened his eyes and looked at her. She felt the heat of his gaze
warming her all the way through. He hadn't made any attempt to hurt
her, not even in retaliation for her kick. Sure he'd take off for the
other side of galaxy the moment he repaired his ship, but that was a
good thing...no recriminations, no consequences. Just one night of sex
before she settled back into her habitual sexual drought.

So, no real negatives and the benefits were obvious. He had a body to
die for. Young, fit... surely space pilots would have to be fit? What
did she have to lose? He'd already told her he was disease free.

She picked up the plates and dropped them into the sink, then she
turned. She tried to speak, but had to clear her throat of the monolith
that seemed to have lodged there. "Would now be good?”

Buy it now from All Romance ebooks!


  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


To scatter her brother's ashes over the Narmada River, Fabienne leaves France for the mysterious India of her childhood dreams. Soon, as she awakens to a newfound spirituality, unexpected visions of a former life during the Raj stir ancient yearnings for a long lost passion. Mukunda, the palace architect Fabienne loved a century and a half ago, lives again as an American engineer and works on the local dam project. As Fabienne falls in love again with India and the man of her destiny, the tapestry of her previous life unfolds. But, in the karmic land of the blue gods, a ruthless foe lies in wait. The Kali worshiper, who murdered the two lovers in a faraway past, has come back through the centuries to thwart their dream once more.

Love, reincarnation, spiritual awakenings, suspense! The ancient jungle comes alive with fires, and modern India reels with dangerous floods and deadly mud slides. A struggle for survival. A feast for the senses.


"... a broad-stroked, magnificent picture of a lavish India of the past and the present... a vivid tale of suspense... a gripping account of a woman coming to terms with heightened awareness... a destiny that yields true fulfillment." The Book Reader

"... entertaining, fast-paces yet deeply spiritual... Here is a superior metaphysical novel!" Richard Fuller - Metaphysical Reviews

"... passionate... love, lust, faith and deception... a magnificent offering to the world of fiction..." Charlotte Austin Review

"...rich, sensual... multilayered... a thriller... magical, mystical book..." Writer's Digest


"Mukunda! Mukunda!"

The flames devouring the jungle muffled Lakshmi’s desperate call. She squinted through the smoke. The messenger said her beloved would be waiting by the hot springs, so where was he?

Gasping, Lakshmi steadied herself with a bloody hand against the bark of a tall banyan. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, then raised her veil to cover nose and mouth. Black clouds from the blazing jungle dirtied the blue sky of May. Coconut trees, palms, sugarcane, papaya trees and banana stalks steamed and cracked ominously under the assault of the fire.

In the mounting heat, Lakshmi hitched up the red cotton sari to run, but in which direction? Down, toward the river. In her flight, strands of black hair escaped the veil, threatening to ignite at any flying spark.

Lakshmi cried out when she stumbled. Catching herself she paused, hand on her chest. A tiger! She held her breath, while the feline rushed by silently, intent on its own escape. Beneath the girl's bare feet, the jungle ground slithered with cobras, huge rats, and burrowing insects. Overhead, birds and monkeys shrieked frantic warnings as they fled. A dark crocodile shot out of a thicket. Lakshmi gasped, but the ancient beast disappeared into the underbrush. The river should flow near, but where? The pounding roar of blood rushing through her veins covered even the sound of the inferno.

Lord Ganesh, Elephant God, do with me as you please, but keep Mukunda safe!

The stink and loud trumpeting of elephants gave the girl hope. Hunters! They’d know the way out. Relief washed over Lakshmi. I’m so grateful for your help, Lord Ganesh, but please, save the man I love. Panting, the girl labored in the direction of the sound. Thorny branches snagged her sari and scratched the creamy skin of her belly, but she kept running. When she reached the clearing, half naked slaves shouted as they gathered the Rajah's herd, jerking the animals' heavy chains.

"Help me!" Lakshmi managed to yell between gasps.

Perched atop the largest elephant, the master mahout stared at her from under a turban. A dangerous smile lit up his face. Lakshmi felt her legs dissolve when she recognized the huge garnet on the man's chest. He worshiped Kali The Black with the Rajah's daughter and her murderous priests.

Spurring the big bull forward, the mahout barked an order. The old elephant trumpeted in response, answered by his herd. Within seconds, the ground shook. Saplings shattered under the charge of the pachyderms. Bellows filled the air as the herd stampeded, tearing the burning jungle asunder.

Fear constricting her throat, Lakshmi turned to run. Her foot caught on a banyan root. "Mukunda!" she called as she fell.

Lakshmi couldn't move. Lying in black mud, she looked up and saw branches crashing down in flames. Suddenly, the wide foot of an elephant blocked the gray light and descended on her face, silencing a scream.
Find this eBook at All Romance eBooks (ARe)  HERE
Find it at Smashwords HERE
Find it in Kindle at Amazon HERE
Enjoy the read.
Vijaya Schartz
Romance with a Kick

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

New Release & Excerpt: THE ILL-GOTTEN INSURANCE, Minx Tobin Mysteries Case 2

New Release: Minx Tobin Mysteries, Case Two--THE ILL-GOTTEN INSURANCE by Susanne Marie Knight.

For your "Touch of Minx" try her latest murder mystery case, THE ILL-GOTTEN INSURANCE, if you like to live... or die a little dangerously!

Now available at Desert Breeze Publishing, http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/ and other Internet locations.

An odd string of coincidences leads Minx Tobin to an old friend, Bill Gutierrez. Only Bill died five years ago. Before Minx has a chance to question the man, he turns up dead... again, with a slip of paper in his pocket with her name on it. Whether she likes it or not, Minx is involved in another murder. Will the Case of the Ill-gotten Insurance turn out to be deadly for her as well?

Los Angeles homicide lieutenant Gabe Harris regrets that the fitness trainer who piqued his interest is a murder suspect once again. But at least he has a legitimate reason to see Minx. Maybe he can even convince her to go out with him. And maybe he can prevent L.A.'s newest murderer from adding Minx to his... or her fatality list.

Minx placed Harris' coffee in front of him and pulled out napkins from the table dispenser. There. She'd done her hostessing duties. Sitting across from him, she reached into her bag and got out her power bar.

"So, lieutenant, what's up?"

Harris took a sip, then set the cup back down. "I've never been at the Elite Exercise Emporium before. Nice place. Do you think I should take out a membership?"

She blinked back surprise. Surely this wasn't his official business?

Peeling the wrapper off the bar, she replied, "You look buff enough, lieutenant."

"Is that a compliment?"

She tilted her head at him. "Do you want it to be?"

What was going on here? Were they actually flirting with each other?
As she nibbled on the end of the granola power bar, she studied him. His odd combination of short dark and light grey hair swirled in waves over his head. A dark lock tumbled down over his high forehead. One renegade curl strayed appealingly around the curve of his ear.

He gestured with his large, well-formed hand. "That your lunch?"

"It sure is. Are you hungry? I've got two more bars with me."

He was a man that didn't smile much. With his job in the Los Angeles Police Department, there probably weren't many opportunities for smiles. But when he did let loose and show those pearly whites, despite herself, she seemed to turn into one of those silly adolescent girls she'd disparaged just a minute ago.

Harris not only smiled, but laughed. A deep, hearty, masculine laugh. His laughter attractively crinkled the skin around his eyes. Otherwise, his tanned face was unlined. Prematurely grey, that was what he was. Maybe that trait ran in his family.

"No, thanks. That granola bar looks like Fido's dog food to me."

The laugh and the smile disappeared as quickly as they surfaced. He must've been getting ready to lower the boom. Official police business was rarely good.

She swallowed down a bit of apprehension.

Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGy7DzneQ2Y to see a trailer of this book.

Coming May 2011: Minx’s next case, The Duplicitous Divorce.

Hope you enjoy!


Susanne Marie Knight


Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now available: The Minx Tobin Mystery Series: The Ill-gotten Insurance--Case Two (Desert Breeze Publishing)

Minx's dead friend turns up alive... but not for long. Will the life insurance have to be paid twice?
Book Trailer for Case Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGy7DzneQ2Y

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

New release: CRUSADER, Archangel Book One - sci-fi with romantic elements

Michael Tanner, proud, brash, irreverent, half Native American, and single father, doesn't believe in aliens. When a Blue Angel claims to have fathered him, Michael knows his drinking has gone haywire... But a seductive Prince of Darkness born of a nightmare now targets Michael's family. When his girlfriend disappears and characters from his dreams suddenly materialize to threaten his daughter, Michael must come out of denial and overcome his weaknesses, to face the unbelievable mystery of his birth and fulfill his unique destiny.

Vijaya's kindle books at Amazon.com: HERE

Vijaya's eBooks at ARe (All Romance eBooks) HERE
Also available at Smashwords, and soon at B&N & Kobo(Borders reader)


Navajo reservation, thirty-four years earlier

Behind the blue Ouachita Mountains, the sunset bathed the reservation in cool shadows. Cross-legged on the ground of the sacred cave, the one with sienna drawings of coyotes and rattlesnakes on the walls, Maria faced the warm circle of rocks. The light of the flames caressed the copper skin of her bare breasts and her flowing black hair as she swayed to the rhythm of her monotone chant. Tonight, the young girl braved the spirits alone with only White Eagle's talisman for protection. The arrowhead on a leather thong around her neck prevented evil intrusion from the Great Snake. Hopefully, the Great Spirit would grant her secret wish.

After sprinkling dry cedar twigs among the embers of the central fire, Maria poured water from a calabash onto the fiery rocks. Steam hissed and billowed, filling the cave. Mellowed by the peyote pipe, Maria surveyed the clouds that changed shape and color with the incantation. She expected a vision.

There, yes, there... A gentle spirit had come. His blue radiance filled her with serene rapture, as she felt enveloped by the song of angels. When the vapors condensed, Maria welcomed the loving presence and closed her eyes, heavy with peaceful oblivion... Losing track of the ritual, she surrendered to the blue light, sinking deeper into nothingness, well being, love... Ever so gratefully...

Chapter One

Philadelphia, 1998

"Eh Blondie, two more pitchers!" a tall customer yelled over the music, slurring the words, while the three heavyweights at his table nodded approval.

At the bar, Michael Tanner nursed his bourbon, observing the room through the smoke. "You have to be bad just to have a good time," blared the country song in the background, though he could hardly hear the lyrics above the din. The young waitress in cut-off jeans and western boots smiled at him and he smiled back. Michael knew her by sight only. The girl was new, just a kid. In a few years, his own daughter would be old enough to wait tables. A frightening thought.

"Coming right up!" The girl loaded the tray and wove her way around the tables, straight and sassy, flaunting firm breasts through a white peasant blouse.

The big man watched her every move. Holding the tray high above her head, she pushed the ashtray aside, but he seized her wrist and pinned it to the table. "I bet you don't wear a bra under that flimsy shirt," he snarled.

The young girl blushed. "Let me do my work," she pleaded, struggling to free her hand while balancing the heavy tray on the other.

Michael didn't like the big Yankee who'd sneered at his southern drawl earlier. He couldn't let that cur bother an innocent girl, so he started toward the table.

"You can't fight me, Blondie!" The man leered. "Don't look for the bouncer, he went to take a leak. Why don't you show us your tits?" The Yankee grabbed her waist.

The girl dropped the tray with a cry. It crashed to the floor, glass and beer scattering the sawdust on the concrete. The man's paw on the girl's breast closed and ripped her blouse. She screamed.

Michael pushed himself between the girl and the man. "You need a lesson in good manners!"

"No ignorant Southerner will teach me anything!" The Yankee aimed a fist at Michael's face.

Michael stepped aside, avoiding the impact. When three heavyweights joined the fight, the bouncer tried to intervene, only to find himself buried in chaos. A punch missed Michael's left ear. Applying a ju-jitsu move, he sent his opponent to the floor, into broken glass, sawdust, ashtrays, and cigarette butts. The bartender reached for the phone while the waitress, disheveled, rather nude and pale in her torn blouse and cutoffs, cowered against the bar, protecting her small breasts.

Through the orange light, a booted foot flew to Michael's face. He caught it in mid air. A sharp twist to the right and his opponent's shoulder smashed a table, breaking it in two. A beer bottle sailed through thick haze and shattered on the heavy wall mirror, cracking it.

The kaleidoscope of jeans, cowboy hats, silver buckles, spurs, back kicks, sweat, and blood, made Michael's adrenalin pump faster. He felt happy as a fish in cool water among the toppled tables and chairs, in the smell of whisky and stale cigar. Although past thirty, tonight he felt eighteen, as wild and passionate as ever.

When Michael leapt onto the bar to get a better view, his long hair caught the breeze from the ceiling fan. A smoky reflection in the cracked mirror revealed his tall stature, chestnut hair, good shoulders, strong jaw, high cheekbones, and strikingly blue eyes... A hard body from packing lumber and driving nails all day.

His balance, he'd acquired from walking on catwalks, scaffolding and ladders, and a few beers and bourbon on the rocks didn't upset his timing by much. That son-of-a-bitch stepfather, who taught him martial arts as a kid, would be proud.

There was the muscular Yankee. Michael jumped down and headed in that direction. Blocking a strike, he dodged a chair, kicked another out of the way then leapt over a table. The man had cleaned up one side of the room and stood, waiting.

Michael felt the Indian half of his blood stir. He feinted to the right then threw a left punch to the chin. The target moved just in time to avoid the blow and sneered back. Mad as hell, Michael nevertheless controlled his anger. He turned as if to walk away. Another feint. In a blur, he kicked high and hard, left heel connecting with the man's face. A jawbone cracked. The Yankee tumbled down and slid all the way back through the open front door.

The lights went out. A cold draft chilled the place as an eerie silence fell. Michael stopped moving and listened. Darkness hovered like a disquieting presence. A shadow reflected in the mirror, and his heart stopped for a second. When he looked around, dim light returned and the bar came back to life. Michael tasted blood. It was dribbling from his brow, although he felt no pain and did not remember being hit. Front row, an oblivious drunk stared through the smoke screen in a daze.

A siren sounded in the distance. Michael had to get out before the police arrived. He could ill-afford getting caught, even in a simple brawl. Too many similar incidents already tainted his record. Who'd take care of his family if he went to jail? He headed for the restrooms, discreetly exiting through the back door. He needed a drink.

Ignoring the nip in the air, Michael ran up the dark alley and headed for the white Ford van with ladders and lumber on top. Sirens blaring, a flashing red and blue motorcycle entered the passageway.

"Damn cop!" At the brink of panic, Michael heard a loud whisper.

"To your left!"

To the left, he glimpsed a narrow opening between two buildings. Michael dove into it and flattened himself against the wall, hardly daring to breathe. Sweat chilled his hands. The police motorcycle drove by without slowing down. Michael let out a sigh of relief.

A strange music startled him. He turned to meet blinding blue light... Blinking, Michael protecting his eyes with one hand while his vision adjusted. In the blue halo, he faintly distinguished a frail silhouette. His jaw fell open.

Find out more about my books at:

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS