Open the Flood Gates!

Tactical DeceptionBefore I delve into the release of book two in my Silent Warrior Series, first let me share a wonderful experience I was honored to have just a few weeks ago.  Southwest Florida Romance Writers had their annual conference and was gracious enough to invite me to be their keynote speaker.  They welcomed me with open arms and are a great group to connect with.  So if you find yourself anywhere near Fort Myers and have an interest in writing then this group is a must.  With top New York editors, on the money agents and great workshops given by hot authors Linnea Sinclair and Stacy Kade the conference was a success and inspiration.  When first asked to speak, I wondered if I had anything worthwhile to share with everyone.  I’m not a NYT bestseller, a great oratory, nor can I tell a joke without mangling it beyond recognition.  But after searching deep I realized that my journey and struggles as a writer were all that I needed.  And in the telling of that story, I found the answer to what has driven to write and keep on writing despite the many obstacles,  disappointments, and the seemingly lack of stellar success over the years.  First I realized that I had an unfailing hope in my heart to write and keep on writing.  A hope that’s born from my love of story and from my belief that love is the greatest gift that can be given and received.  Emily Dickinson’s verse eloquently describes it all.

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all..”

Great stories bring hope to the heart and with every story I write, I strive to deliver that to my reader.  To give the hope of love.  To give the hope that good conquers evil.  To give the hope that there is light in the darkness, heroes in the battles, and healing to be found within the sharing of our hearts.

So secondly I realized that touching hearts is the true meaning of success for a writer, no matter what the financial gain may be.
All of which brings me to Mari and Roger, the heroine and hero of TACTICAL DECEPTION.  I hope they touch your heart.  Both of these characters have suffered through life-altering hurts and are struggling to find their way through pain, disillusionment and guilt.  The world events playing out around them amplify their internal conflicts and as they fight their way to save lives and keep the world from spinning into chaos, they discover the healing and forgiving power of love.

I hope that I have succeeded in writing a story that will speak to your heart and invite you to give TACTICAL DECEPTION a try.  But if a military romantic thriller isn’t where your heart lies, I invite you to give one of my other stories a try.

MIDNIGHT SECRETS, the first book in my Killdaren Series, a paranormal historical suspense was re-released in print this month.  Cassie Andrews steps beyond all propriety and safety when she goes undercover as maid into Sean Killdaren’s dark castle.  As she searches for the truth behind the disappearance of her cousin, her life and her heart are plunged into jeopardy.  She’s in a battle for her life and doesn’t know who to trust.  Especially the cursed Sean Killdaren.  He may be her darkest dream…or her most terrifying nightmare.

If you’re a new reader to my books, try one of my hot contemporaries or sexy historicals with great new covers now available on Kindle.  THE MISTRESS OF TREVELYAN, HIS DARK DESIRES, WILD IRISH RIDE, and SMOOTH IRISH SEDUCTION are all ready to whisk you away into the magic of story.

If you like what I’ve written then tell me the best way possible by posting an Amazon Review so others can read why!

Now back to TACTICAL DECEPTION!

Here is an excerpt of Roger and Mari.

Before the guilt of Neil’s death could get another strangling hold on him, Roger marched to his bedroom door. He couldn’t effectively take care of Mari if she hid herself from him. Something had to change. He knocked on the door.

No answer.

He knocked harder.

Still no answer. Worried now, he opened the door. “Mari?”

Light from the bathroom highlighted her figure at the window. She stood minus her abaya and hijab—her black gown and head scarf. She wore a long tunic over slim pants, a vision of cream-colored silk and ebony hair that fell well below her waist. Gold leaves embroidered the collar, sleeves and hems of her outfit. The effect was delicate, exotic, almost ethereal.

Tears streamed down her cheeks and she had her hands pressed to her abdomen, to the child growing within her.

“Are you hurting? Is it the baby? Do you need to go to the hospital?”

“No. The baby is fine. No pain.”

Relief had his blood rushing with dizzying force, leaving him almost light-headed and his chest tightened into a knot. Emotion, pain, and desire sucker punched him in the gut and below. What kind of low-bellied dick was he?

The lowest he decided. He couldn’t stop his heated arousal in response to her beauty, but he damn well could ignore it and remember with every shred of decency he had in him that if it wasn’t for him, Neil would be with Mari right now and none of the shit that had happened to her lately would have occurred.

She stood frozen a moment then turned, reaching for her black gown.

“Don’t. Please don’t hide from me.” His voice escaped in a harsh rasp.

She paused, looking at him, her hand resting on her heavy gown. Her golden eyes were wide with…fear?

He covered the distance between them.

“Are you afraid of me?” Their gazes met and she lowered hers.

He knew before he slid his thumb under her chin how soft her skin was. Just weeks ago, he’d lost his restraint and kissed her tear-dampened cheeks after Dugar had taken a shot at her outside the hospital. That night he’d held her bandaged hand as she’d restlessly slept between nightmares. And until helping her up from the street today, it was the last time he’d touched her.

He clasped her hand resting on her gown and brought it to his chest, placing her palm firmly over his racing heart. Her gaze reconnected with his and he asked her again. “Are you afraid of me?”

“No,” she whispered before shutting her eyes and pulling her hand away.

She said no, but he swore he saw fear swirling in her conflicted expression.

“Why then? Why didn’t you tell me how bad things were for you? I could have helped or gotten you help. And why didn’t you tell me about the shooting lessons? I would have arranged for them. Made sure you were safe.”

“You would have?” She blinked at him with surprise. “But you were adamant about me not leaving the post for any reason. Not even to go with Holly to the store in Fayetteville.”

“Going to a shoe sale in a crowded mall is different than going to a gun range. Besides, learning to protect yourself is more important than buying shoes.” Roger raked his fingers through his hair. He remembered the conversation they’d had a few weeks back. And yeah, he’d been pretty strong in his objections about them going to the mall. But then, someone had been calling in bomb threats at that time too. It had been three weeks after Dugar’s attempts to kill her and Roger would have bet money Dugar was behind the threats. He hadn’t told Mari about any of it though. He hadn’t wanted her to worry. Only to heal.

She frowned at him as if he’d grown horns. “What?” he asked. Had he said something wrong?

“So what does that mean? I am not supposed to do something, but if it’s something you approve of then it is all right to do it?”

Hell. She made him sound as if he were a bipolar prison guard. He counted to ten, hoping to ease his frustration, but it didn’t work. “No. Well, sometimes, maybe, yes. I mean—” Tension knotted his brow. What did he mean? Couldn’t she see the difference between the two outings? “We can discuss the details later. I just need to know why you couldn’t tell me about the anxiety you’re having and that you wanted to learn self-defense.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.”

Roger opened his mouth then shut it. He’d kept things from her for the same reason, but this was different. She’d put herself in both physical and mental jeopardy. Then again, hadn’t he set himself as her prison guard as opposed to a bodyguard? Had he done anything personal to put her at ease enough to be able to share her anxiety with him? No, he’d let his guilt and his need to avoid his attraction to her keep her at a cold, formal distance.

He had to change. “You can’t do that anymore. From now on, no matter what you want to do, just tell me and whether I like it or not, I will help you do it, okay? It is the only way I can assure your safety.”

“That’s it? If I want to go buy shoes then you’ll take me?”

He exhaled. “Yes. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to voice my opinion on whether it’s a smart thing to do or not. And if I really think something is too dangerous then I expect you to respect my serious concerns. This isn’t a forever state of affairs. It’s just until Dugar is caught, then you’ll be your own woman, okay?”

Her own woman? Did she even know who she was? Mari looked up at Roger, her heart racing so fast she could barely think.  A few moments ago, she’d been staring out at the purple-red sunset, wondering how she could face Roger.  She’d done exactly what he’d told her not to do and it had turned out so badly.  She’d been sickened over how miserably she’d failed in establishing any shred of independence.  Her worst fears about herself had come true. She’d had a total panicked meltdown. She’d been thrust back into the darkness of what had happened in Afghanistan. She’d hit the bottom and was surprised that she’d survived it all. Her pride was bruised, but she was okay.

Now she was not only facing Roger but… she stood alone with him, in his bedroom, wearing only her tunic and pants and she wasn’t embarrassed or shamed.  She wanted this familiarity between them.

He wasn’t as mad as she thought he would be either.

It wasn’t as if her choosing to leave the post didn’t matter. She could see that he was clearly upset and worried about her. But it wasn’t how she’d thought it would be. Her father would have—

Roger wasn’t her father. Never would be. But he wasn’t the easygoing teddy bear Neil had been either. In some ways Roger was like a fierce warrior. Dangerous and remote. She’d seen the deadly anger in his eyes when it came to Dugar. She had no doubt that Roger would kill Dugar with his bare hands if he had to. She’d also seen a haunted darkness in him too. Roger had deep secrets that she instinctively knew he’d never let another person near.

Neil had been different. There wasn’t a part of him he didn’t openly share with her. It wasn’t that he didn’t keep information from her. There were things about his job he couldn’t tell her and things she would never ask him. But his soul and heart had wrapped warmly around her as accepting and loving as a puppy. He’d never said anything to curtail what she did, but then, she’d never ventured beyond the strictures of her upbringing. It was two years before he could talk her into going to the store alone.

It wasn’t until she met Holly that Mari started thinking about doing things outside of the rules, about getting an education, a job, learning to shoot a gun, and yes, one of those things was standing without her abaya before a man who wasn’t her husband, her brother or her father. A man who said she could be her own woman? What did that mean?

“Okay?” Roger angled his head to look into her eyes as he set his hands on her shoulders.

She nodded. Her tongue was tied in the gratefulness clogging her throat and in the fire burning through her senses at his heated touch. He’d made this whole big problem and the fiasco of the day all so simple. So easy to let go of and move forward. At least she thought he had. Currently her mind reeled, making coherent thought debatable. His nearness and intensity had her blood racing places her mind couldn’t go yet.

He released her and stepped back. “Hungry?”

“Yes.” She drew in a much-needed breath of air. She thought about grabbing her abaya and putting it on now. Considering the way he made her feel, it would be safer.

“What do you want to eat for dinner?” He started walking out of the bedroom, but his gaze fell on the rumpled bed and she cringed. It looked as if a tornado had struck it; she’d tossed and turned so much.

She rushed over to straighten the bedcovers. “Whatever you want will be fine.”

She didn’t dare look at him. What he must think. He’d loaned her his bed and she couldn’t even leave it neat. Leaning forward with her knees against the mattress, she fixed the blanket and threw the pillows back up to the headboard. She stood back quickly and hit a hard, hot body—an unmistakably aroused, hard, hot, male body. His arm wrapped around her when she teetered with surprise and a visceral shock wave of want hit her hard.

Thank you for reading today and I hope to hear from you!

Remember every day to Dream, Believe, Create, Inspire, Love, Heal

Jenni

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