Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Novel, book 1)
Excerpt from Fury of Fire:
The smell of fresh blood propelled Bastian up the porch steps and through the open door. Broken glass crunched beneath the soles of his boots as he crossed over the threshold into the small house.
He was too late.
The Razorbacks, the rogue band of dragons that hated humankind and their dependence on females, had beaten him to the mother and child. He didn’t care that the infant had been sired by one of them. None of the bastards deserved to be fathers. To leave the female defenseless and alone—without any understanding of what was to come—then take the baby a month early? Christ, it was beyond unthinkable.
The enormity of his failure hit him like a body shot.
He should have come sooner. Two days ago when the results of her blood work popped up on Sloan’s system. Tentacles deeply embedded in human databases, his comrade could find anything, from medical records to homicide reports.
Fuck. It was Bastian’s fault.
Not her death—that had been inevitable the moment one of his kind impregnated her—but the manner of it. The violence in it. The needless suffering. Had he done his duty, the female would have been comfortable in the end.
With grim resolve, Bastian followed the scent of death down the narrow corridor. He inhaled deep and listened hard, sifting to find any trace of the enemy’s trail. He would honor the woman and then hunt the rogues down; take the child back before he became polluted by hatred. The last thing he and his warriors needed was another soldier in the Razorbacks’ ranks.
He spotted the blood pool on the tile floor from the kitchen doorway and—
“I’m so sorry…so sorry,” a female said, an agonized hitch in her voice. “Look how beautiful he is, Caro. All ten fingers and toes. Look how beautiful.”
The sound of an infant’s cry answered her, rising from behind the island.
Sucking in a quick breath, Bastian stepped around the edge of the gold-flecked countertop. He stopped cold, boots rooted to the floor, gaze riveted to the light-haired female. Pale green hospital scrubs covered in blood, she sat in devastation, a dead body next to her, a small, coat-wrapped bundle in her arms. Medical supplies lay scattered around her, the black bag by her side overflowing with gauze, rubber gloves, and plastic-wrapped packages. But it was the butcher knife that made him ache for her.
She’d saved the baby, knowing she couldn’t save the mother. Remarkable. She was undeniably remarkable. A female with the heart of a warrior.
Bastian swallowed past the lump in his throat and ditched his leathers, conjuring an EMT’s uniform. As a nurse, she would respond better to a paramedic, someone of common skill and experience. He didn’t want her to freak out, but time wasn’t on his side. The Razorbacks would track them quickly, and he needed her in the ambulance and rolling before that happened.
Knight Awakened (Circle of Seven series, book 1)
Excerpt from Knight Awakened:
The desperate gleam in Xavian’s eyes scared her to death. The hard press of muscle locked around her and his pace didn’t help much either. Each long stride took Afina further from safety, into the cool shadows of the stable and closer to full-blown panic.
Had she overstepped her bounds? Was he angry with her for interfering?
She bit the inside of her cheek and looked up into his face. He didn’t seem to be. Anger no longer lined his features. But then, nothing did. And his contained expression frightened her more than his fury would have. Something churned just before the surface, suppressed emotion she couldn’t see but knew was there.
“Xavian?” She kept her voice soft as she looped her arms around his neck. Startling him wasn’t a good idea. He was wound too tight, and she was too vulnerable...within striking distance. Not that she thought he would hurt her. But honestly? Better to be safe than sorry. “Please, stop.”
He slowed, the echo of his footfalls fading as he halted in the middle of the aisle. She held her breath, listening to the thump of his heart as he tightened his grip under her knees and turned his face into her hair. Each one of his breaths whispered over her temple, the hot rush sweet with a hint of mint.
Not knowing what else to do, her hand stole to the nape of his neck, seeking, stroking to ease his tension. He murmured, pressed closer, curling around her as though he needed her touch as much as he needed to breathe. A small pang echoed in the center of her chest. Something was terribly wrong. He was hurting. The strong, brave warrior was in pain, and she couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t let it continue. The healer in her wouldn’t allow it.
“Please, tell me what is wrong,” she whispered, fingers playing in his hair, sifting through the thickness. Good goddess, it was a wonder, the softness. She’d never imagined a man could have such beautiful hair. Not that she was noticing. No, not really. She touched to reassure, not to—
Drat. Now she was lying to herself.
She ordered her wayward hands to still. When neither listened, she returned her attention to Xavian. “Let me help you.”
A fine tremor racked his large frame. She tightened her grip. “Put me down so I can help.”
“Nay,” he said, his voice half-growl, half-groan before he shuddered and moved forward, continuing into the interior of the stable. “You’re mine.”
Mine? Or rather, his? What the devil did that mean?
“Ah, Xavian, I think mayhap...” She trailed off, catching a glimpse of movement in her periphery. Three stable lads, pitch- forks hanging from limp hands, gaped at them, mouths wide open. Wonderful. Now they had an audience. She glanced at Xavian, knowing he wouldn’t approve. He was having some sort of breakdown, and no man worth his weight would relish wit- nesses for that.
Afina hung on as he took a sharp right at the end of the aisle. Two strides later, and he’d walked them through a doorway and into the tack room beyond. Sacks of grain occupied one corner, fat companions to the array of bridles hanging on the chamber walls. The long leather strips hovered above saddle horses, some in use, some patiently awaiting the weight of their next charge. With little room to maneuver, Xavian stopped in the center of the room and, one arm still around her, dropped her feet to the floor.
As she found her balance, he murmured, “La dracu, you feel good...so warm.”
The whispered words tickled the side of her neck then rolled like a dark wave down her spine. His voice was decadent. The resonance one of perfect pitch; deep enough to tie her up, light enough to make her want to relax and trust and give. But two years of running—of Vladimir—had ruined any chance of that.
Her hands flat against his chest, she pushed, needing distance. He tightened his grip, shackling her against him while he inhaled, burrowing deep to press his lips to her pulse point. The contact—mouth to neck, skin to skin—hit her like a thunderstorm, and heat gathered with an alarming rumble.
Afina swallowed. “I, ah...Are you all right?”
“I’m so cold inside...so cold.”
Cold? Afina frowned and rubbed his upper arms. Odd, he didn’t feel chilled.
“Xavian, look at me,” she said, her tone tight.
One arm nestled against her back, he buried his free hand in her unbound hair, pulling her flush against him. Her fingers curled, and finding the edge of his sleeveless tunic, she shook him. He raised his head, blue eyes glowing with unsettling heat. Afina froze. She felt her eyes widen and heard her lips part on a strangled gasp. Could he be...what...Good goddess, was he—
“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.” He cupped her cheek with a warrior-rough palm. Holding her there, his gaze half-searched, half-pleaded as he leaned in and kissed her, whisper-soft. “Please, draga. Warm me...make me forget the cold for a while.”
Afina’s breath got tangled up in the back of her throat. Wonder nipped at her, drowning out the little voice that whispered a warning. Somewhere deep inside she knew she should listen, heed the kernel of fear coiling low in her belly. But the fact he wanted her—the way a man did a woman—trumped good sense, spinning her into a world filled with new possibilities.
She wanted them all, craved the moment of freedom. Longed to let loose, and just once, do what she wanted instead of pleasing someone else.
And Xavian? His desire was the perfect foil.
Without shame or seduction, he asked, leaving the outcome up to her. But what to do...accept his touch or deny her yearning? Ignoring the lust-filled ache would be safer, but curiosity was a powerful thing. And as she stared into his eyes, blue as the Danube, warm as a hot spring, she remembered Bianca.
Ever since her sister had danced across their small cottage, Afina had wondered about her secret meetings with Bodgan. Her enjoyment had been obvious, a curious splendor that had left Afina dissatisfied with her own life.
The restlessness hit her full force. It wasn’t fair that everyone knew joy except her. Life had dealt her a series of denials, but not today. Today was about her, about what she needed—what she wanted—and for once, she followed desire, titled her chin up and invited his kiss.
Welcome to my corner of the blogging world.
Let's get a little of the formalities out of the way.
Coreene: Hi everyone! A huge thanks to Catherine for having me here today. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to hang out with you!
Give my readers a cliff note version of you.
· How has Amazon Montlake been to work with?
Coreene: In a word…fantastic! The Montlake team is an incredibly talented and professional group with years of publishing experience behind them, and it shows. All my questions get answered, and I am included in many of the decisions that impact my books. And the Montlake authors? Such an amazing group of people: supportive, savvy, and generous!
· What do you think about self publishing?
Coreene: Self publishing has really come on in recent years, and I’m so glad that it has. It’s an important tool in a writer’s toolbox. The opportunity to self publishing has opened a lot of doors and given authors more say than ever, the freedom to control our own destinies, so to speak. And that is a great gift, particularly when it allows someone to make living doing what they love...namely, writing.
· What do you love about being a writer?
Coreene: Oh, so many things. Getting to make stuff up for a living. Not having to rush out the door to go to work every morning and wearing my PJs to the office is a big perk. Interacting and chatting with readers everyday. Being able hang out with my writing buddy, Winston (my golden retriever) all day long. I could go on! The list is endless, really.
· What do you hate about being a writer?
Coreene: You know, there isn’t a thing that I hate about being a writer. I love the job, from writing the first draft to the revision stages. That isn’t to say that it’s easy. Some days are unbelievably hard, as though I’m banging my head a brick wall. But even when the words come hard and the story seems like it’s falling apart, I love it. The worse day I ever spent writing was still better than a great day anywhere else.
· Nearly all romance novels have shhh, sex, in them. How do you answer the never ending question, Why do you write THAT kind of book? Or even better… How do you do your RESEARCH?
Coreene: Oh, boy…did someone just set off a bomb in here? My husband loves to joke that he is the R&D department (Research and Development) for the sexy scenes in my books. I let him believe it. *grin*
Buy honestly, here’s the real deal…
Sex is an important part of any healthy, romantic relationship. Let’s face it, we (as human beings) need physical connection to strengthen the emotional ties we feel for the one we love. We communicate so much through touch: caring, need, empathy, understanding and, of course, love. No words necessary. Sometimes the right touch is all we need to feel connected, loved and respected in return.
So in order for me to create impactful characters—the kind a reader can identify with—it’s important to not only give a character depth and dimension, but also to tell the truth. How? By asking relevant questions and exploring real issues that most people experience every day. Interpersonal relationships consist of a complex mix of things. But a romantic relationship requires sexual connection and touch. The strength of that bond is both an important and natural part of the human experience. A good romance novel sheds light on these issues. So I’m never embarrassed about creating authentic characters or modeling healthy sexual relationships, never mind writing the red-hot love scenes you’ll find in my books.
· What do you like better, Twitter or Facebook? Why?
Coreene: I enjoy both, but for different reasons. Facebook is about longer conversations with more than one person in the mix, which I like because I’m interested in other people and love to chat. Twitter engages people in short snippets…connection that is fast and easy to sustain on the fly. I also find that I connect with different people on each site. A lot of my author friends are on Twitter, so I’m able to keep up to date with what they are doing, whereas I chat more with readers and book lovers on Facebook.
· And the most important question ever... Do you roll your toilet paper over the roll or under the roll?
Coreene: Over, of course! And if I find a roll that’s “under”? Call me crazy, but I switch it to roll “over”!
· Tell us about your latest release and were we can find it.
Coreene: Well, I have two latest releases! And I’m incredibly excited about both!
FURY OF SEDUCTION (Dragonfury Novel, book 3), is about an ex-homicide detective turned dragon-shifter and his struggle to not only control the incredible power he now possesses, but also to protect the woman meant to be his.
KNIGHT AWAKENED, the first book in my Circle of Seven series, is about elite assassins in 14th century Transylvania and the magical order they protect. Dragons show up in this series too, so get ready for the fallout!
Thanks so much for inviting me to visit today! I had a blast
answering all your questions and hope you enjoyed the excerpts! For more about the Dragonfury Novels and the Circle of Seven series, please stop by my website www.CoreeneCallahan.com. I’d love to hear from you!