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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Confessions of a suspense junkie



I'm a big chicken about scary stories and tend to avoid them, unless you count Neil Gaiman's—some of his are rather spooky. When it comes to movies I prefer psychological thrillers to gore-fests. I became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock as a teen. His movies may seem tame and dated to contemporary audiences, but to me he's the master of suspense.

Hitchcock's Rear Window has one of my favorite movie moments of all times. The film is about a sports photographer, played by Jimmy Stewart, who's homebound with a broken leg. Out of boredom he spies on his neighbors through a telephoto lens. Soon he begins to suspect that the guy across the courtyard murdered his wife, and much intrigue ensues. The movie is shot entirely from Jimmy Stewart's point of view, so much so that sometimes we see directly what he does. Without realizing it, the viewer becomes the character on screen. At the moment when the suspect suddenly looks straight into the camera, he's looking at us, and it's truly shocking. Anyone watching it for he first time is guaranteed to be taken aback.

Books too, work best if you're so absorbed in the character that anything happening to them feels like it's happening to you.


Last Stop is one of those stories that came out of the blue, unplanned and unexpected. It started with a sentence I scribbled to demonstrate the difference between passive voice and past continuous tense. The sentence involved two men in a diner. That should've been the end of it, but the guys wouldn't leave me alone. I kept wondering who they were, what they were doing in the diner, and what would happen next. I gave them names, and soon I had their entire backstories in my head. Once I knew where they were coming from, it was easy to plot the story. Jay is a young guy with lots of older men in his past. Sam is older and he has a few very bad men in his. When Sam's past catches up with them, all hell breaks loose, and they have to run.

Excerpt
Sam and Mr. Drake were arguing. To be exact, Mr. Drake was going on about something, and Sam stood there looking at him sort of amused, like Drake was an overexcited Chihuahua gnawing at his boots. Ever since the almost shooting, things had been strained between them.

Jay decided to go ahead and wait for Sam in the parking lot. He was already strapping on his motorcycle helmet as he stepped through the back door. He sensed something amiss the moment he stepped outside, but it took him precious seconds to realize what it was—the powerful floodlight that normally lit Ombre’s parking lot was off, leaving the almost-empty lot shrouded in semidarkness. Jay instinctively took a step back toward the door, but it was too late—a couple of dark figures peeled out of the shadows.

“Why, hello there,” a voice rasped.

While Jay turned toward the source of the voice, the other guy came up behind Jay and stuck something hard between his ribs. Jay didn’t have the slightest doubt it was a gun.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” the man said.

Jay had the sudden and startling urge to giggle at such a clich├ęd movie line. He realized it was a nervous reaction. As his eyes got used to the darkness, he could make out the face of the other man. Jay recognized him immediately. It was the man who’d stopped at the diner months ago and given him the heebie-jeebies, the one Sam called Nicky Torino. The guy sticking a gun in his back had to be Gino then. The seconds felt like hours as they stood there, frozen in their places. Jay thought he should be doing something, but didn’t know what.

They all turned toward the door as it banged open and Sam stepped out. Sam took a step forward and froze. The door clacked closed behind him.

“Hello, Rob, nice to see you again,” Torino said in a voice that was cold steel wrapped in velvet.

Sam’s jaw clenched. “Nicky.”

“You know the drill, let’s go.” Torino motioned toward a black SUV with his gun.
Sam stood his ground. “Let the kid go. He’s got nothing to do with this.”

“Maybe I will, later. If you play nice. Now get moving.”

Jay knew with absolute certainty that Torino had no intention of letting either of them go. It was in Sam’s eyes too—Sam glared at Jay hard like he was trying to transmit a telepathic message. The gun jabbed hard into Jay’s back, so he started walking.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Let's prepare for Halloween with a bite!



Thirst was originally a short story of about eighteen hundred words that sat in my documents file. It was only when I was outlining another book that I came across it and re-read it. Within minutes, all these plot bunnies were bounding around my brain and yelling in my ear so loudly I couldn’t ignore them.
Max, although he has the persona of a tough cop, is a sensitive soul who is hit hard by the spate of killings he is investigating. As any normal human being would, he decides to step outside the case and recharge his batteries. Unfortunately, he lets his guard down and it costs him dearly as he is assaulted by the man who plies him with drinks in the bar he visits, and an accomplice. Being beaten senseless and left for dead in the alley beside the bar was not part of his plan for the evening, but that’s what he got. Luckily for Max, someone else in the bar had noticed him, too although he’s not entirely sure that a vampire would have been his first choice as a knight in shining armour.
Carter Grey is a prolific horror writer who seems to permanently reside on the bestseller list. If his fans found out about his nocturnal meanderings, they might not be so inclined to buy his tomes. When he rescues Max and deals with his attackers, he fully intends to make Max dessert, but something in the man’s eyes and the whispered plea from his lips awakens something deep within him that he’d thought was long dead—not that he wants to give voice to the way Max makes him feel.
Together, unsure of their feelings for each other, wondering if they could ever be... Max asks Carter to help him solve his case, where the victims are drained of blood. But will Max regret meeting Carter when it becomes clear the vampire knows more about the killings than he’s letting on and Max’s life is put on the line.


EXCERPT:
"Carter?" Max's voice was slurred with sleep and he struggled to sit up in the bed, watching Carter's advance. He could feel the man's anger rolling off him in waves and his gut clenched in fear and trepidation. This was a side of Carter that he had not yet seen and for the first time, he felt very afraid. "What is it? Are you okay?"
The laugh was cold. "Am I okay? No, Max, I'm not even in the vicinity of okay," he ground out between clenched teeth. Before Max had time to register any movement from Carter, he was looking up into angry eyes and felt a taut ass against his thighs as the older man straddled his hips.
"What are you doing?" he managed to grunt when both of his wrists were pushed above his head on the pillow by an iron grip, pinning him down with ease. Trying to struggle, he cried out at the pain in his ribs with the movement. "Stop, Carter, you're hurting me."
Carter's eyes darkened even further and his anger took on a vicious edge. "I'm hurting you?" he snapped, his face mere inches from Max's. "What about what you're doing to me? Who are you? What do you want from me!"
Max swallowed, noting the way the other man's eyes followed the bob of his Adam's apple. Fuck! He cringed back into the pillows his stomach churning, nausea rising up into his throat. He knew he was totally defenseless. "I don't understand… I don't know what you're talking about… I haven't done anything to you."
"You haven't done anything?" Carter repeated disbelievingly. He bent his head so close that when he flicked his tongue out across his lips, the tip of it touched Max's mouth. "You've done everything. Eyes boring into me. Tempting me with that body. And your scent, God, your scent," he ran his nose up the side of Max's jaw and pressed his lips to the smooth, sensitive skin behind the shell of Max's ear. "I can smell you on me, Max. Your scent is burned into my flesh. I can hear your blood pumping, taste the sweetness of it on your breath." If his tone hadn't been so angry, the words would have sounded to Max like whispered promises of passion. Instead each fell from his lips with the bitterness of a curse.
Max gasped when Carter's lips parted and he felt the wet trail of the man's tongue as it licked from his jaw to the pulse point in his throat. "Carter," Max groaned when he felt those cool lips against his sleep-warm skin, the flesh being pulled into Carter's mouth and his tongue flicking against it feverishly.
"Oh, God." Max was torn between fear and desire as a garishly red warning light flashed in his brain and he felt raging certainty flood through him. His thoughts burst rapid and quick fire out of his senses' roiling confusion. Oh, my God, this isn't a game. He isn't a serial killer with some weird kink, Bowman. The cold skin, the fiery eyes, the speed, the strength. Holy fuck, how could it be possible? How could it be real? To his logical cop's brain, it wasn't possible. But with Carter looming over him, holding him down, no mercy showing in the green gaze; he knew that logic had no place here. "You know what I am, Max." Yes, he knew exactly what Carter was. He also knew what was going to happen, and God help him, he wanted it. Unable to prevent Carter's name falling from his lips, Max felt Carter's moan rumble against his skin. He stared up into lust-blown green eyes before Carter bent his head and brought their lips together, stopping Max's whimper with his mouth. Max opened his mouth readily beneath Carter's, beckoning him inside. He could feel Carter's arousal against his own, the heat of desire burning through them.
On a muffled cry, Carter broke the kiss and emitted an animalistic growl. Max panted harshly, trying to capture Carter's lips again and the vampire's hair brushed against Max's face as he shook his head and pressed his mouth to the skin of Max's throat.
"No, no more," he ground out, "this has to end!"
At the feel of sharp teeth against his flesh, Max groaned almost ferally, his chest heaving. Each breath he took sliced pain through his torso, but he didn't care. He had never felt anything like it before. His body had a will of its own. In that single moment he had never wanted anything more than he wanted to feel Carter Gray slide his teeth into him and take what he needed.
"Do it… Carter… do it." He tried to arch his neck and force Carter's fangs into his flesh. "Please."

* * * *
Carter froze. Lifting his head slowly, he looked down at the man beneath him. Max's eyes were closed in rapture, his neck arched—waiting—wanting. Just fucking do it! He wants it! Look at him, he's begging for it! His subconscious was right. All he had to do was bite down and this would be over. No more confusion, no more questions, only satiation and peace. He growled low, the sound loud as it echoed into the quiet of the room, yanking clear of the hands he'd grasped only moments before, as if they had suddenly become snakes about to bite him. He pushed himself off the bed and headed for the door, his arms wrapped around his cramping stomach. He heard Max whisper his name and glanced back at the dazed man panting against the pillows. "What have you done to me?" he husked. His shoulders slumped in defeat and he turned on his heel, slamming the door behind him.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Not your average ghost story




HE SPEAKS DEAD is a unique take on the whole talking-to-the-dead idea. Charlie Harrison can not only speak to the dead, but he can make them real. In the past he was exploited by people interested in profiting from his abilities, but now he’s found a quiet life and a wonderful boyfriend named Ethan. And Charlie and Ethan love each other deeply. There’s only one down part of the relationship. Ethan is dead.

Charlie can make Ethan real so they can actually touch each other, but doing so drains Charlie. They’ve gotten around the problems by visiting clubs and finding men who pick Charlie up and want to have sex with him. Charlie then helps Ethan possess the men so they can be together.

HE SPEAKS DEAD isn’t a typical ghost story. There aren’t just spirits. There are dark entities called Sedit. These evil shadows have never been alive and hunt the deceased. On occasion they latch on to a living person and slowly drain them of life. Usually the living have nothing to fear. But when Roy Sullivan, a man from Charlie’s past, finds a way to artificially tap into the realm of the dead, he changes the rules. People begin to die.

HE SPEAKS DEAD isn’t just a love story. It’s horror, and mystery, with a heavy dose of sarcasm thanks to Ethan. And once again I did my damndest to break the rules and color outside the lines. Only this time I took it a step farther because one of the characters is dead.

I wrote HE SPEAKS DEAD because I liked the idea of two characters overcoming impossible odds.  And what can be more impossible than coming back from the dead? 

Being that Halloween is right around the corner, HE SPEAKS DEAD is a great choice to add some spice to the spooky.  Get your at Loose ID

Adrienne Wilder


HE SPEAKS DEAD-Excerpt
I don’t remember much about my life, just bits and pieces, small snapshots, faces, sometimes parts of conversation. I don’t remember any places, any names, not even my own.
But I remember my death.
There isn’t a detail not etched into my mind. Everything from how the pavement burned my cheeks to how my knees ached from falling when I tried to run to the sound of my screams. I died alone, in some back alley, behind some unnamed building, after being destroyed inside and out.
The sky above me was full of stars and the night smelled wet and the air felt damp on my skin. There was no moon, so even with the streetlamps just down the way, twinkling points created a glorious blanket above—like diamonds scattered across a sea of black velvet.
It seemed stargazing should have been the last thing on my mind while I lay there with a knife wound in my chest, drowning in blood. But the pain had dulled, and my limbs had gone numb, and the man who’d killed me had taken off, so there wasn’t really much else to think about.
Some nights the memories ate at me like a cancer, and I’d ache with a longing to know about the world I’d lost, the people I’d left behind. A maddening state of being, never knowing, and knowing you never would.
Apparently it’s like that for the dead. Most of us never get over being taken from the living.
But not tonight.
On nights like tonight the memories were drowned out by the heavy throb of music pouring over the mass of people clogging the club floor. Strobe lights, glow sticks, and bodies slick with sweat churned around me, creating a sea of living forms.
I’d lost sight of Charlie when he headed over to the small, circular booths near the back wall. I moved toward him through the crowd, feeling none of the bodies I passed through. Whether or not any of them felt me, I don’t know. Sometimes the living sensed my presence—a cold chill, a soft touch—but the majority dismissed me as a draft or a figment of their imagination. None of them ever saw me, really saw me.
Not like Charlie. But then, there just weren’t many living like him. I wish I could remember my life, so I would know whether or not my death had been worth meeting him.
I’m willing to bet it was.
I came out on the other side of the crowd and found Charlie standing near a booth next to a dark-haired man. The man was average height, average build, but his eyes were something dark—brown, gray. According to Charlie mine are green. Being dead meant I couldn’t see my reflection, or touch, taste, or smell anything anymore. Those were gifts only bestowed on the living.
Charlie always picked ones who looked as much like me as possible. Knowing his reasons warmed my heart and made me feel sad.
Charlie’s smile widened when I floated up behind the man. Dark Hair was already pawing his way into Charlie’s clothes. It was hard for me to believe how shy Charlie had been when we first started this. He was still hesitant most the time, because he saw himself as an awkward young man. Charlie had been a late bloomer. I’d watched him change over the past eight years, going from a knobby-kneed twenty-year-old who looked like a teenager to a lithe-bodied man who belonged in a Calvin Klein ad.
Okay, maybe not a Calvin Klein ad, but he was definitely hot.
The men in the bars thought so too. He never had a problem finding one. I think it’s what convinced him I wasn’t just telling him what every guy wants to hear. Charlie knew I loved him either way, so I think he just chalked up my compliments to him owning my heart.
I watched Dark Hair in his desperate attempts to relieve Charlie of his clothing. There was no reason for me to be jealous. I mean, being willing was really the only rule I had about doing this. Not the part about willing to be possessed—because it wasn’t like we could get permission first—but the sex. Even though I would be in control, the man would still have memories, hazy, but still there. The thought of making someone do anything they didn’t want to just didn’t sit well with me. Not all dead felt that way. Good thing taking over the living isn’t something the dead can do whenever we please. No, we need a conduit, a medium, a person who lingers between the living and the dead.
Someone like Charlie.
There are entities who can possess without a conduit. We—meaning the dead—referred to them as sedit.
Dark Hair slipped a hand into Charlie’s hair and pulled him closer. Their mouths met, and they exchanged a sloppy kiss. Charlie’s gaze stayed locked on me while he kissed back. Deep. Probing. As if drinking this man down would bring me back to life.
I didn’t even try to pretend how it made me feel. Hungry. Starving. Yearning for the touch of the world. I could experience those things through Charlie, when I was a part of him, sharing his body, or when he breathed life into me. I didn’t know what else to call what he did, and as far as I knew, no one else could do it. Sure there were mediums, and there were channelers—rare gifts, but real nonetheless.
But Charlie could make me real. He could make anything dead real by somehow extending what made him alive and sharing it. Charlie is careful about letting anyone know what he can do, dead or alive. The dead already bother him enough—if they knew he could bring them from beyond, they’d never leave him alone.
Charlie pulled away, and both of them were panting. He touched the other man’s cheek, swept his thumb over the man’s lips.
Dark Hair tried to kiss him again, but Charlie turned his head. “Let’s go to the back.”
The fire in Dark Hair’s eyes practically blazed as he followed Charlie out. I’m sure he thought the smoldering look Charlie threw over his shoulder was meant for him, but I knew it was meant for me.
While they jostled their way past dancing people, I followed close behind. Not too close. I had to be careful about touching Charlie, or I could tap him.
I’m not sure if his ability was how I found him or if our meeting had been some divine intervention—if you believe in divine intervention. All I know is when I drew my last breath, I saw him. A glowing point in the darkness. One moment there had been nothing, then the next I found myself next to two EMS people shocking Charlie back to life.
Not exactly the most romantic way to meet the man of your dreams, but I’m not going to complain.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How about a little soft horror to get the blood rushing!



Greetings Guys Like Romance, Too! followers, Jaxx Steele is back.

Let me start by reiterating that I am not a gory, horror or scary story writer by nature. I don’t read stories like that nor do I partake in movies of that nature, but somehow my brain managed to form 2 soft horror romances: Healing the Beast Within and Indian Blood Moon, both available at Phaze. Today’s blog is about Healing the Beast Within.

Cursed for a crime he did not commit, Keith Turner had given up on love. Even after making that decision, he still spent every night being tortured. His brother Kevin was confident that they could find a way to break the curse, but it wasn’t until Keith met Marcello that he ever took Kevin’s ideas to heart.

I was so glad to see curses on the list so I could talk about this book. Beast was my second attempt at ‘horror’ per the challenge I mentioned in my earlier post this month. Indian Blood Moon (<---blog) was your basic good versus evil story. Magnus was a watcher who fought off demons that tried to sacrifice Dante to their demon god. It was a safe story line for my first attempt at horror, but I wanted Healing the Beast Within to be different. I had to step it up and put a little elbow grease into it to get that done. 

Healing the Beast Within, however, was a bit different. I went the curse route and wondered how a man today would handle a curse from way back when. I picked Salem as the setting because of its history of curses, witches and whatnot. It took longer to come up with the story line because I wanted some real history to be woven into it. After some extensive research the story started to flow and bam! Healing the Beast Within came to life.

This story makes your heart pound and gets your blood rushing. You will enjoy the brotherly bond Keith has with his twin brother Kevin and have a love/hate relationship with Marcello after he meets Keith and the beast within him. Here is a look at Keith and Marcello’s first meeting.

Excerpt:
It was just before his lunch hour when Keith finished with his last client of the morning. Instead of waiting in his office, as usual, he went in search of his brother. Kevin’s office was on the other end of the building. As he walked the long corridor, his leisurely gait slowed to a stop. Something out of the ordinary was on the air. He inhaled deeply then turned slowly to look up and down the hall. His brow crinkled in confusion.

Fire? Smoke? Burnt popcorn? No…something else.

He took another breath. Woodsy and spicy scents filled his nostrils. His cock responded to the smell readily. A chill snaked down his back, making his nipples hard and goose bumps rise on his skin.

What is that?

He shook off his anxiety and moved on. The scent grew stronger as he walked along the hallway, the effects causing havoc on his senses. He popped his head into Kevin’s office.

“Kev?”

Keith closed the door and continued to look for his brother. He stopped just outside of exam room one. The unknown aroma was now overwhelming, as it wrapped around him. A sudden burst of heat surged through his body. His cock throbbed mercilessly and pressed against the inside of his pants. The sound of his breathing filled his ears. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and rolled down his temple. He griped the door frame to steady himself. His lab coat grew tight on his back and his tie felt constricting. He yanked at the knot gasping for air.

What the hell is going on?

The smell came from inside the room. He was positive of it. His brother was in the room, Keith sensed him, but Kevin was not alone. The scent did not come from Kevin. It had to be from whoever was with him. It was an intoxicating fragrance, something Keith had never experienced before. His perception was on high alert. The smell was so strong that he could almost taste this person. He was salivating at the thought of savoring him.

Him?

It was a man! Never before could he perceive the scent of another person without being in his other form. His awareness had not been so precise during the day. How could he smell a man now?

The question floated through his consciousness leaving him stunned and more confused, but no answer followed it.

Oh my God! What if I’m changing now? During the day!

Suddenly, he was very aware that anyone could walk down the hall and see. Fear and adrenaline added to the lust that already surged through his blood. It took a huge effort on his part to calm his breathing and will his coursing blood to slow. Success left him wet with perspiration and gripping the doorframe so hard that it splintered beneath his fingers. Once he regained his composure, Keith fixed his clothes and straightened his tie before finally knocking on the door. There was a slight pause before a reply came.

“Yeah! Come in.”

Keith was calmed somewhat by his brother’s voice, but when he opened the door he was struck with wave of consciousness from the unknown man. It was as if he had stepped into a sauna. Keith’s nostrils flared as the scent that drew him down the hall assailed his nose once again. Kevin had his back to him as he kneeled before his patient. Keith’s breathing accelerated immediately as he looked at the patient’s face.

He was an older man with more black than grey in his short cropped hair. Although pain filled the man’s intense brown eyes, Keith could see sparks of intelligence. His strong jaw line was covered in a five o’clock shadow that made him look ruggedly handsome. His skin was dark from the sun. A heavy tan lined his biceps, another rounded his shoulders and one more was at the top of his shoulders. All were visible in the tank top that he wore. The sweat on his chest caused the flimsy shirt to cling to his stocky torso invitingly. The muscles beneath were defined and full from obvious manual labor. The patient gripped the edge of the exam table, his muscles taunt. The man made low grunting sounds as Kevin moved one of his legs up and down. Keith stared transfixed on the hand identical to his own as it massaged the knee, then push the patient’s jean shorts up further.

Keith easily imagined the hand was his. The thought made his nostrils flare again. His eyes closed as he let the scent saturate his entire body. A visual of flipping and bending the man over the table formed in his mind.

“Hey, bro, I’m almost done here. Have you met Mr. Torres?”

Keith’s eyes popped open and the vision vanished. The sound of his brother’s voice broke the trance he was in.

There you go! Hope you enjoy. Jaxx is outa here!

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