These are all unedited of course… And I am SOO excited and can not wait for this one to come out.
You can find all these on her blog
“For my excerpt, I take you to the opening pages of this book (#4 in the Rescue Me series). This is a few days before the scene in the epilogue of Nobody’s Hero.”
Savi circled another job listing in the classifieds as Christmas music played in the background. Office clerk. All her years of college and clinicals, she had finally achieved her dream of working as a social worker with young abuse victims. That work had ended abruptly three weeks ago. She needed to find a way to support her daughter and herself until her supervisor could fight Savi’s recent firing with the higher-ups in the state’s department of mental health services. Unraveling bureaucracy took time. She didn’t have time.
Savi opened her laptop mini to update her résumé and do a cover letter, hoping to make it through several more letters before Mari got home from practicing for the children’s pageant at church.
The doorbell interrupted her work some unknown amount of time later. She looked at the clock on her desk. Too early for Mari to be dropped off—unless something had happened. Heart hammering against her chest, Savi nearly ran to the front door and opened it, expecting to see one of the youth leaders from the church group.
Bile rose in her throat and she moved to slam the door again. Stupid. Why hadn’t she looked through the peephole first? He wedged his foot into the doorway, keeping her from closing the door in his face.
“What kind of greeting is that for an old friend, Savannah?”
Not a friend. Enemy. She gasped to fill her lungs with much-needed air. Dangerous. She needed to get rid of him before Mari came home.
“What do you want, Lyle?”
“Invite me inside and we’ll talk.”
“You’re not coming in. Now leave before I call the police.”
He narrowed his eyes and Savi felt the familiar ligatures of fear circling her neck. Vile man. Could she fight him off?
“Let me in, Savannah, or you and your little girl will regret your misplaced bravery.”
Marisol. Did he know where she was? Oh, God, she prayed. Don’t let Mari come home early. She needed to get rid of Lyle. Now.
“Just state your business. I’m not letting you inside my…”
Without warning, Lyle leaned back then his body slammed against the door sending the edge of the wood into Savi’s eye and cheekbone, hurtling her backward until she lay sprawled on the floor staring at his navy-blue dress pants and wingtip shoes. She shuddered as a memory enveloped her. Looking up at the angry man in the three-piece suit towering over her, she realized he didn’t even muss a hair on his blond head.
“Ah, just where a slut like you needs to be, Savannah. At my feet. Now let’s see if we can hear you scream the way you used to for me.”
No! Memories of the degrading things he’d subjected her to at her father’s orders, including a most shameful mark she could never erase, she turned over and got on all fours as she scrambled away. Just when she’d thought she was far enough away to stand up and set her feet to defend herself, Lyle’s wingtip gouged into her side. The air whooshed from her lungs and she gasped to try and recover her breath.
“Your father asked me to bring you and his granddaughter to him. But I thought perhaps we would enjoy a little playtime first. For old time’s sake. What your father doesn’t know…”
Another blow struck her side near the same place and panic set in as her breathing became labored.
Maman, help me. Give me the strength to fight him off.
Savi pulled herself up using the hallway table and tried to regulate her breathing again. She turned to find Lyle smirking at her. Bastard. Picking up a brass candlestick from the table, she didn’t hesitate as she swung it at his head, striking a blow she hoped had left him stunned. Not waiting for him to recover, she followed up by kicking him in the groin. He doubled over and fell to the floor. As he lay moaning, holding his privates as his head bled on her hardwood floor, she remembered the lessons in cutting off the blood flow to the brain that she’d learned from a veteran Marine who had studied with her in college. She cringed as she touched his neck, hating to place her hands anywhere on him, but finally found the point she sought in his neck and pressed—hard. She counted. By thirty seconds, Lyle’s body grew even more limp. She didn’t wait around to see how long he’d be out.
Running to the bedroom, she pulled out a suitcase to throw a few clothes into it, but when she tried to lift it, her breathing became constricted again, forcing her to leave it on the floor near the closet. After she filled half of it, she wheeled it to Mari’s room and threw in some of her daughter’s things, then zipped it up and wheeled it to the kitchen. After grabbing her purse and keys, she stumbled out the back door.
A black BMW sat parked behind her little blue Nissan. She glanced back at her bungalow. Home, but no longer her safe place.
No sign of Lyle yet, but she knew he wouldn’t be unconscious forever. She fought to control her breathing again, but refused to escape into her head to dull the pain. Taking as deep a breath as she could and holding it, she swung the suitcase into the trunk and slammed the lid down. Oh dear Lord. She couldn’t breathe! She pressed her arm against her chest and the place where Lyle had kicked her repeatedly as she opened the door, got behind the steering wheel, and turned the key in the ignition. She couldn’t zone out now. She needed to get to San Miguel’s…to Mari.
“because everyone’s awaiting Nobody’s Perfect (due out in August), I thought I’d share a brief new scene from that book that involves Luke. This is a Christmas Day scene and we’re in Damian’s point of view. He thinks he can keep Savi and Marisol in the kitchen and private living quarters of the house on this day, so there shouldn’t be a problem.
Then he notices something that surprises him…..”
Damián pulled in next to Luke’s new gray Dodge pick-up truck in the driveway. Judging by the amount of mud on the fenders, he’d been off-road somewhere this morning because it hadn’t looked like that last night when Luke had delivered the dollhouse. Marc’s friend and SAR partner was becoming a regular at the club. Of course, they’d all worked together a few years ago trying to get the club ready. The man was a helluva carpenter, but his work creating the beautiful equipment in the club was his real gift. Lately, Damián had been training the “baby Dom,” as Marc liked to call him, to wield a bullwhip. The man had finesse with butterfly kisses and Damián doubted he’d want to go any harder on a sub or bottom—not for a while, at least. Lately, the newest Dom at the club seemed more interested in learning rope bondage from Dad.
Damián wondered how Adam and Karla were getting along on their honeymoon. It was hard to believe the wedding had only been a couple weeks ago, given all that had happened since then.
Savi and Marisol had happened. His life would never be the same again. He opened the back door of the Nissan and helped unbuckle Marisol while Savi eased out of the passenger side. She still moved stiffly, favoring her healing rib, but Marc assured him it was just going to take time. There was nothing much they could do. He hated feeling so fucking helpless.
He motioned for them to precede him onto the porch. He didn’t expect anyone but Grant and Luke to show up today. He’d told them Savi had no idea the building was a kink club, but they were only going to be in the private residence today, so no sense mentioning it. This was still Dad’s house, until he and Karla found a new place.
Normally Damián would be in California for Christmas, but he couldn’t leave Savi and Marisol—and sure as hell wasn’t going to take them back there. Good thing he’d been able to give his sister Rosa the presents he’d bought and made. They’d left a few days after Savi showed up. He would give them a call later today to see how their day went. He felt torn between two families now. But Rosa and Teresa were healing and Savi and Marisol needed him more now.
He braced himself before opening the screen door. Savi would probably roast his nuts if she knew what went on in parts of the house. But it was also Dad’s home, at least until he and Karla found a more appropriate place to raise a kid.
Savi took the screen door as Damián pushed the inner door into the kitchen and was hit in the face with a number of smells.
Italian seasonings. Ham. Cinnamon.
Whoa! Mierda. He didn’t realize people could smell the club’s leather all the way out here in the kitchen. Not to mention a little sweat. He’d never noticed it before, but was probably just used to it. He looked down at Savi and saw her cute little nose scrunching up as she appeared to sniff out the unexpected scent as well.
The confusion on her face was evident. “Adam and Karla’s is someone’s home?”
Either she hadn’t noticed the leather, or was too polite to point it out. “Yeah. This is my adopted dad’s place—Adam Montague. Do you remember meeting him and his new wife, Karla, at Rosa’s house?”
“They were married the day you…arrived. They’re on their honeymoon right now. Angelina offered to prepare dinner for me and some of…Dad’s friends so we wouldn’t have to fend for ourselves this Christmas.”
Damián looked down at Marisol and back at Savi. “Now you’re included. I know he’ll love seeing you again, Savi, when he gets back next week.”
“Maman, why does it smell like horses here?”
“Shhh, Mari,” she whispered, bending down to Marisol. “That’s not polite.” Still, Damián hadn’t missed the question in Savi’s eyes.
Okay. How to explain this?
“Hope I didn’t smell the place up too badly.” Luke came down the hall drying his hair with a towel. He wore a western-cut plaid shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. “Been on a horse all morning and didn’t have a chance to change at the SAR barn, so I just came over here and took advantage of the facilities.”
Horse leather. Damián grinned, relaxing his guard a bit.
Marisol leaned a little closer to Damián’s leg, reminding him that introductions were in order. “Savi and Marisol Baker, I’d like you to meet Luke Denton. He’s a…friend of mine. He does search-and-rescue with Marc.”
Luke shook Savi’s hand, smiling, then hunkered down to Marisol’s level and extended his hand to her, as well. “Hello, darlin’. You’re cute as a button.”
Marisol still wasn’t sure about this strange man—good girl. Damián put a protective hand on his little doll’s shoulder to reassure her that she was safe. She released her grip on his leg, not as scared, and drew herself up a little taller.
“Buttons aren’t cute.”
“Hmmm. Well, maybe that’s true.” He grinned. “But you sure are. Pleased to meet you, Marisol.”
Luke waited for her to become comfortable enough to make the next move. Damián’s thumb stroked her shoulder and she stretched her tiny hand out to be swallowed up in Luke’s much bigger one.
“This is my upcoming (due to be released later this summer) Nobody’s
Perfect (Rescue Me #4), which continues the story of Damian Orlando, an
amputee from Iraq, and Savannah/Savi, the woman he dreamt about for eight long
years, who suddenly showed up on his doorstep in need of his help. In this scene,
he prepares to reveal his amputation to Savi.”
She held her breath. He seemed so serious, his jaw and body held rigid, guarded.
Savi looked around. The only place to sit was on the bed. That didn’t seem like a good idea.
“Sit. Down.” He pointed at the bed, clearly upset with her. She wasn’t sure why that bothered her so much. “Savi, I’m not going to…touch you. We’re just going to talk.”
Savi crossed the room and sat on the same side of the bed, keeping a safe distance away. She wasn’t sure what she was afraid of. Damián wouldn’t hurt her. He’d been nothing but gentle and supportive since she and Marisol had arrived here.
But he was still a man.
So, what was it he needed to tell her that made him so uncomfortable? She didn’t want to know anything bad about him.
“When I got out of Iraq, I was fucked up.”
“Damián, that’s not unusual. You saw horrific things. War is…”
He held his hand up and halted her string of supportive words. She supposed they sounded trite, but she hadn’t meant them to be.
“Don’t go into therapist mode on me, Savi.” He grinned, so maybe he wasn’t upset with her for naturally trying to put him at ease. He was such a gentle soul. Last night, when Marisol had surprised him with the cake, he’d had unshed tears in his eyes. Processing the horrors of war would be difficult for someone who was much better at making love than war.
Don’t think about making love with him. That would never happen again.
His grin faded and he ran his fingers through his hair, pulling it back from his face. She wondered why he didn’t have it tied back. She didn’t see it loose like this except when he got up in the morning.
“I fucked up a mission.”
Savi’s heart went out to him. She knew how hard it was for Marine to fail on a mission.
“We lost our sergeant because I couldn’t act fast enough…”
“Damián, you can’t blame yourself for…”
He glared at her. “Hear me out. This is hard enough to admit as it is.”
“I’m sorry. Go on.”
“I still have nightmares about it, especially around my Alive Day.”
He looked down at his feet. “That’s the day I should have died, too. But I surv…I didn’t die.”
Savi knew not to interrupt anymore. He needed to talk and she needed to just listen. His body was held so stiffly, he barely breathed. She waited. After several moments, he continued.
“A grenade came over onto the roof where we’d held our position all day. I saw the damned thing, but I froze until it was too late to get away. When it went off, Sergeant Miller was killed. He…” Damián’s breathing became rapid and she scooted closer to him on the bed, laying her hand on his thigh. She squeezed, hoping to help him focus on the present and not get lost in the memories. He placed his hand over hers and squeezed her back as if she were a lifeline.
“He died on top of me.”
“Oh, God, Damián. I’m so sorry!” Savi shuddered as she thought about how that must have felt for him. Thoughts of having a weight like that on her caused beads of sweat to break out on her upper lip. But that was different. What Damián had been through was even more horrific.
“I’ll never block out that image as long as I live. I could have saved him, but I…froze.”
Hearing him take the blame for something beyond his control broke her heart. Not unusual for those in combat situations, though. They were trained to watch out for each other. Nothing she could say would help assuage his guilt that a member of his unit was killed, even if she could come up with the words to say. She just squeezed his thigh again, knowing there probably was more to come. She braced herself mentally.
“I came to in a military hospital in Germany. When I realized what I’d lost, I didn’t want to go on.”
“Lost?” Instantly, she knew he wasn’t talking about his sergeant now.
He avoided making eye contact with her, but nodded, his gaze remaining on his feet. Oh, God, no! It became clear to her why she’d seen him limping so many times. She looked down at his feet. For the first time, she realized she’d never seen him without his shoes or boots on. Odd, considering they’d lived in such close quarters for two months.
Dread washed over her as she slid off the bed onto the floor. With shaking hands, she sat in front of his feet and reached out to touch his legs. Starting at his knees, which were flesh on solid muscle, she ran each of her hands down the backs of his legs until her left hand bumped into straps on his right leg. On the other leg she felt sinew and muscle. Unharmed.
She reached down to the hem of his jeans leg and folded up the right one. Damián reached out and stayed her hand, but she brushed him away.
“Please, Damián. I need to see what they did to you.”
His hand went to her chin and he lifted her face to his. The pain—no, the torment—there told her how hard this was for him. She needed to back off and give him time to prepare himself. This wasn’t about what she needed. She had to do what Damián needed.
His irritation showed as he leaned toward her and she tried not to let him intimidate her, but he did. “Hey, chica
, you just showed up on my doorstep out of nowhere, beaten up and on the run. You’re the one who asked me for help, so don’t go getting all defensive. I’m just trying to figure out what the hell’s going on.”
He took a longer draw on his beer, draining it, and lowered the empty bottle to his crotch. She averted her attention from that part of his anatomy, reaching up to twirl her hair. A wave of discomfort crashed against her. She hadn’t been alone in a room with a man for a very long time.
“I felt safer changing my appearance.”
Her hand froze on the curl as her heart thudded against her chest, robbing her of even more oxygen. Did he know? She looked up at him again, studying his face for some time. “What about him?”
“Is he the one who roughed you up and sent you running?”
He didn’t know. She relaxed into the sofa and took another swig of the soda, buying time as she tried to will her heartbeat to slow down. “No. He’s been out of my…out of the picture from day one.” She’d tried to find Damián when she’d gotten strong enough to function after Mari’s birth, but hadn’t been able to find him.
“Let me see where you’re hurt.”
She refused to make eye contact. “No. I’m fine.”
“Bullshit, chica.” When she looked up at him again, he held her gaze. “Your choice—me or my friend? Which will it be?”
Anger ripped through her again. She hadn’t come all this way to have him expose her to her father’s hound dogs by leaving a paper trail, which is what would happen if he involved medical personnel. She glared at him for a moment, but he refused to back down. Leaning forward, wincing at the shortness of breath before she caught herself again, she laid the soda can on top of a magazine on the coffee table.
She sat back against the sofa. “It’s nothing. Really. Just a bruise.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. I have some…expertise with bruising. Remove your jacket.”
She continued to wage a silent battle of wills with him, but after a few moments decided they needed to get beyond this or she’d never get anywhere with getting him to help them. She raised a shaking hand to loosen the belt of her jacket, then tried to control the shaking in her hands as she reached up to undo the top button.
“I haven’t ever hurt you, Savannah. Have I?”
Savi remembered those first few years when she’d fantasized about Damián coming to rescue her. Fantasies of his being a daddy to Marisol. Before she’d shut down emotionally. Still, she’d wanted him to look for her. He’d broken her heart by not doing so.
Don’t be ridiculous, Savi. He wouldn’t have come looking for you. He’d have looked for Savannah Gentry. And she was dead.
Choosing not to answer the question, she finished unbuttoning the jacket and peeled it off, then leaned against the back of the sofa and pulled the tail of her shirt loose from her slacks. His gaze went to her abdomen and she saw a flash of rage cross his face as his mouth tightened.
His words sounded angry and she felt fear clawing at her throat again. She wouldn’t let herself be placed in such a vulnerable position with him. “No.” She took a deep breath and stood up, wincing as the movement robbed her of breath. “I’d rather stand.”
He stood as well and leaned closer to her, reaching out his hand. She gasped even before he touched her. When he gingerly touched the bruised area on her left ribcage, below her breast, she held her breath and tried not to move. After a moment he pulled away.
“I need to ask Doc what to do.”
Didn’t doctors have to make reports of violent acts to the authorities? She couldn’t risk seeing a doctor. But he didn’t wait for her to express an opinion as he pulled out his phone and pressed a button. After a moment, someone must have answered
“Sorry to wake you, man, but I need your help.” He paused and glanced at Savi. “A friend of mine has been in…some kind of fight and she has some bruising over her ribs.” He seemed exasperated by the other person’s response and wondered what he’d said “Man, this is serious. It’s not from impact play.”
How could violent impacts against someone’s body be considered play?
“She’s been punched by a fist, it looks like. Under her breast. Where the ribs are. The bruises are still dark in color. Happened at least two days ago.” He looked to her for confirmation and she nodded and held up two fingers. The man apparently did know his bruising. How did someone who wasn’t in the medical field become an expert on bruising?
He listened a moment, then shook his head. “Can’t do that.”
“What’s plan B? What can I do?” Once more, he listened. Savi could hear a garbled voice coming through the phone, but couldn’t make out any of the words. After a long while, he said “Hold on” and lowered the phone to the coffee table. Damián looked at her. “Take some deep breaths. Really fill your lungs.”
Lost in his gaze, she did as he told her, then caught her breath and winced again. She’d forgotten to be careful how she breathed. He picked up the phone again and said, “Might be a problem with her breathing, Doc.”
Refusing to appear injured, Savi stood taller. “No, there isn’t. I’m fine”
Damián glared at her until she heard the voice coming through the phone again.
“Shoot.” He listened to his friend’s instructions. “I didn’t take anatomy, Doc.”
What had he asked? Damián’s gaze went to her breasts and she grew uncomfortable. Don’t look at me like I’m a dirty slut.
“Be right back.” Damián laid the phone on the coffee table and moved closer to Savi, and she fought the impulse to turn and run. “I need to check for a broken rib. Just try and relax.”
Now she did take a step back. No effing way.
“Hold still, querida.” He maintained eye contact with her, but rather than calm her, she felt the need to escape; to go to her safe place.
Savannah ran along the beach, ignoring the broken shells that cut into the bare soles of her feet. Where were her flip-flops?
The cave. She’d left them at the cave. She needed to get back there. After climbing over the sharp rocks, she walked into the opening of the cave, then halted. Instead of her mother, she found Damián leaning against the wall of the cave. No! Where was maman?
Then she remembered how safe she’d felt with him here once upon a time. A very long time ago.
“Savi? Look at me.”
She blinked and found herself transported instantly back into Damián’s living room. She stared at him.
“Where’d you go?”
My cave. Wait! He couldn’t know about that. “Go? I didn’t go anywhere. Just check for the broken rib and get it over with.”
Damián placed his left hand in the middle of her back and she jumped.
“Wait! I’m not ready yet.”
“You don’t have to get ready for anything. Just look at me, querida.”
No! Not yet! She tried to convey her fear with her eyes, but he ignored her.
“Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.”
She couldn’t do this. Her breathing became shallow, rapid. She tried to force herself to release the tension in her shoulders and neck. I can’t do this!
His words had a slight calming effect on her until he placed his right hand against her chest again. Her breathing became shallow and she felt her heart beat wildly. She drew another breath, sharper this time.
“Just relax. I’m going to press here, but tell me if it starts to hurt.”
He applied an incredible amount of pressure against her chest wall and she cried out in pain. Oh dear Lord, it hurt. She’d always been able to block out pain. Why hadn’t she been able to go to her cave? He abruptly let go of her and gave her a look as if she’d just landed on earth from outer space. He reached for the cell phone and picked it up.
“Doc? You still there?”
His tone conveyed he wasn’t pleased with her. What had she done wrong? She’d tried not to scream in pain.
Only dirty sluts scream, Savannah.
She should have been able to take the pain without screaming. He wouldn’t want to help her if she screamed like that again. If he knew what she was…control yourself, Savan…Savi. I’m Savi!
Damián sighed. “We have a couple problems with that. One is that we need a babysitter.”
She hadn’t been a blonde in eight years. “None of your business.”
His irritation showed as he leaned toward her and she tried not to let him intimidate her, but he did.
“Hey, chica, you just showed up on my doorstep out of nowhere, beaten up and on the run. You’re the one who asked me for help, so don’t go getting all defensive. I’m just trying to figure out what the hell’s going on.”