In The Works
Sex In The City
My Secret Obsession
!!! COMING SOON !!!
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Well I am off to Atlanta today. We are flying out ...
YAY!! Six authors are happy to announce contr...
Not only do I have a new website by weekend I have...
What is it about starbucks? I have to have it. I a...
Well, it was a long weekend. Diego's 34 year old u...
Well, I haven't been blogging because I have a ne...
Winner of the Soul Mate prize
Pick your favorite Author Chef - VOTE FOR ME!!...
Saturday, October 22, 2005I hated technology...
Okay so I can't get into my site. Other people say they can but I can't. Don't have a clue why. I had to go through blogger to get her this am. It's driving me nuts. The tech people finally responded on email. Wouldn't you know I discover this problem is a big one (has continued for hours) and decide to call 6 minutes after the hosting people close for the weekend! 6 minutes. THIS is the story of my life.
In general I am just foul today... See I got this really negative thinking mode that I wasn't going to make it as a writer a few months back. Off and on since it has attacked. Today is one of those days. Thinking about the new year and do I want to live this way next year. I mean I got the A list agent, and thought that was it, and now I am lingering on close. Every damn editor in NEW YORK just loves my voice but do I have a damn deal? NOOOOOO! I am sick of hearing they love my voice. Warner said she almost missed her subway stop she was so into my book. She is on the 3rd book she is reading trying to find one that matches Warner. I know, be glad she loves my voice. I am. Really I am. It just hurts to be this close. ANOTHER big house recommended me for a buy a week ago. I won't say who because the entire jinx thing seems to fit me. BUT its Saturday. ALLLLL week I waited to hear it would make it through committe...this is for my vamps. SEE this is what happened. The editor at AVON liked my vamps but guess what -in 3 days she would be at another house. The house she went to is the one the editor is at that recommened me for a buy. SOOOO I have the two needed editors buy in. BUTTTT Murphey's Law and me- who knows...It has to make it through the board. This would be single title and a really big deal.
I just think it won't happen. I knoooowww whine. Whine. Whine.....but you see, how close I have been. Oh did I mention it came down to me and a WELL ESTABLISHED author for one Vamp slot at a major house. A DREAM HOUSE. The author got six figures and I got a pat on the head. Yes I was competing with the big dogs but it wasn't GOOD ENOUGH. So see, close but no enchilada.
So....as you see...NEGATIVE TODAY. Can you feel the negative fibrations coming off your computer screen?
NEGATIVE. It's an evil thing. Really bad. I know this. Still I stay in this mode....
Well. I think I need something to pep me up. So thus the picture...NOW this was a good choice!!! And he made me like Batman. I was hating it. The weird flavor and changing lead hero each time just was the pits. Why would they change the Batman EVERY movie! We never formed an attachment!!!
So drool with me and I might feel a bit better. You know, staring at these yummy pictures has a nice little pick me up!
Real Name: Christian Charles Phillip Bale
Stage Name: Christian Morgan Bale
Date of Birth: January 30th, 1974
Place of Birth: Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Father - David, Mother - Jenny, Stepmother - Gloria (Steinem),
Sisters - Sharon, Erin, Louise (all older)
Married to: Sandra (Sibi), née Blasic, since January 29th, 2000
Current Residence: Los Angeles
Previous Residences: Bournemouth, Portugal, New Edinburgh
Friday, October 21, 2005The new bond....I am disappointed ? You?
It's official. Daniel Craig, a blue-eyed and blond British actor, is the new James Bond, replacing Pierce Bronsan...No ! I do not like this guy.. I posted his pic on my blog - what do you guys think?
Craig - who would be the first fair-haired Bond - was born in 1968 in Chester and grew up in Liverpool. He's appeared in one of his earliest movies, The Power of One, in 1992. He was a hit man's psychotic son in Road to Perdition, plus had roles in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Sylvia and Layer Cake.
The tabloids say Bond producer Barbara Broccoli will make the Bond casting announcement; Craig has publicly acknowledged that he's spoken to Broccoli about the role.
The six-foot-tall Craig is not a household name in North America, but he's popular in Britain.
Other names that have been bandied about for the role include Jude Law and Ewan McGregor.
The James Bond film Casino Royale is currently in pre-production and expected next year.
Thursday, October 20, 2005Friday list day at EC
Doesn't this guy just make you think of hot kisses and sultry nights?
I will be at EC's chatlist from 9 to 11 central time. I will be there giving away some prizes. My author friends at the erotic writers babes link you see on my blog will be there too off and on all day! Come play!
Well, some news. One editor called and thought I had a great voice but the book wasn't right for her (a romantic suspense) but she asked to read my vamps so she has those. It's not a no but it still felt crummy. I am waiting on so much news and this was what I got. No word on the next step of the recommended buy so I am biting nails afraid something will go wrong. My guess is another long weekend. Come help me party away my worries tomorrow!:) Then I plan pizza and wine tomorrow night to start a long weekend!
Wednesday, October 19, 2005Blog winner recap and other fun stuff
Above...what I think my hero from WHO'S ON TOP looks like. The book I just turned into EC... Okay yes I know it's David again but I can't help it. He fits. the more conservative side of David. Maybe the BONES one but there aren't any really good pictures yet from his new show..
THIS WEEKS BLOG WINNER WITCHY!!!! Email me your address for your prize at LRENJ@AOL.COM ...Email me!
It's Wednesday and I am still waiting.........it's the story of my life! Friday night I was so tortured over another weekend with no news that I had some wine. This was a good thing because it just so happened I was writing a scene from Who's On Top, book two of my EC OFFICE GAMES series and it really helped me get the tipsy feeling lol....Here is a look:
This scene is with her brother Mike who will be the next hero in the Office Games series: This is unedited so be easy on me lol...But the book is done at 48k and turned into my editor YEAH!!
Cat sat at the bar of the Blue Lagoon Restaurant and sipped her third margarita. Mike had asked her to meet him over an hour ago. Of course, she knew he wanted to tell her about the charges being dropped, but she knew already. Nice of him to tell her after it was already going to hit tomorrow’s papers.
So, while she sat and waited, she drank. A lot more than usual. In fact, she hadn’t had this much to drink in, well, in years. But today she’d turned Reese away, and he’d let her. She wasn’t sure what she’d wanted him to do, but walk away wasn’t it. Which was nuts. He was a poison. The kind that pulled her into the hell of her mother’s world. Wanting a man who would never find you more important than his work. And of course, that was the case with Reese. It took a certain breed to be an attorney. To think he would or could be different than the rest would be nuts. For a little window of time, she’d tried to convince herself the opposite was true. Just thinking about her stupidity made her take another long draw off her straw. She should stop drinking. Her head felt light. She took another sip, not caring. Wanting to forget.
This thing with her father cheating with Ray’s wife had slapped her with the cold, hard reality that happily ever after was a fairy tale. The world was a big, dirty game and the easiest way to deal seemed to keep the play in perspective. She’d lost that with Reese and that meant she had to distance herself. If she didn’t, he would hurt her, and in a big way. Already she felt a knot in her chest that the tequila seemed to dull, at least a little.
“Sorry I’m late.”
Cat turned to find Mike looking his normal handsome self, ties loosened, shirt rolled up to the elbows. “I expected it. After all, nothings more important than work. I know the way it goes. Got it. No problem.” She took another really long drink.
Mike gave her a probing look as he adjusted the barstool next to her so it angled towards her seat. He flagged the bartender. “How many have you had, Little Sis?”
“Not enough.” She shoved her glass away. “Order me another.” Impatient, she flagged the bartender who didn’t see her. She slapped the bar. “Damn. Just like a man to be so distracted.” The man turned. “Over here. Drinks please.”
The bartender – Joe, as he’d told her one drink back - smiled at her. He’d been flirting. She was okay with that. Not that it would get him anywhere, but she was pretty sure he’d made her drinks stronger than he might have otherwise. That counted for something. Tonight she wanted strong.
When Joe appeared before Mike and slid a napkin on the mahogany bar, Mike kept his gaze on Cat. “What are you waiting on?” she asked, frowning. “Order.” She looked at Joe and patted the bar. “He wants a beer. Whatever you have on tap that’s light.” She realized her oversight. “Oh. Joe.” She motioned to Mike. This is my brother Mike. Mike meet Joe. He’s the best margarita maker in all of Manhattan. Aren’t you, Joe?”
Joe laughed. “If the lady says so, then it’s true. What can I get you Mike?”
Cat eyed Joe. He was a sexy guy, her new bartender. He had long brown hair tied at the back in a ponytail. A square jaw. Deep blue eyes. But not as blue as Reese’s. Reese had eyes that would melt a woman in the middle of a snowstorm. Damn. Reese. God. Why would the man not get out of her head? Maybe she should take Joe home and fuck Reese out of her system. She sighed. She didn’t want Joe. She didn’t. Reese had ruined her. She wanted him.
It was an emotional thought. “I’m empty, Joe.” She scooted her glass towards him. “I like the salt. Can I get more salt?”
“Anything you want, Cat. More salt and a beer on tap coming up.”
With Joe’s departure, Cat lingered on Reese. He was the type of man a woman should never fall for. It just so happened, her oldest brother fit the same formula. “So, Mike,” Cat said. “You’re a good looking guy with lots of money.”
He chuckled. “And you’re an attractive woman with lots of money.”
“Ah,” she said, holding up a finger. “But there’s a difference between you and I.” The bartender set her drink in front of her. “Thank you. You’re fast Joe. Not a good trait in the bedroom but a damn good one for the bar.”
“Cat!” Mike barked his disapproval.
“What?” she asked, eyeing him with a sideways look. “It’s true, Mike. We’re brother and sister. Not secrets. It’s okay to be frank.” He cursed and reached for his beer, a deep frown on his handsome face. Cat laughed. “Give Joe a big tip with all that cash you have. You’re good at buying happiness.” She looked at Joe. “He’s loaded.”
“Alrighty then,” Mike said, reaching in his pocket and obeying. A moment later he tilted back his beer and took a long slug.
“As I was saying,” Cat said, running a finger over her salt rimmed glass and sucking it off. “The difference in you and me-”
“Is that I’m a man and you’re a woman?”
“Haha.” She crinkled her nose. “You’re so funny.” Pause. “Not.” He grinned.
Cat pinched the dimple. “See? Isn’t smiling better than all that frowning?” He shook his head as if he was at a loss for words. Whatever. She pointed a finger at her temple. “You and I think different. I hate the way people want me for my money.”
Her brows dipped and he laughed again. Short. Without humor. “You think I want to be wanted for my money. Where the hell did you get a crazy idea like that?”
Her hands fluttered in the air. “Oh come on, Mike.” There was a ‘give-me-a-break’ tone to her voice. “You offer a woman no more than a good fuck.” She touched his arm and added with concern, “I hope it’s good.” Pause for a sip off her straw and to give Mike time to lift his jaw off the bar. “Then you give her a nice gift her and there. I know how smart you are, Mikey, and you know damn well they aren’t sticking around for love.”
He grabbed her arm. “Will you keep your voice down?”
She giggled, something she couldn’t remember doing in a very long time, nor could she help herself. It felt rather good. She giggled some more. “Sorry, Mikey.” In mock distress she said, “Don’t mean to embarrass the big, bad businessman.”
“Okay,” Mike said. “You’re cut off.”
He reached for her glass and she grabbed it. “No, I am not. This is New York. It’s not like I’m driving or something. There is no walking while drunk law.” She held up another finger. “Not that I’m drunk. I am merely feeling…good.”
“It’s called public intoxication and it is a law.”
She waved him off with a hard flick of her wrist. “Whatever. Let’s just get down to business. That is why you’re here, right?” she asked. “Business? It’s always business. Let me make it simple for you so you can get on with your all consuming life. The charges were dropped. I know. It’s tomorrow’s front page.” Then, in a sarcastic tone. “So nice of you to inform me after I already know.”
Tuesday, October 18, 2005Tuesday!
Well I am still waiting for news..for luck, I am posting a little of the series that is so special to me. I am excited about this series and so is my agent...the hero in book one reminds me of antonio during his Desperado days.....I also have an excerpt on the In the Works pages on my site!
The Eternal Knights
By Lisa Renee Jones
Mexico's Barranca del Cobre —the Copper Canyon— is the place they call home. Nestled in the Sierra Madre Range, these mountains are actually several large canyons boasting grandeur four times larger than the Grand Canyon, although different in nature, narrower, deeper, and more verdant.
A perfect place to live unknown to humans.
Small units of Vampires have taken refuge in other countries spurring rumors of different origins. But here, in these hard to reach canyons, the original bloodlines and the rulers of all Vampires unite.
Unlike legends, Vampires are not “the Undead.” They are simply a race with different needs from those of humans. Their life span is long and their nutritional requirements huge. In the past, these needs spurred the demand for blood.
A mere four hundred years before, the Vampires had been given the ability to walk in the daylight.
An allegiance formed with Indians who wished to inhabit the Vampire’s land resulted in a miracle. In exchange for shared territory, a Shaman from the tribe joined efforts with a Mexican Vampire Shaman. Together they committed to finding a way to cure the Vampire’s liver deficiency—a problem that had created sun sensitivity and a need for large amounts of blood.
This discovery forever changed the Vampire world.
The Vampires gained the ability to walk in the sunlight, and no longer need to ingest blood. A decoction taken daily delivered the initial success. Later, as the Vampire world advanced and a medical team was formed, newer advances were utilized to aid the process. A monthly booster now allows the Vampires to fight their genetic defects. Children can be given a one-time booster at birth. Though some of their Vampire physical strength was sacrificed for these advancements, it was a small price to pay for such freedoms.
This process is undone if a Vampire feeds on blood, and a powerful hunger for more will then be bred and never sated. The Vampire will gain strength and a “high” after such feedings, but no longer be able to walk in the sunlight. Cast aside by the Vampire world, these criminals are called Night Walkers.
The Eternal Circle, a group of elders, rules the Vampires. They mandate and judge based on the Rules of Order. An elite group of Vampires, the Eternal Knights, direct descendants of the elder council, covertly protect the humans from the Night Walkers. They also enforce the Rules of Order. Within the human population the Eternal Guard, law enforcers ranking below the Knights, monitor Night Walker activity.
Of elder blood, these Eternal Knights are stronger and more powerful than other vampires. Each Knight has a Dragon, the sign of longevity and strength, etched on their right shoulder upon acceptance into the ranks of this special force.
The Knights stay close to Sun City, the Vampire community, and watch over the Elders. Each city around the world has “Guards” to protect humans from Vampires. These Guards are the future Knights.
The Rules of Order and their purpose within the Vampire World
• The existence of the Vampire race will be guarded at all cost. No human shall carry the memory or knowledge of the Vampire World.
• The Vampire race will remain pure with no other race, human or otherwise, blended within.
• Feeding on blood is strictly forbidden and punishable by death.
• No human shall be converted to Vampire.
• The Vampires shall act as guardians to the Humans. They will be protected from those within the Vampire race who continue to victimize their people.
The Eternal Circle has assigned a chosen group of the Knights their greatest challenge yet.
There have been cases of Vampires seeking relations with humans but only once by an elder. Years before, one elder broke the rules of order and chose a human mate. Though he never fully converted this woman, she gave him three daughters of different ages, all with his elder blood running within their veins. Upon discovery of his secret, the council had no option but to take action. The offsprings had to be separated. They could not allow all of them to be discovered together. These women could represent the start of a revolution. Within in the Vampire world, they would be temptation that fed the thirst. And to allow the Vampire world to see an elder had broken a “rule of order” could spawn others to condone such activities. To interact with the humans could lead to the temptation to drink.
And to the destruction of all the Vampire world had worked to achieve.
Their elder blood could turn the tide of power by its simply implications of leadership for their mates. But there was more than this simple symbolic meaning at risk. There were too many possibilities, too many variables that could not be risk. What power would their blood offer the Night Walkers? There was no way to know since this mixing of elder and human had never been known to them. That the mate of one of these women would possess more strength and power, however, was certain.
There were concerns that the girl’s blood might be used for testing. The Night Walkers were desperate to walk in the daylight again. The vaccine, having been abused and overused by their people, not longer worked for them.
The memories these women carried were erased and they were separated, placed in lives where they knew nothing of each other or the past.
A secret list of these offspring has been stolen from a hidden vault. Under no circumstances can the Night Walkers be allowed to mate with these women. Though there is no threat of reproduction, the Vampire bound to any of these women would possess greater strength and inherit the genetic skill of this elder. It would allow the Night Walkers to fight the Knights with far more success.
Now, three of these elite Eternal Knights, the future leaders of their race, are about to face a battle well beyond their greatest expectations. For these women, born of elder blood, will call to them like none other, yet, they are not pure blood and thus forbidden blood.
Destiny calls when a Vampire is forbidden from touching a human, but a psychic woman steals his heart. A shared enemy will bring them together, united in a passion like none either has ever known. But, in the end, life and death are closely linked. To save one, the other must break a code of honor. And the penalty might just be death.
Three women are dead in New York, all with bite marks on their necks. The police have no clues and the city is in a panic. FBI agent Alexis Harrison is called in to help. Alexis is a physic who sees visions that are often vivid and sometimes brutally clear. Visions that offer clues to crimes. Over the years, she has taken comfort in knowing she is helping others. But this new case is frighteningly familiar. For years, Alexis has dreamt of these women, seeing flashes of each crime scene, followed by the images of a dark-haired man. She’d considered these nightmares a warning, but she doesn’t understand the threat they represent.
Then Alexis comes face to face with this man from her visions. She is both shocked and frightened. When he claims he’s going to protect her from an evil group of bloodsucking Vampires, she thinks he must be crazy. Yet, the murders she investigates might just hold the evidence he is telling the truth. Still, how can she trust a man she barely knows?
Lorenzo Ortega is a Vampire and a descendant of the elder council. As a part of the elite group, the Eternal Knights, he has been assigned to protect Alexis from those who plan to claim her and use her blood to acquire higher powers.
Together Alexis and Lorenzo ignite in a flame of passion that defies reason. For Lorenzo, a future leader of his people, humans are forbidden as mates. If and when he chooses a partner, she must be of pure blood. The longer Lorenzo is with Alexis the more he must battle the forbidden temptation she represents. Soon, Lorenzo can’t turn away from the yearning need that only Alexis can sate. Desire rages even as danger attacks from all directions.
When Alexis is bitten by a Night Walker, he must choose between killing her or saving her life by claiming her as his woman.
Kelly Nash is an archeologist just as her adopted father and mother had been. Her parents were killed on a dig site by a wild animal. By the very creature her father had spent his entire life trying to prove existed . . . a werewolf. Now, years later, Kelly does more than search for proof of this creature’s existence. She becomes a werewolf hunter. With her unique skills—exceptional strength and power—she fights to win. Kelly has assembled a small group of hunters who have become her close friends.
But unexpectedly, Kelly has become the hunted. The werewolves want her dead and a group of bloodthirsty Vampires seem to have targeted her hunters. Two of her people have died and she is desperate to protect the rest of her team. Suddenly, a dark stranger appears. A man who claims to offer her and her people safety and salvation. Only this man is no man. He, too, is a Vampire. One who awakens a passion she has never known and who demands her trust.
When this stranger, Chetan Rodriquez, a Vampire elder, begins to divulge the deep, dark secrets of her unknown past, she doesn't know if he is a messenger from heaven . . . or a messenger from hell. Soon, there is no black and white. Vampires and Werewolves are like humans, divided between good and evil.
Kelly finds her survival, and that of her hunters, dependant on her trust in Chetan . . . the very man who stole her past. But before she can come to trust him, she must overcome her own demons to learn that life without love, is a life unfulfilled.
Monday, October 17, 2005Paradise anyone?
Guilty Little Secrets
Lisa Renee Jones
Blake Alexander has always had a thing for his best friend's kid sister, Laura. But he never acted on those feelings because of his friendship with her brother, Matt.
Leaving for the army had put much needed distance between Blake and temptation. But he's home now after years in the Special Forces, and he's opened a skydiving business with two of his army buddies. Fortunately, Laura had, long ago, moved away to New York. His crush is nothing but a guilty little secret he wishes he could forget.
Laura Cameron has just landed a job with the corporate office of Martin’s Department Store and is moving home to San Francisco. When she arrives, she is both shocked and surprised to find Blake has returned as well. When she was a teen, Blake had been the man of her dreams--the one who treated her like a kid and ignored her flirtation. But that was then and this is now ... Blake is about to find out just how much woman she can be.
Sunday, October 16, 2005Hello out there!
So happy Sunday!!! Blogger is not wanting to add pictures so its very plain today..BOO....I tried to upload yesterday for a PR clients blog and it said they are having server problems...
Anyway, Diego got home after 12 days away and I am so happy. I slept for the first time since he left!! Next week is big for me. There are decisions and editors that I should know about. A recommended buy that has to go through the channels. It will be a week of celebration or tears. I hope the celebration is coming. It's been a long, hard path..
Anyway, Romance Junkies announced the contest winner. I as upset to be disqualified from the finalists because I had an excerpt posted on my site. I didn't see this on the rules as a no no and I had posted the IN THE WORKS projects with my new site. I never even thought about it being up. Also, with no names on the entries I don't know how people could have managed to find my excerpt on my site and go WOW that is Lisa's entry out of the hundreds I read. Better go vote. AND on the only week I was posted for voting because we ony had ONE week to get voted on. Still, I am not bitter lol. I figure Berkley has some of my work to read now and I have that chance from my agent. The chance for others who don't have an agent is more important. I figure that was the right thing anyway. Still, the way it was handled...
So Who's On top should be done today!! WOOHOOO!!! I finally figured out what I wasn't liking and it clicks now! Sometimes I think the writers block is because I know something is wrong and my mind is telling me I must FIX before I write. I get that now. That was what was wrong..
THIS WEEKS BLOG WINNER WITCHY!!!! Email me your address for your prize at LRENJ@AOL.COM
Here was my entry at Romance Junkies...
Series: Black Ops
Book One: Dangerous Illusions
By Lisa Renee Jones
Amanda Marquest is more than a CIA Operative. She is a brilliant scientist, as was her mother. It is this gift that makes her a risk to a man she will later learn is her father. A man who operates on the opposite side of the law. And a man whose identity her mother has kept from her. A secret that ended her mother’s life and now puts Amanda’s at risk.
Danger and passion collide in a race against the clock. Two CIA agents thrown together by circumstances, both with a deep scar in their past, must join forces to stop a madman’s devious plan. With their lives and hearts on the line they must learn to do the thing they fear the most…trust each other.
He was here again.
The dark stranger who’d appeared the past three days in a row. A part of her had anticipated his presence. Even hoped for it. Something about him had lingered in her mind, invading her thoughts at odd moments. Her CIA training had taught her the importance of focus. Distraction was a mistake.
Mistakes could be deadly.
As a college professor, in her current alias, Amanda Marquest found teaching quite stimulating. Yet after finishing up a lecture to her Organic Chemistry class the prior day, she‘d found her thoughts turning to this stranger. A student had asked a rather simple question about the difference between SN1 and SN2 reactions and it had gone in one ear and out the other. Having him repeat himself had been nothing shy of embarrassing. Like she didn’t know such a basic formula to perfection. It was a sign her head wasn’t in the game. A problem she couldn’t allow to continue. She had to deal with this man one way or the other.
Amanda Marquest’s month long ritual of coffee and a chocolate croissant had suddenly become a bit more interesting. And perhaps…deadly. This little detail – that he might be one of the many who hunted her - should have made the tension over seeing him again all about danger rather than the little thrill of female anticipation she felt. But it didn’t.
Stepping into the warmth of The Java Drip Café, she escaped the chill of the cool San Francisco morning. And her eyes instantly found the spot he’d claimed as his own. A corner table away from the rush of morning visitors.
He looked up at the same moment and their eyes locked, causing a strange flutter in her stomach. She would have laughed had anyone described such a thing.
But what this man did to her was far from a joke.
Forcing her eyes from his, she walked towards the counter, and shoved a long strand of blond hair out of her eyes. Silently, she cursed her hormones. Why now, after so many years of being on her own and without male companionship, had her body decided to scream for attention?
But as much as she liked conclusive answers - after all, she was both scientist and doctor to the core - there wasn’t one. It came down to the animalistic way humans responded to sexual attraction. He had that thing, that certain something, that set off her instincts.
With a glance, she knew more about him than most would after an hour long conversation. An instant assessment came automatically. As natural as breathing. Evaluating risk was part of her life. At five foot five with a petite build few considered her a threat. But she was a deadly weapon. She was physically fit and well honed to take on the enemy. Even if this stranger hadn’t been so intriguing, she would have known everything about him.
He had the look of a renegade.
Shoulder length hair, dark as night, a square jaw with a dimple in the middle, high cheekbones, and as usual, jeans a little too worn. His skin was a light brown. His eyes, dark, though she couldn’t be sure of the color.
She guessed him to be Italian, though it was possible he was Hispanic.
Sipping his coffee, he watched her. She felt his eyes like a warm blanket, touching her with the certainty of his stare. In her mind’s eye she could see his full lips, the bottom more so than the top, touch the paper cup. A white scar went from on side of his mouth to his nose. Small and thin, but an excellent point of identification.
She ordered her coffee and pastry, her mind racing with possibilities over his sudden and repeated appearances. The past month she’d made this stop daily. Treating herself to a morning indulgence of her sweet tooth was out of character. She trained hard in the gym each evening and fed her body to enhance her performance. Already her little indulgences felt like a sin. Now, with this stranger’s appearance, she knew it had been a dangerous gamble. Repeating her actions, being predictable, was against the core of her training. Yet, she’d been certain the radar screen no longer carried her mark.
For six months now, she had been living a normal life. Or so it seemed to the rest of the world. Amanda wasn’t quite sure what normal was. Only that calm and peaceful didn’t touch her life for this long of a time. The past few weeks there had been a time bomb ticking in her head. Of course, she’d outstayed her visit. She knew this. Moving again just felt like a never ending hell. Talking herself into staying a little longer had been easy. Convincing herself she had achieved her goal…to disappear. To be forgotten so that she, the hunted, could become the hunter.
She’d tried the aggressive attack approach years before. Seeking out those who wanted her dead. But with each step, someone had anticipated her move. Laying low had seemed her best option. Perhaps it had done nothing but waste time she could have spent finding answers.
For a moment, Amanda flashed back to the night of her mother’s death…to the coded message that had warned her of a danger she must outrun. Of her mother pleading with her to trust no one…not even her own government.
But surely if this man was one of those who tracked her, he wouldn’t show himself. And she’d seen the heat in his eyes. There was no doubt, he was attracted to her.
To be suspicious after so many months of quiet was probably a reflex of paranoia. People who were attracted to one another made a point of meeting again. Still…maybe she should approach him and eliminate the doubt from her mind. She paid for her coffee, and turned, determined to meet this man, to put her mind at ease.
But he was gone.
Someone was following her.
Pulling her jacket tighter around her neck, Amanda kept her posture relaxed.
An intentional façade.
Adrenaline charged her body as the familiar rush of awareness took hold. She was alert and ready for confrontation. Even after months of dormancy, her skills were second nature so that her defensive actions were automatic.
Turn the tables.
Become the aggressor.
Poignant and nasty, something sinister laced the air like a fine mist spoiling the sweetness of the San Francisco night. Deep inside, Amanda felt the pain of her past crashing into her created newly reality. In an instant, her pursuer had taken any hope she’d been forgotten.
The outcome was inevitable. No matter how this confrontation ended-and there would be a confrontation-she would be on the run once again.
With each stride forward, she was aware of the darkness on her heels. She could almost hear it laughing at her. Taunting her for her stupidity. For thinking time could play to her advantage. Coming out of hiding so soon had been a mistake. But she had been desperate to experience some semblance of freedom. She had rationalized her actions, convincing herself years of being a ghost, hiding in dark places, had been enough. And staying so long- well, that had been like the nail in her coffin. Somewhere along the way she’d developed some fairy tale notice of normalcy. This little life had felt nice. Safe. Better than being underground. But deep down, she knew the truth.
She had been born and bred into a life that would never be even remotely normal.
Discreetly, Amanda surveyed her surroundings, deciding on the best departure route. The night was the darkest of any she had experienced since her arrival. Appropriate for her departure, yet again, from normalcy. Eerily, the silence seemed to grow. It aided the menacing impact of the panel of clouds that even the air she breathed seemed damp and heavy. Her footsteps faded into the oblivion of the night.
Her lips thinned as the actual stillness of the air seemed to invade her lungs, thick and heavy, making it hard to breathe. Gone was the normal California breeze, as if in hiding.
Like the man following her.
She knew it was a man from the shimmer of movement she’d heard, heavier and more masculine than a woman’s.
As she reached the end of the block, she took the corner, flattening herself against the wall, preparing for her attacker. Wishing for the absence of the street light robbing her of coverage.
Becoming the aggressor.
Amanda Marquest, ex-CIA operative, was now ready for battle. She waited, waited, and then moved, kicking her foot, and making direct contact. A small success before she felt the return kick of her attacker.
The blows, wrist to wrist, came one after another. Only his seemed defensive, never making the first move. Her attacker was well trained, clearly matching her skill with his own. A man, well over six-feet-tall, and strong as an ox, his blows were calculated and clearly not meant to be fatal.
His intent was clear…to capture her.
He was strong, agile, and capable of succeeding in his task. She couldn’t afford to make a mistake. Maneuvering in circles, she paced herself, meeting his stare, feeling his intensity.
She knew him. It hit her with a sudden impact. The man from the coffee shop. There was no time to curse her stupidity. Later. Her focus had to remain on the battle.
They were like two wild animals, stalking each other, not attacking, but preparing, waiting. When she moved, he moved. The shuffle of a can hit her feet, and she seized the opportunity it offered. Kicking it at her attacker, knowing he would have to adjust his footing, she reached for her weapon.
Securing it from her jacket, she pointed, and demanded, “Who the hell are you?”
She found herself staring into the barrel of her attacker’s gun. Damn, he was good. Even with a distraction, he’d responded with perfection in his timing. But then, she really hadn’t expected less.
Going up against well trained opponents was all a part of the game. You trained hard physically to earn the opportunity to outsmart the enemy.
She looked straight into her attacker’s dark eyes. Black. Now she knew. Assessing him as she knew he was her, she knew he had an advantage. He already knew who she was, and probably a great deal about her strengths and weaknesses.
It was critical she identify his.
Those eyes spoke of his nationality, but not necessarily his allegiances. She repeated her words, needing to hear his voice. Knowing his origin might hint at his employer.
“Who are you?” Her words were enunciated perfectly.
His voice was calm, his tone like cold steel, and completely without accent. “A friend.”
She laughed, adrenaline pumping through her veins, an old high still too familiar. “I don’t think so.” Then, all sighs of humor gone, “Try again.”
He showed absolutely no signs of reaction. “Your country needs you, Amanda.”
Inwardly, she cringed. Damn it! Why had she come out of hiding so soon? Impatience had cost her. “You’ve got the wrong person. There is nothing I have to offer my country.”
“Dr. A has much to offer.”
A chill raced up her spine. No matter how she tried to disappear her past found her. “Dr. A is dead.”
“You can’t erase what is,” he said quickly, firmly. “You’re needed.”
For what and by who was the question? And with what hidden agenda? “Who are you?”
“Duran.” The name was dimly familiar. “If I found you, others can as well. And believe me, they’re looking.”
Reality never tasted quite so bitter. Her eyes narrowed. Her trigger finger itched. “Who sent you?”
“You don’t just walk away from duty. It calls to you, Dr. A.” Then with an authoritative edge to his voice, he added, “You are needed.”
Through clenched teeth she bit out her response. “I’m not Dr. A.”
“Yes,” He stepped forward. Automatically, she stepped backwards. His words were spoken slowly, adding emphasis to their meaning. “You are.”
“Stop.” Amanda waved her gun. One more step, and she would be against the wall, trapped like a rat. The thought didn’t set well. “Don’t think I won’t use it,” she warned.
His expression showed nothing. His voice remained calm. “I know you won’t hesitate to take out an enemy.” He had stopped walking. “But are you so sure that’s what I am?”
There was no hesitation before her response. “Are you sure you want Dr. A?”
His brow inched up. “I have found Dr. A.”
Her chin tipped as she looked him squarely in the eyes. “Then you’re the enemy.”
His face was free of expression, but she sensed the calculation going on in his head. “What if I told you there were lives at stake?”
She snorted. “There always are. Surely you can do better than that.”
He was very still. Too still. “People will die without your help.”
She corrected him. “Dr. A’s help.”
He inclined his head ever so slightly. “Precisely.”
“Why should I care?” she asked, trying to be flippant. Human life was not something she easily snubbed her nose at. She’d lived her job. Still did.
“Because I know you’re not as cold as you are trying to seem. You have a reputation for helping those who need help. People need you.”
Her brow dipped. “Who are you?”
“I told you,” he said, “a friend.” He paused, “One of your own.”
She knew he meant CIA. Sarcasm laced her response. “Oh, well, there you have it. Now everything is so simple. I should put down my gun and trust you, right?”
His eyes narrowed ever so slightly. “How about I lower mine? Then will you hear me out?” Slowly, he began lowering his weapon.
Her weapon didn’t move. She held it steady, aimed at his forehead. He put the safety on his weapon, and stuck it in a holster under his jacket. His eyes held hers as he moved.
Clearly, trying to earn her trust, his hands went out to his sides. “What do you say? Have a cup of coffee with me, and listen to what I have to say.”
“You attack me and then ask me to have coffee with you?” she asked in astonishment. “I should shoot you just for the pure stupidity of your actions.”
“Hey,” he reasoned. “I didn’t attack you. I followed you. You’re the one who went all wild and started throwing punches.”
“You were following me,” Amanda The flash of understanding in his eyes told her he knew she meant the coffee shop. “Not shooting at you.”
“I just wanted to talk. And that’s what I want now,” he explained. “To talk.”
Her chest rose and fell several times. “You have a funny way of making conversation.” Her weapon stayed pointed at him. Aimed for the spot between his eyes.
“You attacked, not me.”
“You want to talk?” she asked. “Talk.”
And then he said the name that got her attention. “Dr. Roger Franklin.”
Her blood felt as if it had suddenly frozen.
Franklin had all but succeeded in taking out thousands in a subway poisoning in China years before. He had planned to blame Americans and launch a war against the red, white, and blue. It was Amanda and her mother who had come up with the antidote that had made America look like the hero not the enemy.
Letting out a breath, she lowered her gun slightly. “You’ve got my attention.”
Antonio Duran felt a rush of relief when Amanda responded to Franklin’s name. He wanted that man to go down worse than he wanted the retirement he’d soon be taking. The man had an itch to hurt the American people like he’d never seen before. No way could he walk away from the agency with a clear conscious without catching this guy.
He eyed Amanda with interest hoping his instincts about ditching his weapon were right. It had been a sign of good faith. Hopefully not a foolish one. No wonder she’d been a hell of an agent at one point. In the week he’d watched her, it had been impossible to miss her beauty. She had that sexy girl-next-door thing going on that could be used to manipulate. Now, with her skills put to the test, she’d proven she was a damn good fighter as well.
Those things along with her track record of dealing with Franklin would make her an excellent asset. That was, if she wasn’t dirty. He couldn’t be absolutely sure. His observations to this point said she wasn’t. So did his gut. But his instincts had failed him once before, and it had cost lives. And that had been over a woman as well. He’d never be that foolish again. Amanda Marquest was the enemy and she’d stay that way. He didn’t care how damn innocent and good looking she might be. All he cared about was stopping Franklin. Once he’d finished using Amanda, the agency could deal with her.
With his hands by his sides, unmoving, he tried to ensure Amanda knew he wasn’t an imminent threat. He eyed her hand, still wrapped in ready position around her weapon. He’d feel a hell of a lot better if she’d follow his lead and lower her weapon. Despite the feminine side he’d glimpsed those mornings in the coffee shop, there was no doubt, she could be deadly.
“How about putting yours away, Dr. A.” It wasn’t a question.
She did the opposite, taking aim again. “Don’t call me that.”
He laughed and held up his hands. She had a little temper. All sweet as sugar on the outside but not so much so on the inside. “Alright you win. I can respect a sensitive subject. Can I at least call you Amanda? Or do you prefer your current alias of Tiffany Roberts?”
“Don’t call me anything,” She said her stare as chilly as ice. Nothing like the warm look of interest she’d given him just this morning. “Say what you have to say, and be done with it,” she added.
“It’s a little dark back here,” he said, arms lifting, indicating the alley. “How about that cup of coffee?”
She gave him a sharp look, and lowered her weapon to her side. “I’d have thought you’d had your share of coffee by now.”
He smiled. Her directness about their morning encounters didn’t surprise him. But their attraction to one another had been both unexpected and unwelcome. Business and pleasure didn’t mix. And sleeping with the enemy, which she could well be, was a good way to die.
“I didn’t try to hide from you,” he said.
Her brow inched upward. Despite only having the dim glow of a streetlight to see by, he could see the brilliance of her mind at work “Why is that, I wonder?”
“It was a simply act of good faith. I wanted to be clear from the start. I have nothing to hide from you. Yes, I followed you. I wanted to make sure you weren’t dirty.”
Her voice was sharp. “I’m not dirty.”
“An operative that goes MIA is most likely dead or working for the other side.”
She repeated her words. “I’m not dirty.”
“Then you’ll want to help your country in its hour of need.”
“You need Dr.A’s help not mine.”
“Let’s stop talking in circles.”
She was silent for long moment. “Fine. I’ll meet you in fifteen minutes at Joe’s Diner.” She didn’t give him an address. “Sit at a table near the back and by a window. If I don’t see you, I won’t come inside. Now turn and walk away. I’ll follow.”
His brow lifted. She had reason to be cautious but then so did he. Giving his back to a stranger wouldn’t be smart. “We walk out of this alley side by side. Then I’ll go right and you go left.”
A hint of defiance flashed in her eyes. He could tell she wanted to force him to go ahead of her. “Fine,” she said, after a moment, “but don’t try any funny stuff. Test me and you won’t like the results. I have no reason to trust you.”
“Nor I, you,” he stated, pinning her in a knowing look.
Several seconds passed until, in silent agreement, they turned to walk to towards the street. Two strangers, side-by-side, ready to act.
He didn’t trust her. She didn’t trust him. They’d made that perfectly clear. But if Amanda was Dr. A and she hadn’t gone dirty, she knew as well as he that somehow they had to get to the same page.
To trust enough to defeat Franklin…together.
:: In PRINT in March!!! ::
Lisa Renee Jones
Doreen Orsini's Bed of Thorns