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Holy Moly . . . AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE


An Unholy Alliance

Deb Sanders

UnholyCover2

Genre: Paranormal Thriller with Romantic Elements

Date of Publication: January 25, 2014

ASIN: B00I1THOII

AMAZON

Book Description:

What would you do if the future of mankind depended on whether you lived or died?Reyna Blair has learned two things from life – she can tolerate a lot of pain and wounds aren’t always visible. After a stint in the army, she’s ready to drop off the grid and heal. A job as Peace Officer in the small community of Purgatory, Texas sounds like the perfect solution – until the town is rocked by a gruesome murder.When sexy Texas Ranger, Ty Carter, steps in to help with the investigation, Reyna is both thrilled and annoyed. He’s nice to look at and a definite boost to her sagging ego but his aggressive ambition might push her right out of a job. To make matters worse, she’s being stalked by a mysterious stranger with a sword that can burst into flames on command.Reyna soon learns her problems are just beginning. The stranger is an angel of God . . . an Enforcer . . . sent to eliminate a Nephilim woman that prophecy states will give birth to the Antichrist. Realizing she’s the target, Reyna must flee or be killed. Along the way, she discovers dark secrets which will change her world forever, and force her to choose between life and death.*** This story is based on a biblical theme but includes scenes with graphic violence and strong language.

Excerpt:

The stench of decaying flesh filled the air like day old road kill on a hot August night. Reyna Blair folded a handkerchief, covered her nose and choked back the urge to gag.

“How long?”

The medical examiner pushed wire framed glasses further along his nose and looked up. “Hard to say, Officer Blair. This damn heat’s accelerated the breakdown of tissue.”

“Then how ’bout a guess?”

The older man squinted, twisted his mouth to one side, and arched bushy brows over pale blue eyes. “Well, the blowfly larvae are at third instar so I’d say your vic has been dead four, maybe five days. Once I get him to the lab and run some tests, I can give you a better estimate.”

Reyna nodded as her eyes riveted to the gaping wound in the dead man’s chest. Someone split his sternum from throat to abdomen, leaving an open cavity that now hosted an infestation of slithering maggots.

Great. Just fucking great.

Rubbing her temples, Reyna glanced away. The mid-morning sun penetrated her dark blonde hair, raising sweat bubbles on her scalp and provoking an already short temper. She glared at the uniformed Rangers swarming her crime scene like an army of pissed off ants.

Crime scene. The words sounded odd when paired with Purgatory, Texas – a small retirement community cradled in the rolling hills between San Antonio and Austin. So much for living the quiet life of a small town cop.

Reyna had accepted the position of Peace Officer six months ago after an old army buddy told her about the opening. It wasn’t a seamless hire. The mayor didn’t like her and protested publicly when the town council extended an employment contract. Some said he opposed women in law enforcement. Reyna suspected it had more to do with her contempt for his inflated ego.

In spite of Mayor Townsend’s disapproval, and Reyna’s exasperation with the slower moving senior citizens, she’d been thankful for the job. Purgatory was a much needed antidote for her frayed nerves. A place to hide – and heal. A refuge from the murder and mayhem plaguing her adult life. She’d wished for such a place after being discharged from the army.

But as her drill sergeant used to say, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other, soldier. See which one fills up fastest.” Today was a perfect example of what Reyna had come to expect in life – a handful of shit.

“Where’s the law in this town?”

A teasing voice drifted over her shoulder, eliciting a grudging smile from her tightly sealed lips. Ty Carter. Texas Ranger and eye candy extraordinaire. She turned to greet the detective walking toward her. His crisp khaki shirt and creased slacks appeared immune to the heat and humidity. No man should look that good in uniform.

Ty let out a long, low whistle as he stared at the corpse. “What a way to start the day.”

“You talkin’ to him or me?”

He snickered. “From the look of things, I’d say his day ended long before yours started. Who found him?”

She leaned toward him with a conspiratorial whisper. “Agnes Gaines, who graciously served as tour guide for family and friends before deciding to notify me.”

“That explains the golf carts parked on the side of the road. Looks like a damn old folk’s convention.” A lopsided grin lit up his face as he thrust a cup of coffee into her hand. “Iced Mocha Grande. Figured you could use it.”

Cute. Ty Carter was definitely cute. Ever since the tautly muscled detective first sauntered into her office issuing a cocky introduction and a list of services available through the Texas Rangers, she’d joined the ranks of secret . . . and some not so secret . . . admirers. Logic told her he was way too young, or at least he looked it with boyish dimples aligned perfectly on either side of a too kissable mouth.

Five years separated their ages, but Reyna felt decades older. The war had stolen her innocence. War – and working as a beat cop in one of the toughest, most drug infested neighborhoods of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’d witnessed horrors most people couldn’t imagine and would never want to see – which left Reyna even more confused about why a bunch of retirees would rush to view a decomposing body.

She took one more look at the stiff carcass and turned away. For once, it was a blessing to detach emotionally, even though her army shrink considered it a debilitating personality trait. Admittedly, Reyna had sandbagged the counseling sessions but only because the good doc displayed a superiority complex the size of Antarctica. Reyna had no use for know-it-alls or prima donas, and the psychiatrist demonstrated a proclivity for both.

Scowling with the memory, she lifted the cup of coffee to her lips and took a sip. The lid loosened, flooding the front of her shirt with a dark, icy stain. Reyna gasped, quickly brushed away what she could of the beverage and launched a mortified glance at the bystanders hovering near the yellow crime scene ribbon. God, I hope nobody saw that.

It was the most people gathered in the city park she could recall since starting her job, proof of what she’d suspected all along – Agnes Gaines was a natural instigator. Political lobbyists would pay big bucks for someone with her skills.

Her gaze settled on a tall stranger standing apart from the crowd. Black hair spiked across his forehead as he stared at her with unnerving intensity. Shark eyes. Dead eyes. Reyna pushed her aviator sunglasses further up her nose, camouflaging her scrutiny with the reflective lens.

Whatcha lookin’ at, mister? You know something I don’t? The hair rose on the back of her neck as he continued to watch her. It was as though he could see right through the sunglasses and into her mind.

Massive shoulders filled his long coat, suggesting he wasn’t from the area – or else a complete idiot. What native Texan would wear a heavy duster in the middle of July? He tilted his head to one side, reinforcing her perception he was a telepath.

You’re one strange son of a bitch. The side of her mouth shifted upwards as he flinched. Damn, maybe he really can read my thoughts. The possibility left her more uncomfortable than ever.

Reyna whirled around and nervously kicked up a cloud of dust with the toe of her boot. Instinct told her the guy was involved in John Doe’s murder and her natural senses seldom steered her wrong. So why was she reluctant to ask the big Neanderthal a few questions? She glanced at Ty flirting with a cute reporter from the Austin Statesman.

Because it’s always better to send a Texas Ranger.

“Hey, Carter, I need some help over here.” He looked up, arched a brow as if to say “your timing sucks” and reluctantly joined her. “Can your team handle the crowd interviews?” He nodded slowly. “Good. Be sure to check out the  . . .” She started to say “creep” but stopped so as not to influence the detective’s opinion. “See if the big guy has an alibi.”

“What big guy?” Ty scanned the faces over her shoulder before donning a quizzical frown.

“The man in the long coat.” She kept her voice low before shifting sideways to raise her arm and point. “He’s gone. Damn it! The guy’s involved in John Doe’s murder. I know it.”

Ty’s mouth twitched. “I’d sure like to enroll in the Reyna Blair Course on Intuitive Crime Scene Investigation. It’d make the process go a lot faster. By the way, Officer, how do you suggest I word my report to say I know someone is a suspect without substantial proof?”

“Shut up.” Her insides jumped at his teasing, sending a splash of color across her cheeks. Reyna quickly hid behind the edge of her cup, praying the lid stayed in place this time.

“I’m done.” The medical examiner stood up, grumbling as his stiff limbs popped and cracked. Removing his gloves, he wiped his hands on a small rag before speaking. “It looks like our man was killed somewhere else and dumped here. No blood around the body. No papers. I found bruising on his wrists which indicates he was restrained before death. Terrible way to go.”

Reyna frowned. Doc’s assessment validated her suspicion it was a ritualistic murder. The weirdo in the long coat looked like he belonged to a Satanic cult so it all fit. “Thanks, Doc. I appreciate your coming out. Purgatory doesn’t have the equipment or manpower to investigate something like this.”

“No problem. The Texas Rangers are always available for helping out. Do you want to be present for the autopsy?”

Her stomach clenched as Reyna shook her head. “Just fax the report. I’ll call if I have questions.”

He nodded then turned to Ty. “You want to examine the body before we transport?”

“Yeah, Doc. Thanks.”

Reyna clamped her mouth shut as a sharp retort rose to her lips. It was her crime scene, damn it, not Ty Carter’s. Rangers always stuck together. If Purgatory had been better prepared to process the crime scene, she’d never have called him. And after seeing the small platoon he brought as an investigative team, she sure as hell wouldn’t do it again.

While Ty searched the victim’s pockets, Reyna wandered to a nearby hedgerow, kicking under the shrubs with her boot. A faded cigarette package, empty beer container, plastic Wal-Mart bag . . . normal trash.

Something glinted in the grass as she turned away. Removing her sunglasses, Reyna knelt for a closer look, parting the Bermuda grass with the tip of her ballpoint pen. A small iridescent ball lay under a low hanging bough. It was larger than a marble, about two inches in diameter with a glassy appearance. The surface was still shiny so it must not have been there long. Probably a kid’s toy, she mused, scooping the object into an evidence bag. If nothing else, she’d keep it on her desk as a gazing ball.

Reyna shoved the bag into her pocket before turning her attention to the attendants unrolling a body bag. She’d witnessed the same procedure with fallen comrades in Iraq. Biting the inside of her lip to block the memories, Reyna averted her gaze. Friendships were usually short lived during the war, but it didn’t make the final goodbye any easier.

Ty nudged her arm. “That man is staring at you. He doesn’t look very happy.”

She whirled around, immediately recognizing the portly figure of Mayor Townsend. With arms crossed petulantly over a round chest, he glared disapproval. His scowl deepened when she refused to acknowledge his presence by looking away.

It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but Reyna figured the shit was already on the fan. She’d not taken time to consult the town council before requesting a forensic investigation. What was I supposed to do? Sweep the whole thing under a rug and pretend it never happened? It all boiled down to one thing – money. And this investigation would cost the town plenty.

Reyna watched the hearse drive away, wiping a trickle of sweat from her face. The vic didn’t look like a local but it was hard to say. Putrefaction had morphed his features into a grotesque, bloated mask. Hopefully, the autopsy and dental records would produce a name. It was up to her to find a motive.

A sharp pain shot through Reyna’s temple as her vision erupted with bright pinpoints of light. Another migraine. She needed to go . . . now . . . even if it meant leaving Ty in charge.

Pinning a stiff smile to her face, she struggled to conceal her pain. “Let’s finish up and get outta here.”

He nodded. “I’m with you. We’ll meet up later and write the report together.”

“Sure.” Reyna silently vowed to keep Ty Carter away from her notes. Just because he was cute, didn’t mean she trusted him.

Reyna directed her steps toward the parking lot, inwardly groaning as reporters pressed against the yellow ribbon. They jockeyed for position, barking questions as she moved within earshot. This was the part she hated – dealing with the press. It was like running a gauntlet.

Reyna held up a hand, blocking their frantic efforts to elicit information as she pushed through the microphones. “No comment.”

Damn vultures. She clenched her teeth, staring straight ahead while wishing the tables were turned. Would they impose the same pervasive questions if the victim had been a friend or family member?

Reyna hurried to her vehicle, slid across the seat, and slammed the door to silence their shouts. How did they get here so fast? Purgatory was in the middle of nowhere. Surely there was enough crime in their own towns to keep them busy.

“Oh, crap . . .”

She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel and closed her eyes. If John Doe hailed from someplace other than Purgatory, she would have to coordinate efforts with another police department. She didn’t play well with others. Not even Ty. What he lacked in typical Texas Ranger arrogance, he made up for with ambition – which meant he’d do everything in his power to take over the highly publicized murder investigation.

Well, it’s not going to happen. As soon as Doc sends over the autopsy report, I’ll get rid of the good detective . . . and his damn dimples.

Expelling a pent up breath, Reyna sat back and inserted her key into the ignition. She brought the powerful engine to life and backed out of the parking space, carefully maneuvering the SUV around news vans and satellite trucks.

I can’t go back to town.

Her head reverberated with each heartbeat. The thought of reporters camped outside her office left her nauseated. Turning left at the next corner, Reyna guided the vehicle out of town and away from the madness.

Twenty minutes later, she turned off the main road and followed a gravel lane to a small, wood framed farmhouse. It was a rental but came with ten acres of open pasture and no meddling neighbors. After moving in, Reyna considered adopting a dog but quickly changed her mind. Ownership would require full time care, as well as taking responsibility for another life besides her own. She wasn’t up to that kind of commitment yet.

Pushing through the front door, Reyna charted a course toward the bathroom and extracted an orange prescription bottle from the medicine cabinet. The mirrored door swung shut, leaving her to stare at the hollow-eyed woman in the glass. Her thirtieth birthday was less than two weeks away yet she looked much older. Dark blonde hair dangled at the nape of her neck in an unkempt ponytail.  Deep purple circles rimmed her eyes, the result of too many sleepless nights. Too many nightmares.

She shook a couple of pills into the palm of her hand before tossing them to the back of her mouth. Turning her head sideways under the faucet, she washed them down with a gulp of water.

The new prescription seemed to work better than the last one although oddly, she’d been experiencing stomach aches. Still, it was easier to deal with the cramps than a debilitating migraine.

Reyna walked across the hall to her bedroom and fell across the bed. “Five minutes, that’s all I need,” she muttered aloud. “Just five minutes and I’ll be fine.” Consciousness was already fading by the time she closed her eyes.

It was a fitful sleep, filled with images of menacing forms beckoning to her from the shadows. Why wouldn’t they leave her alone? A dim orb floated in her peripheral vision, hovering. Watching. It began to move toward her, casting a warm circle of light that banished the shadows farther into the darkness. She reached out to touch it . . .

“Reyna.”

Oh, God . . . the voices again. No amount of sleep-aid seemed to get rid of them. She moaned and pulled a pillow over her head.

“Reyna.”

Her eyes flew open in a rush of awareness. She jumped from the bed, her hand instinctively reaching for the pistol strapped to her side. Withdrawing it from the holster, she pointed it at the figure in the doorway. Ty leaned against the frame, a broad grin creasing his face.

Her eyes narrowed to slits. “You scared the shit out of me, Carter. What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you. You didn’t answer your cell phone.”

Guilt washed over her as she rolled her eyes and holstered her weapon. “I’m sorry. I left it in my car.” She frowned. “How do you know where I live?”

“I’m a Texas Ranger. I know a lot of things.”

“Yeah, like how to bullshit.” She forced a half smile to her lips before rubbing her temples.

“Another migraine?”

Reyna nodded before quickly adding, “But the new meds are great.” She glanced at the clock on the bedside table. “Geez! I didn’t mean to sleep so long. What’s happening with the investigation?”

“Not much. You were right. Mrs. Gaines played havoc with the crime scene when she escorted her friends around the body. Too many footprints, cigarette butts . . .  I’m sure most of it will track back to your local residents. You should cite her for interfering with a police investigation so she doesn’t do it again.”

Reyna gave a short laugh. “Again? I hope this is Purgatory’s first and last murder. Besides, Agnes is Mayor Townsend’s sister in law. He’s already looking for a way to get rid of me. I don’t want to escalate his efforts.”

“Point taken.” Ty dug his hands into his pockets and stared at the floor. “I’d like to bring in a consultant from Austin, Jasper Holliday. He’s retired from the Texas Rangers but has worked some cult cases. I think it’d be worth our while.”

Reyna jutted her chin defensively. “It’s still my investigation, Detective Carter.”

“I know that, Officer Blair.”

Her heart skipped a beat as Ty stepped closer, tilting her chin with one finger. It was odd staring upward into the deep blue pools studying her face. She was tall. But Ty was taller.  “Don’t mock me,” she sputtered uncomfortably.

“I’m not.” Ty looked as if he wanted to add something but after a long few seconds, diverted the conversation to another topic. “Look, I’m already involved in the investigation and my bosses want answers. Why don’t we work on this together and keep everyone happy?”

“No . . .”

“Care to negotiate over lunch?”

Lunch? Reyna steeled herself against the urge to say “yes” as she pushed past him. “Not today, Ty. I need to check in at the office. Maybe another time.”

“I’ll take a rain check on the lunch but it’s in everyone’s best interest if we present a united front during the investigation. At least for now,” he added as she stiffened.

Reyna ushered him out the door with non-committal small talk and waved goodbye from the porch, not relaxing until she saw his vehicle disappear on the main highway. The effect he had on her was unnerving.

She’d lived a celibate existence for over a year, blaming post-traumatic stress disorder from the war for extinguishing her passion. Not that it was a concern. Reyna had never been keen on intimacy, chalking it up to her troubled teens. One night stands were more her thing. No strings. No commitments.

But then the dreams started. Dark, primal images provoking unwanted longings. Monsters . . . demons . . . formless shadows invading her consciousness and whispering wicked promises in her ear.

Slamming the door, Reyna stalked to the hall table and retrieved her keys. Ty Carter was not the answer to her awakening sexuality. She wasn’t even sure she liked him that much. He could be annoying as hell – like a rambunctious puppy.

But cute. Definitely cute.

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Spotlight on: RADIANT by Belinda Williams

CONTEST: Tour Wide Giveaway!!!!  Win one of THREE e-copies of Radiant. Enter by clicking the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f357/

Radiant-Banner-AUTHORS-FB

RADIANT

Belinda Williams

Romantic suspense/paranormal    

Number of pages: 384

Word Count: 118,000 approx.

Cover Artist: Creative Fusion

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/ot8GyT3c8m0

Amazon        ASIN: B00BP34VRY

RADIANT COVER 600wBook Description:

Do you believe in angels and demons? They believe in you…

Lily Ainsworth, a twenty-eight year old Emergency Department nurse, is used to keeping calm under pressure – until the day she wakes up to find herself a patient in the very ED she works in. A victim of a near fatal hit and run, Lily recalls nothing of the accident. The only witness is the mysterious and charming, Leo.

As she attempts to return to normal life, Lily is plagued by strange events, which has her wondering whether the hit and run was merely a coincidence, or if it was something much more sinister…

Drawn to Leo, Lily confides in him and reveals long unanswered questions about the disappearance of her mother twenty-five years earlier. But his presence appears to come at a price.

Suddenly thrown into a dark world she doesn’t recognise and fighting to stay alive, Lily begins to realise the key to her survival lies in answering the questions surrounding her past.

It’s a journey that will change her life forever, make her question everything she has ever believed in, and test her feelings for Leo in ways she never imagined.

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award finalist

About The Author:

Belinda Williams is an author based in Sydney, Australia. When she’s not reading romantic suspense or chick-lit, she’s writing it (or else can be found wasting time on social media).

Belinda Williams author image

Belinda is also a marketing communications specialist and copywriter who, after spending more than a decade writing about exciting subjects like financial services, IT and hospitality, allowed an addiction to romantic suspense and chick-lit to get the better of her. Radiant came to life when Belinda decided it was time Sydney featured in some fast-paced, heart-stopping romantic suspense, with a dark twist.

Radiant is her novel début and earned a finalist placing in The Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award 2013.

Belinda is a music lover and her eclectic taste forms the foundation for many of her writing ideas. She also has a healthy appreciation for fast cars

and would not so secretly love a Lamborghini. For now she’ll have to settle with her son’s supercar Hot Wheel’s collection and the occasional drive in her much loved MX-5.

www.belindawilliamsbooks.com

@bwilliamsbooks

http://www.facebook.com/belindawilliamsbooks

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6979975.Belinda_Williams

Romantic Times Review and Fun Quiz

Romantic Times Reviews Monthly Quiz is a fun way to find out which genre will provide the best read for your taste. And guess what? The GATEKEEPER is one of the suggested titles.  Go to http://www.rtbookreviews.com/rt-daily-blog/june-2012-which-self-published-story-right-you-take-quiz to take this short quiz.

How cool is that??? The GATEKEEPER is one of my featured titles at www.bookloversbuffet.com for only 99 cents. Prices go up after June 22nd. Hurry and purchase your copy now. You can read it later!

RT also rated The GATEKEEPER with 4 stars in their June issue. Here’s the review in case you missed it:

“World domination, and the individuals who prevent it, is the central theme in Sanders’ clever tale. Kylie is a strong woman, searching for her family, caught in a battle between good and evil. Readers will love the adventure and romance woven throughout.

Summary: Kylie Baker finds out that her mother may be alive and that she has left her a small fortune and a very special necklace. Clay Eden is immediately infatuated with Kylie – so much so that when she leaves him behind in an effort to save him, he follows her across the country. Kylie is deep in trouble when Clay catches up with her. The secrets and lies, and the fate of the world, could keep these star-crossed lovers at bay.”

Thanks to Sabrina Cooper for a great review.

RED HOT and DANGEROUS

Are you ready for a sexy Romantic Suspense? RED HOT and DANGEROUS is releasing May 1st, exclusively at Amazon for only 99 cents! Here’s the blurb:

RED HOT and DANGEROUS
Romantic Suspense – Heat Level 3.5

When Andie Lange accepts a one day temp job through her friend’s employment agency, she unwittingly brings back more than a paycheck.
 
It’s supposed to be a “fun” assignment – assisting a famous actress during a publicity junket, as well as an opportunity for Andie to network her new photography business. But between the Promotions Manager accusing her of spying for the tabloids and the unwanted advances from a handsome stranger, the day proves to be more trouble than it’s worth.

Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse. The actress is poisoned, and  the handsome stranger turns out to be investigating detective, Drake Slater, who is assigned protective duty when attempts are made on Andie’s life. She’s connected to the murder – she just don’t know how or why.

There’s no denying Drake Slater is a cool drink of water on a hot day but the man is a womanizer. Andie recognizes his charm for what it is . . . a way to seduce her. So why isn’t she putting up more of a fight ?
 
Drake Slater learned a long time ago police work and relationships don’t mix, but that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the company of  beautiful women. The key is not to stick around long enough for them to get any ideas. His plan works flawlessly until he meets Andie Lange, a gorgeous redhead with legs that go all the way up to heaven. Forced to protect her from an unknown assailant, Drake discovers there’s more to the sassy photographer than her body.
 
After Andie’s photographs reveal the identity of the murderer,  police rush to make an arrest, only to discover he’s been killed, too. Realizing the assailant’s next target is Andie, Drake must take extreme measures to keep her safe.
 
With her life in jeopardy, the only thing Andie fears more than the killer is the heat of desire aroused by her bodyguard. She’ll need to keep her wits about her and take a lot of cold showers if she’s to survive . . . because Drake Slater is RED HOT and DANGEROUS!

The Gatekeeper . . . Now on Amazon

 I’ve been off the grid the past couple of weeks finishing my new sexy urban paranormal – The Gatekeeper. This edgy story was so much fun to write. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it. Here’s the blurb:

Abandoned as an infant, raised among strangers, cursed by mysterious powers she tries to hide, Kylie Baker lives a solitary life – until secrets from the past thrust her headlong into an unfathomable future. She’s the Gatekeeper, guardian to a portal between two worlds, and if a demon Warlord from the other side has his way, all hell’s about to break loose on Earth.

Kylie must locate the one person who can explain what is happening . . . the mother she thought was dead. A shapeshifting warrior and his band of rogue werewolves are determined to keep them apart. Armed only with her instincts and a strange amulet, and befriended by a sexy cowboy and his telepathic dog, Kylie embarks on a passionate quest to find the truth.

Available now on Amazon! Click here for details.