In the spirit of Halloween, I have another excerpt for you. In my romantic suspense Taggert Security Team books (Dangerous Intentions and Treacherous Wishes), there’s a bit of the paranormal here and there. If you like your novels a mix of erotic, suspense, danger and the paranormal, you might love Treacherous Wishes. Dangerous Intentions is the first story, but both books can be read as stand alone. Enjoy this snippet!
Just when you think the danger has passed…
Just when you’ve stopped looking over your shoulder…
Evil finds a way…
Tammy Carter lost her psychic abilities in the aftermath of tragedy. Now, years later, her power resurrects when evil returns to her town. Everything in her comfort zone is disintegrating, except for one thing—the searing attraction she feels for one man. The one man who might stand between her…and death.
Bodyguard Kyle Hawthorne doesn’t believe in the supernatural or in Tammy’s psychic gift, but when her life is threatened he’ll do anything to protect her. Professionalism requires a platonic relationship with his coworker at Taggert Security Team, yet the sizzling connection he feels for Tammy demands exploration every time he’s near her.
Tammy harbors lightning-hot fantasies about Kyle. Suddenly their sensual desires and emotional connections are too powerful to ignore, and as they seek to sate the long-denied sexual hunger, they spark a chain reaction of events that may bring them together, or allow the evil to consume them.
Heavy, raspy breathing echoed in Tammy Carter’s ears. Fear slammed into her gut, wrenching her so hard that nausea boiled in her stomach.
She closed her eyes and tightened her grip on the telephone as the breathing on the other end continued. A flash of red filled her mind’s eye and she shuddered. She sank into the chair behind her desk. For years she’d feared the day the evil might return. She dreaded the inevitable when she would sense the malevolence that came once or twice in a lifetime. Now it came through the phone…reaching…reaching…
Oh, God. Not now.
Shades of blue and black mingled with the red behind her eyes, and she hoped the person on the other end of the line hadn’t already committed some horrible crime against an innocent person. Then scarlet came as a hot wave over her body…the fever of illness. Azure pierced like the cold, sharp sting of an icicle stabbing her arms. Black left a deep, hollow well in her stomach.
No. No! She didn’t want to see what the breather had done. Didn’t want to know. She opened her eyes, denying the ability that gave her this horrible insight. As the breathing on the end of the line continued, she jerked her connection away from the person on the other side. Fear mutated into fury.
Tammy clenched the telephone receiver until it felt as if the plastic might break. She gave the breather five more seconds to speak, then she cursed and slammed down the receiver. As she shook from reaction, her body suffused with a cold sweat. Perspiration formed on her forehead and upper lip, and she reached for a tissue box. Dabbing a tissue over her cheeks, she took deep breaths and the fear eased minute by minute.
Nice thing about these episodes. Quick to come, quick to go.
Calm settled over Tammy. Whatever animal had called had disconnected from her, and she didn’t want to worry about the creep anymore.
Must forget. Must let it go.
A sparkling tune about love flowed from the small radio tucked beneath the high counter of her desk. Yeah, right. She snapped off the radio.
What a fine way to end a day’s work. First, several folders had disappeared and it had taken half the day for her to deduce where the temp had filed them last week. The young, inexperienced woman had wreaked havoc in the office with her incompetence.
Tammy would have been happy if only one thing had gone wrong with the day. But a client had made a sexual harassment complaint against one of Taggert Security Team’s bodyguards that afternoon. Tammy had missed lunch, and two bodyguards on assignment had come down with the flu.
She never should have taken vacation for an entire week. Mrs. Taggert and several of the bodyguards had almost kissed her feet when she’d walked in the door that Monday morning. Sure, it was gratifying to be missed, but not when she found twice the work piled on her desk once she returned.
Hungry, tired, and downright hacked described her attitude to an inch. Mrs. Taggert might pay Tammy well as her personal administrative assistant, but today’s events had strained Tammy’s steel nerves to the limit.
The phone rang again.
The breather had called three times in ten minutes, and that last connection had about broken her. She hesitated.
She should say Taggert Security Team. She should take a deep breath and stay calm.
She picked up the phone on the third ring. “Listen you jerk, this is a business. Stop calling us!”
Silence on the other end shocked her. Finally the person spoke. “Tammy?”
She recognized the deep voice and a blush flooded her face. “Hawthorne? Damn it, I’m sorry.”
“Hey, babe, are you all right?”
His silky, husky voice sent a wild fluttering into her stomach. Tammy swallowed hard. Kyle Hawthorne might be the most handsome man she’d ever met, but that didn’t mean she needed to dissolve into gelatin at the sound of his voice. The jibes, barbs and teasing they’d traded for the last year meant nothing. Employees at Taggert Security leaned toward the wild side; their dangerous jobs made them less willing to follow convention. Hawthorne was no exception. He played the role of flirtatious, handsome charmer all the way. More than once friends of Tammy’s speculated about his love life. But she tried not to imagine Hawthorne holding a woman in his arms. It gave her a headache.
“Tammy?” he said again, concern deepening his already low voice.
“Sorry. I…uh…I just thought you were someone else.”
He chuckled. “What’s the matter? Art forget to pick you up for a date?”
Leave it to Kyle to remember the one time Art Childress had forgotten a date with her. “He’s working tonight. We had to cancel.”
“What do you mean again? We’ve gotten together three times in two months. I’d say that’s a record.”
“If you were my woman, I’d make sure we got together several times a week.”
With impeccable timing, her heartbeat accelerated, and her mouth went dry. Babe? His woman? It sounded primitive. Some might say chauvinistic. Yet she knew this man too well to believe he meant any irreverence toward her. He believed in equality of the sexes. Tammy reminded herself that he didn’t mean anything and flirting came second nature to him. His woman indeed!
“Better watch out, Hawthorne. I could break your neck for saying something that suggestive and sexist.”
“Don’t play dumb with me. Your woman? Hell, why not go all the way and call me wench?” His laugh soothed her skittish nerves. She sighed and rubbed the tight muscles in the back of her neck. “What are you doing calling the office at this hour?”
“What are you doing at the office at seven o’clock at night?”
Tammy fiddled with the small, brown plastic stegosaurus on her desk. “Answer my question first.”
“Burke still working on the Alexander case?”
The stegosaurus tipped over, and she let it lie on its side. She stared at its underbelly. “No. He went home an hour ago. He thinks he’s coming down with the flu as well.”
“Great. At this rate Mrs. Taggert will have to quarantine the office.”
She groaned. “I don’t even want to think about it.”
“Okay, so why are you still at work and who did you think was calling?”
“Today was hellish and I got behind. And I thought you were the breather. He’s called three times in the last ten minutes. When the phone rang, I lost it.”
“Obscene phone calls? That’s a first at the agency. It must be your velvet voice.”
“Right, Hawthorne. My voice is about as sexy as an elephant sneezing.”
He laughed. “Did this creep say anything?”
“No. He wasn’t original enough. Just a lot of heavy panting.”
“Are you about ready to leave?”
“Just put away the last file. I need a cup of caffeine for the road.”
“Stay put. I’m almost there.”
“What?” She accidentally knocked the pencil cup over and writing instruments rolled across her desk.
“I’m calling on my cell. When I get there I can walk you to your car.”
“You don’t have to do that.” She hated the shaky, nervous quality in her voice. Tammy righted the pencil cup and started dropping pens and pencils into the brilliant red holder.
“I don’t have to. I want to. See you in a few minutes.”
Stunned, she kept the phone to her ear for a moment before she realized he’d hung up. She slipped the receiver back into the cradle.
Staring at the pencil cup, she wondered if the breather had rattled her more than she wanted to admit. Tammy hadn’t experienced a wave of revulsion like the one she’d experienced with the breather in…well…a good long time. Hell, it had been such hard work to keep her ability under wraps. So hard. For years she’d tucked away her psychic abilities, then six months ago she’d resurrected them for a case involving another bodyguard at the agency. Then she’d stuffed them back in the little niche she reserved for things she didn’t want to think about. Why had her abilities reappeared now?
Memories ate at her, rearing their repulsive heads so that she recalled fifteen years ago with clarity.
Tammy closed her eyes and saw her older sister’s smile, her long, red hair so much like Tammy’s own. Then she saw her sister’s blue eyes staring at the sky as Barb floated in the family swimming pool, her life throttled out of her by a madman.
Shivering, Tammy pushed away the memory. She hadn’t thought about those horrific events for a long time.
The phone rang, and she jolted. It was probably Hawthorne saying he’d changed his mind about coming by the office. Good. She didn’t need the distraction.
“Taggert Security. May I help you?”
“I see you.”
The rough, guttural tone sounded like crunching gravel. Pure apprehension roiled inside her. Before Tammy could say a word or hang up, the voice came again.
“You can’t hide from me. You’re in my book of wishes.”
She felt it again.
Pure, unadulterated evil.
Tammy opened her mouth but nothing would come out. The red wave started at the corner of her vision and she closed her eyes. Red. The color of violence and pain and sometimes the hot, overwhelming tide of love and sex.
No. Please not again. I can’t do this again.
A hushed laugh echoed into her ear. “What’s the matter, Sweet Magnolia? Cat got your tongue? Well that’s no matter. I’ll have your tongue before long.”
She inhaled a sharp breath, revulsion sending a metallic taste to her mouth. She slammed down the receiver. Fear rocketed through her like a missile. Tammy rubbed her arms as goose bumps spread over her skin. Swiftly she turned on the answering machine. If the bastard called again she wouldn’t have to tolerate his vile comments. Her only salvation came in banishing these visions once and for all.
Coffee cured everything. When Tammy stood she held on to the desk while she regained equilibrium. The aftereffects of these strong visions mimicked illness, and all she needed now was for Hawthorne to arrive and find her collapsed on the floor.
She headed for the lounge at the back of the large office space. Her footfalls made a soft swish over the carpet, and the minute sound made her feel vulnerable. Once inside the lounge, she grabbed her mug and poured a cup of mocha java. She tried a sip. A little bitter from too many hours on the hot pad. No matter. She loved mocha java no matter what its condition. Tammy switched off the machine and distracted herself by cleaning the coffee pot and the counter.
Sighing, she thought about Hawthorne’s insistence that he stop by the office and walk her to her car. Earlier she wouldn’t have hesitated to enter the parking garage alone. After that slimy call, her knees had weakened. No, she’d feel more secure now that Hawthorne would arrive any minute.
Immediately she pushed aside a feeling of helplessness. She had never come close to being a weak, defenseless female in all her twenty-nine years.
Her fingers trembled as she put down her mug and rubbed her arms again. The turtleneck sweater dress couldn’t protect against the cold fright that skulked into the room and wrapped itself around her like a many- tentacled beast from a nightmare. Ice sank into her bones, digging deep like a dagger.
“Oh, God,” Tammy whispered.
For the umpteenth time a shudder ran through her. No. She had to think of something else. Something pleasant.
She didn’t even know whether to call him by his first name or his last anymore. For months she’d called him simply Hawthorne. She called all the bodyguards by their last names. But sometimes he became Kyle. Had become Kyle since that night six months ago when he’d suffered a bullet wound.
He might be a man of mystery, but Tammy had no intention of trying to decipher him. In the year he’d worked at the bodyguard agency, she’d seen his quick wit, his professionalism, and his cool, cocky side. He flirted and joked, but tonight she’d heard a difference in his voice. Or had she? Maybe the stress of the day had fried her brain.
For a second she got a vision of that famous commercial from the seventies.
“This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs,” she said out loud, then a made a sizzling noise. Tammy laughed weakly. “Yep. That’s me.”
But he’d called her babe. He’d never called her anything other than her first or last name before.
Although Edith Taggert, owner of the agency, didn’t have a stated policy on sexual harassment, Tammy had no compunction about trading witty repartee with the bodyguards. Flirting meant absolutely nothing. She knew that from long experience.
She wasn’t getting involved in a romantic relationship again for a good long time, if ever. Her track record proved she couldn’t trust her feelings in that arena. Tammy was engaged once, right out of college. Her lawyer boyfriend had discovered a beautiful brunette in the law firm suited him better. Second only to that painful discovery had been her other attempts at relationships.
Too many times men had flirted and romanced her until she lost control and believed herself in love. Each time she discovered the men not only didn’t love her, they wanted to use her. She’d given her affections to men who had no intentions of returning her love.
The phone rang again, but Tammy let the machine get it. From this distance she couldn’t hear the person leaving a message, and that was mighty fine with her. Let the bastard babble to a machine. Maybe he’d get off on talking to himself and leave her alone.
Less than two minutes later the phone rang again. Once more she ignored it.
Tammy thought of something that sent her heart into a rapid jig.
Was the front door to the office locked?
Putting her mug on the counter, she trotted out to the front area. When she reached her desk she saw the door unlocked. Damn! This might be a secure building, but Tammy never left it unlocked when alone in the office.
Before she reached the door a blast of scorching, vivid red blinded her and she stumbled back, falling to the floor and landing on her butt. Tammy gasped, startled by the force.
Whoever or whatever had called her had come into the building and was close. Too close.
Tammy struggled to unscramble her senses as another wave of scarlet splattered across her vision. Power flooded her system and she stood, legs wobbly and step uncertain. Fear surged through her veins like electricity, and she knew she must reach the door and lock it before the fiend with the blood red aura could arrive first.
Now. Go. Hurry.
The crimson retreated, draining away like the lifeblood of the dying. She closed her eyes and the burning sensation left her body. Relief made her almost as dizzy as the vision, and Tammy took another step. Must lock the door. The person may come back.
She stepped forward and had just touched the knob when the door came open.
Tammy jumped back, a startled yelp leaving her throat. Her heart slammed in her chest as her heel snagged on the carpet and she started to fall backwards. Before she could make another sound, the big man in the doorway leapt forward and caught her in his arms. He hauled her against his chest.
“Tammy?” Concern drew Hawthorne’s dark brows downward and his lips thinned into a frown.
“You,” she said, sighing in total relief.
No red. No colors at all. She never saw colors when she was around Hawthorne.
“Were you expecting someone else?”
“No,” she said weakly. “I was going to lock the door when you came busting in and scared the bejeebers out of me.”
“You’re trembling.” He tucked her a little closer and the heat of his body warmed her.
“I think the air conditioning was up a bit high. I…I got cold.”
Although stunned, Tammy couldn’t ignore the fact she pressed against his tall, rock hard body. The soft, denim shirt couldn’t hide the evidence of broad shoulders under her fingers.
She’d tried over the time she’d known him to disregard another disturbing realty; Kyle Hawthorne sent her libido into overdrive.
No, he’d never be model handsome, but perhaps that was what made him interesting. Most women found Hawthorne’s dangerous air mixed with a sharp sense of humor almost mouth-watering. His face had a mixed-up perfection that belonged in the movies. Dark and deep, his brown eyes could switch from amused to frosty in a heartbeat. His almost too long nose matched well with his uncompromising jaw. Cocoa brown hair was cut close enough to his head to be neat, but not quite military length. Tammy had a notion if he let it grow much longer the waves would go wild. Despite his looks, his face could turn hard and unforgiving. No one could ever call him boyish.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, his eyes narrowing.
His touch, his nearness had wiped away the terror of moments ago. “I feel good.”
As she gazed up into Hawthorne’s eyes and cursed the gods that gave some men long sexy lashes, she saw something change within him.
A sudden, shocking warmth ignited in his eyes and flickered into full flame. “You feel great.”
Her mouth dropped in surprise. Was he flirting with her again?
Hawthorne’s mouth turned up in his trademark quirky smile. Between tender and hard, his mouth looked undeniably masculine. Suddenly Tammy was downright breathless. His warm, spicy scent had teased and tantalized her many times before, but now she felt every inch of him, every nuance. Something had changed and it sent waves of heat straight to her toes. Lean without being skinny, big boned and perfectly muscled, Hawthorne looked capable of kicking anyone’s ass. His jeans slicked along narrow hips, tight butt, and long, powerful legs. Tammy licked her lips and swallowed hard as another fluttery sensation darted into her stomach.