I’m happy to participate with other authors in this great blog hop! I could show you a dozen dream men, the kind I try to create every time I write a hero for a novel. I went back and forth trying to decide which hero to show you. I’m showing you a bit of Zane Spinella, the hero of PRIMORDIAL. PRIMORDIAL is my Romantic Times Review 4 ½ Stars TOP PICK. PRIMORDIAL has also received an eCataromance.com reviewer award for 2004 and a JERR Gold Star Award in 2004. Primordial is only one of the books in Special Investigations Agency series at Ellora’s Cave www.ellorascave.com You can find more information on PRIMORDIAL and all my books at my webpage. If you click on the link under the banner you’ll be taken on the blog hop. Warning, the excerpt below is explicit. Jump right in there and read about Zane!
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Some forces are too primal to contain… Some attractions too hazardous to acknowledge…
When archaeologist Keira Jessop and her grandfather are accused of stealing an artifact with paranormal powers, the Special Investigations Agency demands she trek into a remote rainforest to locate the strange object. When she learns cocky, handsome special agent Zane Spinella will be her protector on this perilous assignment, she can’t help but be wary of him even if he is heart-stopping sexy and once saved her life. Zane doesn’t trust easily, least of all a woman who may be a criminal and makes his most primitive cravings boil. She has never encountered a more enticing or maddening male in her life. As they encounter a mysterious people and battle a twisted enemy who also wants the artifact for his own, they will discover sexual ecstasy and dark secrets are not the only dangers hidden in the dark and dangerous jungle.
Zane Spinella watched the bustling market square, taking in the sights and sounds like a predator stalking his next meal. A woman’s beautiful singing voice undulated on the stifling air, lulling the senses with sensual promise. But he couldn’t afford to relax, to take pleasure in the haunting sound as it drifted around him with seductive allure.
Sequestered near an alcove, he observed the comings and goings with anticipation. Sweat rolled down the back of his neck and into the collar of his desert khaki camp shirt. A shiver passed over his body despite the stifling heat. He knew what the sensation meant. The telltale quiver forewarned of trouble.
His sixth sense never lied. Yeah, trouble in spades and then some.
He squinted in the hot sun. Even his wrap around sunglasses couldn’t cut this burning light. Nothing like being baked alive. He took two deep swallows of his bottled water and returned it to the loop on his belt. At the very least he should be prepared, because if Aloysius Makepeace showed up this time, he would act fast.
Zane had prowled Cairo for two days and not a sign of his quarry. Maybe the intelligence he’d received from his contacts in Egypt and the message traffic from SIA didn’t jive. As he raised the digital camera and adjusted the telescopic lens, he sucked in a deep breath and regretted it. The alcove stunk to high heaven of dog feces and urine. He could handle it, and it didn’t distract him from his primary focus; capturing damaging photographs of old man Makepeace with international artifact thief and terrorist Darren Hollister was more important.
There he is.
Aloysius moved into position in the square, the noonday sun glaring down on his tall body. Like clockwork a shorter, well-built blond man stepped up to him. Dressed in a short-sleeved green polo shirt and brown dress pants, Hollister looked so out of place it should be laughable. Sunburned and Nordic as hell with his thick, straight long blond hair, Hollister drew attention to himself in this country.
Makepeace moved forward, smiling and shaking Hollister’s hand. Prove me wrong, old man. Don’t do it.
Zane snapped a few shots, pausing between each frame. The sophisticated device, which Zane once heard described as the secret squirrel camera, zeroed in on the two men, ready to capture damning evidence.
With his sun-weathered, wrinkled face and prominent features, Aloysius blended with the locals. Zane knew the robe hid the skinny body of an eighty-year-old. No one would ever suspect him of being a criminal. A linguistics scholar like old man Makepeace, with a genius IQ, should have more brains than this, but Zane had seen it happen before. Greed could drive a man to do horrible things.
Zane’s heartbeat quickened, his breathing coming fast as the thought of bringing down the enemy sent adrenaline surging into his body. He’d done surveillance like this so many times it should be boring as shit. Instead, he thrilled to the chase, the knowledge he would obtain the verification required to destroy an international terrorist and his cohort.
Before Makepeace could move again, a woman came into view. Dressed in a high-collared off-white tunic and gauzy navy blue pants, her head was shaded by a matching blue scarf. Zane could see her face and a little of her honey brown hair. When she turned from profile to full on, everything outside and within him seemed to stand still.
His breath hitched in his throat and his body took instant notice.
Golden brown eyes looked right in his direction, and for a second he panicked. Could she see him? No, he’d placed himself far enough away that even a camera pointed in their direction shouldn’t cause suspicion.
Zane surveyed her like a starving man. Spaced in proportion to a slim, small nose and lush mouth, her eyes held a strange sadness he felt down deep where he didn’t want to feel. Long, beautiful dark eyelashes fanned to her cheeks as she blinked. Her face held strong angles, her jaw a little square. It gave her face instant strength and matched with the vulnerability he sensed within her. Arousal stirred in his groin and startled him. He didn’t have time to become interested in a woman with questionable connections. Hell, he hadn’t had time for any exciting female contact in the last several months. The job demanded everything he could give; everything else could wait.
Realizing that he’d been gawking at the woman without taking photos, he snapped a series of pictures sure to damn both Makepeace and his companions. The woman shook hands with the big blond, and when Makepeace put his arm around the woman, Zane captured the image. Did Makepeace have a woman on the side? The old bastard had been married fifty years, but maybe that didn’t mean anything to him.
Again, as if she sensed something wrong, the woman glanced his way. Another flash of those intriguing eyes and the air in his lungs sluiced in and out with difficulty. She reminded him of a jungle creature peeking out behind lush flora, watching and waiting. For what?
As Makepeace and the woman talked with Hollister, Zane wished he could read lips. Makepeace reached in his burnoose and brought out a small envelope. He handed it to Hollister and then stepped back. Rapidly snapping off the pictures, Zane took satisfaction in collecting the damning evidence.
He moved closer, inch by inch. Not long after, he realized the conversation between Makepeace, the woman and Hollister seemed to be ending. Maybe, if he worked this right, he could also pick up some of their conversation. He reached into his shirt pocket and extracted a cigarette packet. He left the camera hanging around his neck while he tapped the packet so the end of a cigarette popped out.
Not that he’d ever smoked in his life, nor did he plan to start. He shoved the cigarette pack back in his pocket, as if he’d gone for a smoke and then decided against it. He smiled with satisfaction. The packet would record everything Makepeace and his cohorts said; the microphone should be powerful enough to record their voices.
Zane neared the small group and propped against a wall, making sure he looked everywhere but the group so they wouldn’t suspect him.
As the camera whirred with shot after shot, Zane felt unusual stirrings of worry for the woman. She looked innocent, unprotected. As his gut clenched, he realized he’d allowed his sympathy to get out of hand. She couldn’t be trusted.
“This isn’t good enough. Haan will not be happy,” Hollister said, his American accent coming through loud and clear.
“You have to tell him this is impossible. I need more time to deliver the item,” Makepeace said, his Queen’s English upper crust accent soft but firm. A thin line of desperation tinged the old man’s voice.
“You don’t have a choice, old man.” The blond bruiser nodded toward the woman. “What happened to your wife could happen to her.”
Alarm slid through Zane’s blood. Something ugly lingered in the air like a bad stench. His instincts told him to be ready for anything.
“Damn you to hell, sir. You are not a gentleman,” Makepeace said, a growl in his voice that almost altered his polite veneer.
“Grandfather.” The woman’s voice came to Zane’s ears, as distinguished as her grandfather’s but with an American accent. “Please.”
He should have known. He hadn’t seen a picture of Makepeace’s granddaughter before, but Mac Tudor, his Section Chief at SIA, had told him about her. Keira Marie Jessop, an archaeologist and criminal. Intriguing combination, and probably damned deadly. It disgusted him when a woman this talented and beautiful threw her life away by consorting with vermin like Hollister.
Zane took the chance and glanced at the group. The woman held her grandfather’s arm. Hollister’s expression held clear contempt for Makepeace and the woman.
Come on, Blondie. Say something nice and incriminating. Open that big mouth of yours and just say what I wanna hear.
“Remember, old man,” Hollister said, putting his hands on his hips. “You give Haan what he wants, or it’s hell to pay.”
The blond started to stalk away and left the old man talking with the woman. They moved a little father away.
“Shit,” Zane murmured when he realized he couldn’t hear what they said anymore.
Zane almost took the chance and walked into the middle of the square and toward a cart where he knew he could fake looking at merchandise. He stowed his camera in the small over-the-shoulder camera case nestled at his left hip.
Shifting away from Makepeace’s sheltering arm, the woman gestured with her hand. Anger crossed her smooth features, her eyes flashing. Makepeace held up his hands and frowned, his gaze intense with warning. She shook her head. The old man appeared to plead with her. Seconds later he stalked away, major displeasure written in every line on his face.
So the old bastard would leave his granddaughter standing out here alone? Zane’s protective instincts fired to life. His gaze snagged on Hollister returning to the square and heading straight for Keira. What the fuck—?
In his peripheral vision Zane saw movement, swift and deadly. Around a corner, the long nose of an M-16 appeared and pointed right toward Keira and Hollister.
Zane hurdled into action and ran toward Keira. “Get down!”
She whirled, her eyes wide with shock as he dashed toward her. Zane grabbed the woman and yanked her into an alcove. Her gasp of outrage stifled against him as he flattened her against unforgiving wall just as gunfire erupted in the plaza.
People scattered, women and children screaming, and men shouting. Display carts tipped over as chaos erupted.
He reached for the small weapon strapped to his ankle. One swift movement and he gathered the gun in his right hand.
More automatic gunfire made Zane edge her deeper into the niche until they couldn’t go any further. He pressed her head against his shoulder to shelter her face, making sure not to smother her.
“Let me go!” Keira struggled against him, her voice muffled against his shirt.
“Stop it.” She started to bring up her knee and he pressed her harder against the wall. “Don’t even think about it.”
Another spate of bullets peppered the wall near the recess and he stiffened, hoping to hell the bullets didn’t ricochet. Her entire body shivered against him, as if fear made its way into her mind. Daring to peer around the alcove wall, he kept his weapon at the ready. If someone intended to kill her, he needed to find a safe way out of here. Screaming and shouting echoed against the walls and in the distance a siren wailed. At first he didn’t see anyone hit by the spate of bullets. No bodies or blood. Then he saw Hollister lying face down not far from the entrance to an alley. Bullet wound damage to the back of his head assured no medical assistance would help him. An eerie silence, punctuated by a woman’s weeping, settled over the market.
Another scan of the area showed no sign of the assassin.
Taking a clarifying breath, he glared down into her amber eyes and drank in her female scent with one deep breath.
Her eyes betrayed anger and confusion. “Get off me.”
“Damn it, stop squirming.” Leaning down a little so he could align his gaze with hers, he conveyed the truth. “Those bullets may have been meant for you. If you want to live, stop fighting me.”
Warm and curved, Keira’s body felt vulnerable under his weight, but the alcove didn’t afford enough room for him to move back without making his back a target. For the first time he saw fear in her eyes. She shivered and the little movement made him too aware of soft, full breasts and slim body concealed by layers of cloth. Primal male inside him reared up and took notice in a big way.
His cock didn’t care that he’d just survived a dangerous situation that might not be over yet. All it cared about was the woman glued to every inch of him. Her eyes widened as she realized that he sported a growing erection. Damn it all to hell. She probably though he was a rapist. Self-preservation said something must give.
He eased up on her a little and cupped her face with his left hand. He didn’t see any blood on her, but concern still made him ask, “Were you hit?”
“What?” she asked a bit breathlessly.
“Are you hurt?”
“No. No. Who are you?”
Nope. He couldn’t tell her. Not now, if ever. “We need to get you to safety.”
She pressed her hands against his chest and the feeling of warm, small hands against his pecs made his cock grow harder. Her mouth opened as if she couldn’t decide to tell him to go screw himself or if she wanted a kiss. God, those lips looked soft and like they might taste so fucking delicious. He started down at her like an idiot, a man who had the stupidity to think about sex after getting shot at.
On the other hand, he knew that reaction often came with the territory. Many of the male agents he knew maintained they felt horny as hell after danger passed.
“Don’t,” she said, her voice quavering the slightest bit.
She didn’t answer, her gaze locked with his in a moment that seemed to hang on to eternity.
He couldn’t help but drink in those big, gorgeous eyes and that made-for-sex mouth. A wild-assed vision of her sucking him with that mouth made him want to groan. She overwhelmed his senses, his body going into riot. He’d always been a sitting duck for a damsel in distress and it didn’t seem to matter right now if she was the criminal he’d been tracking since she entered Cairo. She appeared young and innocent, but he knew she couldn’t be.
She shook her head. “Please.”
Please what? Please kiss you, honey?
“Release her immediately,” a stern English male voice said.
Her eyes widened as she looked passed him, and Zane whirled. Using his body to shelter her, he pointed his weapon right at the man.