“Who hired you and Digger to kill Jessie Kegan?”
Petrov shook his head. “We didn’t have to kill her. We just had to convince her to quit sticking her nose into other people’s business.”
“And if you couldn’t convince her?”
Petrov shrugged his thick shoulders. “Then we’d have to do something that would.” He was built like a bull, and with that pale, scraggly beard, he was ugly.
“What? Like make her dead?” Bran pressed.
Petrov didn’t answer, just gave another shrug as if killing her was no big deal. Jessie shivered. She gasped when Bran drew back his fist and punched Petrov hard in the face, sending a spray of blood into the air and his body flying backward into the dirt.
“Bran, stop!” Jessie grabbed his bicep, which was bunched hard as steel, ready to deliver another brutal blow.
He shook his head, fighting for control. “He’s lucky I don’t kill him.” Instead, he jerked Petrov upright. “I need a name. Who hired you?
Petrov spit out a wad of blood. “Weaver. That’s his name. Just Weaver.”
“How do I find him?”
More blood trickled from Petrov’s nose. The way it was swelling, by tomorrow, both eyes would be black.
“I don’t know. He phones us on a burner, tells us what he needs, we call him back after the job’s done. Weaver tells us where to pick up our money. That’s the way it works.”
Bran swore foully. “What’s going to happen when Weaver finds out you didn’t finish the job?”
Petrov grimaced. “He ain’t gonna like it, that’s for sure.”
“Then I’d strongly suggest the first chance you get, you and your buddy leave town. I’ve got friends on the base. I’ll be texting them your photos. You don’t leave, I’ll know and you’ll be dealing with me instead of your buddy, Weaver. You won’t have a second chance to walk away.”
Petrov stared up at him. Jessie knew Bran was talking about soldiers in the 10th Special Forces stationed at Fort Carson, where he had friends.
“You understand what I’m saying?”
Petrov swallowed and nodded.
Bran turned to Jessie. “Time to go.”
“What about them? We can’t just leave them out here. They could die of exposure.”
“We’ll call the sheriff once we’re on the road.”
“I thought you were letting us go,” Petrov complained.
“You’re lucky your still alive.” Bran closed Jessie’s car door, rounded the hood, and slid in behind the wheel.
“Maybe we should call the MPs instead of the sheriff,” she suggested as the engine roared to life. “Since it involves a CID investigation.”
Bran shook his head. “These guys aren’t active duty, plus we don’t know who we can trust on the base.”
Unfortunately, that was true. Her dad had been murdered on the base. The military was somehow involved.
As soon as the SUV reached the highway, Bran called 9-1-1 and anonymously reported that two men had assaulted him and were now tied up in an empty field. He gave the location using GPS coordinates.
“Sheriff will be there in ten,” he said, ending the call. “We need to be long gone by then.” He punched the gas and the Expedition picked up speed, heading back to Colorado Springs, forty miles away, and their motel.
“What will the sheriff do to them?” Jessie asked.
“For starters, they’re probably driving with a stolen license plate. There’s also a good chance there’ll be warrants out for them. Guys like that…could be anything from a speeding ticket to a felony. Might get them locked up for a while.”
There were few cars on the back road Bran was driving toward town. The wind had picked up, blowing dust and dry leaves into the air. The night was dead black, no moon no stars. Jessie shivered, though it was warm in the SUV.
She thought of the men who’d come after them. “Once they’re released, do you think they’ll actually leave town?”
“I’d say chances are better than good. Men like that go after the easy money.” He cast her glance that held a trace of arrogance. “Turned out getting to you wasn’t as easy as they thought.”
She almost smiled. No, not nearly as easy with Bran Garrett acting as her bodyguard.
“I’ll text those photos to a couple of SF guys I know, have them spread the word to their buddies, keep a lookout, give me a heads-up if anyone spots them.”
She nodded. At least they might get some kind of warning if the two men stayed in the area.
Silence began to stretch between them. Neither of them spoke until town drew near and Bran’s gaze slid back to her.
Was she okay? Men had been hired to stop her–one way or another–from finding out what had happened to the stolen munitions and clearing her father’s name. Since she had no intention of quitting, no, she wasn’t okay. But she didn’t say that.
“I will be. Once we clear my father’s name.”
“Be smarter to quit before things get worse.”
“You think they will?”
“Good chance they will.”
She fixed him with a stare. “You sticking?”
His mouth faintly curved. “If you are.”
As Jessie settled back in the seat, she found herself smiling. “Glad that’s settled.”
Bran just shook his head. “Well, you sure as hell aren’t boring.” He flashed one of his devastating grins. “Can’t remember when I’ve had a better time with a lady.”
Jessie scoffed. “Not counting sex,” she said dryly.
His look turned scorching the instant before he glanced away. “Yeah,” he said. “Not counting sex.”
Jessie’s whole body went warm, and in that moment she made a decision.
She decided she was going to seduce him.
Today’s guest author is Larry Deibert. Larry is a Vietnam veteran and is the past president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Macungie, PA. Larry retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 after working as a letter carrier for over 21 years. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Hellertown, PA., where he enjoys reading and writing. Larry’s website is, www.larryldeibert.com. You can contact Larry at email@example.com.
In 1999, I wrote two books, 95 Bravo and Requiem For A Vampire. Eventually, both were published; Bravo in 2004 and Requiem in 2007.
In 1974, after finding out that I was going to become a father, I thought it would be a good idea to write a book about my military service. Many concerns about the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used in Vietnam, were coming out, and the end results were devastating, including death.
The prospect of dying before my child was old enough to understand what I went through in the service, prompted me to write this story. Back in those days, there were no computers, so I had to type my story on an old-fashioned typewriter, and because errors were apt to occur, I typed several drafts before I had a copy that really shone, one that publishers would not immediately dismiss for errors, I thought.
My book was quite short at about forty-thousand words, but, then again, my experiences were limited. I had never been in combat, so what kind of war story would this be. After placing my manuscript in a plastic folder, where nothing could happen to it, I began seeking a publisher. Over the course of several months, I submitted my book to twenty-three publishers, utilizing hard copies and snail mail. Fortunately, I had a friend who worked in a printing office, and he was able to make all the copies I needed.
After sending them to the publishers, I waited various lengths of time for responses, receiving twenty-three rejection letters, finally giving up, thinking I had no talent for writing.
Fast forward to 1999. I had been involved in Vietnam Veteran groups for about ten years, hearing the stories of many combat and non-combat veterans. Some of the stories became a burden to carry, and I was advised by an Edgar (Allan Poe) winning author to rewrite my story, adding what those veterans shared with me, fictionalizing the book. I also wanted to tell the stories of what the nurses had gone through. In 1993 I was a technical advisor for a play titled Piece Of My Heart, based on a book about women veterans. One of the events during our Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial weekend, was the second time I saw the play, especially proud of my daughter as she portrayed a nurse. It was the only play she ever did, saying, “Dad, I don’t think I could ever do another role as satisfying as this was.” I began to type the book on my word processor, and later, on a computer. The process took many months, and one-hundred-and-forty-three-thousand words later, completed my manuscript.
As I searched for a publisher, now being able to send digital copies, I began to write a second book.
95 Bravo was published as an e-Book in 2004, by Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing, and in 2009, the paperback was released. The rewrite came after my wife, Peggy, read the paperback. She felt that there was entirely too much unnecessary information in the book, and she wanted me to focus more on the protagonist’s love interests, making the story more female friendly.
This rewrite was relatively easy, because it was a simple matter of reading it, cutting out the unnecessary stories and when I finished, I had cut nearly twenty-five thousand words, and tightened it up quite a bit.
Late, in 2009, I self-published it with Lulu, and years later, with CreateSpace. And finally, Kindle Direct Publishing. The new title became Combat Boots dainty feet-Finding Love in Vietnam. That title came about after a co-worker of mine read the manuscript, finding that my female lead had dainty feet. He offered that I should use that in every proceeding book, which I have done.
While waiting for a publisher for 95 Bravo, I had the itch to continue writing; the juices were flowing.
Having always been a vampire fan, Bela Lugosi scaring the beJesus out of me when I was a kid, and seeing many vampire movies after that, I had come up with some ideas of what my vampire would ‘look’ like. In the 60s I became a fan of Dark Shadows, a daytime soap opera that featured a two-hundred-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins. During my twenty-two months in the army, I was unable to watch it, so my sister sent me weekly synopses of the show. Many years later, a new TV Network, SiFi ran the entire series again. I enjoyed watching the shows I had missed. A second Dark Shadows was released about twenty-five years later, and I also enjoyed that show.
I never quite believed that a vampire, a dead creature, could be destroyed by driving a wooden stake in his or her unbeating heart. Why would garlic affect a vampire? Can a vampire actually see its reflection? Do vampires eat? Why can’t they walk in the sunlight and be twenty-four seven killers?
Coming up with my own ideas about these subjects, I began the writing process, my fingers flying over the keyboard. I probably wrote the manuscript in about three months, ending up with ninety-three thousand words, and change.
I found a publisher, Mundania Press, in 2007, and after the manuscript was edited and an amazing cover created, my book was published. Sadly, they did nothing as far as marketing was concerned, and my sales were not great. I got my rights back, and figured that someday I would rewrite the book, not caring for some of my character’s names and the story needed a little work.
For months I had been searching for the disc or flash drive that contained the manuscript, but I had no success. I tried photocopying the pages of the book, printing them out and writing as I read the page. That was a horrible experience. In May, I found the answer. I used the dictate feature on Word and began to read my entire book aloud, seeing the words appear on paper. Technology is amazing. After completing a hard copy, I began the process of editing, which is not my forte.
I purchased a program-Grammarly-and after dictating a chapter, I had to move the chapter from Word to Grammarly. After correcting the piece, I had to copy it back to Word, with every paragraph indent disappearing. That gave me an opportunity to reread my work again, and after completing that task, I used the Word editing program.
On July 20th, I finally finished the dictation process and the two editing processes. My manuscript is now in the hands of an editor, and I look forward to giving the story one more read before my wife, who has been the final reader of each book, gives it her once over.
Today’s Guest Author is Kat Martin. We hope you enjoy her post on Setting the Stage and the excerpt from her next romantic suspense novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
I love to read novels set in interesting places. Currently I’m reading an historical romance that takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. I’ve always loved Paris, which makes the book even more fun to read. Being able recognize the settings where the action takes place, as well as the names of restaurants and streets I have visited.
As a writer, going to the place your book is set, or choosing a place you have actually been, is the best way to make your book seem real.
In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, the novel takes place in Colorado, a state I love to visit. After I’d concluded my second Maximum Security novel, THE DECEPTION, which was set in Texas, I was looking for someplace different for book number three. Colorado, with its wide variety of landscapes and extreme climate conditions seemed perfect.
Having been to Denver a number of times, street names were familiar, parks and airports, locations of smaller towns and rural mountain communities.
Since this was a Maximum Security novel, a romantic thriller, I began by researching crime in the state. I had digging and digging and finally stumbled onto an article about the U.S. Army chemical weapons depot near Colorado Springs. As Brandon Garrett, the hero of my story, was a former army officer, I loved the idea of Bran interacting with his military past.
The idea of stealing chemical weapons from a storage depot gave me all sorts of plot ideas. In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, she’s determined to clear his name. Afraid for her life, Jessie turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett. But time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie risk everything to solve the riddle and stop the threat–before it’s too late.
Because of the military setting, this was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written. I think it turned out to be one of my best. I particularly love the interaction between Bran and Jessie and I hope readers will, too.
I hope you’ll watch for THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL and that you enjoy Bran and Jessie’s story. Till next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat
Too much downtime always made him nervous, kind of edgy as he waited for the other shoe to drop. It had been a week since his last client had headed back to Nashville, a week of peace and quiet he should have enjoyed.
Instead, he had this nagging feeling that something bad was coming down the line.
Lounging back in the chair behind his desk at Maximum Security, Brandon Garrett looked up at the sound of the front door swinging open. A gust of cool, late October winds swept in, along with a petite, whirlwind of a woman with the prettiest strawberry blond hair Bran had ever seen.
She had a sweet little body to match her fiery curls, he noticed, outlined by the dark blue stretch jeans curving over her sexy little ass and the peach knit top that hugged her breasts.
It wasn’t tough to read the anxiety in her big green eyes as she surveyed the room, but instead of heading for the receptionist’s desk, those big green eyes landed on Bran and as she started toward him, there was something about her that rang a distant bell. Interest piqued, he rose from his chair. “Can I help you?”
“You’re Brandon Garrett, right? You were a friend of my brother’s. Danny Kegan? I recognize you from the photos Danny sent home.”
The mention of his best friend’s name hit him like a blow, and the muscles across his stomach clenched. Daniel Kegan had been a member of his spec ops team, a brother, not just a friend. Danny had saved Bran’s life at the cost of his own. He was KIA in Afghanistan.
Bran stared down at the girl, who was maybe five-foot-four. “You’re Jessie,” he said, remembering the younger sister Daniel Kegan had talked so much about. “You look like him. Same color hair and eyes.”
She nervously wet her lips, which were plump and pink and fit her delicate features perfectly.
“My brother said if I ever needed help, I should come to you. He said you’d help me no matter what.” She glanced back toward the door and his mind shifted away from the physical jolt he felt as he looked at her to the worry in her eyes.
“I’ll help you. Danny was my closest friend. Whatever you need, I’ll help. Come on. Let’s go into the conference room and you can tell me what’s going on.” When her gaze shot back to the door, his senses went on alert.
“I didn’t mean I needed your help later,” Jessie said nervously. “I meant I need your help right now.”
Gunshots exploded through the windows. “Get down!” Bran shouted to the other guys in the office as he shoved Jessie down behind his desk and covered her with his body. Glass shattered and a stream of bullets sprayed across the room.
Jaxon Ryker popped up, gun drawn, and ran for the door. Hawk Maddox and Lissa Blayne were shuffling through their desks, arming themselves. Jonas Wolfe drew his ankle gun and ran for the rear entrance, ready for any threat that might come from there.
“Black SUV with tinted windows,” Ryker reported. Six feet of solid muscle, dark hair and eyes, Jax was a former Navy SEAL, currently a PI and occasional bounty hunter. “Couldn’t get a plate number.” Jax’s gaze swung to the front of the room. “Mindy, you okay?”
The little receptionist eased up from beneath her desk. “I-I’m okay. Should I call the police?” Around here, it was never good to jump to conclusions.
Bran hauled Jessie to her feet. He could feel her trembling. Her eyes looked even bigger and greener than they had before. “Are they coming back?” he asked.
“I-I don’t know. It could have just been a warning.”
Bran turned to Mindy. “Unless someone’s already phoned it in, let’s wait to call the cops till we know what’s going on.” His attention returned to Jessie. “We need to talk.”
She just nodded. Her face had gone pale, making a fine line of freckles stand out across her forehead and the bridge of her nose.
Bran took her arm and urged her toward the conference room. “Keep a sharp eye,” he said to The Max crew. “Just in case.”
Jessie sank unsteadily down in one of the rolling chairs around the long oak conference table. The man she had come to see, Brandon Garrett, sat down beside her.
“Okay, let’s hear it,” he said. “What’s going on?”
She thought of the men who had just shot up his office and her pulse started thumping again. “Danny said if I ever needed help–”
“Yeah, I get that. Your brother knew he could count on me. Like I said, I’ll help you any way I can, but I need to know what’s going on.”
Bran was taller than Danny, around six-three, with a soldier’s lean, hard body, vee-shaped, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. Powerful biceps bulged beneath the sleeve of his dark blue T-shirt. With his slightly too-long mink brown hair, straight nose and masculine features, he was ridiculously handsome, except for the hard line of his jaw and the darkness in his eyes that contrasted sharply with their beautiful shade of cobalt blue.
“Start at the beginning,” he demanded.
Since she wasn’t sure exactly where to begin, Jessie dragged in a shaky breath and slowly released it.
“I’m here because of my father–Colonel James Kegan, Commander U.S. Army Alamo Chemical Depot. Just before he died a little over two months ago, my father was removed from active duty. He was charged with larceny–specifically the theft of chemical weapons stored at the Depot. Because the Army believed he was selling the weapons to a foreign entity, he was also charged with espionage and treason. I need you to help me prove his innocence.”
THE UNTIMATE BETRAYAL IS AVAILABLE TODAY
FOLLOW THE BUY LINKS BELOW
Sometimes I wish for a fleshy toggle switch just to concentrate. A switch to turn on the, “What ifs,” or off to allow me to listen to a conversation without having a character make a sidebar comment, with a dimmer to shut out the annoying static from everyday life. On the other hand, where would a writer be without those voices banging around, attempting to push a story out of them?
Most writers I know have characters talking to them. Not just giving an occasional shout, but full arguments that can shove a manuscript into unplotted waters. What would happen if they went silent? I shudder the thought.
My characters made themselves present in those geeky years attending a new high school, trying to fit into any group, but not. Of course, telling anyone about them could have brought dire consequences. Someone would have had me committed to a padded cell on the sunny side of a psych ward, so the thoughts went into a journal. The voices got louder, I listened, my writing voice strengthened, and those ideas became plots.
From where did these constant distractions come, and why me? Isn’t there enough going on in my life for one of me knocking around in my mind? Oh my gosh…my characters just gasped collectively.
I smile before giving a mental nudge. “Hey, just kidding guys.”
Although I still wish for a fleshy toggle switch, I cannot imagine a life without writing or my constant companions pushing my boundaries by asking, “What if.”
Have a creative New Year, and as always, Happy Writing,
High in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, grisly murders are taking place.More info →
Her quirky assignment: solve a famous cold-case mystery for a magazine article. Then the killer reawakens.More info →
Disturbed and Disturbing Bedtime Reading to Inflict on Naughty Children . . . Of All Ages
Five fairy tales and five short stories to perplex and disturb!
Will greed prevail, landing the Vitality Gem in the hands of an unpure soul or will Johnny Tanzer stand in his way with the wrath of the Gods?More info →