For all you “Sali” lovers…

Revel in the sequel to Four Point…

Point Two follows, four years later, the reopening of the Four Point Killer case. Sali finds herself in quite a pickle in this one. Head on over to Amazon and check it out.

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And stay tuned…

This story may be a duology but that doesn’t mean I won’t be posting tons of extra content. *grins*

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Two Drunk Chicks in a Bar…

Or… Xany interviews D.F. Krieger!

I know, I know… Some of you must be wondering, “Max! What were you thinking, giving Xany so much control?”

Well… I was thinking that since Xany read D.F.’s new romance, Whispered Desires, she’d be the best interviewer around.

You can be the judge of that…

~~~

Xandrea Wade: Married people should have tons of sex. That’s what I think anyways. ::shrug::

One minute passes…

Xandrea Wade: Aren’t’cha gonna answer me already? Caden’s waiting. ::huffs:: NeeNee says I shouldn’t lie about Caden waiting, well fine then. He’s asleep.

D. F. Krieger: ::laughs:: Sorry about that. Had a phone call. Married people should have lots of meaningful intimate moments. Sometimes that equates to sex.

Xandrea Wade: Well, yeah. ::giggles:: Or everything equates to sex, same thing. Why’d you wanna write about married people? What’s so special about it? I think Nessa’s gonna make NeeNee marry her. Those weird devoted cats do that. We don’t though, I mean some wolves do but not a lot.

D. F. Krieger: I write about married people because for a while there, my marriage sucked. Like big time. And I knew it shouldn’t, but people kept telling me that marriages are relationships where the passion dies and you coexist. I don’t accept that. I don’t think anyone should accept that. I could see a three-way marriage just because Mal won’t want to get out done.

Xandrea Wade: Ew, no way. You shouldn’t accept that. Relationships like that belong to bosses or cousins that you don’t like. Oh yeah! Like those Mormons. ::giggles:: Sister wives, baby.

D. F. Krieger: Exactly. But society pressures us into believing that once you are married, it’s okay for the romance to die.

Xandrea Wade: Oh Maxie pad is annoyed that I just started talking and didn’t ask if you were busy.

D. F. Krieger: ::laughs:: I am good. Phone call is done

Xandrea Wade: So what got you to make your own marriage not suck? Did you do journals too?

D. F. Krieger: Yes, we used journals. My husband was in the military, and gone… a lot. We used the journals as a way to give our sexual frustration an outlet that didn’t harm our marriage. Now, in answer to the “what got me to make my own marriage not suck?” The truth is it didn’t happen overnight. It took some pretty serious soul searching on both our parts. It took dedication and time and lots of work. What drove us to that point was printing out divorce papers. We both cried and I asked, “If we still love each other, why isn’t this working?” It posed an interesting question, and we actually sat down and worked on the answer to that, which allowed us to fix things.

Xandrea Wade: That’s good. You should’ve told Caden that ten years ago!

D. F. Krieger: Poor Caden. I think he gets enough advice without having to hear anything from me. ::winks::

Xandrea Wade: Yeah but he don’t listen. He calls NeeNee stubborn when he’s the worst.

D. F. Krieger: Well, that’s a man for you.

Xandrea Wade: I liked Jason in your book. That’s his name, right? I kept getting distracted and wanted to sex him good. Mal says I don’t read but I read all books like yours. With hot guys on the covers. I completely forgot the girl’s name. Go figure.

D. F. Krieger: ::laughs:: Yes, his name is Jason. And her name is Hannah.

Xandrea Wade: Oh, Hannah right… Well, anyway, back to Jason. He seemed to love what’s her name a lot.

D. F. Krieger: Yes, that’s what makes the story unique when it comes to romance eBook trends. The couple is married, in love, and trying to bring their romance back.

Xandrea Wade: Are you gonna write more books about Jason?

D. F. Krieger: He will be mentioned as a passing character in other books in the series, but each book will focus on a new couple. For example, book two is about Hannah’s friend Tabby and her husband Chris.

Xandrea Wade: Oh right I remember them. I think Tabby should be a cat. But that’s just my opinion. Hey! I got an idea for you!

D. F. Krieger: I’m sure deep down in her heart, she is one. ::winks:: Oh? Do tell.

Xandrea Wade: Maybe you can write about a married couple that gets sexy again with BDSM! But the real kind not fifty shades of dumb kind.

D. F. Krieger: That would be book three, called Defiant Desires. It’s BDSM and F/F.

Xandrea Wade: Max wants to know if you regret talking to me yet.

D. F. Krieger: Nope. Not in the slightest.

Xandrea Wade: Put Jason in it! ::giggles::

D. F. Krieger: ::laughs:: I think Hannah would murder him.

Xandrea Wade: Nessa will probably like that one. She likes girly things. Nee just likes Nessa. I don’t think she notices other girls.

D. F. Krieger: Nee doesn’t notice anyone sexual that’s outside her bubble.

Xandrea Wade: Mal likes girly stuff, too. And Caden. But they’re guys. They like lesbians like the ones in porn. Hey, is it weird writing sex scenes? I don’t get any ‘cause Maxie hates me and only let’s everyone see what Nee does.

D. F. Krieger: Yes, it is very weird to write sex scenes. Because I have to be able to make it realistic yet passionate and at the same time emotional.

Xandrea Wade: Sex scenes that is. I get plenty of sex. ::giggles::

D. F. Krieger: You don’t get any because people would die laughing when they read how you like to hang off the ceiling fan.

Xandrea Wade: That’s my favorite thing!! ::cracks up::

D. F. Krieger: ::laughs::

Xandrea Wade: So what other kind of questions should I ask you? Maxie pad says I’m talking too much.

D. F. Krieger: I’m surprised she doesn’t smack you around for that nick name.

Xandrea Wade: Oh she’s threatened to kill me off a few times but NeeNee won’t let her.

D. F. Krieger: I don’t think anyone would be happy if she killed you off.

Xandrea Wade: People say I’m the favorite. ::brushes invisible dirt from her shoulder::

D. F. Krieger: ::laughs:: Hmmm, other questions… I don’t tend to come up with questions for myself. They become rather deep.

Xandrea Wade: I like deep. ::giggles:: Jason’s my favorite. The therapist was annoying but they all are anyway.

D. F. Krieger: You think Callie is annoying? ::grin::

Xandrea Wade: Uh huh. She’s nosy and bossy. Say, do you always write based on your experiences?

D. F. Krieger: I had never thought about it, but yeah. I guess to some extent I do.

Xandrea Wade: What was the hardest thing about this story to write? NeeNee told me too ask that.

D. F. Krieger: The hardest thing was trying to find a realistic resolution that wasn’t just, “Hey, we’re having sex again. Everything is hunky dory and better now!”

Xandrea Wade: Nessa wants to know if you get turned on by writing sex scenes. Actually, I wanna know too. *grin* Hunky dory… hunky sounds good. Don’t know dory. ::shrugs::

D. F. Krieger: Let’s just say I may or may not ask my husband to help me check if certain positions or angles are possible… Even if I know they already are. >.>

Xandrea Wade: That’s a good answer! ::giggles:: How do you come up with all the titles for your stories?

D. F. Krieger: I try to use an element that reflects the feel or plot of the story. Sometimes a title hits me like a semi-truck, other times I have to play with ideas for days until something sticks.

Xandrea Wade: That’s interesting. Sometimes I pick a book based on title. Max says I only get one more question. ::pouts::

D. F. Krieger: I think Max is ready to put you to bed. ::wink::

Xandrea Wade: She says I wear her out. ::nods:: Okay, last question…

D. F. Krieger: Yay last question. Cause….I’ve been asked to go shoot aliens and save the world.

Xandrea Wade: P.S. – Don’t tell Shawnee about the aliens. They’ll probably kidnap us in book six or something.

D. F. Krieger: ROFL! I won’t tell her about the video game called Destiny then. Promise.

Xandrea Wade: If there was one thing you wanted people who read your stuff to take away from it, what would it be?

D. F. Krieger: That married couples can get the romance back and sometimes it takes unexpected methods or outside advice. Don’t ever believe that being married should make you feel ashamed to want sex, love, or attention from your partner more often than the social “norm.” Screw the norm.

Xandrea Wade: Screw the norm!! ::thrusts fist in the air::

D. F. Krieger: YEAH! ::joins in:: Okay thanks for talking with me. Go have lots of married sex!

Xandrea Wade: ::giggles:: Okay I will. Thanks for talking with me.

D. F. Krieger: Thanks for talking to me, too.

Okay people, now you gotta go get D.F. Krieger‘s book on Amazon. It’s really freaking awesome. I wanted to read it forever. I’m glad it’s a series. Jason is hot, the writing is good, and so are the sexy journal entries. You can get it for only a buck. C’mon! And don’t forget to leave a review. Here’s the picture and the burp– Oh, Max says it’s blurb not burp. Whatever. ::huffs:: Go read it!

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Keep a journal of your wildest fantasies, but remember the two rules: The fantasies have to involve your spouse, and no reading your spouse’s journal. When the marriage therapist recommends this treatment to Hannah and Jason, they doubt the journal’s ability to fix Hannah’s loneliness or Jason’s stress. But as the pages fill with heated longings, they find themselves wanting each other in ways they’d only ever imagined.

Mine *SPOILERS*

Tomorrow is the big day for Sacred! This is the last short. As requested by Raychel, we get to know a little bit about Vanessa as a kit. She’s quite a handful. Quite a handful, indeed.

Enjoy!

Max

~~~~

Mine

by Max

     “Vanessa! Put her down. Now,” the demanding voice called out to the ginger-haired six-year-old perched atop the stage in the gymnasium. Vanessa held her brunette peer over her head, threatening to toss her from the platform. The girl squealed, kicking her feet but Vanessa’s grip remained steadfast. Some of the other children playing nearby stopped to watch the scene. “Now,” the woman said as she moved in front of the stage, preparing to catch the little girl. Vanessa’s brows narrowed as she glared. At the behest of the teacher, Vanessa set the girl down.

“She’s been here three weeks, Amelia, and she’s ruddy impossible,” a second woman approached, ushering the now freed little girl away from the scene.

“I know but what option do we have? She needs a safe place.” Amelia held her hands up to Vanessa. “Come now, kit.”

“This orphanage is hardly safe for her,” the woman spat as she joined a group of children playing tag.

Hesitantly, Vanessa sat down, dangling her legs over the edge of the platform. She looked at Amelia, her piercing emerald eyes awaiting the onslaught of words. Amelia sighed, leaning against the wall beside the child.

“That was dangerous. She could’ve been hurt,” she said. Vanessa remained silent, staring blankly at the woman. “I know you miss your mother–”

At the mention of her mother, Vanessa frowned, pushing herself back up on the stage. Her small hands balled into tight fists as prickly white fur burst forth over her arms. Fingernails turned to tiny claws as fluffy ears peeked through her long, straight red hair. Yellow eyes with black oval-shaped pupils replaced the kitten’s sharp greens. Amelia lept up on stage, hoping to soothe the kit as quickly as possible.

“I’m sorry, kit. Why don’t we have a walk to the lunch room, yes?” Amelia’s desperate voice raised an octave.

Vanessa ignored her, hissing wildly as she turned and raced toward the closed curtains of the stage. Her claws slashed at the fabric as she scampered her way to the top, perching on the metal bar that supported the thick linens.

“No! Vanessa, get down from there right now.” Amelia pointed to the wooden floor in front of her. Vanessa hissed and crouched on top of the bar, glaring down at the woman who had made her upset. Some of the children gasped and pointed. “Take them out of here,” Amelia instructed the other woman.

Once alone, Amelia continued to bargain with the young kit.

“Come now, Vanessa. How about some ice cream, yes?” Desperately, she moved on to bribing. The kit remained solid on her perch, dropping down dramatically to dangle by one arm. Amelia started and gasped. “That’s not funny.”

“Amelia,” a female voice called out from the other side of the gymnasium as the heavy door thudded shut. A teenager with perfectly contoured blonde hair and piercing blue eyes strode into the room. Her graceful steps had her nearly gliding across the floor. There was no mistaking her feline nature as she stood at the edge of the stage, gazing upward at the kit. Vanessa paused her hissing but continued to dangle by her claws. Her thick white and black tail swayed slowly from side to side beneath her green dress.

“What are you doing here, Katherine?” Amelia glanced to Kat, terrified to turn her back on the disorderly kit.

“Hannah hasn’t returned,” Kat said, her gaze locked on Vanessa.

“She hasn’t.” Amelia sighed. “She’s been up there for ten minutes after nearly throwing Iris from the stage.”

“An orphanage is no place for a feral kit.” Kat glanced at Amelia before looking back to Vanessa. “Come now, kit. You’re coming with me.” Vanessa pulled herself back up to crouch on the top of the curtain rod. Kat’s statement clearly caught her attention.

“What do you mean she’s going with you, Katherine?” Amelia’s mouth hung open at the statement.

“Her mother is gone. I’m all that is left of our family. She’s mine,” Kat said, holding her hand out to Vanessa. “Come.”

The kit hesitated at first before learning forward, releasing her grip. She tumbled head first, flipping once in the air before landing in a graceful, nearly soundless crouch on all fours. Amelia shrieked but Kat remained unfazed, her outstretched hand unwavering. Vanessa’s fur faded as did her ears and tail. With her bare feet at the very edge of the stage, she looked down at Kat.

“Remember me?” Kat asked.

Vanessa contemplated her, tilting her head as her cat eyes shifted back to green. She offered Kat the faintest nod and twitched her nose twice, “Sister,” she said.

“Yes, Hannah’s sister. You’re mine now.” Kat twitched, blinked, and nodded her words to Vanessa. “Come.” She wiggled her fingers to the kit. Vanessa jumped off the stage in Kat’s direction. Kat caught her without batting a lash, setting the lightning-quick kit on her hip.

“Katherine,” Amelia’s sharp tone had Kat turning toward her as Amelia jumped from the stage. “You can’t just take her. You’re seventeen for god’s sake.”

“She’s mine.” Kat turned on her heel as Vanessa dropped her head down on her shoulder. Soft, high-pitched purrs escaped her as the two disappeared from the doorway of the gymnasium.

~~~~

Alpha

Although the Legacy Series is considered a paranormal romance, different themes and elements weave their way through each story. In this series, I’ve emphasized mental health themes, family, powerful women, and the relationship between mothers and daughters. As we learned from Glyph and Birthrite, Shawnee lost her mother when she was eight years old and her world changed forward. Twenty years later, her mother returns after escaping the corrupt corporation called Andrus Synax. The Andrus, a collaboration of humans mainly, pride themselves on performing experiments on werecreatures in hope of capturing some of their qualities for human development. Anadaya had the unfortunate experience as one of their victims. She escaped, as we learned in Birthrite, and returned for her daughter. This short below gives us a brief glimpse at Shawnee and her mother before things changed for them. It makes me a little anxious whenever I read it, knowing what’s to come.

Cheers,

Max

~~~~

Alpha

by Max

     Anadaya sat at the head of the long table in the meeting house. In a chair at her hip, her seven-year-old daughter perched drawing shapes in a notebook. Ana stroked her hair while she waited for the others to arrive. Both of them clad in a matching set of deerskin dresses and moccasins. Ana had a single large eagle feather dangling from a small braid that lay against her long black hair. Her daughter’s braids ended with tiny feathers given by a bluejay. Together, they were the perfect model of culture and strength. With matching eyes of amber, their gazes met.

“What’s taking so long?” The girl asked her mother.

“Patience, Dodi. It is important.”

“Why do you call me Dodi and not Shawnee like everybody else?” Shawnee scribbled both names down on the paper beside the symbols of their Cherokee language.

“You are my Runs-Like-Wolf and I have shortened it. Do you not like it?” Ana brushed a strand of hair from her daughter’s shoulder.

“I like, e-tsi. Do you like?” Shawnee again looked up at her mother.

“I do and I like you.” A warm smile met Ana’s lips as pride flooded her heart. Her little girl was strong for a Breeder child. She hoped it would carry with her always.

“I like you too but I love you best,” Shawnee said, drawing a heart on the paper.

“And I love you most best.” Ana grinned and kissed her forehead. “You are prepared for note taking, yes?”

“Uh huh. Meetings are ‘portant. How about a Clash? Is that more?” The little girl glanced to her mother again.

“Clashes are just as important as meetings.”

“Not everyone comes to Clashes. Right?”

“Right.” Ana chuckled as the door to the meeting house creaked open.

“Afternoon,” said the short-haired man with a rounded belly. He joined Ana and Shawnee at the table as he removed his worn Stetson and set it down. “Is anyone else coming?”

“No,” Ana said shortly.

“Hi Unk,” said Shawnee, tapping the pencil on her lip as if contemplating him.

“Hello Shawnee-girl, what have you there?” He nodded toward the book.

“Writing.” She held it up to him. “Taking notes, yes?” Shawnee’s voice perked up at the end as she mimicked her mother’s question.

“That’s a good cub.” The man rustled her hair and Shawnee smiled.

“Dakota,” Ana drew the man’s attention back to her. “It must be today.”

“Ana, why? Why can’t we remain as we are?” Dakota glanced between the woman and her child as if he wasn’t sure if such matters should be discussed in front of her. Ana showed no hesitation.

“He has gotten worse. They all have. I cannot lead a fallen pack if you remain here. You must go,” her words and voice remained equally steady. “As you promised.”

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, you know that.” Dakota sighed, fumbling with the brim of his hat.

“It is the only way.” Ana glanced away from him as the faintest hint of sadness washed over her features. Shawnee glanced between her mother and Uncle.

“You’re leaving?” she asked.

“Yes, Shawnee-girl, it’s my time.” He stood and kissed her forehead. “I’ll see you soon.” Dakota’s pained voice trembled as he bid farewell to the little girl. He brushed his hand over Ana’s cheek.

“Remember our deal,” she said.

“I remember.”

As he stood, the door to the meeting house opened again and this time a thin, sickly looking man with long braided hair stepped inside. Viktor’s nearly black eyes landed on Dakota and he frowned.

“What are you doing here?” Viktor spat.

Ana’s brow narrowed as she stared at the man, her lips pressed into a thin line. Shawnee dropped her pencil as she stared at her father, scampering to her knees as she leaned into her mother’s side. Ana draped her arm around her, though tilted her head curiously at the sudden reaction from her cub.

“I’m leaving,” Dakota said as he stood.

“Don’t leave,” Shawnee said, drawing her gaze to Dakota.

“I will see you soon, Shawnee-girl.” Dakota’s soft brown eyes saddened behind his smile. Shawnee nodded and rested her head on Ana’s shoulder. Dakota nodded to Viktor as he walked past, tossing on his hat. “Goodbye, brother.”

“Good riddance,” Viktor said, looking back to wife and daughter. “Come with me, girl.”

Tla,” Shawnee said, clinging to her mother.

“I said come here!” Viktor raised his voice, pointing to the ground in front of him.

“Do not speak to her that way. Your daughter said no. Now leave us here.” Ana’s voice dropped an octave as she lifted Shawnee onto her hip. Shawnee gripped Ana’s dress and closed her eyes.

“I won’t.”

“You will or I will make you. What terribleness has gotten you, Viktor Twofeathers? You should be the one leaving,” said Ana, keeping her daughter turned away from her father. “How dare you speak to me the way you do.”

“You’ll regret your words, woman. One day soon.” Viktor moved toward the door.

“Do not threaten me. Leave.” Ana spat, the latter part of her statement forced Viktor from the meeting house, the door slammed behind him.

Ana hugged her daughter then spun her around, settling the little girl in her lap.

“Do not be afraid, Dodi. I am here,” she said, cupping her daughter’s face in her hands. Shawnee watched her mother, tilting her head as she mimicked the gesture, placing her small hands on her mother’s cheeks.

“Why are you sad, e-tsi?” the girl asked.

“Many changes happen around us, Dodi,” she said, kissing her daughters hands then settling them in her lap as she fought to keep hold of her emotions. “Come, you and I must harvest the blueberries. Yes?”

“Can I eat them?” Shawnee’s eyebrows lifted upward.

“Yes, as long as you save some for the others.” Ana chuckled and scooped her daughter up, setting her on her hip again.

“I can share,” Shawnee said as she hugged her mother around the neck.

Ana toted her daughter out to the fields and they spent several hours picking berries and eating them. Shawnee learned quickly how to turn the blueberries into a mash for eating and baking. As the sun dipped low in the sky, Ana tucked her cub close to her as they awaited the arrival of the first star.

“There it is!” Shawnee pointed to the sky where the star appeared in the twilight.

“What should we name it tonight?” Ana smiled at her daughter’s enthusiasm.

“Um… Willow. Like the tree.” Shawnee nodded and looked to her mother for approval.

“Willow is a perfect name, Dodi.”

“So is Dodi, Momma.”

“I am glad you approve.” Ana kissed her cheek and they waited together for the arrival of the full moon.

~~~~

Why We Write by Katherine Dering [Guest Post]

As some of you know, most of my stories have a mental health theme. Even under the guise of my usual paranormal, fantasy, or genre fiction, Witch Way (my YA) is about bereavement, and my Legacy Series follows a protagonist with PTSD and addiction. What makes my perspective unique is my dual background. I have my MFA in writing, and I’m also a licensed mental health counselor (shh, it’s a secret). Weaving mental health into my stories is so natural for me as I’ve experienced a lot of it both personally and professionally. Today, I’ve asked one of my friends and author, Katherine Dering, to write a little bit about “Why We Write” and the process of writing her memoir. Katherine is a fierce advocate for proper care for people with mental illness. Her book is wonderful and I encourage you all to read it.

Cheers,

Max

~~~~

Why We Write

by Katherine Dering

Author of Shot In the Head: A sister’s memoir, a brother’s struggle

Best wishes on the launch of your newest book, Max. Writing has led me through quite a zigzag course; I hope your journey is a good one.

If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would retire early and be writing a paranormal mystery when I was almost 70, I would have laughed in their face. I was the chief financial officer at a community bank, a position I’d attained after a hard fought battle against the sexist nonsense that was so common in the 70’s and 80’s. But almost on a whim, I signed up for an introductory creative writing class at SUNY Purchase the semester after my youngest child went off to college, and I’ve been writing ever since.

It took a long time to get out my first book. First I was trying to write part time, evenings. I found it very difficult to sustain the mood of a piece for the amount of time it takes to put together a long story. I managed to get some poetry published, and a couple of essays, but my writing life was sputtering.

Eventually I decided to retire early, and thought, Now I’ll write my book.

But family obligations derailed my memoir about my travails in the business world. Eventually, I gave up on that project, turning to the obligations that were taking up my time. Two years later a small press – Bridgeross Communications – agreed to publish Shot in the Head, a Sister’s Memoir, a Brother’s Struggle, my book about caring for my younger brother who suffered from treatment resistant schizophrenia and then lung cancer.

I cannot say enough about what I went through, first as I took care of Paul, and then as I wrote about the experience. It was transforming, not only for the introspection and reflection I went through, but I was totally unprepared for how I would feel about the response from readers. Every time someone reads Shot in the Head, they feel like they have to hug me or write to me and tell me how much they came to love my brother and my family, that they cried when they read it, yet wished it would not end. All of which has tended to push me back into the experience of losing my brother – not just once, or twice – first via his mental illness and then his physical death of lung cancer – but then again and again as I have received readers’ condolences.

It’s been an exhausting journey, both spiritually and physically, one which I could never have predicted when I was embroiled in fighting for my place in executive management.

Which leads me to my paranormal mystery. You’ve been working in this genre for some time now, while I was doing the memoir thing. And now I find myself drawn to the genre, too, perhaps sensing in the un-lives of the mysterious enemy a way to place a face on my worst fears, pouring my sorrows into the hapless victims of those unexplainable, unpredictable horrors. And because it’s fiction, I get to decide how it will end this time.

So again, best wishes on the launch of your newest book, I’m sure it will be a fabulous ride!

~~~~

For more information about mental illness, visit: National Alliance on Mental Illness
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

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Of the Sovereign Few [Guest post]

Happy Wednesday, friends and fans! We’re officially one week away from the release of Sacred! Pre-order links up are up my publisher’s website and Sacred is uploaded on Goodreads as well!

Tonight on the blog, we have an awesome guest spot from one of my favorite people and authors, G.C. Nichols! G.C.’s paranormal romance, Colors, is set to release in May 2015. In honor of our co-release year, G.C. wrote up an awesome crossover fan-fic! Shawnee is super happy to appear beside Braden and Gioia in this piece! I had the pleasure of reading the earlier drafts of Colors and I just cannot wait until this story releases! Her amazing (!!!) cover art  and blurb are below the story. We both hope you enjoy it!

Cheers,

Max

~~~~

Of the Sovereign Few

by G.C. Nichols

I cursed my patches. Being in an outlaw motorcycle club did nothing but crucify the woman I loved. She was my mate, my responsibility, and I’d let her down. What the hell was my father thinking when he started this club all those years ago? A group of misfits with special abilities was useless if we couldn’t save Gioia. I was the one to blame though. I let her in knowing she deserved better. My own selfish desires got us into this mess and my erratic power was useless in protecting her.

Horrified by my own weakness, I bowed my head and took a deep breath. The silver flecks embedded in the white tile floor spun out of control, forcing me to shut my eyes. I found no refuge in the darkness. An enormous eagle, engulfed in flames, soared at me aggressively. The rancid stench of his burning wings forced my eyelids open, quickly waking me from my irrational state.

I focused on Gioia. The sight of her motionless body lying on the stark white sheets of the hospital bed heightened my anxiety and sent crushing pangs through my chest. I leaned back in the rigid chair for relief from the agony and held onto her hand tighter. Where the fuck was the doctor? I needed answers.

“Hello, Mr. Davies,” the abrupt voice startled me. I whipped around in my chair and stood to shake the doctor’s hand. The name engraved on the pin of her white lab coat seemed strange, ‘Dr. Shawnee Twofeathers.’ It didn’t matter what she called herself, as long as she could help Gioia.

“Hey Doc, how are you doing? Do you know anything yet? Is she gonna be okay?” I asked quickly. The doctor shook my hand with furrowed brows. I wondered what had her peeved and glaring at me like an angry wolf. Small and sudden shocks of electricity radiated from her fingers to mine and I shuddered from the odd sensation. I slowly released my grip and wondered what the hell was going on.

“You already know the answer, Mr. Davies. You need to heal her yourself.” The doctor’s words blindsided me and my anxiety turned to rage. How could she know?

“What the fuck are you talking about? I don’t need this shit right now, lady…” Gioia twitched in the bed and stole my attention away from the quack doctor. “Gioia?”

“You wear the glyph. A patch of the eagle resides on your back. That’s your birthright and an honor,” Dr. Twofeathers insisted. I jerked my body in her direction as if to dare her but the sight sent tremors up my spine.

The doctor had transformed within seconds. Her dark hair parted down the middle, separated into two tight braids. Each one tied by a suede string and two feathers, justifying her name. A tan leather dress with tiers of fringe hung loosely on her. Turquoise beads and small shells formed a pattern across her chest.

“The eagle is sacred,” Dr. Twofeathers said interrupting my confusion. “He represents power, strength, and courage. His wings signify the balance between you and your mate, each one dependent on the strengths and abilities of the other. Seize your influence and utilize your connection to the Great Creator. Stop being a coward and heal her. You’re of the sovereign few that can.”

I shrugged off the harsh command and oddly found myself trusting her. The doctor’s words reminded me what I had been taught in my youth. Abandoning all fear, I inhaled deeply until there was no air left to ingest. I took Gioia’s hand in mine and held on tightly. Focusing on her beautiful face, I unearthed my light.

A spark popped in my core. My lungs heaved in and out, striving for influence. The kindling flames burst into a massive inferno, burning me. A blinding majestic sun engulfed the room as Dr. Twofeathers reached for Gioia’s other hand.

I closed my eyes and the eagle flew at me again. His wings extended as he soared through the flames and then landed, gliding serenely into the water. Suddenly, he changed course and flew toward the clouds.

“Braden…” Gioia whispered, stirring in the bed. I looked over to Dr. Twofeathers, hopeful her knowledge would guide me, but she was gone.

Gioia opened her eyes and the deep brown of her irises created waves of heat that skimmed over me. I cradled her face in my palms, knowing the warm sensation would soothe her pain. The metallic golden shimmer of her color returned. Purple and silver tendrils hazily drifted past my vision. I placed my lips on hers and pulled at them softly. Sensing the mild pressure reciprocated, my constant aching for her was appeased.

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Gypsies bestowed the curse. A sadistic man unleashed its power.

Gioia Vita, at thirty-four, is not living the joyous life her cultural name might suggest. Haunted by an abusive past and tormented by the harsh illustrations of a cynical world she struggles to bury her secrets and find serenity in her life. Plagued by a glitch in her vision, she perceives colors and mystical imagery surrounding people that warn her of their intrinsic nature. With a fear for old world superstitions implanted into her from an early age, Gioia finds herself believing in these enchantments. Especially now, that she is seeing these… colors.

The desire for adventure in her sheltered life prevails when an acquaintance invites her back into the subculture of her rebellious youth. Her vision helps her navigate this tumultuous world few get to experience, the world of 1%ers. An enclave of brothers, bearing colors that reject normal society. She unexpectedly finds the warm colors of family, friends and a new love. Braden Davies restores passion in her heart, but can an outlaw from a chaotic underground culture heal her wounds? First, they must conquer the manipulative adversary that haunts them, unearth long buried family secrets, and learn that sometimes a curse can really be a gift.

photo1For more information, visit www.GCNichols.net! photo2

Bully

It’s no secret that Mal is pretty much the perfect guy. At least to me. I wrote Mal as my fictional perfect man. Shawnee is very grateful for this decision. ::grin:: Anyway, Mal had a bit of a rough start in the world. His feral nature often interfered with his ability to function in a regular environment. That is, until he met Caden. In our short below, we see Caden and Mal’s first connection as boyhood friends. This is where their epic bro-ship began.

Cheers,

Max

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Bully

by Max

     Shouts echoed from the far corner of the school grounds where a group of kids cheered on a fight. Snapping punches and crunching blows against the body of the victim caused both jeers and cheers. Caden dropped his backpack and shoved his way through the crowd, accidentally tossing a fifth grader a few feet back.

“Knock it off!” he shouted but to no avail. He watched as a long-haired copper-skinned boy beat the crap out of a guy twice his size. The kid on the ground fought back at first, but eventually surrendered to covering his face and pleading for a cease-fire.

“I said knock it off!” Caden’s voice boomed out of his twelve-year-old frame, quieting most of the crowd. He grabbed the aggressor by the shoulder and yanked him off his victim.

“Get off me!” he turned and swung in Caden’s direction, but he caught the kid by the middle and shoved him into a nearby tree.

“You’re going to kill him,” Caden’s voice growled deeply against the shoulder of the boy. “Calm down.”

The raging kid settled at the down at the command, releasing his grip on Caden. He panted heavily, his fists balled tightly at his sides. As the crowd dissipated, Caden released him.

“What’s your name? You’re in my dad’s pack,” Caden asked when they were alone, taking a step away from the boy.

“Michael,” the boy mumbled. “You’re the Alpha’s son.”

“Yeah… What were you thinking? The kid was human.” Caden gestured toward the blood-spattered ground.

“I wasn’t.” Michael lifted his lip at Caden in a half-snarl.

Caden punched him in the shoulder. “Get ahold of yourself, would’ya?”

Michael growled and punched him back. Caden shoved both of his fists in Michael’s shoulders. The oddly casual exchange continued with neither of them making much of a dent in the other.

“Wanna ditch and go for a run?” Caden glanced over his shoulder at the brick building where students flooded the doors to return to class.

“Yeah, fine.”

Caden snatched his backpack off the ground and nodded toward the woods behind them. In bad temper, Michael stomped along beside him. They walked for about ten minutes until the trees thickened, shielding them from the sight and sounds of the neighborhood. Caden dropped his bag, removed his clothes and shoved them beside a tree. Michael followed suit and crouched down, digging his fingers into the ground as the change rolled over him. Bones snapped and popped, reshaping his body into that of a wiry black wolf. His face contorted painfully as his nose and mouth elongated into the snout of his species. Caden dropped to all fours beside him. His change came over him in a smooth, practiced manner. His chocolate-brown fur rustled as he shook himself out. They boy wolves shared a glance. Caden nodded toward the northern part of the forest and they ran together.

Equally matched in speed and agility, the adolescent wolves lept over fallen logs, tumbled through brambles, and raced along the clearing by the river.

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