Five days until release day for Ghosts of Christmas Past! A little taste of the first chapter.
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“Dinner smells good,” she said. “That’s the only good thing about it.” “It’s nice of you to cook.” “This is my uncle’s chili recipe. He makes it for the guys in the firehouse. Maybe you can tell me what’s missing.”

He offered her a taste on the edge of the wooden spoon. She tentatively flicked out her tongue over it and that gave him images not related to food at all. She wrinkled her nose. Yep, it was definitely awful.

“Needs more tomato,” she offered.

Unable to resist, he bent his neck and kissed her. All resistance melted as he pulled her close, the soft, honey scent of her filling his soul.

She drew back and put her head on his shoulder. “Right, I should close the curtains,” he said.

She laughed, a sound of joy so pure it made his heart ache. “I could care less about who sees us.” He brushed her hair back and kissed where her shoulder met her neck, caressing it with his tongue. She pulled away from him again. He got the right message this time.

“Still stuck on the phone call?” Family. Always a mood killer. But working through this was part of her recovery. Listen and support. He knew that part of the psych drill too.

“I don’t seem to know what to do with them lately, even though I’ve visited at least twice a month since…”

He stroked her back. She never liked finishing that sentence. “Since you regained most of your memories of being Lucy, you mean.”

She entwined their hands. Restoring all those lost memories had required the help of a trained telepath. They were damn lucky to have found one in Beth Nakamora. The bonus to remembering everything, including all those horrible things in her captivity, had been learning how to switch her invisibility on and off. Noir claimed dealing
with that pain all over again had been worth learning the control. He wondered. But he didn’t push. Listen and support. That had been the mantra Beth gave to him as Noir’s boyfriend.

“What do you want?”

“We’re throwing a huge holiday party at the artists’ collective. I want to be there. And I want to stay here in the Double C and spend Christmas with you.”

For that statement alone, he’d give her the world. Yet what if his world was too small for her? All he had was this small apartment and a job that never gave him much time for a private life. She had the talent to go places, and she had so much time to make up.

He caressed her neck with his thumb. “I love you.” God, I love you, Noir. But Lucy might well decide that while he was part of her present, he wasn’t her future. He had to face the possibility that their relationship was simply a step in Lucy’s recovery.

“Yes, we’ll get a tree, but whether it’s your parents’ house or the artists’ party, I can’t go with you. I’ll be on duty.”

She pushed his hand away. “You could take time off if you wanted. I’m not sure you do.”

“What? That’s crazy.”

“Is it? I mean, you want the sex—I want the sex—but you don’t seem to want much else out of this. Okay, sometimes you want help with a case.”

Crap, this was going to be a mess now, wasn’t it?

This is a look at our heroine, Marian Doyle, doing what she does for the family firm. She enjoys using her ability but not this part of it.

Ghost Phoenix available for pre-order at AmazonSamhain Publishing, and B&N. It releases on October 7th.

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The wheels of the plane touched down on the runway at LaGuardia. A day in the air after taking off from Athens, and now it was almost done, almost time to deliver the item. Deliver. That’s what her grandfather called it. Everyone else, including the legal authorities, called it smuggling.

Marian preferred smuggling. Call it what it was instead of pretending.

When Marian had first started working for the family firm, she’d stupidly thought it was fun. The adventure of evading authorities, the rush when she used her phantom ability, and the praise of her grandfather and father made it all worthwhile.
But in the last few years, there had been too many close calls, too many hours of uncertainty that set her nerves on edge. Now, all she wanted was for the jobs to be over.

The best part was coming home, like now.

The plane taxied to the gate. Most of those around her pulled out their phones to contact those waiting at the other end of this flight. For her, that had to wait. Only after she successfully snuck the little ivory elephant carving past customs could she consider her work over.

All she had to do was duck into a bathroom before customs, go phantom, phase through the walls and hand off Tantor—it was too cute to not give a nickname—to whomever her grandfather sent to wait on the other side of the customs gate.

She hoped it would be Dad. That would be perfect. He’d pamper her with dinner, and pampering was desperately needed after this marathon trip. She’d spent weeks looking for Tantor for their client, traipsing around the hills and dirt-encrusted ruins of Greece.

Worth it, however. Little Tantor would bring in a cool million. Grandfather was probably salivating over the money already.
Once Tantor was delivered to the other side, she’d phase back through the walls to the bathroom before anyone knew she was even gone and navigate customs perfectly legally, like any other passenger. Aside from the over-long and complicated forms and the risk of death by boredom, that was the easy part.

Marian waited over fifteen minutes for the plane to clear out enough to grab her carry- on from the overhead bin. Grandfather was a damn cheapskate. She smuggled for him, and he made her fly coach back to New York every time. She could have used the extra pillows.

Marian tapped her front pocket to reassure herself Tantor was still there. She hoped most people would assume she was checking for her phone. She shuffled behind the other passengers disembarking and wiped moisture from her palm on her jacket sleeve. Sweat already drenched her back.

I hate this.

But she couldn’t quit. It was the family business. Everyone, extended cousins and all, depended on her to keep the family firm flush with money. She was the only one in the current generation of Doyles to have the phantom ability that had supported the family for over two centuries.

Quit and she’d let everyone down. Maybe she’d even be exiled or shunned. It might be worth it. They took no risks. She was the one who sweated out all the trips through customs, terrified that this would be the time she would be caught, or worse, have her phantom ability exposed.

“Miss Doyle!”

She blinked and raised her head. Damn, she’d spent too much time staring at the floor, or she would have noticed people in front of her before this. She focused on the person wearing a uniform, calling her name. Flight crew? No, it was a TSA agent.

Oh, hell.

“Yes?” Swallow the fear, swallow the panic. She could do this. There had to be a way out.

“Please follow me, ma’am. The customs officers need to speak to you.”

“I don’t understand. Speak to me about what?” Maybe if she stared at him long enough, he would vanish as if he were a figment of her imagination. Two other uniformed officers came up to her from behind. Not figments.

“Follow us, ma’am,” said the first one.

She did, wishing she could go phantom and disappear through the floor. Better yet, float up and out through the ceiling and ride the air until she landed near the cabs that would take her home.

And then what? They knew her name, probably her address and her place of work. Unless she wanted to be a fugitive, she had no choice but to go with them. To say nothing of what would happen if she went ghost on them. Never let anyone see her do it, that was the family rule, and the airport had to be full of cameras.

It was Tantor that needed to disappear, not her, and before they searched her. “Just what is the problem?” she asked again. “Do you need to see my papers? I know there are some items in my luggage that need documentation. I have everything in order.”

“That will be up to customs, ma’am,” the officer said. “We are ordered to deliver you to
them.” “I don’t understand.” “I’m sure they’ll explain it, ma’am.” Somehow all the ma’ams made it much worse. “Can I use the bathroom first? It was along flight and I really need to stop there.”

“Orders are to take you directly to their office,” he said. “Sorry.”

They kept hustling her along, one person ahead and one person behind her. Customs knew something. Someone must have tipped them off about what she was carrying. It was the only explanation that made sense. Maybe the tip came from someone who also wanted the carving? No, they would want it to get through customs, not to be confiscated. Unless someone paid off one of the agents. Bribing agents was the usual way to smuggle antiquities into the States. Doyle Antiquities never did that.

They had her.

**************

Releases 10/7/2014

The contest runs until midnight Oct. 9th! Tonight! Go enter!

And to give a glimpse of what’s in the book, as well as a look at the hero of Phoenix Legacy, here are some snippets from Phoenix Rising featuring Philip Drake.

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Philip sank into her armchair and closed his eyes, hiding from the light of her corner lamp, covered by shadows. “Death has a way of spilling over onto anyone in its path. Alec’s life is one of violence. I don’t want you in the way. This was a mistake, a serious mistake.”
***************
Her whole body felt battered, as if Alec had slammed her into that rock. It would feel worse after she told Alec. Whatever his reaction, she’d have to face it. Alec had taught her one thing. Don’t run, don’t hide. She’d wanted to change Alec’s life. Instead, he’d altered hers beyond recognition.

Her stomach rumbled. She ignored it and put her head in her hands and immediately felt dizzy. Her throat felt dry. Hunger, she could ignore. Thirst was harder. If she was dehydrated, that would explain part of the headache. She walked to the kitchen and pulled out the pitcher of water.

“Beth, we have to get the hell out of here. Now.”

She closed her eyes and sighed, her hands tightening around the pitcher. “Hello, Philip.”
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She stepped between them, her arms wide. “Alec, this is Philip Drake. My father.”

Her father!? “The black ops CIA agent who had you set me up?”

“If I’d set you up, you’d be dead,” Drake said.
***************
Drake brushed past them, holding a big-ass machine gun with a curved ammunition clip. A Kalashnikov, probably. How’d he get that?

“ I think he was hiding it in the kitchen pantry.”

“ I ’d hate to see what he keeps in his closet.”
**********************
“Where’s Philip?”

“Off doing whatever he does. Does he vanish like that often?”

“Routinely. When he reappears, he usually has presents for me.”

There was no sense worrying about her father. She’d hear from him when he was ready.

“So Drake’s kinda like Santa Claus.”

“If Santa carried daggers and packed heat.”

superhero novels, superhero romance, Phoenix Rising,One more time, the official blurb:

Philip Drake is immortal by virtue of a psychic power that heals all but the worst injuries. He’s needed every bit of it as a black ops agent, a life so violent that the line between pain and pleasure is tangled up in his head.

When he walks away from the CIA, the last thing he expects is to discover someone stole his DNA to create a race of super-healers. And that the expectant mother is a woman from his past who’d consider it her pleasure to spit on his grave.

One moment, Delilah Sefton is listening to a seriously hot, seriously deranged man giving her some half-baked explanation as to why she’s pregnant with no memory of how she got that way. The next, armed men swarm into her bar, and she and Mr. Sexy-Crazy are on the run.

Safety at the Phoenix Institute is only temporary, but it’s long enough to put the pieces together. A madman plans to steal her son in a plot to take over the world. And to stop him, she must learn to trust the baby’s father—a man she blames for her greatest loss.