Thanks for stopping by my blog for the Hot Halloween Heroes Giveaway Hop! I’m giving away a $10 gift card to Amazon and a signed, print book of Shrouded in Darkness, the first book in the Shrouded Series (ebook if you’re outside of the US. just enter the contest through the Rafflecopter badge below.
I love heroes who have a paranormal factor, whether it’s around them around inside themself. I like to write about them even better! Maybe because they can protect the heroine more than any real man can. They’re also just a little more dangerous than your regular guy, which adds a delicious sense of tension between the hero and heroine.
In the excerpt of Shrouded in Darkness below, Margot, senses, but doesn’t yet know, that something about Jake isn’t quite normal. Later eventually does find out exactly what Jake is hiding.
Excerpt – Shrouded in Darkness
Winner of the Ready-Set-Go Peninsula RWA Contest
Finalist in the Suzannah North Louisiana RWA Contest
1st place in Peninsula RWA Chapter’s contest.
Margot Davenport should never have opened the front door. She should have just kept on getting slowly and thoroughly drunk that night. But the pounding on the door went on and on, reverberating throughout the house and inside her skull. Stumbling from the couch in the living room, Margot knocked over her glass and an empty wine bottle, and grabbed onto her throbbing head with a hand.
In the hall, she tripped over her calico cat, Marmaduke, who streaked past her and up the stairs. She swore again. The banging continued. The crazy fool outside had given up on the doorbell long ago.
“John! Come on. Open up! It’s me, Jake!”
At the mention of Johnny’s name, Margot’s stomach twisted and rolled with sudden nausea. “Okay! Okay! Give me a second.”
She groped for the light switch to the hall. Nothing happened.
“Damn, stupid thing!” That’s what she got for not replacing the house’s ancient wiring.
“What do you expect,” Margot muttered, wondering if this guy was playing some sick joke at her expense.
Margot hit the outside light switch and peered through the glass panel beside the door. A man stood on the front porch. She didn’t recognize him, but then again, the sheet of snow and the light’s glare against the night backdrop didn’t help matters.
A gun or pepper spray for protection sounded pretty nice right now, but Margot hated guns and had never expected the need, living on the outskirts of Greyson, Arizona. It wasn’t like this town up in the White Mountains was loaded with crime. The worst incident had been a case of disorderly conduct last winter, and that had been from a drunken tourist.
“Who is it?”
A pause on the other side followed—almost as if she’d surprised him.
“Margot? Is that you? It’s Jake Preston.”
Though muffled, his words were clear enough to make out. The name sounded familiar, but she couldn’t recall what Johnny had said about him.
Margot frowned and winced as pain cut across her temple, brow and the base of her skull. She should have stopped at one glass of wine. “How do you know Johnny?”
“I worked with him at Miltronics for several years on the outskirts of Boston.”
Margot debated about turning this Jake away as she watched him stamp his feet against the porch. He must be freezing—what with the wind and snow.
“I know it’s late, but I need to talk to John. Please. If you could just get him, you’ll see I’m harmless.”
The urgency in his voice made her decide. He obviously didn’t know about her brother. She sighed heavily. What she had to tell him wasn’t going to be easy.
Margot unlatched the lock and opened the door.
An angry gust of wind burst into the house, tearing the knob from her grasp. The door flew wide and crashed against the wall. Gasping, she reeled back as snow flew in, stabbing her face with icy spikes.
“Here, let me.” He stepped inside and shoved the door closed with his shoulder. He turned his back against the light from the kitchen, casting his face in shadow. His baseball cap further shielded his features—along with sunglasses of all things.
How very odd. Sudden apprehension curled up her spine as Margot stepped away from Jake and the doorway. Topping a good six-feet, he appeared far larger than when he’d stood behind a locked door.
“What are the sunglasses for?” she asked.
“My eyes. They’re sensitive to light. I injured both corneas as a child.”
“Oh.” She must have been staring at him like an idiot, but something about him made her uneasy. And it wasn’t just the glasses and pale complexion.
He must have sensed her disquiet, because he explained further, “It’s called traumatic iritis. It’s something I’ve had to live with for as long as I can remember.” He shrugged a large canvas backpack from his shoulder and placed it on the floor. “Can you get John for me?”
Margot never intended the words to come out so abrupt and final, but…it hurt. Balling her hands into fists, she fought against the sudden tears that burned the back of her eyes. Please no. Not now. She couldn’t fall apart in front of this stranger.
“He can’t be. That’s impossible.”
“His—” Margot cleared her throat. “His funeral was today.”
He flinched, stumbled, and hit a shoulder against the front door. A muscle in his square jaw clenched and unclenched, and his ragged breathing magnified the tension filling the foyer. He said something under his breath she didn’t catch.
Goose bumps crawled along her spine. She needed another drink. Seeing how her brother’s death ate at this man was like witnessing her own pain.
“How did he die?” Jake finally asked.
Outside, a metallic crash resounded as a gust of wind hit the house. They both jumped, and Margot swallowed a scream. A faint clang immediately followed. Then nothing but the howling wind.
“I think that was a trash can,” she said, and tried to form her thoughts into something coherent. Then she realized her lack of manners and how she couldn’t thrust him back out in the storm without explaining more about Johnny, but she wasn’t about to bring him back into the living room and broadcast her drinking with an empty wine bottle and glass on the floor. “Why don’t you put your coat on the post behind you, then we can talk in the den.”
After he took off his down jacket, he removed his hat to reveal very dark, almost black, shoulder-length hair, a shade lighter than her own. He had a blunt nose, square jaw, and a strong, stubborn looking face. She wondered about his eyes, and if they were just as inflexible, but she saw only her face reflected in his lenses.
Margot led him across the hall and was about to hit the switch by the door of the den when Jake caught her wrist, his gloved fingers cool and smooth against her skin. “Don’t.”
At the harshness of his voice, her breath hissed into her lungs and her heart jerked inside her chest. He stood directly behind, so close the warmth of his breath whispered across the nape of her neck.