Finally got the blurb down for Saint in Sinner’s Eyes, my definitely inspired by Burn Notice puma shifter story.
Currently working as a spy, Max is targeting a high profile intelligence organization in an attempt to stop their shifter trafficking before he disappears.
Shayla is assigned to protect her client’s interests and does just that until she meets up with Max. Once notes are compared, things get shady about who is working for the good guys. Yet the Organization pulling the string has plans for both Operatives. Can they survive working together despite heated passion that goes both cold and hot or will the Organization take them both out.
It’s been fun revisiting Burn Notice episodes to see how Michael Westen would handle issues that arose in each episode and watching the development f his and Fiona’s relationship too. I don’t know if Max will have a Sam Axe like character (gotta pay tribute to Chuck Finley) or not but the book itself will be seriously sexy, hot and have plenty of romance for you lovers of sensual literature!
I shipped off Burning for Derrick to Saritza Hernandez last week so she’s shopping that around and it “may” oddly enough be a pre DragonCON release We’ll see. It’s tough to push a book through with coverart, edits and author information since I’m targeting a new publisher. But wish me luck! For those wanting a snippet of Burning for Derrick, here’s the first chapter!
Stale cigarette smoke and sweat hung in the air, irritating Derrick’s puma senses. An opening band played a forty-five minute set that moved the crowd into some semblance of frenzy before finished and left the stage.
Too bad no one gave a shit about the poorly expressed political message in the band’s lyrics.
Derrick stood in the back with the bartender, Rick, a leather clad human that dwarfed most people. Rick’s auburn curls emphasized the scariness of his face. Deep black eyes sunk into the skull and would have made Derrick afraid if he were simply human.
Pumas didn’t fear man. Not when in his natural form he was two hundred pounds of solid muscle that could clear eighteen feet in one leap. Or tear the throat out of his victims with ease.
Scanning the crowd, Derrick swirled his drink around and took a sip. The Manhattan slid down his throat before he set the glass on the bar and another quickly sailed his way.
Assaulted by thunderous kick drums, booming bass guitar and fast riffs from the band onstage, Derrick reached for his wallet.
Rick’s voice didn’t change despite the loudness in the club. Puma hearing was more sensitive. “No charge. You’ll want to sip this one slowly, though Derrick. In fact, keep your eyes on the stage.”
Nodding, Derrick couldn’t have heard the bartender with ease if he were human. Superior feline hearing made the words audible to his ears over the badass riffs played by the newest and largest of the Death metal scene.
Ark-Kaotik, jammed loud and fast onstage, causing a melee of noise while the crowd erupted into a mosh pit the Devil himself would be proud of. For thirty minutes they’d cranked out chords, kicked off melodies and warmed up.
Derrick sipped his drink and kept an eye on the crowd. Most of the concert goers were human. Sure a wolf or bear was present but they were mostly security for the event. The metal crowd tended to get a little raucous, especially since this was one of the largest bands making the death metal circuit.
Ark-Kaotik sported a drummer who was on par with the greatest of technical death metal drummers, a guitarist that played complex riffs and rhythms like nobody else and a bass player that brought out the low end.
What made them most amazing was their legendary lead singer, Sonja.
Derrick heard stories in the paranormal community about a witch with the voice of a goddess and the power to influence the crowds. At a time in the country when waves of smaller uprisings were becoming the norm, the youth had been neglected. And the displaced youth would do what they did best. Go to metal shows, get drunk and take out their aggression on willing and sometimes unwilling parties.
Yet Sonja could supposedly control all of that with her voice.
He found it hard to believe but then again he was a puma shifter.
Tension in the crowd was at an all-time high. There were already two fights broken up between two were-beings. That couldn’t be allowed to continue. As the humans began to rally against their governments, the supernatural community began to look into ushering in a new way of doing things.
Things were depressing in the world, hence the sympathy that heavy metal gave the fans. Music had a way of infecting just about anyone but the true listener was transformed, picked apart, rebuilt and made to feel like someone gave a rats ass. At least that’s how Derrick felt about the scene.
Derrick chose to keep his distance from the crowd. He briefly wondered why he was even in this particular dive bar when his normal hangout had been the cigar club on the other side of town. Pumas were notoriously lonesome creatures, preferring to mate for life and that suited him just fine.
Except that amongst his few friends, Derrick was a diehard metal head. If a show came to this part of town and even one of the bands was someone he listened to, he was here.
The large crowds allowed him to get out and mix his aggression with them as long as he didn’t push too much energy into the air.
It was either that or sex he craved. And being the only puma in the local area dampened that idea.
He had no misconceptions about sex. At his age, he could still have any woman he wanted and the only fear was whether she’d get pregnant or not. A very real fear considering that since he’d turned 18, the words of his father echoed in his head.
“Don’t find a lover until you want to settle down. And when you do, be sure she’s the one. You will knock her up son.” Then the old man knocked back a scotch and took a puff on his pipe.
Derrick feared that most of all. Money was never an issue; neither was providing a good solid home for a child.
But the entire puma shifter thing…that stuck in his mind. Many of those born into the shifter world died on their first change and females weren’t all that prominent in the puma world. Slowly humans were eliminating them based on irrational fear.
Politics was trying on behalf of the shifter community to reason the existence of pumas and other shifters but humans were a stubborn lot.
He wasn’t sure he could deal with that, so he’d avoided human females and made sure only to sleep with what female pumas were in the area.
Most of them wanted commitment as was the case in their species. Sexual freedom hadn’t quite hit the puma world yet
Except for the dry spell he’d been in, he’d had a pretty decent sexual career.
Though, his heart was empty.
And he desperately craved companionship.
But tonight he wanted none of that shit. Tonight Derrick lived for the music, the drinking, breaking up inner species fights and keeping the peace.
The lights went down.
Another drink slid across the bar.
Without looking, Derrick extended his hand and caught the drink before bringing it to his lips. The cool liquor slid down his throat and sent tingles racing through his body.
The sounds of screaming came over the PA, mixed with loud thunderclaps followed by rain. A mist appeared from the darkness, illuminated by purple and blue lights just above the stage. The noise from the crowd slowly died down just enough to let the aural buildup occur until the rain stopped.
A thundercloud outside clapped loud, shook the walls of the bar and boomed against the brick and mortar. A few hushed gasps came from random places in the audience.
The sound of glass shattering pulled Derrick’s attention back to the stage.
In the darkness, Derrick saw over everyone with enhanced feline vision and noticed glass shards on the stage that appeared to be reassembling themselves?
He scratched his head and did a double take.
Yup, the glass was indeed reassembling itself into the wine bottle it had once been.
Then it floated offstage while band members took their places, instruments in hand.
With a wave of a hand, the small and waifish lead singer dispersed the smoke.
At the same time the lights kicked on, the band started playing and the most beautiful growls came from her.
His heart thundered in his chest, blood pooled south. Derrick did another double take. He’d heard about this band but never having seen them or listened to them with effort, he couldn’t quite wrap his head around the now angry screams coming from the woman onstage.
She belted, grunted, made the music make sense.
Metal had a way of being both darkly angry and intensely beautiful if the singer’s voice and lyrics could captivate the listener.
Worse yet, she’d captured the attention of the most male part of him. Angry hands gripped the microphone. Dark waist-length hair swirled around and fell at her sides, blanketing her face but Derrick saw her ultra-feminine features. Plump lips ripe for kissing parted while her chest rose and fell with each breath she took.
Her body moved with grace. Power spilled off her in time with the music.
Derrick watched the audience follow her every movement.
The mosh pit opened up, bodies slammed hard into one another.
Then as if they weren’t a death metal band at all, the music changed tones, became melodic. Her singing matched the music and all the weight of the aggressive pit seemed to lift off the humans and into the air.
Derrick watched in amazement at the woman who sang with an angel’s voice.
Slowly, he slid off the barstool and made his way towards her, only to be stopped by a hand on his arm.
He looked back, almost growled back at Rick. The bartender shook his head. “She’s calling to all the shifters in the room. You go to her now, she’ll own you.”
Derrick must have looked puzzled because Rick scowled. “I’ll introduce you after the show. Trust me.”
Derrick nodded and took his place back on the stool. He’d wait, but the melodic voice carrying pain and sorrow across the air wove a spell on him already. The glint in her blueish silver eyes caught his gaze and pushed sensual lust into the death laced lyrics she sang.
He felt it in his bones, but didn’t quite understand why.
The overwhelming need to wrap his arms around her and hold her against him startled him.
The band went into the second song; a nonstop blast beat number with rhythmic guitars that created the perfect scene of darkness and despair while Sonja continued singing. Clean vocals called to him, nearly forcing him off the stool again.
Rick’s hand returned to his shoulder and applied a bit more pressure. Derrick didn’t look back but gripped the bar harder.
She sang lyrics that matched the music, took the audience an auditory journey of a troubled teen that struggled into adulthood and ultimately took his own life.
As hard as he was, Derrick found himself wanting to comfort Sonja now.
Lights flashed in tune with the rapid fire kick drums and created a strobe light effect.
Derrick leaned forward while still holding his drink. As the lights lit up the stage, Derrick could better make out her facial features. Corpse paint covered a round face, eye shadow made her eyes look set deeper in her skull than they really were. Blood red hair looked like the darkest night sky under the bright lights. A charcoal sweater clung to full breasts and showed off a flat tummy meant for licking.
Black leather hugged luscious hips. Derrick couldn’t pull his eyes off the swagger of her hips, sensual as it was even though the music was angry.
A third song morphed into a fourth and an hour later, the band had retired for the night, playing one encore. Sonja thanked the crowd and tossed the microphone onto the stage.
Derrick noted the mood in the bar as it slowly emptied out. People, emotions, everything seemed lighter.
The air of danger and despair had fallen prey to sadness, relief and finally acceptance.
His body still thrummed with sexual need.
Derrick finished another Manhattan and turned to pay the bartender.
“No need,” he shook his head. Auburn curls spilled down the sides of his face. Black paint hid his eyes. Standing to his full height, he towered over most of the patrons and that had nothing to do with the elevated block behind the bar. Rick was just tall.
And built. “Give them a few minutes to clear out and I’ll take you backstage to meet Sonja. She’s…waiting for you.”
Derrick didn’t understand but nodded anyway. The underlying tones in Rick’s voice made him wary. His fingers gripped the glass, spun it around on the bar and slid it towards Rick.
With typical bartender flair, Rick caught it, tossed the ice and had the glass in the dishwasher.
A bottle of water flew past a patron and ended up in Derrick’s hand.
“I still am amazed at your speed.” Rick laughed.
His ears rang but he could still hear Rick with precision. Derrick popped the top off. “You’ve got speed yourself and you’re not even a shifter.”
“I’m something, that’s for sure.”
It was Derrick’s turn to laugh. “Indeed.”
He turned back to the empty stage and watched roadies carry equipment off. His mind wandered back to the singer, her prowess on stage controlled the crowd with exactness, getting them to move just as she directed them.
Many singers were charismatic but not like Sonja
A few minutes passed and the stage became empty. A hand grabbed Derrick’s shoulder. “Come on. You want to meet her, right?”
Derrick nodded. His body still thrummed with heavy sexual energy so intense he was afraid he’d overreact and say the wrong damn thing. He made a mental note to keep his mouth shut and let Sonja do the talking, if she had the voice for it.
Rick escorted him past the bar and down a long dark hallway. Fans ran on high and sent an obvious chill through the bartender. Though he was dressed in leather, it wasn’t a match for the warmth of puma fur.
“Here’s her room. The guys typically head into the hidden cellar here after a shower; it’s usually for the best.”
Derrick rubbed his chin. “What do you mean?”
“You’ll see in a moment.” Rick pushed the door open.
Behind the wooden slab that passed for a door, lights were dimmed. Derrick made out the leather couch and the sounds of tears. He rushed in and scanned the area.
Senses on high alert, Derrick spotted the tiny woman with her head buried in her arms on the couch. She curled up tightly against the corner and sobbed lightly.
And she was mostly naked.
Alabaster skin glistened with sweat against the black leather couch. Hair hid her face and muffled her sobs. Derrick sighed but caught a whiff of emotion.
“Sonja?” Rick stepped in and knelt at her side. He reached out but didn’t quite touch her. “Come here, Derrick. If I’m right…” Rick didn’t finish his statement.
Derrick scratched his head but stepped inside.
Sonja’s sobs continued to tear at his heart. He wanted to know who made her cry and why. Then he wanted to pummel them. Rage filled him instantly.
Rick’s voice floated through the rage and managed to ground Derrick back to reality. “Calm down Derrick It’s not what you think. Take a deep breath, clear your mind and touch her. Please.”
Derrick knelt down, ran a hand through his hair and sighed, letting all the worry slip away from his mind. He found that calm place in the forest where the puma inside loved running free, and he went there. Luscious smells confronted his sensitive nose, colors enhanced. Then he returned to reality. Rick shifted beside Sonja.
His eyes filled with despair. “Touch her, please.”
Derrick didn’t miss the pain in Rick’s voice. Steady yet scared, the man wore his emotions on his sleeve. Why?
He reached for Sonja, touched a hand along her thigh. Smooth soft skin met his.
Her thigh twitched and she stiffened against his hand.
Derrick started to withdraw his hand but met Rick’s gaze.
Derrick nodded. Sexual energy along with something else crackled between them and sent a shudder through his body.
Sonja must have felt it too because she shifted and straightened.
Derrick slid off his leather trench coat and used it to cover her up, though his view of her in underwear excited him.
She sniffled. “Thank you,” she lifted her head up and met his gaze.
Intense blue eyes stared back at him with such force that threatened to knock him back. He struggled to hold his ground, remained unsure of whether to remove his hand.
She answered that question by cupping his hand with hers and offering him a smile. “You’re tranquil,” she whispered.
Derrick nodded. “Sometimes. What’s going on?”
Sonja shifted again, rolled her head back and forth. She swept a hand through her red hair and brushed it over her shoulders. “I’m…able to feel emotions and in this crowd there is so much hatred. It’s overwhelming. I picked up on it instantly.”
Derrick looked at Rick. He mouthed “Does she know?”
Before Rick could answer, Sonja nodded. “Yeah, you’re a shifter. And something greater. Your emotions are heavier than most. Let me,” she leaned forward and the jacket slid down her body, exposing the bra covering breasts Derrick wanted to lap at for hours, “just touch you back.”
Before he could respond, her hand caressed his cheek, then slid down his neck and stopped at his heart. She pressed the palm of her hand into him and closed her eyes.
It hit him then, the pressure of all of his emotions. Swamped with their weight, he staggered forward, reached out for the couch and found the warmth of Sonja’s body wrapped around his.
Her sweet voice echoed in his ear. “You’re…missing something.”
Derrick looked to see Rick standing, Sonja glaring at him. Her emotions were written all over her face. Her brows furrowed, lips pursed together in a thin line. “Brother please.”
Derrick stiffened. “Brother?”
Rick sighed and nodded. “Yes, she’s my sister.”
Arms wrapped around Derrick’s waist and pulled him into softness that complimented each hard bit of his body. Pumas were strong creatures, powerful thighs that could clear almost twenty feet with ease. Hard bodies made for the rugged outdoors had adapted over time and while his human form was strong, Derrick spent time in the gym to make himself even stronger.
He felt right, sitting awkwardly in Sonja’s lap but had to ask about the tears. He wasn’t a total cad, though his body’s reaction was certainly making itself known. “So the tears were a reaction to the crowd?”
She nodded. “Yes,” she spoke in a soft whisper, “the crowd in this genre of music is so lonely, so angry. So displaced. Add in the few shifters and it becomes a burden to the entire crowd when mixed with all the normal pent up aggression metalheads carry around. And sadly, or not, some say, I absorb that burden in the music, with my voice.”
His heart felt heavier.
Her hand pressed harder against his chest.
Emotions pulled from him. It took force but Derrick felt weight lift off his shoulders. “It’s not–“
Two slender fingers pressed against his lips. Eyelashes batted enticingly at him.
Derrick groaned. He wanted to seduce her, stretch her out on the couch and spread her legs apart while exploring her with his tongue and lips. Her scent, sweat mixed with ultra-feminine heat wafted past his nose. Yet he couldn’t make another move.
She was a goddess. His nerves felt unsteady, his body on fire.
Sonja shifted against him, pressing her body against his.
“I’d hate to be confused with a groupie,” he went for the humor, letting his natural sarcasm come out.
She chuckled. “I haven’t any groupies.”
Derrick arched a brow. He wasn’t going to point out the obvious to her yet, figuring she’d heard it all the time. Instead he went for subtle. “You’re a beautiful death metal singer. Surely you have groupies.”
“Nope,” she shook her head and leaned against the couch, pushing her breasts into his chest. “None. I mean there are boys and girls who have a silly attraction to me but it’s not returned.”
“Good to know.” He couldn’t keep the growl from his voice.
“Ahem,” Rick coughed again. “I should leave you two alone.” He glared hard at Derrick. “Be nice with my sister. She’s rather special, puma. I may not look it but I can skin a cat if I need.”
Derrick shrugged nonchalantly. “It won’t be a problem.”
Rick glowered and backed out of the room, shutting the door.
Sonja slid one leg from beneath her, giving Derrick a view of very creamy skin and shapely thigh. She tilted her head slightly. “He’s very protective, I’m sorry.”
He shrugged again. “I would be too. He knows me well, knows I’ve been in a slump and that I was…”‘
“Dying to meet me?” Her eyes twinkled with something that looked like lust.
“Yeah. Sort of. As I said earlier, I’m not a groupie.”
Sonja stretched her other leg out from beneath her and adjusted how she sat.
The view was fabulous but he had to wonder why she was practically nude after the show. “Are you that hot and sweaty up there on stage?”
She rolled her shoulders and shook out her hands. “A little yes. But the problem I have is that not only do I pick up the emotions, they mold to my clothing. Especially with the previous band trying to politicize the music, I picked up a lot of negative rage. When I came back here, I stripped off the clothes to what you see me as now.”
He licked his lips. “So your underwear doesn’t pick things up? I’m very much enjoying the eye candy.”
“All clothing I wear picks up some semblance of emotion, it’s part of my nature. But I’m not a slut.”
He chuckled. “I’d never think that of you. I can only imagine what it’s like to be in the limelight and need the break. And I’ll mention again, I’m certainly enjoying the view.”
Sonja flipped her hair off to one side, showing off the pale curve of her neck. “I figured you would. I sort of sought you out.” A light blush crept up her cheeks, coloring her skin with a faint red tint.
“Oh?” An eyebrow arched upwards. “Why?”
She leaned forward, giving him an even better view of ample cleavage. “I don’t know. You felt…safe.” She closed her eyes, puckered her lips and made a popping sound before returning her focus on him.
The deep gaze in her eyes intensified, emotions poured out from her so fast that they slammed into Derrick like a freight train.
He slid off the couch and stumbled back, hands at his sides to brace himself for the next wave. Nausea settled in his stomach and brought him to his knees.
Just then Sonja was on him, her arms surrounding him, sweet whispers in his ears were pulling back the emotional baggage she’d hit him with. “I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. Relax, please. Let me help you,” her hand caressed the small of his back, ran up his spine. Fingers crept on his neck, teasing little hairs to attention along with other things.
He shook with a fear so dark it threatened to pull him over the edge into a bottomless abyss he’d never seen before. Slowly though, the vision he saw behind closed eyes was of that canyon slipping away.
No, he was being pulled away from the edge of the cliff. The puma, not him. And he was being guided, not forced.
Sweet sounds of feminine laughter fluttered over his ears like the day’s fresh breeze and pulled him away.
Then Derrick shook, rather the puma shook its muzzle, and Derrick saw creamy flesh that looked eager for tasting.
He lifted his head, met Sonja’s gaze and pressed his lips into hers.
Just the briefest touch turned into something so hot it would have melted steel. Sparks fluttered between them. Hands gripped his shoulders, nails dug into the shirt, flesh.
Derrick caught her arms, caressed them. Felt waning strength in them and vowed to support her if she was feeling even an ounce of the heat between them that he did.
Her lips were soft, full, and capable. Her eyelashes brushed against his forehead when she blinked.
He pressed further into her, prodding her mouth with his tongue. She tasted of sweetness, cherry brandy and candy.
Her mouth continued to work with his, while her tongue licked his lower lip.
He moaned, felt hands clutch at the back of his head.
She was beautiful.
Slowly the pressure on his mouth eased up. Derrick felt empty from the loss of her kiss.
She pulled back and frowned.
Her expression confused him. “What? Was I too forward? I thought–“
She rose; shook and wrapped her arms around her body. Turning, she headed back to the couch and curled up against the corner as she had been when he walked into the room.
Derrick stood and stepped back. He didn’t know what was going on, but he needed to get Rick.
He never took his eyes off her even as he backed into the door with a thud.
Sonja looked up with tears in her eyes. She sniffled, brushed strands of deep red hair out of her face and mouthed, “Please stay.”
Something heavy coated the air and filled his lungs. The scent he couldn’t place was wet, humid. Then it became arid before disappearing completely. Odd, Derrick had never had that experience before. He shrugged, leaned back against the doorframe. Crossing his arms over his chest, he eyed her with wariness usually reserved for an opponent. “Are you sure? I can get Rick.”
“NO!” She shouted then covered her mouth with a hand. The noise came out as a growl and made the puma inside Derrick take notice.
He saw a pink tongue lick his tanned muzzle. This woman was special, but how?
Pumas were lonely creatures, solitary ones. And they mated, slept together and hunted but otherwise remained lone rangers in the animal kingdom.
Derrick needed to do something. He didn’t understand her yet. The weight of her emotions pressed down on his shoulders with a steadily increasing tension that would have broken a normal man. “What can I do?”
“Just,” her voice shook with fear, “hold me please.”
“Are you sure?” He took a tentative step towards her. Then another. His body ached to come to her, to comfort her even though they’d barely met. Sex was on his mind, definitely. His body was so hard for hers. He’d already sampled the sweetness of her lips but the way her eyes were wide with shock and rage, then fear, bothered him.
It did little to shut down his libido. The puma wanted to claim her as it had been too long since he’d mated.
The human mind knew better.
Slowly, he reached the couch and knelt down before her. He reached for her, touched her and felt tranquility wash over him like a warm blanket on a cool evening.
That was the best way he could describe it. “How did you do that?”
She lifted her head, spoke low, “I’m having to readjust to the larger crowds. It’s becoming tougher to control my emotional outpouring and what I take in. You’re calming, I told you.”
Derrick shifted himself onto the couch and wrapped his arms around her body. “Like this?”
She shifted against him, pressed her perfectly round and panty clad backside into his crotch. Her head rested on his shoulder. “Yeah. Just like that.”
He looked up, then back at her. He caressed her hair, enjoying the feel of silky smooth strands fluttering through his fingers. Puma senses picked up her scent, lush and of the forest, wet moss and pine. Oak and earth undertones reminded him of the peace he used to find as a child playing with his sibling.
She shook against him.
“It’s….” her voice was a faint whisper, “okay. Just try to steady your mind. In the morning I can do it for you but until then…” Her sentence drifted off. Her chest rose and fell above his forearms and indicated she’d drifted off to sleep.
It took him a moment but Derrick steadied his thoughts. He stretched out his legs and wrapped himself around the sexy little death metal singer who took on the weight of the world and somehow found a liking by his puma.
Rick would have to explain more to him in the morning. For now, he wondered where the rest of the band mates were and why no one had bothered to check on her.
She was their lead singer after all.
Rick seemed irritated too but he did offer to introduce Derrick to his sister, though he could have told him she was related.
Though he supposed it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. It’s not like Derrick had experience with the supernatural. His limited life experiences chalked up dealing with puma politics over regions and territories.
Oh and then there was the secret agent stuff he’d never discussed with anyone but Max.
The second he had the chance to escape that nonsense and move to California, he’d taken it.
And he’d ended up here on a leather couch holding a beautiful woman, the lead singer of the largest death metal band around.
She wasn’t just a witch, she was an empath, but how far did that go?
Now that he’d seen her power firsthand he knew why people would easily target her and try to use her. He had to prevent that.
Why did he feel an impending sense of danger?