Friday, August 29, 2014

Here's another excerpt from "Oath of Service." 

Morgana and her team are staking out a BDSM club, searching for a serial killer they believe to be a werewolf.

Involuntarily, her gaze flashed across the bar to the rear booth where her team sat. The three men looked ready for battle at a moment’s notice, between their holstered 9mm SIGs and the long swords they wore diagonally across their backs. Illegal weapons, of course, but also invisible to mortal eyes, thanks to the spells Morgana had cast.

While the club’s Masters wore everything from monk’s robes to biker leathers, her teammates needed no special regalia to look like dominants. Instead they’d chosen clothing that would allow them to blend without hampering their ability to fight: leather vests over bare chests, faded jeans and tooled leather boots, perfectly broken in.

Looking at them lounging in their booth like a trio of lions on the veldt, Morgana couldn’t deny their effect on her. But then, if a woman didn't feel a tingle at the sight of Percival, Cador and Marrok looking ready to break all Ten Commandments, she needed to check her pulse.

Someone who didn't know them would probably register Marrok first. He appeared the most menacing of the three, being six-five and brawny as a bull, with a lantern jaw, deep-set brown eyes, and a lazily sensual mouth. His crooked nose had been repeatedly broken during childhood by his abusive prick of a father. Despite the air of brutishness, he was a laughing, genial soul who often played peacemaker between his hot-tempered teammates.

Which made what happened if you managed to truly anger him all the more shocking. His berserker rages could make even Arthur Pendragon step softly. He’d been known to cut through enemy forces like a plow through a wheat field, leaving broken bodies and barren earth in his wake.

Then there was Cador. At six feet, he was shorter than the others, but that only made him look more like a muscular male wall. Which was something of a natural result given that all three spent hours a day swinging battle-axes and broad swords.

In contrast to Marrok’s short dark hair, Cador wore his long, braided tightly for combat. At the moment, though, it tumbled past his shoulders in a curling mane. The eye-catching effect was intensified by its color, a rich, dark auburn, glossy as a fox’s pelt.

His features looked as if God had calculated every angle for maximum impact on anyone with estrogen in her veins. Thick auburn brows dipped over laughing eyes the striking turquoise blue of the Caribbean. His nose was straight and knife-blade narrow, while his wide, mobile mouth was prone toward deceptively charming smiles.

Deceptive, because Cador had a sadistic streak as broad as the Thames. He was not the kind of man you wanted to meet in combat, particularly if you'd done something to piss him off. He and Morgana often locked horns; he had a cutting, cynical sense of humor she found irritating. For his part, he called Morgana arrogant, though she preferred to think of it as natural self-confidence.

All right, she supposed she was a little arrogant.

Last—but hardly least, since he was the trio's leader—there was Percival. At six-three, he was a bit leaner than the others, with all the muscular power, explosive speed and hypnotic grace of a puma. His broad-shouldered, elegant body was marked here and there by scars from spears, arrows and swords—reminders of his mortal life fighting Arthur Pendragon’s wars.

As if to emphasize all that stark masculinity, Percival had the kind of face that called ancient gladiators to mind: angular, square-jawed, with a flaring swoop of a nose that just missed being too long, and a pugnacious cleft chin. The overall effect was softened by a wide, lush mouth that Morgana had hungered to kiss for a very long time. His deep-set gray eyes were cool and watchful, heated by flashes of erotic cruelty she wished she didn’t find so intriguing. One of his blond brows was bisected by a thin scar, a reminder of a wound that had almost cost him his right eye. He wore his thick, honey-gold hair just barely long enough to curl. Morgana longed to run her fingers through it, but it wasn’t a good idea to give into temptation where Percival was concerned. He’d take ruthless advantage of any weakness she handed him.

Percival wanted her. Had wanted her for years—centuries—though she doubted the desire he felt was anything more than physical. If she wasn’t damned careful, Morgana knew she’d end up the latest in his parade of hapless submissives. The really galling thing was that she’d probably love every minute of her subjugation—until he moved on to the next sub, leaving her heart in ruins. Dangerous ruins.

The kind with nuclear land mines.

Yet sometimes when she gazed into those demanding gray eyes, Morgana wanted to confess all the secrets she’d kept so long. She knew better, though. She didn’t dare let Percival discover how close she skated to the edge—or how far she had to fall.

She’d been skating along that edge for fifteen hundred years, since becoming one of the immortals tasked with protecting mankind. That was when the wizard Merlin and his enchantress lover Nimue had appeared at King Arthur’s Camelot court, where Morgana had been a Druid healer.

Merlin had told the king those who drank from his enchanted Grail would gain immortality and vast power—if they could pass the couple’s tests. For the knights, that meant duels to prove their strength and courage.

For Camelot’s ladies, the challenge was mental rather than physical. Nimue’s psychic spells forced each woman to confront her worst fears, while giving her the illusion of vast magical powers. The enchantress then evaluated her response to determine whether she could be trusted with real magic.

But when it was Morgana’s turn, even Nimue was astonished at the results…


Morgana balanced on a stool on the tips of her toes, her rope-burned, bloodless wrists bound in front of her, dark spots dancing before her eyes. She couldn’t draw breath for the pressure of the noose around her neck, its taut rope looped over the hook in the cottage’s ceiling.

A little boy screamed, his voice ringing high with terror. Morgana’s blood chilled as a man in a priest’s robes dragged the struggling dark-haired child into the room. “Mamma!” the boy shrieked. “Mamma, help me!”

“I can give you the power to save your son—and yourself,” a bodiless voice whispered in her mind. “Will you accept?”

Desperately fighting to suck in a breath past the strangling noose, Morgana wheezed, “Yes. Horned God, yes!”

Energy poured into her, a flaming wave of it that seared its way up her spine. Magic such as she’d never known, effortless and blazing. It made the power she was used to wielding feel like a feeble trickle.

She sent that blaze shooting down to her bound wrists and up to the noose around her neck. When her new power hit the loops of rope, it burned them instantly to floating flecks of ash. Sucking down a relieved whoop of air, Morgana fell off her tiptoes, rocking back down onto her heels so suddenly she almost toppled off the stool.

As the sensation of suffocation lifted, she looked down at the priest who’d just forced her shrieking son to the floor. Rage flooded her with the blind need to kill. Her hands began to burn, casting a furious yellow light over the dark, dirty little cottage with its stink of piss and terror.

The priest stared up at her, his eyes widening at the sight of her blazing hands.

She stepped off the stool. Bennett leaped to his feet and backed away, his watery blue eyes darting beneath his balding pate, his thin lips peeled back from yellowed, crooked teeth. Morgana’s hands shot out, seized the sides of his face and jerked him close. The old man jerked against her grip, fighting like a rabid fox in a wolf trap.

“Enough!” she snapped. “Be still!” Her will blasted him, paralyzing him where he stood and locking his terrorized mind in winter ice. The need to kill lashed within her like a flaming snake. He deserved it for what he’d done to her, to Mordred.

And yet… killing left a stain on the soul. He’d taught her that. Better to leave the bastard alive — but make damned sure he never did to anyone else what he’d done to them.

But more, he needed to suffer for his crimes, share the pain and terror of his victims, feel the weight of his betrayal of his God and his flock.

Morgana’s will slashed Bennett like a steel-tipped flail, forcing him to experience the full horror of his sins. By the time she was done with him, she knew he’d never harm another innocent as long as he drew breath. 

If you would like to order the Kindle book from Amazon, go here.

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