My first self-published ebook, Paladin, Book 1 of the Graven Gods series, is in stores.
The only constant in Summer St. Clare's life is Paladin, the fictional hero who's becoming more real with every kiss.
Struggling novelist Summer St. Clare can't remember her murdered mother's face, or most of her childhood before the age of twelve. The only constant in her life is Paladin, once her imaginary childhood friend, now the handsome detective of her urban fantasy series.
There's nothing imaginary about Paladin now. Hot, seductive and dangerous, Paladin blurs the line between fantasy and reality. The passion Summer experiences in his arms makes her question what's real -- or whether she cares.
Someone else believes in Paladin, and he wants Summer dead. Her confusion mounts when she fights off five attackers with a display of dazzling martial arts skills she doesn't remember acquiring. As she searches for answers and runs for her life, her dream lover becomes more real with every kiss.
It was dark when I stepped out of the shop, purse flung over my shoulder, Calliope ghosting along at my heels like a fluffy shadow. “All things considered, it wasn’t that bad a day,” I told her as I led the way toward the Kia I’d left parked out in the middle of the lot, leaving nearer spots for the customers. Some of the older ladies find it painful to walk very far. “I got twenty pages written, and nobody cleaned out the shop while I was catatonic.”
Calliope opened her mouth to meow, then froze, her blue eyes going round in alarm. Hissing, she crouched, ears flattening as her tail bushed. I frowned down at her, which is why I didn’t immediately notice the shitstorm about to break on my hapless head.
“All right bitch, hand over the purse and maybe we won’t beat you to death.”
I jerked my head up, my heart diving for my sneakers as I realized I should’ve listened to Mary and bought a gun.
Make that an AK-47.
Five men ringed me in the darkness, eyes hard over nasty smiles, looking like the chorus line of America’s Most Wanted.
Oh fuck, oh fuckfuckfuckfuck!
Panicked, I looked around at them. Should I run? They were all tall, muscular, and fit enough to do some damage. Shit, they’ll be on me before I make it five feet.
“Valak, you bastard,” Paladin raged in the back of my skull. “I’m going to feed you your own forked dick for this.” I don’t know what the fuck my back brain thought he could do -- or why he needed to do it to another figment of my imagination.
“I… I…” I stuttered.
A hiss of feline rage sounded. Calliope planted herself in front of me, every black hair standing out, her tail bushed and back arched. My imagination served up an image of somebody’s foot sending her flying like a soccer ball. Frantic, I pounced on her, scooped her up, and spun to run. “Help! Help me! I’m being robbed!”
I might as well have saved my breath.
“Oh no, you don’t, bitch!” A hard hand clamped onto my shoulder and spun me around. I dropped the cat as my captor drew back a fist, cruelty in his cold eyes.
“Summer, listen,” Paladin said, his mental voice urgent. “You’re going to have to fight, baby. I can’t help you. The spell won’t let me take over when you’re conscious.”
“What spell? What the fuck do I do?” My frenzied mind raced back and forth like a squirrel in the headlights of an eighteen-wheeler. “I don’t know what to do!”
“Your body knows, Summer. Just let go. We’ve spent your whole life building muscle memory. It can save you if…”
“Give us what we want.” The thug’s vicious stare gleamed with nasty anticipation. “Maybe we won’t…”
I whipped around and kicked his feet out from under him, then slammed my fist into his mouth before he even hit the ground.
For a heartbeat, I stared down at the dazed and bleeding dickhead. “What the fuck just happened? Did I do that?”
“You sure did!” Paladin crowed. “That’s my girl! Told you it would work!”
“Bitch, the hell?” Dickhead snarled up at me through bloody teeth and started to roll to his feet.
Instinct drove me to stomp on his groin. He shrieked and curled around himself like a cooked shrimp.
“Cunt!” The second guy swung a fist decorated with prison tatts.
I pivoted aside, grabbed the back of Tattboy’s head, and slammed his face down into my lifted knee in the same move Paladin had used the night before. Blood flew.
I dropped him on the sidewalk. For such a big guy, he didn’t seem to weigh much.
“You don’t know your own strength. Don’t hold back. Let the bastards have it.”
Swearing, a muscular redhead charged. The world reeled as my spinning kick plowed into his gut. He gagged, doubling over. I nailed Red with an uppercut that laid him out on his back. It felt weird, as if I was watching the fight from a distance.
Three attackers lay bleeding on the ground now, barely conscious from blows I didn’t even know how to deliver. Yet my body kept right on kicking every ass that came in view.
Someone was screaming. Out of the corner of one eye, I saw a fourth man on the ground, howling, Calliope shredding his face with her claws.
“What the fuck? Cats don’t do that!”
“Calliope does!” Paladin cheered. “Get ‘em, Cal!”
The fifth guy grabbed my arm, jerking me around and swinging at my face. My left arm shot up, blocking the punch as my right plowed into his jaw, which crunched like a piñata. “Eeeeewwww!” I stared down at him as he sprawled at my feet. “Oh, Jesus, did I just kill that guy?”
“Just a fractured jaw,” Paladin assured me.
“How would you know, Dr. Fictional?”
“Okay, whore, you’re going to pay for that.” Dickhead was up again. Something metallic flashed as he dove at me.
I pivoted, grabbed his knife hand, and swung him face first into the shop wall. Dickhead hit the bricks hard enough to bounce.
Behind me, I heard the creak of a car door opening. A voice snarled, “Oh no you don’t, you little whore.”
I whirled. Out in the parking lot, a man emerged from a black SUV, a rifle in his hands. From twenty feet away he raised the weapon and took aim with the cool skill of a marksman.
My blood turned to sleet in my veins. Dead. I’m so dead!
I hope you'll take a look!