Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm teaching a Savvy Authors class on Police Techniques

I teach a lot of online classes. I don't make a hell of a lot of money doing it -- it sometimes pays my book bill for the month -- but I absolutely love helping other writers either learn their craft or learn something they didn't know about the topic they're writing on. Since Romantic Suspense is currently very big, I decided to teach an online lesson on police techniques.

If you’d like to attend the class, you’ll find more information and a registration link here. The basic cost for the month-long class is $35.

It's a topic that especially interested me since I'm currently writing a romantic suspense about a cop couple with the working title of SOUTHERN SHIELDS. Now, I'll admit I have an advantage when it comes to researching the topic, since I'm sleeping with a cop.

I have been Lt. Mike Woodcock’s wife for 30 years, and he’s been in law enforcement for 26 of them. He began his career as a uniformed patrol officer during the most violent years of the drug war, and indeed was a member of the Spartanburg Police Department's Complex Team, which patrolled the city's dangerous housing projects.

He worked his way up to sergeant over a team of detectives who dealt with murders, domestic violence, and burglaries. He went on to become a polygraph examiner who has interrogated everyone from accused pedophiles to murderers to rogue cops.

He then created Spartanburg County’s first hostage negotiation team, which handled barricaded subjects threatening to harm themselves and others. As a hostage negotiator, he dealt with subjects who were often violent, including a schizophrenic who opened fire on him and other cops.

I've also had first hand-experience with police that had nothing to do with Mike. Though I’ve been a published author for the last ten years, for ten years prior to that, I was a reporter who covered everything from murders to fires to court cases.

I’ve followed particular cases through the entire criminal justice system, from the actual commission of a murder, its investigation, and through out the court trial of the subjects all the way to sentencing. I’ve also seen people get off when I was fairly sure they were guilty.

Though I worked in Cherokee County for the most part, several times I had to watch my husband handle crimes in Spartanburg County, including two different bomb calls. I once watched him hunt 14 pipe bombs at one scene with a team of officers, and listened in horror when a bomb went off. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The two of us have given talks about hostage negotiation at the Romance Writers of America National Convention, as well as other writer’s conferences around the country. I’m happy to say these talks have been well-received.
I’ve been thinking about doing a more general talk on police techniques for several years now. Mike and I finally got the chance to present a RWA National Convention workshop called “Hearts and Handcuffs: Creating Believable Police Heroes.” It was very well received, so I decided to present a more detailed online version of the class at 
During this class, I’ll be interviewing Mike and a number of his police friends, and presenting lessons based on their comments. Here’s a rough outline of the lessons I intend to present.
2.)  Finding, Screening and training cops. How do you figure out who would make a good cop? How do you make sure they're ready to go out on the street without getting themselves, their fellow officers, civilians or suspects killed? What do you teach them during field training and  what do they learn at the Criminal Justice Academy?)
3.)  Female officers—Why do women become cops? What are some of the advantages that women bring to the job? How do they deal with people that are generally larger and stronger than they are? How do they handle hand to hand? Since women are often the chief caregivers in the family, what are the techniques they use to juggle those demands and policing? I'll also talk briefly about my experience as a cop's wife and reporter, and how I handled my fear when he was in danger.
4.) Police tactics — How television gets it wrong; characteristics of a good police firearm and the techniques of using one; using lethal force — Why do cops aim center mass rather than trying to hit the legs, etc? What’s the professional, emotional, social and legal toll on officers who have to use lethal force? Non lethal tactics and their drawbacks; Police driving tactics for auto stops and high speed chases. What are the warning signs that a driver in a traffic stop intends to attack you?
5.) Hand to hand—What warning signs do officers look for that a suspect is going to attack them?How do you handcuff a suspect who is resisting? Why do cops pile on suspects? What’s it like fighting hand to hand with someone? What special pitfalls does a male officer encounter with female suspects?
6.) Investigating crimes — What techniques do detectives use to investigate murders? Sexual assaults? Child sex crimes? Criminal domestic violence?What's the impact on the victims, and how do you question victims of violent crimes, particularly children?
7.) Interrogation — How does television get it wrong? What are the techniques you use in interrogating suspects? How do you approach family members differently than other suspects? What are some of the signs a suspect is lying? What are techniques you use to obtain a confession?
8.) Evidence handling—How do you collect evidence of a crime, particularly blood evidence, DNA, hair, fiber, and fingerprint? What sort of evidence can the tech process in the department's own lab, and what type must be sent out? How do techs handle photographing autopsies? How do the tech handle the chain of custody? How does he or she handle court testimony?
9.) Uniformed patrol—What are the particular challenges faced by uniformed cops? What kind of dangers do uniforms face that other cops don’t? How do senior officers help rookies adjust to the job? How do they deal with adrenaline? What’s their shift schedule?
10.) Arson investigation — What are the signs that a fire is an arson? What are the particular challenges of handling an arson case?
11.) Narcotics—What’s the current drug that is causing the most problem on the street? What role do gangs play in towns like Spartanburg, SC, which is a blend of rural and suburban territories? How do you handle drug stings? Who becomes a confidential reliable informant? Why do you use them? What do they do? How do you ensure their safety? How do you make sure they’re not ripping off the department? Do cops in your department go undercover? If so, how do they deal with the problem of posing as drug users without actually using drugs?
12.) Forensic chemistry — Testing the different type of drugs. How do you tell marijuana from oregano or some harmless substance? High-tech mass spectrometers used in drug testing, and how they work. How meth is manufactured, and how do you dispose of a meth lab safely.
13.) Bomb techs — Why would a relatively small southern city like Spartanburg SC need bomb techs? What do bomb techs do? How do bomb techs deal with explosives while keeping safe? How do you disarm an explosive? The different types of explosives bomb techs must dispose of. Wearing a bomb suit. Using robots to deal with explosives. What reasons would people in Spartanburg, SC use bombs, and how common is it?
I’ll also take questions from the class and get them answered either by Mike or one of the other officers. It should be a really great opportunity for anyone who is writing romantic suspense.
There will be a special forum for the class where I will post lessons three times a week on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.There will be twelve lessons, plus any additional ones I decide to include. You can also ask questions at any time, and I’ll get them answered for you.
Savvy Authors' workshops are held on a forum: a bulletin board based system. Instead of an invitation to join a loop you will receive a reminder notice one or two days prior to the start of the workshop that includes instructions on how to access the workshop forum and register to receive your user id and password. If you have not received instructions by the day the workshop begins, please check your spam filter.

The forum will be available the morning (EST) of the day the workshop starts and will remain accessible to all participants thereafter, until 1 month after the workshop ends. With instructor approval you will be provided with a PDF of all the class lectures and assignments after the class is completed.  You will also be given simple instructions on how to create a  PDF of all your discussions along with our privacy and data retention policy.

I hope you’ll be able to join us. Thanks!

Angela Knight

Friday, August 29, 2014

Here's another excerpt from LOVE BITES. This one is from the story "The Bloodslave," in which Verica, a 25-year-old virgin, gets captured by three horny vampire mercenaries.

"Shit," Verica growled, cursing her weapon in the Terran of her childhood as her stomach sank like a stone. It was over. She was finished.

"Rifle gone dead?" a human voice asked in the same language. "Tough luck."

With a gasp, Verica jerked around to face the man who'd taken her so thoroughly by surprise. He must have come up the other side of the cliff, she thought wildly, looking up at the first human she'd seen in seven years.

Big. Much bigger than her father. And handsome, like the actors on Jonas' collection of simmies – dark, amused eyes set in a sculpted, angular face with a full, sensuous mouth and short-cropped black hair. Too bad he wore the enemy's colors on his black unisuit. And it was a safe bet the rifle he held so casually was fully charged.

"Don't you think it's time you surrendered?" he asked, his tone polite and interested.

Verica threw herself forward into a roll that carried her away from the edge of the cliff and gave her room to bounce to her feet. As soon as she got her legs under her, she swung the dead rifle like a club, right at her enemy's dark head. "The T'tcha Ker do not surrender!"

The weapon slapped into a casually lifted palm. His jerk ripped it from her hands so hard her arm muscles screeched in protest. Moving deliberately as she gaped at his strength, the human swung his own rifle by its strap across his back, out of the way. "You're not T'tcha Ker, girl. Or hadn't you noticed?" He tossed her beamer over the cliff edge.

She leaped forward into a hand-to-hand attack, throwing punches and kicks with every ounce of her strength. He blocked each blow with insulting ease, his big hands blurring to knock her fists and feet away.

"You know, she's pretty good," another male voice said.

"If he were mortal, he'd probably have his hands full," another agreed.

Jesus, there were more of them. Verica darted a look in toward the source of the voices. Two men watched her hopeless struggle, both almost as big and handsome as her opponent, one blond, the other with the darkest skin she'd ever seen in her life. The dark one crouched casually on top of an enormous boulder higher than his head, while his companion leaned against it.

With a defiant snarl, she snapped to face her foe and swung her booted foot in a high, hard kick at his head. He caught her ankle. Shocked at his speed, she just stood there for an instant, balanced on one foot as he gripped the other. Then another pair of powerful hands clamped around her shoulders. It dawned on her she was well and truly caught.

"I'm Captain Julian Bender," her enemy said. "And I really think it's time you gave up, don't you?"

But Verica had been taught to fight as long as she was conscious, so she drove a head butt back at the man who held her arms, simultaneously ramming her free foot toward Bender's groin.

Her head smacked back into a big hand just as Bender caught her by the ankle.

"Thanks, André," the blond man who held her arms told the third one, who wrapped his dark fist in her hair. "She might actually have caught me with that head butt."

Bender, both her ankles in his hands, pushed them apart and up, then stepped between. Verica squirmed and cursed, but the three men held her effortlessly.

Slowly, the mercenary captain moved closer, lifting and spreading her thighs until her shoulders were forced into the solid, muscular body of the man behind her, her head held in an arch over his shoulder.

"You know," the blond said in her ear, "this is starting to give me a hard-on."

"Everything gives you a hard-on, Dominic," André told him.

Bender moved his grip to the bend of her knees and stepped fully against her crotch. Looking between her trapped legs, she saw something cylindrical bulking under his unisuit, stretching in a long thick ridge the length of his belly. The feeling of that alien rod pressing against her cunt sent a trickle of heat through her.

So that's what a cock feels like…

Bender's eyes widened. "What do you mean, 'That's what a cock feels like?'"

"Good God," André said, astonished. "She's a virgin!"

Verica felt her face heat at the horrifying realization they had somehow read her thoughts. But the only humans who could do that were...

Dominic purred out a laugh in her ear. "That's right, darling. We're vampires. Very, very hungry vampires who've been living off synthblood since we were hired to fight this wretched war. And you, my love, are an answer to some very dark prayers."

"And maybe we can answer some of yours." André cupped her breast through her unisuit. His thumb brushed one nipple, which instantly hardened, sending juicy curls of heat up her spine. Watching her face with calculating eyes, he caught the little bump and began to roll it. She caught her breath in astonishment at the pure, liquid pleasure he conjured with such a simple gesture.

Opening her mouth to protest, Verica discovered she couldn't bear to say anything to stop that delicious sensation.

"Not so fast," Julian snapped at André. "How old are you, girl?" Reading the answer out of her thoughts, he looked relieved, then puzzled. "How the hell does a twenty-five year-old woman stay a virgin?"

"Shit," said André, on a tone of revelation, his hand going still on her breast. "She's been living with these fucking aliens since she was thirteen!"

Stung, Verica snarled, "Would you do me the courtesy of letting me answer your questions instead of just reading my mind?"

"Did it ever occur to you that a captive who's a hungry vampire's wet dream should keep a civil tongue?" Dominic growled back, tightening his grip on her arms in warning.

She started to tell him what he could do with his hunger, but before she could open her mouth, a waterfall of alien clicking filled the air. Her translator brain implant turned the voice into words: "I see you've captured the sniper. Good work, captain."

Turning her head, Verica saw one of the Jeranth holding a beam weapon in two of its six limbs as it clawed its way up the cliff, accompanied by a shower of rocks. "You're worth every cred the High Command paid you," it told the captain.

"Thank you," Julian said in English. Evidently the Jeranth had a translator of its own. "Luckily the charge ran out on her rifle just as we came up."

"Lucky indeed. But why haven't you killed it?" the Jeranth demanded.

Julian's hands tightened on her knees. "She's one of our species. We're taking her captive."

"Squeamish, eh? Would you like me to kill it for you?" The Jeranth scrambled over and put the muzzle of his weapon against her head. Verica's heart skipped.

With a growl, André grabbed the barrel and shoved it away from her skull.

"No!" Speaking rapidly, Julian said, "We have a use for her. She's valuable to us."

The Jeranth jerked and moved all its limbs in agitation. "It has killed a dozen of my soldiers! I want it dead!"

Julian lifted an arrogant brow. "Oh, she'll be punished, sir, far more thoroughly than any quick death."

"Yesss," Dominic whispered, his neat blond beard brushing her ear. "We'll punish her for hours and hours. In every single virgin orifice."

Verica's reckless temper snapped. "Shoot me, alien," she spat, glaring at Bender. "I'd rather die like a soldier than be tortured by the likes of these bastards!" She tried to kick at the vampire, but he controlled her effortlessly.

"Idiot!" Julian growled, tightening his grip on her thighs until she winced.

"It seems to find a beam in the head preferable to your company." The Jeranth produced a hissing sound the translator rendered as a laugh. "Keep it, then, if it dreads you so. In the meantime, Captain, my general wants to see you."

To Pre order Love bites, click the link.
Here's another scene from my WIP, Southern Shields.

Alex looked up to find a patrol car in her rear-view mirror. She blinked as it pulled around to pace her on the narrow street. Frank gestured, and she lowered her passenger window. His face was expressionless, and he gave her cold cop's eyes. The kind of stare you'd give somebody caught doing a hundred in a school zone. But I wasn't speeding, she thought in pure knee-jerk reaction, and immediately realized he wasn't really pulling her over.

Not to give her a ticket anyway.

Which was why he hadn't used his blue lights and siren. That would have automatically activated the car's dash cam. Alex had the feeling neither of them wanted this little encounter recorded for posterity.

"Pull over." He stabbed a finger toward a set of tire tracks that led off into the woods between one house and an empty lot. She blinked, hoped her beater of a car was up to it, and drove off the street and onto the tracks.

A set of tall, ferny plants grew in a cluster across the trail, but she drove through them, trusting that Frank knew what the fuck he was doing. The plants bent in front of her hood, then sprang up again after she was past, only to bend again for the patrol car.

They'd provide a dandy screen to hide them from any curious neighbors who might otherwise wonder what a cop car was doing pulling somebody over in the middle of the damned woods.

Alex's mouth went dry. She had a feeling she was in for a rousing game of Bad Cop.

She'd had fantasies like this when she was younger. Not so much anymore—she knew too many cops, knew how relentlessly religious and conservative most of the local guys were. But she wasn't exactly averse to acting out those fantasies now. Especially with Frank in the starring role.

Alex bumped along the rutted track as it curved through the trees until Frank flashed his headlights at her. She braked and looked around. They were well into the empty wooded lot here, with trees and brush screening their cars from the road. It was the kind of place no smart woman would ever have allowed herself to be pulled over by anyone, even a cop. "Why, officer," Alex purred aloud in her best Scarlett O'Hara drawl, "whatever do you have in mind?"

She rolled down her driver's side window as he swaggered up to the car. Big, brawny, and black-clad—her fantasy Bad Cop come to glorious life.

Her panties were already soaked, and he hadn't even started yet.

Frank wore a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses and a scowl. Jesus, he looked menacing. "Get out of the car, please."

She put on her best Don't give me a ticket, I'll do anything, expression. "But sir, I wasn't speeding."

"I didn't say you were," he told her coldly. "Get out of the car."

She'd always loved role-playing, so she gave him big, worried eyes as she obeyed, closing the car door as softly as she could. That thump might carry otherwise. "I don't understand. I haven't done anything!"

"Quit trying to play me, lady. There's a warrant out for your arrest." He stepped right up against her, pinning her between the car and his massive frame. His voice dropped down into a low rumble she felt against her breast. Her nipples tingled, drew hard and eager. Dragging her over to the trunk of her car, he whirled her around as though to start searching her. "Says you're armed and dangerous." Pulling her little .38 from the pancake holster on her belt, he showed it to her with a threatening flourish. "And look here —you are."

She swallowed. Had he been anybody else, she might have broken out into the giggles right about then. But it was Frank. Frank who towered over her when damned near no other man did. Frank, who'd pinned her down and fucked her into a screaming orgasm just last night.

It was as if this silly fantasy scenario played out the same kind of inner truth. As if her body now recognized Frank as Dominant, maybe because he'd bested her the night before. Her instincts demanded she yield to him, as if he'd imprinted himself on the cellular level.

"I can explain," she said in a hoarse, ragged voice,

He gave a short, nasty laugh. "I'm sure you can." His voice hardened. "Hands on the trunk, feet apart."

Here's another teaser from my Work in Progress, SOUTHERN SHIELDS. Alexis and Frank are getting ready to do their first BDSM scene together.

Her lovely green eyes gazed up into his, a little dazed over those parted lips, so like silk against his. Her nipples looked hard as cherry stones beneath the snug bodice of her dress.

At least she wanted him almost as much as he wanted her. He reached up, unable to resist touching one of those blazing curls. It felt like cool, raw silk under his fingers. He caught a whiff of pomegranate shampoo. “Tell me, Alex—what do you want in a Dominant? What drew you to the scene?”

She swallowed and licked her lips, still looking a bit dazed. He almost bent down to take her mouth again. “I…” She shook her head, as if trying to bring her brain back on line. “I like testing myself. Being tied up, helpless, while a Dom does whatever the hell he wants. The risk, the heat…It’s sexy. Seeing how much I can take when he tests me, tries to drive me past my limits with pain or need.”

He traced a forefinger across her lips, was gratified when her little pink tongue darted out to taste him. “And the Dom?”

She lifted her gaze, met his eyes steadily. “If my Dom wants me on my knees, I want him strong enough to put me there.”

He gave her a slow smile. Resisted the urge to flex. “I think I can manage.”

She smiled back in a wicked curve of scarlet lips. “Oh, I don’t doubt it.” The smile faded into seriousness. “If you’re looking for a 24/7 sub, somebody to call you master and kiss your boots, I’m not your girl.” Her gaze flicked down his legs. “Though they are really nice boots.”

“So you’re a brat?” He wasn’t sure he liked the sound of that. He didn’t have the patience to deal with a lot of contrived drama.

“Hardly. I’m an adult. I don’t need somebody to spank me for being a bad girl. I’ve already got one daddy—two, if you count Ted. I don’t need another one.” She traced a finger over his pectoral in a delicate whisper of sensation. His cock bucked at the teasing contact.

“Then what do you need?” His voice sounded a trifle hoarse.

She hesitated as if thinking. Her brilliant green eyes widened, and she smiled wickedly, as if delighted with herself.

Alex wasted no time acting on whatever idea she’d just had. She rose in an abrupt lithe surge, despite the heels and snug skirt. Before Frank could even be impressed with her sense of balance, she started skimming the dress off over her head, revealing a lushly curved body clad in nothing but a garter belt and stockings. As he stared in stunned hunger, she balanced on first one leg, then the other to slip off the fuck-me heels. "I want you to prove you can master me. That way we’ll both know. Two out of three falls."

It wasn’t that unusual for a sub to undress at a BDSM party; half the women here weren’t wearing a stich. But Frank hadn’t expected Alex to strip during the negotiations, for God’s sake.

He watched as she started rolling the stockings down those endless legs. However he'd thought their first scene would go, this wasn't it. "Two out of three falls? Are you suggesting some kind of fight?" He didn’t fight women. Not if he could help it, anyway; sometimes the women had other ideas.

"More like a practice bout. No punches, kicks or choke holds —you'd kill me." Alex sounded utterly matter-of-fact about the whole thing. "Just joint locks and throws. And pins. Loser taps out of the hold." She looked up from rolling the other stocking down her calf. She'd bent almost double to do it, making him imagine all the possibilities inherent in a sub that flexible. "Unless you don't want to do it." Her lovely breasts swayed as she tucked the balled stockings into the toe of one shoe. Straightening, she considered him, the movement of her breasts downright hypnotic. Lean muscle flexed in her long legs as she braced her narrow feet apart. The girl definitely wasn’t one of those animated coat hangers like some fashionable starlets. Which suited him just fine; he liked a partner with curves. "Do you want to do it?"

His cock lengthened, on the verge of escaping his waistband. Frank ignored the demanding wave of hunger, intent on making sure he understood exactly what she intended. "So you’re not talking about me actually hitting you? Because there’s a big difference between flogging somebody with a deerskin cat and hitting her with my fist.”

She snorted. “I have no interest in trading punches with you, Frank. You’re too far out of my weight-class.”

“Yeah, I am.” He cocked his head. “What do I get if I win?” When he won was more like it; he had to outweigh her by more than a hundred pounds of pure muscle. That was aside from the whole Navy SEAL human weapon thing.

She didn’t have a prayer.

Alex grinned at him as if reading his mind and propped a hand on her hip, calling attention to those lush female curves. “What do you want?”

“You.” He showed his teeth and let the hunger leap in his hot gaze.

She smiled. “If you win, you get me.” When his head tilted in question, she clarified. “Sex. With a condom. However you want it.”

His smile broadened, and he started pulling off his boots. “I’ll win.”

“Maybe. I don’t intend to make it easy.”

He grinned up at her. “Good.” After dropping his socks into his boots, he rose, barefoot. And looked down at her from his seven inch advantage in height. Her eyes drifted down his bare torso to the fly of his jeans, which bulged from the pressure of his erection. “Naughty bits are off-limits,” he added quickly, imagining all the ways she could bring him down by targeting that hard-on.

“Well, not completely, I hope.” She looked around before he could come up with a suitably suggestive response. “Let’s put the mats out.” She bent and grabbed one of them, started pulling it into position in the center of the room. The sight of her round, perfect ass as she bent made his mouth go dry. Dragging his attention back to business with an effort, he caught the other and wrestled the bulky thing around beside the first one.

Frank straightened as she stepped onto the mat, falling into an easy crouch that, unsurprisingly, did interesting things to her breasts. He moved to face her, his attention on those pale, tempting globes. Her nipples looked as pink and tempting as candy. “What’s your Safeword?” The code words designed to let a dom know when something had gone wrong, whether physically or mentally.

“Red for stop, yellow for slow down. Green for keep going.” The stoplight system was commonly used because it was so easy to remember. “Stop,” ironically, was the one word that was never used, mostly because some subs liked to scream it when what they really meant was “Keep going!”

He watched her as she started to circle him, crouching like a knife-fighter. Frank felt a hot smile spread across his face. This was going to be easy—and deliciously arousing. He’d heard of a lot of inventive ways to scene, but this was a variant he’d never tried.

Eying her full, tempting curves, he lunged toward her, meaning to grab her and pin her to the mat. It wouldn’t take much effort.

She sidestepped, smooth as oiled silk, and snaked behind him. Before he could whip around, she seized both his wrists, planted one foot in the center of his chest, and fell backward, simultaneously swinging her long, bare legs up and across his chest on either side of his captured arm. They landed on their backs with her torso at a forty-five-degree angle to his, his captured arm trapped between her strong thighs. She had both hands wrapped around his wrist, extending it upward toward her chin, pulling hard and levering it across the fulcrum of her hips. If she chose, she could easily break his arm at the elbow, crippling him permanently.

And it hurt like a son of a bitch.

He tried to roll toward her, but she had his chest thoroughly pinned in the grip of her thighs. There was no way to reach her with his own legs in this position, no way to fight her hold, despite his far greater physical strength. It was a classic Juji Gatame, a type of judo throw and joint lock, expertly applied.

“What dan black belt are you?” he asked, despite the painful pressure she was exerting on his elbow.

“Don’t have a black belt,” Alex told him cheerfully. “I’ve just been studying Krav Maga with Ted for the past five years.”

That made sense. The deadly fighting style had been designed by Israeli commandoes from a hodgepodge of martial arts. Unlike Judo, Karate and similar fighting systems, it wasn't intended for sports competitions, but for use in deadly earnest against terrorists and others who’d kill you if given the chance. If you studied Krav Maga, you weren't fucking around.

Alex cranked back on his wrist, nearly tearing a yell from his throat at the vicious pain. "Tap out."

Not being a complete idiot, he did, patting the mat with his free hand despite protests from his male ego that were damned near as loud as his elbow’s. She released him, and he rolled to his feet. Alex did the same, facing him calmly despite the temper that probably snapped in his eyes. She met his gaze, unflinching, her own cool and watchful.

That was when he realized this was a test. "Smart," he told her, straightening his shoulders. "Better to find out whether I'm a hot-tempered, abusive asshole when there’s twenty people ready to come running if you scream."

She shrugged. "Well, you are pretty damned big, and a SEAL to boot, judging by the Trident you've got tattooed on your right arm. With my training, I can handle any guy my size or even a little bigger, but in any straight-up fight, you'd take me apart."

That stung. "I don't hurt women." Honesty forced him to add, "Unless they want me to."

"Abuse and BDSM are completely different. An abuser doesn't ask his victim's permission, and he doesn't particularly give a fuck about how much damage he does." She studied him. "Still want to play, or are you too pissed off?"

He lifted a brow. "So this wasn't just a test?"

"Not just, no." She spread her hands. "My last master was a bit of prick."

"He the one that demanded you kiss his boots?"

"Among other body parts. I'm afraid I'm not real good at being anybody's yellow-silk slave girl."

Which was a reference to the Gorean BDSM lifestyle inspired by the novels of John Norman, in which women were supposed to be not just submissive, but downright servile. It was a kink that had never particularly appealed to Frank, though he didn't believe in throwing stones at anyone who did enjoy it.

Deliberately, he unzipped his jeans and stripped them off, freeing his cock to bob at her in blatant testament to his lust. Stark naked, he gave her a slow, hot grin and gestured for her to come at him. "Let's find out what you are good at."

This isn't from LOVE BITES -- this is a taste of my Work In Progress for Berkley Sensation. I'm calling it SOUTHERN SHIELDS, but I'm going to have to change the name. Berkley doesn't like that title. sigh. In this scene, Alexis Rogers meets Frank Murphy for the first time, and realizes he's the dom of her dreams.
Good God, he’s huge, Alex thought, staring up at Frank Murphy as Cap introduced them with a flourish. She wasn’t used to being towered over, especially not in heels that had her scraping 6’1”. If he got drunk and disorderly on me on the street, I’d have to shoot him. Otherwise he’d kick my ass.

Of course, if she did shoot him, the rest of the female population would rise up en masse and lynch her. If anything, the man was even more mouth-watering up close than he’d appeared from across the room. His chest alone seemed to take up her entire field of vision. And she definitely approved of the view.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you at last, Alex,” Frank said, engulfing her hand in a big, callused palm.

“I can definitely say the same.” His eyes were deep and blue-gray, staring into hers in the kind of hypnotic Dom stare that made her want to give him anything he wanted. Especially if what he wanted was her. She suspected her smile looked besotted. Her nipples drew into tight points. His eyes flicked down to the tight silk bodice of her dress, then flicked up again, darkening hungrily. She swallowed. “Impressive flogging demo.”

“You do seem to know your way around a whip,” Ted observed grudgingly.

“Thanks. I sacrificed many pillows to the bondage gods for that knowledge.” Dominants were often told to practice their whip skills on pillows and stuffed animals. He grinned in a flash of breathtaking male charm. “Damned near lost an eye once, too. You can bet I never forgot those safety glasses again.”

“Got any references?”

“Yes, and I already checked them,” Alex told Ted, losing patience. He was deliberately trying to yank Frank’s chain.

Cap moved up behind her friend and clapped a hand on the shorter man’s beefy shoulder. “Come on, Ted, I’ll get you a beer.”

“I don’t drink when I’m sceneing,” the cop replied shortly, his gaze still locked on Frank’s in challenge.

“Then I’ll get you a Coke.” The ex-SEAL dragged him away. Cal rolled his eyes, gave Alex a wink, and followed them.

One thick, dark brow lifted, Frank watched them head for the refreshment table set up beyond the bondage gear. “Protective, isn’t he?”

Alex sent a smile after her friends. “Can’t seem to break him of the habit.”

A woman yowled. A male voice barked a command, deep and rough, the sound ringing over Jim Morrison’s throaty croon demanding that someone light his fire.

Alex had to raise her voice to be heard over the snap and whish of a flogger and the yelps of its target. “Want to step into the other room? We can’t exactly talk in here.”

“That depends. Will Ted feel driven to defend your honor?” Frank grinned, but there was no malice in his gaze as he looked toward the corner where, judging by his expression, the SEAL was attempting to reassure the blond Dominant.

She slid an arm through his, enjoying the warm play of his bare biceps under her hand. “I’ll protect you.”

“Well, if you promise….”

Alex laughed. “Pinky swear.”

“Got a deal. Want something to drink? I’m dry from that flogging.”

“Sure.” She followed him over to a cooler and took one of the canned soft drinks he handed her. Neither of them reached for a beer. Ted was right; only an idiot scened when he was drinking. BDSM was dangerous enough when you were playing stone sober. Besides, the whole point of kinky games was the pursuit of a different kind of high.

Rising to her tiptoes, she said into his ear, “Want to head somewhere quieter?”

Frank nodded. “It’s for damn sure we can’t negotiate if we can’t even hear ourselves think.”

The Millers’ basement was huge, running the whole length of the house. They wound their way through the dungeon with its bondage gear and party furnishings and across a short hall to the home gym.

Frank flipped on the light, revealing a treadmill, a wall-hung flat screen, and a set of free weights. A couple of thick padded mats probably did duty during yoga or self-defense practice. Or, knowing the Millers, sex.

Best of all, the room had a door. Alex didn’t hesitate to close it, cutting the noise. Frank was right; there was little point in negotiations if neither of them could hear what they were agreeing to. And once you were bound hand and foot and a big guy was standing over you with a whip, it was a bad time to discover you didn’t have the same thing in mind.

The skirt of her LBD was just loose enough to let her lower herself down on the stacked mats. Frank sat next to her, stretching his long legs out and crossing his booted feet at the ankles.

“I really was impressed with the way you helped Tara find subspace.” She popped the top on the Coke and took a sip. After she swallowed, she added, “Wasn’t surprised, though. Both those subs had a lot of good things to say about you.” She might be an adrenalin junky, but Alex wasn’t stupid; she’d called his references. It wasn’t a good idea to play with someone you hadn’t checked out, since BDSM did attract its share of assholes. God knew she’d found that out the hard way. “They said you play responsibly, push just far enough without going too far, and have a chivalrous streak that’s surprisingly wide for a guy who likes using a whip. And judging by the way Cap sings your praises, you may be his favorite person on the planet—except for Mrs. Cap, of course.”

“Cap’s a hell of a guy. He taught me the ropes when I was just starting out on the scene.” Frank eyed her over his Mountain Dew. “He thinks a lot of you, too.”

“Really? Cool.” She leaned back on her elbows, and didn’t miss the way his gaze skimmed the length of her legs. “What’d you think of my limits list?” The question didn’t sound quite as casual as she would have liked, though she hoped her tension didn’t show.

He grinned, flashing white teeth. “I’m shocked—shocked, I say—by your kinkitude.”

She grinned back. “Smartass.”

Some Doms might have been offended by the cheerful insult, but judging by his chuckle, Frank obviously didn’t take himself that seriously.

She liked that about him. A lot.

Sobering, he brushed the back of her hand with his thumb. “Our tastes do seem to align pretty well.”

She’d thought the same thing when she’d read his list of hard limits—things he absolutely wouldn’t do—soft limits—things he’d consider doing—and fantasies. It had read a lot like the one she’d written about her own tastes.

On the other hand, she’d thought she was a good match with Gary, too.

He studied her thoughtfully, as if sensing the battle between her doubts and her desire. “Why don’t we see how this evening goes?”

Alex blew out a breath. “That might be wise.”

He started to lean toward her, only to stop. “May I kiss you?” A polite Dominant never touched a sub without permission.

Her heart began to pound. “Yes.” She swallowed, cleared her throat. “I’d like that.”

Hot approval flared in his eyes, and he lowered his head toward hers.

His lips felt just as soft as they looked, tasting of Mountain Dew and masculinity. One big hand came up to cup her cheek, his fingers long and strong and warm. His broad body curled around hers, making her feel sheltered, protected. It wasn’t a sensation she was used to. She was surprised at how seductive it was.

She reached for him, feeling the hot flesh of his ribs under her palm.

And sighed, melting into him.
Here's a scene from "Be Careful What you Wish For" in LOVE BITES.

When Jim Decker walked into Bottoms Up that night, you could almost taste the testosterone. Or vamposterone. Or whatever.

Decker worked his way through the Saturday night crowd toward our table, attracted either by me or the opportunity to yank Beau Gabriel’s chain. The two had hated one another since Deck’s vampire slayer days; the fact that I’d since made him one of us hadn’t blunted the hostility. In fact, it had probably made it worse, because now they competed over me.

Beau had made me a vampire two memorable years ago. He’d read Shadowmaster, one of the string of vamp horror novels I’d written as Amanda Carlton, and decided I needed a bit more ... research. I hadn’t minded a bit. He’d seemed the cowboy embodiment of all my demon lover fantasies, like a cross between Dracula and a young Clint Eastwood, and I’d fallen for him hard.

I also found myself sharing his enemies, particularly Jim Decker, who in those days had been on a mission to avenge the sister he thought Beau had seduced and misused. Knowing Beau’s effect on women, it probably hadn’t taken much seduction, and no misuse had been involved. But big brothers need their illusions.

One night I’d been caught in the crossfire of one of their battles, and Decker ended up capturing me. To save myself from a staking, I’d tempted him into sex. Making him my blood lover had taught him we weren’t the undead murderers he’d believed, but in the process, I’d become a lot more emotionally involved with him than Beau liked.

But really, it was inevitable that I’d be attracted to Decker. He had far more going for him than AB negative, no matter what Beau thought. I enjoyed his intelligence and sense of honor and deep love of everything female, not to mention the fierce sensuality that made him such a glorious lover.

Besides, I’ve always had a thing for big men, and like Beau, Decker qualified. Six-foot-four and powerfully muscled, he had broad bull shoulders, narrow hips and the rippling musculature of a professional athlete. Even better, his was one of those sensual, hawkish faces that make women think of rough, fast, really good sex. Yet his lips looked like God had designed them for slow kisses in the moonlight.

Now, watching him saunter toward us on those long legs, I swallowed, remembering what it felt like to fist both hands in the black silk of his hair while he used that mouth to drive me mad.

As long as Deck had been merely human, Beau could tolerate the relationship by pretending the other man was nothing more to me than a blood supply. But when I’d decided to make him a vampire, Beau had been furious. So furious, I’d had no choice except to cool off the relationship with Deck or risk losing my demon lover.

As Decker stopped beside our table, his hot blue eyes swept over me in a hungry stare that spoke of longing and frustration. Today he wore a pair of beige slacks and a cream oxford cloth shirt, tie loosely knotted, with a dark brown trench coat that reminded me of a film noir detective. “Amanda,” he purred. His gaze flicked to Beau and cooled. “Gabriel.”

Of the two men, Decker looked more like a vampire with those dark, European good looks, while Beau was blond and all-American, with broad, high cheekbones, a narrow nose, and a flashing grin. One look at that face, and you pictured him taking his best girl to a square dance. Which wasn’t that far off, except that afterward he’d bend her over the trunk of his T-Bird and fuck her to a screaming orgasm, burying his fangs in her throat just as she came.

God knew he’d done it to me often enough.

“Deck,” Beau drawled, a chilly smile stretching over that Sundance Kid face. With one forefinger, he pushed up the brim of his black Stetson. “Screw any werewolves lately?”

Ignoring that sally, Decker lifted a brow at him, pointedly scanning his black Levis and western shirt. “The Urban Cowboy thing went out thirty years ago. Or hadn’t you noticed?”

“Hell, after the first century or so, all the decades blur together.” Beau crossed his cowboy booted ankles and laced his big hands on his flat, muscled belly. “Anyway, urban I ain’t.”

Ah, no. Beau had actually been a cowboy, back 120 years ago. At least until he met a certain vampire dance hall girl who decided he looked tasty.

Decker opened his mouth, but before he could get down to some serious slander, a female voice interrupted.

“Oh, Jim! Thank God!” A pretty brunette shot through the bar’s front door and across the length of the room to fling herself into Decker’s arms. He caught her, and I felt a wave of jealousy at his utter lack of reluctance to find his hands full of over-enthusiastic bimbo.

Then I made out what she was babbling and felt a little more sympathetic.

“God, Decker, don’t let him do it to me again!” she gasped, her voice soggy with threatening tears as she clung to his big body like Spanish moss draping an oak. “I couldn’t stand going through that again – and not being able to break the spell...! Oh, please! You’ve got to help me!”

He stroked a hand through her hair as she quivered. “Calm down, Lynn. What’s going on?”

“It’s Jeffrey!” Lynn wailed. “He said if I don’t go to his house and agree to – he said he’s going to turn me back into a werewolf. Permanently!”

Well, that stopped conversation for a radius of about thirty feet. In the ensuing dead silence, I eyed the sobbing girl’s back. “Maybe we should go somewhere else and discuss this.”

“Oh, yeah, let’s,” murmured Beau. “My curiosity is killing me.”

So we all trooped out of the bar and around the corner out into the parking lot. The other customers stared at us avidly as we left. Beau wasn’t the only one dying to know what was going on.

I already knew part of the story. Right after Decker had become a vampire, he’d picked Lynn up in a bar, planning to fuck her brains out and sip a pint or so she’d never miss. But she had an even bigger surprise in store for him; as the full moon rose, she’d turned into a werewolf and pounced on him.

Deck, naturally enough, thought she was trying to kill him, and the result was a nasty little brawl. Eventually she managed to communicate that all she wanted was some of his bodily fluids; she’d been cursed by a wizard, and the only way to break the spell was find a man to make love to her while she was in werewolf form. He’d happily cooperated, and Lynn no longer had to dread moon rise.

Only now it seemed the wizard in question wasn’t happy. And that could be a problem, because Jeffrey Copperstone wasn’t the kind of man a wise woman wanted to piss off. He’d cursed Lynn in the first place because she wouldn’t put out after he’d met her through a computer dating service. Now he was evidently at it again.

Some guys just don’t know how to take no for an answer.

Out in the parking lot, we listened as she blurted out the new twist on her tale. Copperstone had been furious when he’d discovered Decker had broken the spell, but she’d made herself so scarce he’d been unable to retaliate. She’d even quit her job and moved to another city. But he’d eventually tracked her down anyway and started harassing and stalking her again. Yesterday he’d given her an ultimatum; return to Atlanta and present herself at his house the next evening prepared to give him what he wanted, or become permanently fuzzy. Fearing what the psychotic bastard would do to her one way or another, Lynn had wisely decided to hit all Decker’s favorite haunts in hopes he could save her again.

While she quavered her way through her story, I kept an eye on Decker’s face. He’d always had a chivalric streak, and I wasn’t surprised to see that Copperstone’s behavior royally pissed him off. His blue eyes began to spark and burn with vampire fire, and his fangs lengthened, all signs of one of us on a tear.

“Go on home, Lynn,” he told her, as she burst into tears at the end of her story. “I’ll take care of it.”

“But he’s a really powerful wizard, Jim! What if he does something to you?” She sniffed. I dragged a tissue out of my purse and handed it to her. She took it with watery thanks and blew her nose. “Maybe ... Maybe I should just give him what he wants. Maybe he’ll be satisfied if I just....”

“Guys like that are never satisfied,” I told her. “If he’s this abusive now, what’s he going to be like later?”

“Do what Decker says, Lynn,” Beau said. “We’ll take care of him.”

At first I was a little surprised that he’d offer to help Decker out with anything, but on second thought, I should have expected it. Fangs notwithstanding, Beau had a very old-fashioned sense of the proper treatment of women, so it was only natural that he wanted to give Copperstone a badly needed lesson in manners.

Decker, oddly enough, didn’t protest. He just gave us a grin that glittered in the moonlight. “Looks like we’re off to see the wizard.”

Beau’s return grin looked more like a wolf’s bared fangs. “To rip out his fucking throat.”

If you'd like to buy LOVE BITES for Kindle, you'll find it here. There's also a paperback version.

Another taste of "Oath of Service" in Love Bites. Look for it on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Here's the Amazon Kindle link...

The Table Chamber’s massive carved oak door swung silently wide. Percival, Marrok and Cador stalked out, still in their bloodied armor. None of them said a word as they strode past. Morgana had never been so thoroughly ignored. “Percival!”

He kept walking, refusing to even give her a glance. Only Marrok looked back at her. His expression was so cold, the sick knots in her stomach tightened even more. If even ‘Rok was that pissed, she was in serious trouble. Because of his issues with anger management, the knight usually cultivated a deliberately sunny attitude, or at least the pretense of one.

Arthur’s deep voice rumbled from inside the chamber. “Step in, Morgana. And close the door.” Judging by that icy tone, he was in one of his Pendragon rages.

Merlin’s balls, this is going to be nasty. Swallowing, she obeyed.

Entering the great circular chamber, she found Arthur sitting in his seat at the Round Table, the muscles of his jaw working, his black eyes cold and narrow with rage. She took her usual seat at the massive gleaming circular table with its chairs carved with images of knights and ladies. She straightened her shoulders and refused to cower.

He stared at her through an uncomfortable, weighted silence. Arthur wasn’t a tall man, but he had a thickly muscled build that made him look lethally intimidating. Black hair fell to his shoulders, and a short, dark beard framed his wide mouth. “What the fuck did you think you were doing?”

“I hate to mention this, but we’re equals now, Arthur. As Liege of the Majae, I don’t answer to you.” She was responsible for assigning witches to teams, just as the former king directed which vampires worked with whom on what. Both of them had recently been reelected by their respective constituencies yet again; she’d lost count of the number of times it had been now.

“You answer to me if you almost get three of my men killed,” Arthur growled. “To say nothing of the two girls you almost got eaten."

She lifted a brow. "You've never had a mission go off the rails, Arthur?"

He snorted. "You know better than that. Everybody's had missions go off the rails. Which is why you analyze where you fucked up and determine how to avoid it the next time. In this case, I strongly suspect it has something to do with Percival's calling you on your sexual arousal in that fucking bar."

Mortified heat flooded her face. "That had nothing to do with it."

"Bullshit.” He sat forward in his chair, hunching his massive shoulders. “You got your arse on your shoulders, decided you had a point to prove, and stranded your team in that alley. They lost fifteen crucial minutes contacting the next team on call, waiting while Caroline retraced the steps you'd already taken, then gated them all to the scene. It's pure luck you and those girls weren't halfway down that dragon's throat by the time they got there."

Morgana glared at him, refusing to be cowed…or admit he had a point. "If I'd taken the men with me, they might have been the ones on the receiving end of the teeth."

"That's their damned job, Morgana! Besides which, I'll remind you that they rescued you."

"After I brought the dragon down! If we'd all gated there first, the killer would have done exactly what he did when I arrived—go airborne. What the hell was the team going to do with him flying around three hundred feet over their heads? I had to shift and go after it, which is what I knew I was going to have to do to start with! Kel had told me if I could stall the dragon for a half hour, he’d be able to come help me fry the bastard."

"Yeah, assuming you could survive that long. Given the fucker was twice your size, I seriously doubt you’d have been able to make it a half hour. Face it—you and those girls would have ended up eaten if the team hadn’t arrived when they did."

"I had it handled, Arthur!"

"Bullshit! You had no business playing Lone Ranger with the scaly bastard.” His face turned grim. “Especially not today. Your judgment has always sucked on February third.” He smiled, but it had the quality of a grimace. “Not that I blame you. Mordred could warp anybody.”

She blew out a breath, staring sightlessly at one of the tapestries that lined the chamber. This one depicted battling knights fighting with sword and shield. “Yeah, but I should be over it by now. I thought I was, dammit. I thought I’d banished my ghosts, but I’m still having nightmares.”

“Kiddo, unlike mortals, we never forget a fuckin’ thing. Makes it tough to get objective distance.” He drummed his fingers on Excalibur’s hilt where the big sword hung at his hip. “Which is why these post-mortems are so important, even if they do sting like a motherfucker. You should have called in more backup, not left the backup you had cooling their heels on Mortal Earth."

Really, what could she say to that? He was right. "All right, maybe I miscalculated. I'll remind you, it's not like I make a habit of it. It won't happen again."

Arthur was silent so long, Morgana had to look at him again. She found him studying her with such calculation in his dark eyes, she instantly had to wonder what the hell he was thinking. "Unfortunately,” he said at last, “I don't think that's the case."

"What do you mean by that?" She glared at him.

Being Arthur, he didn’t look away. "I mean it's going to happen again unless you address the root cause of this mess: the sexual tension between you and your team that's interfering with your ability to assess situations coolly and unemotionally."

"My sex life is not your business, Arthur."

"I will repeat: it is when it interferes with the mission. You're arrogant, Morgana. You have a deadly habit of underestimating your foes and overestimating yourself." His ebony eyes narrowed in a calculating expression she didn't like a bit. "Your team might be just the ones to give you the lesson in humility you so desperately need."

She gritted her teeth. "All I need from those three is their sword arms."

"And if you mean to keep them, you'll offer Percival your Oath of Service.”

Morgana stared at him in horrified shock for a heartbeat before she thought to wipe the reaction from her face. “If you think I’ll willingly become the next thing to Percival's sex slave for the next year, you've taken too many blows to the head.”

Arthur studied her, and she suddenly remembered why he’d been England’s greatest king. He knew how to read people with an accuracy that was terrifying. “You’re afraid you’re going to fall in love with him.”

Her heart seemed to stop beating as the shot sank home with a sniper’s unerring accuracy. She forced a scornful laugh. “That’s absurd.”

His deep voice lowered to a dark male purr. “So you’re telling me you feel nothing at the thought of being bound hand and foot while he rides you like a mare?”

"You're being crude, Arthur. It doesn't suit you." As Morgana’s mouth went dry, she looked away before she remembered herself and jerked her eyes back to his. She couldn’t afford to show him any weakness at all.

"And you didn't answer the question." There was an unyielding note in his voice that told her she'd better damned well answer.

Panic stung her. Oh, God, what was the question? She mentally rewound the conversation. “No, there's nothing sexual between Percival and me.”

Arthur lifted a brow as one corner of his mouth quirked. “Vampires have a keen sense of smell.”

Morgana felt herself blush scarlet as she realized what he meant. He’d smelled the arousal that had flooded her sex from the moment he’d mentioned giving Percival her Oath. She gritted her teeth. “You can be quite the bastard, Arthur.”

“Yes, and you’d do well to keep that in mind. Because if you refuse to offer Percival your Oath, I’m going to reassign his team. You’ll need to pick which of your witches to assign to them. You’ll be with Lamorak and Baldulf.”

Morgana jolted. “No! They wouldn’t be able to…” At the last moment, she managed to bite the sentence off. Arthur didn’t need to know why she needed the team so desperately. If he ever guessed she could become a greater danger than some of the monsters they fought—that she only trusted Percival and his team to control her…

He frowned. “Lamorak and Baldulf are Knights of the Round Table, Morgana. They’re hardly second-stringers.”

“That’s not the issue. I’ve spent centuries learning to work with Percival and his team. We're so good at reading each other's minds in combat, we're practically Truebonded. I wouldn’t be as effective with anyone else.”

“Unfortunately, at the moment you’re not effective at all. You and Percival and his boys have too much baggage. It’s getting in the way of doing the job. One way or the other, I'm putting a stop to it before you get somebody killed.”

She stared at him, barely breathing. His black gaze was unwavering, fierce. It was his King Arthur face, the expression that said you’d better damned well do what he wanted, or you’d regret it.

He means it. Her stomach sank. She was going to lose them if she didn’t do something.

“All right, you high-handed bastard.” Morgana rose to her feet and glared across the Round Table at him. “I’ll offer Percival my damned Oath.”

Maddeningly unruffled, Arthur lounged back in his chair. “He has to accept it, or the deal’s off, and you go to Lamorak and Baldulf.”

“Fine. I’ll convince him.” She spun on her heel and stalked out.

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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A teaser excerpt from LOVE BITES

Here's another excerpt from the novel-length story OATH OF SERVICE in Love Bites, an anthlogy of my vampire kink.

In “Oath of Service,” Angela Knight introduces the Doms of the Round Table and a kinky circle of pleasure, pain, and power as she returns to her “sexy as hell” (Heroes and Heartbreakers) Mageverse world for a new twist on the Arthurian legend.

Morgana le Fay finally gets what’s coming to her in this novel-length story. After a fight with a dragon goes wrong, Morgana takes an Oath of Service to Percival, vampire Knight of the Round Table. Percival and his partners, Cador and Marrok, decide to give Morgana a taste of bondage and submission she’ll never forget. What they don’t know is that the lovely witch is keeping secrets that could destroy them all. To make matters worse, the dragon is plotting a deadly revenge….
In this scene, Morgana has given Percival and his partners her Oath of Service. She swears to don a magical collar that will strip her of her powers, letting them take sensual revenge for everything she's ever done to them. 
Percival and his men are really, really...
Morgana stared at him. Her beautiful green eyes widened as her lips parted. Percival's sensitive vampire nose picked up the unmistakable scent of arousal.
In the ticking silence, he realized Marrok and Cador had frozen with the same kind of predatory hunger he felt—and he could drive nails with his dick. “Well?” he demanded.
The witch angled her chin up in a gesture he knew far too well, a glitter of defiant determination in her eyes. "I've offered you my Oath, gentleman. The only question is, are you going to take me on?" She curled a lip. "Unless you're afraid you're not up to the task...."
That, of course, aroused an entirely predictable reaction from Cador. He lounged back on the couch in a sprawl that called blatant attention to his massive erection. "Oh, darling, I can assure you, I'm definitely up to the task of putting you in your place." One hand cupped his balls as his grin took on a carnivorous edge.
"We need to discuss this," Marrok said, a muscle rolling in his broad jaw. "Give us a minute, Morgana."
"Of course." She angled her head in a courteous little nod, then turned with a roll of lush hips and sauntered out. A gesture had the door closing behind her, propelled by a rolling wave of golden sparks.
"Oh, God, that arse..." Cador moaned. "I can't wait to flog it a nice rosy pink before I give it a grinding fuck. You know Morgana le Fay has never let anybody touch that cherry arse. I'll bet it's tight as a miser's purse."
"I'm sure it is," Percival growled, shooting him a glance of narrow-eyed warning. "I'm also sure you're not going to be the first to claim it."
Marrok shot off the couch and began to pace. "Which is exactly why accepting her Oath is such a piss-poor idea. You two are going to end up fighting over that bloody witch like two stallions with one mare. No bit of pussy is worth wrecking the team."
Stung, Percival stared at his friend. "Of course we're not going to wreck the team. We've shared women before, and it's never been a problem."
Marrok met his gaze with a level stare. "Those women were bed-sport. You always cared for their needs as a dom’s duty demands, but they weren’t more to you than that.” He shrugged. “True, you weren’t any more than that to the women, either. But still.”
Percival curled a lip. "Are you suggesting I'm in love with Morgana le Fay?"
Cador snorted and stretched his long legs out, propping them on the coffee table’s granite top. "Yeah, right. Because he has such a weakness for flaming bitches."
"As to that," Percival growled, "I believe we can break her of that particular character defect."
“Clamps on her nipples would probably be highly effective.” Cador grinned and licked his lips.
Marrok stared at him, and scrubbed a hand over his face with a groan, his massive shoulders slumping. "I'm wasting my fucking breath. You've already made up your minds." He glanced at Cador. "Both of you. I'm outvoted."
"Christ, Marrok, are you kidding?" Cador demanded. "Think of all those little zaps every time we went out with her the past few years. Think of the way she always insisted on leading missions, though Percival has more field experience.” His lip curled. “Personally, I think the bitch witch just gets off on giving us orders and watching us jump.”
Marrok smiled reluctantly. “I wouldn’t put it past her.”
“Now we have a chance to put a collar on her and get a little of our own back." Cador’s mouth curled into a dark smile. "And I, for one, am looking forward to it."
God, so was Percival. Maybe too much. His cock ached with the stark need to do everything Cador had mentioned. Flog that delicious arse, fuck it.
Fuck her.
Unfortunately, Marrok had a point. He didn't like the idea of Cador touching her, sadistic bastard that he was. His friend would hurt her. Carefully, with precise self-control, but he'd still hurt her. And he'd like it.
Never mind that Percival would do the same thing. He still hated the idea of either of his friends touching that ridiculously lush, tempting body. Hearing her breathy moans. Fencing with her as she used that sarcastic, biting wit. Making her bend that stiff neck to his dominance.
Holding her in the aftermath, listening to her breathe, to the deep thump of her slowing heartbeat...
Oh, hell. Hell, no. Not Morgana le Fay. Despite her carefully camouflaged compassion, the witch was manipulative, arrogant, and generally in desperate need of several painful lessons in humility.
This would be nothing more than sex and revenge. He wouldn't let it be anything else. Especially not anything that would damage his relationship with the two men he'd fight and die for. His brothers in all but blood.
Yeah, he'd collar her. He'd get her out of his system by fucking her in every way he'd ever dreamed of in his darkest, most frustrated fantasies. He'd do everything he'd ever jerked off thinking about, no matter how humiliating it would be to her.
He'd bring her to her knees—and make her suck his cock while she was down there. He'd even share her with his brothers and watch while they fucked her. He'd ignore his instinctive possessiveness, force himself to endure it just as he'd learned to endure the pain of sword wounds in order to win battles in Arthur's service.
"Are we agreed then?" he demanded.
"No," Marrok growled. "But that point is basically…” Suddenly he stiffened, and his eyes narrowed. “You know,” he said slowly, “I have no problem believing Arthur would order Morgana to offer Percival her Oath. What I have trouble with is that he’d tell her to offer it to all three of us.”
“Oh, come on, Marrok…" Cador began.
“No, you come on. Stop thinking with your dick and consider the implications. How much stress would sharing her put on the team?”
Cador opened his mouth, only to immediately close it again. “You’re right,” he admitted reluctantly, grimacing as if at the taste of something foul. “We’d be fighting over who got to fuck her, how, when and where.”
Marrok nodded grimly. “Exactly. Would Arthur do that to us?”
“No.” Cador shot Percival a speculative glance. “But I could easily see him ordering Morgana to offer Percival her Oath.”
Fury swirled through Percival, and he curled his hands into fists. “And I could see Morgana disobeying his exact orders out of a desire to play us against each other.” He rose from the couch, aware of Cador doing the same. "Morgana?"
She entered with that lazy, seductive stride, her expression politely inquiring. If she felt any anxiety over the outcome of their discussion, it didn't show—but then, she'd always been a damned good actress. "Yes?"
He stalked toward her and stopped, aware of Cador and Marrok moving up behind him to watch. “Did Arthur tell you to offer your Oath to all three of us, or just to me?”
Her gaze flickered, but she angled her chin upward. She knew better than to lie outright to a vampire who could smell deception. “To you alone.”
He ground his teeth. “Why did you disobey him?”
She shrugged gracefully. “He didn’t tell me not to offer it to the three of you.”
“Did you intend to destroy the team?”
Her eyes widened, and panic flashed across her face. “No! I wouldn’t do that…”
“Wouldn’t you?” Percival stared at her with narrow eyes. “What do you think would happen if the three of us disagreed about which of us is to fuck you, or whose orders you should obey?”
She opened her mouth, only to reluctantly close it again. “All right, I can see how that could cause friction. But it wasn’t my intention to create it deliberately.”
“I’m sure that would have been a huge comfort if the team cracked wide open because you were fucking playing games.”
Morgana angled her chin upward in a familiar gesture of defiance. “You would have done what you always do, Percival. You’d have led, and they’d have followed.”
“Maybe,” Percival growled. “But when you throw sex in the mix, things get complicated.”
Marrok huffed. “That’s the damned truth.”
Cador rocked back on his heels and gave Morgana a flat, cold stare. “I have no interest in accepting your Oath. Not when it’s so obvious you can’t be trusted.”
Marrok bared his teeth in a snarl. “Neither do I.”
“I, however, will happily accept your Oath.” Percival smiled. He knew it wasn’t a pretty smile by any means. “By the time I get done with you, it’s safe to say you won’t dare lie to me again, whether by implication or otherwise.” He lifted a blond brow. “Unless you’d care to rescind your offer, of course.”
She swallowed. “But if I rescind it, Arthur will reassign me.”
He shrugged. “Probably.”
Morgana raised her chin, an edge of defiance in her gaze. “Then, no, I will not rescind it.”

LOVE BITES will be out Sept. 2. 

Other stories in LOVE BITES:

In “Be Careful What You Wish For,” a beautiful vampire and her two vamp lovers lock horns with a wizard with the ugly habit of refusing to take no for an answer. When he casts a spell on Beau and Decker, Amanda finds herself the object of both men’s lust. She’s had some yummy threesome fantasies along the same lines, but since the men hate each other, she figured it was never going to happen. But when it does, things get a lot more kinky than Amanda expects.

In The Bloodslave, Angela Knight’s classic “must read…highly erotic” (*The Best Reviews) novella, a female mercenary comes under fire during a hunt. The beautiful, virginal, and very human Verica is captured by three hungry alpha vampires driven deliriously feral by her purity. But they desire more than her warm blood. They want her body, leaving Verica more vulnerable than ever before—and loving every minute of it.
Click to order LOVE BITES.