Thursday, February 16, 2017

Here's an excerpt from Arcane Kiss, my latest novel.

Alone, veteran Kurt Briggs is no match for the Arcane terrorists who threaten the nation's leadership. He needs Arcanist Genevieve Reyes by his side. But when shared danger leads to shared desires, the consequences could be deadly for them both.

Kurt Briggs has a spirit link to a tiger Familiar that gives him superhuman abilities, but when his father is murdered, the military veteran becomes a target for terrorist sorcerers. Alone, Kurt finds he's no match for the witch and her shape-shifting polar bear. He turns to Arcanist Genevieve Reyes for help in fighting the killers' spells.

As Genevieve and Kurt hunt the terrorists, shared danger leads to shared desire. But they soon realize Kurt's passion for Gen weakens his control over his cat. The consequences could be deadly for them both. Genevieve is attracted to Kurt's animal sensuality, but she knows she may be in as much danger from his tiger as she is from the terrorists.

Then they learn the terrorists plan to sacrifice Kurt to power a horrific spell designed to decimate the U.S. government. Even if Kurt and Gen manage to stop the terrorists, their evil sorcery may trigger a witch hunt that could mean the destruction of everyone with magical Talent -- including Kurt and Genevieve. In the following scene, Kurt meets his best friend, an old military buddy, in a bar.

He wound his way across the room to order an Arcane Ale at the bar. Accepting the icy bottle the bartender handed over, Kurt turned to find Jake Nolan watching him from one of the booths. When the other man tilted his own bottle in salute, he headed over.

The Feral cop wasn’t a tall man, but he was built like a bull, with broad shoulders and powerful biceps. Jake wore his hair in a blond brush cut that made his broad features look even tougher and more uncompromising. His eyes glowed in the bar’s dim lighting, shining with his link to his lion Familiar, Clarence.

“Yo.” Jake’s Mellow Microbrew was evidently doing its job -- he looked relaxed. Being off-duty, he’d changed out of his black uniform in favor of his usual geek gear: worn black jeans and a Deadpool T-shirt. It wasn’t at all surprising that Jake’s favorite superhero was basically a cross between Rambo and Bugs Bunny.

So was Jake.

Kurt slid into the booth. “So how was today’s fight for truth, justice and chimichangas?”

“The usual. Encounters with assholes and idiots and idiotic assholes, and one or two hapless innocent bystanders.” Jake studied him shrewdly. “You ain’t happy.”

“I did notice that.”

“You want to tell me about it, or just glower?”

Kurt shrugged, only to discover that he did indeed want to vent. “Oh, you know, the usual. I showed an interest in a woman who wasn’t a Feral…”

“And your Dad lost his shit.”

“Nah, just booked me a flight on Guilt Air.”

“Travelocity’s got nothing on Fred. Who inspired this particular round trip?”

“You know that Arc who volunteered to help Parvati?”

At that, Jake straightened. “Wait, you’re interested in a witch? Shit, I’ll bet Fred did yark up a hairball.”

“Actually, it was only about the size of a ping pong ball.”

“As opposed to the Great Watermelon of 2015.”

“He just warned me about ruining a good thing with somebody who could heal our cats.”

Jake considered that, sipping his beer. “You do have a lot of old, sick kitties at BFS. What you don’t have is a great track record when it comes to women.”

Kurt eyed his very single friend. “So why aren’t you home with your wife and kids?”

Jake flipped him off. “About this witch Juliet of yours…”


“Whatever. What’s she like?”

“Well, she heals sick children and dying cats pro bono…”

“Which is cool and all, but is she hot?”

“She’s…” Kurt broke off, struggling to put his reaction into words.

Jake sat back, impressed. “Sizzling, huh?”

“Yeah, and I’m not even sure why.”

“Nice rack maybe?”

“Even you’re not that shallow.”

“I certainly am -- I have a dick. And since you do too, you ain’t exactly a deep-sea diver yourself.”

“You have a point.”

“So? Give.”

“Hell, I don’t know. Big blue eyes and an incredible amount of red hair all…” He made a gesture around his shoulders. “Curly.”

“You’ve got my attention.”

“And yeah, nice rack. But what got me…” He fell silent for a moment, trying to puzzle it out. “While she was drawing Parvati, her magic… I never felt anything like it. It was intense.”

Jake studied him. “We’ve worked with a lot of Arcs, but I don’t remember you reacting like this to any of them.”

Kurt turned his beer bottle between his fingers, listening to it scrape over the tabletop. “The Arcs in the service -- their magic was about death, about booby traps and demolition spells. Her magic feels like life. Something about it just made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Even Stoli felt it. He was almost purring.”

“Tigers don’t purr.”

“Neither do people, but I was doing it too.” He paused, considering. “I’m going to ask her out.”

“I see a watermelon in your future.”

“Dad needs to remember he’s not me. And every woman I meet is definitely not Mom.”

“Big talk, but I haven’t noticed you rushing to the altar.”

Kurt shrugged. “None of them have been right.”

“That why you haven’t even tried in the last six months?”

“And when did you last get laid?”

“Wednesday. Brunette. Great tits. Likes to be tied up and spanked. I’m planning to introduce her to nipple clamps next.”


“You’re one to talk.” Jake grinned, slow and nasty, a sure indicator he was about to give Kurt hell. “If you decide not to grow a pair, I think I’ll go make introductions with Witchy Woman myself. I don’t have anything against Arcs. Maybe I’ll even give her a spanking.”

A surge of possessive anger took Kurt by surprise. As he wrestled it, a distinct scritch sounded over the laughter and chatter of the clientele. His fingertips vibrated. He looked down and saw glowing claws tipping his fingers, digging into the table. Startled, Kurt jerked his hand back and willed the claws away.

When he looked up, Jake was sitting back in the booth, giving him a long, considering look. “She did get under your skin didn’t she? No wonder your dad freaked. How’d she get Stoli going so fast? It’s not as if she’s his type.”

“That wasn’t him, Jake. That was me.” He tapped his now clawless fingertips on his beer bottle, frowning. “Maybe I should keep my distance. If she’s already making me pop claws when I haven’t even asked her out yet…”

“Jesus, don’t give up before you even try.”

“It can get ugly when Ferals lose control.”

“Yeah.” Jake’s mouth took on a bitter twist. “Just look what happened to my brother.”

“I wasn’t talking about that.”

“It’s what you were thinking.”

“You read minds now?”

“No, but I do know there’s a difference between being careful and being in suspended animation. Risk the watermelon and ask the girl out.” Jake gave him a long, serious stare. “Otherwise, the only pussy you’re ever going to get is Stoli.”