Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chapter 2 of the #Romantic #Suspense DANGEROUS MEDICINE #FreeRead

Welcome back to Through Stephanie's Eyes. I'm excited to share the next chapter of my debut romantic suspense novel, Dangerous Medicine. If you're just joining me this week, you can catch up on CHAPTER 1 before you move on to Chapter 2 below. 

To recap: Dr. Miranda Jacobs received devastating news about your youngest brother. He had been slipped a drug in a drink at a party and was now in a coma. The doctors aren't sure of the extent of his injuries yet. She's on her way to the hospital to be with her family at his bedside.

Jake Martinelli is a narcotics detective and works closely with the local DEA agents. He's a friend to Miranda's brother. He too is getting ready to head up to the hospital to check on his friend and hopefully find some clues as to who put the boy in the hospital in the first place.

Chapter 2

Miranda found Leigh Ann waiting for her when she finally returned. She didn’t bother to hide the worry that filled her eyes and furrowed her brow. Miranda knew Leigh had good reason to look the way she did. Miranda had never lost her composure at work and must have freaked out the rest of the staff as well.

“Doc, you need to sit back down and get yourself together before you do anything else.”

Miranda had started to protest, but Leigh Ann already had a hold of her elbow and guided her through the doorway of the office. Thank God! Someone removed all traces of food. I don’t think I’d be able to make it back to the bathroom if another wave of nausea hit. “I have to get out of here now. My family needs me.”

The other woman raised her hand to silence Miranda. “Already got it covered. Dr. Marks and Dr. Carron will be in within the hour to take over your caseload and see the new patients today. Dr. Overland is due at any minute so you can talk to him about your leave of absence. I’m sure there won’t be a problem, but he’d take all of this much better if it came straight from you. He’s always had a soft spot for you.”

Miranda smiled. “He puts up a good front, but he’s just a big teddy bear.”

“Only with you. Now sit back and relax until he gets here. You’ve trained all of us well. We know what to do and can handle anything thrown at us.”

“Thanks, Leigh. You guys are fabulous. What would I do without you?”

“Let’s hope neither of us has to find that out any time soon.” Leigh Ann squeezed Miranda’s shoulder as she left the office and quietly closed the door behind her.

Instead of taking it easy, Miranda immersed herself into the patient files on her desk. Within two hours she’d completed her notes for each case, reviewed them with her staff and the other cardiologists, and arranged for an indefinite leave from the hospital. Dr. Overland was more than happy to agree to her request. After all, she’d practically lived at the hospital for the last three years. He told her it was the least he could do for her and made her promise to let him know if she needed more time.

Miranda had worked hard to achieve her current status at the Michigan Veterinary Specialty Center. Her plan had been to sit for the board exam for certification in June—only nine months away. With all her dreams so close to being realized, she had to wonder if there was some evil plot out to ruin her life. Of course, the logical part of her brain dismissed the ridiculous idea, but it was a hell of a lot easier to believe than the truth. Matthew’s condition was senseless and her scientific mind wouldn’t accept it. She had to have an answer. Why my brother? What did he ever do to deserve this?

She blamed herself and her obsession with her career. If she’d only been there for him when his friend was attacked, maybe he’d be home playing with all his nieces and nephews right now instead of lying in a hospital bed. At thirty years old, Miranda was the youngest veterinarian to achieve the recognition as one of the best in her field, not only in the state, but in the country. She’d thrown her entire being into her career, often at the expense of any personal life. Her only escape had been her ever-growing family. They brought her great joy—and sadness at the same time. Her siblings had the things she lacked—marriage, children and the family life.

She was the eldest of five children. All the others had gone on to raise families of their own except Matthew. His life had only just begun. Now it appeared as if he might lose it before he reached his twenty-second birthday. Miranda pushed the thought to the back of her mind, gathered up her personal belongings and left the busy hospital behind.

* * * *

Jake strode through his cluttered apartment to his bathroom. He stripped out of his street clothes. Seeing his reflection in the full-length mirror on the door startled him. He’d always hated the way other officers and DEA agents had looked after coming off long undercover cases…all strong out and rough around the edges. That’s exactly the vision that stared back and it wasn’t a pretty picture at all. What the hell’s happened to me? How did I let things get this bad?

He turned on the shower to warm it up a bit and then set himself down to the task of removing the beginnings of a grizzly beard from his face. He laughed as he remembered the first time he met Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs. It was at an alumni barbecue before the Saginaw Valley State Homecoming game a year ago.

Jake smiled as Mrs. Jacobs checked him out from head to toe and shook her head.

“Go home and shave that sorry excuse of a beard you have trying to grow there.”

Matthew choked on his drink and nearly spit it all over them. “Ma! You just met the guy. Maybe you could give him a few minutes to get settled in on the bleachers before you start telling him how to change his appearance.”

Jake laughed. “It’s okay, Matt. Go ahead, Mrs. Jacobs tell me how you really feel. Anything else I should change?”

“You can keep the long hair and your earrings. I’m a bit partial to those, but that beard has to go!”

Matthew had warned him she was blunt, but Jake hadn’t minded at all. From the moment he heard her voice, she’d reminded him of his own mother who had died ten years earlier. Rosa Martinelli had fought a long, hard battle against breast cancer. She had gone into a five year long remission before the cancer had returned and ravaged her body in less than six months.

Jake had been by her side the entire time, and had refused to abandon the one person who had been a constant in his life. Rosa had been the only one there for him after he found his ex-wife, Amy in bed with his childhood friend, David.

Rosa had put up the bail to get him released from jail after he was arrested for beating David to a bloody pulp that night. David had never pressed charges. He had claimed he didn’t want to hurt Jake any further.

Amy was a different story. She’d blamed Jake for the affair. She was lonely and he was never there; same old sob story excuse people give for cheating on a spouse.

It had been all well and good when his long hours as a rookie cop brought home the income to pay the bills for everything she’d needed to make their house a proper home. She had never complained when he was promoted to detective and then transferred to the Narcotics Division because it had meant more money. Lord knows she hadn’t wanted to work to work outside the home to help out.

Jake had encouraged her over and over again to try out some classes at SVSU so she could finish the degree she’d started before they were married. She’d refused, always quick with an excuse to avoid it. She had worked several different part-time jobs; none of them had lasted more than six months. Her reason for quitting all of them had been the same each time. She had become bored with them.

It had been an ailing Rosa who had stuck by Jake through the entire messy divorce and settlement that had lasted nearly two years. Amy had tried to claim she had given up her chances at a degree and career when she’d married Jake in order to put him through school. The judge had seen through her fabrications but it was Rosa’s testimony that had finally ended the entire mess. The judge had ruled Amy wasn’t entitled to any alimony and could only receive thirty percent of the proceeds from the sale of their home.

Of course, that had only infuriated Amy further. She’d tried to tie up everything in court with appeals, but eventually it had all ended. Jake had found himself single, more than a little bitter, and betrayed by his best friend. Less than two months later, Jake had become an orphan.

After his mother’s funeral, Jake had thrown himself into his work. He had preferred the most dangerous undercover operations, those that allowed him to completely forget who he was and that he was all alone in the world. Weeks of restless nights and dreams of his mother telling him to snap out of it had eventually worn him down and he change the direction of his career once again.

He had requested to be assigned to head up the investigation of the drug dealing rings in Bay City, Saginaw, and Midland—The Tri-County area. Jake enjoyed his new position and now felt he made a difference each time he brought down a dealer. He knew his mother would have been proud of his new lease on life.

“I’ll find who did this to you, Matt. I won’t stop until I do. Momma would expect nothing less of me.”

* * * *

Miranda had barely held her composure while she weaved in and out of the afternoon traffic. Somehow she had made it to her apartment in one piece. Her cats, Hercules and Xena, greeted her at the door as usual. Seeming to sense her distress, they followed her around and watched her every move, careful to stay out of her way to avoid being stepped upon.

While she threw a few pieces of clothing into her overnight bag, she allowed the tears to fall. “You’ve got to get a grip on yourself. If you can’t keep control in private, how the hell are you going to do it with the family?” She brushed the tears from her face and resumed her packing.

A knock on her door interrupted her and brought her back from the edge. She squinted through the peep hole to find her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Turner.

“Dr. Jacobs? Are you all right dear?” Mrs. Turner was a retired nurse who had befriended Miranda right after she’d moved in. She lived alone and enjoyed Miranda’s company from time to time. Miranda had come to think of her as a dear friend, one she needed right now.

Miranda opened the door and Mrs. Turner immediately embraced her. “Come over to the couch and sit down, honey. Whatever has you so upset? You’re never home this early and you left your keys in the door. That’s not like you at all.”

“It’s my baby brother. He’s in a coma. Someone slipped a drug into his drink. I got the news at work. I don’t know any other details about Matt’s condition.” She took the tissues Mrs. Turner offered her and wiped her eyes. “I can’t stand to be so far away. I feel useless. I hate to ask you this but—”

Mrs. Turner patted Miranda’s hands. “Don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll make sure your little rascals are well cared for. Lord knows they brighten my day watching them run about. Your place is with your family now. Come on, let’s finish packing and get you on the road. You know how traffic can be this time of day, and your family has enough to worry about without you trying to kill yourself speeding along the interstate.”

After one last hug and a handful of tissues from Mrs. Turner, Miranda jogged down the steps and out to her car. She tossed her bags into the trunk and finally slid behind the wheel of her red Saturn. She wanted to get through the city and on Northbound I-75 as fast as she could before four o’clock—the peak of rush hour in the Down River area. If she could then get past Royal Oak by five, she would make good time. However, getting through it all in time before vising hours ended was going to be a challenge.

Four red lights, five tail-gaiters, and two near collisions later, she expertly changed lanes and merged with the high-speed drivers on the interstate. She glanced down at her hands and realized she was white-knuckled from gripping the steering wheel. She’d driven this stretch of road hundreds if not thousands of times, and had never been so worked up with fear. The pain in her gut reminded her of what she wouldn’t allow her mind to comprehend. No matter what she did, how fast she drove, she was going to be too late, and she’d lose Matt forever without being able to say goodbye one last time.

She wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand and then reached to turn on her CD player. She cranked up the volume as Nirvana boomed through the speakers. The disk was a birthday gift from Matthew. She’d never really like the band before, but at his insistence, she’d tried it out. She had been surprised to find she enjoyed it—especially while driving. As the fast-paced guitars and booming back beat filled her ears, she stepped on the accelerator.

Before long, she had passed the exits for the Palace of Auburn Hills. The sun was at a point in the sky now it created a glare off the semi-truck in front of her, and heated up the left side of her body. As she slowed down just enough to change lanes, she noticed the hills surrounding the freeway. The leaves had started to turn and revealed small bursts of brilliant reds and yellows.

As the miles flew by, and the colors intensified, he mind flooded with childhood memories. She had forgotten how much she and her family enjoyed this time of year. Matt had played football since he was nine years old. The entire family had gone to every game to cheer him on. A nasty knee injury in the homecoming game of his senior year in high school had ended his hopes of a football scholarship to the University of Michigan, but not his love of the game. He was an assistant coach at SVSU now. Her parents still never missed one of the games, often taking their grandchildren to cheer for their Uncle Matt’s team.

The persistent chirping of her cell phone brought her out of her reminiscing. She hoped it wasn’t her office calling. She’d told them she was going to be unavailable that evening. She kept her eyes on the road and pushed the button on her ear piece to pick up the call. “Okay, this had better be good. I’m right in the middle of major traffic nightmare.”

“Is that any way to answer the phone?”

She laughed out loud when she heard the gruff and gravelly voice. “I’m sorry, Dad. I’m not really in a terrific mood at the moment. Traffic has slowed to a crawl now. What can I do for you?”

“Well, your mother wanted me to call and tell you not to race up her in order to get to the hospital to sit with Matt. He’s been taken down for another CT scan or MRI or whatever the hell they call it. Just be careful and get her in one piece.”

She smiled and shook her head. She knew it was her father who worried about her driving. She held back a giggle. He would deny he called her all on his own. Her mother knew Miranda could take care of herself. 

“What about visiting hours? Don’t they kick everyone out at eight?”

She heard her father’s rumbling chuckle loud and clear through the mild static coming through her blue tooth. 

“They can just try to kick us out. You know your mother. She’s already made up the bed next to Matt’s and has refused to leave his side for one instant. The rest of the family is arriving now. We’ve got the staff outnumbered by at least a dozen.”

“I get the picture. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Do you need anything from the house? I’m about five minutes from there now. I could get off at the next exit if you want me to.”

“That would be great, Randi. If you could bring up a change of clothes for your mother and some toiletries, we should be fine. We’ve all had dinner, so you make sure you raid the fridge while you’re there too. I know you haven’t eaten. Don’t try to tell me any different, young lady. Okay then, now that that’s said, I’ll let you get back to driving recklessly.”

She hung up, quickly changed lanes and exited the freeway. She rolled down her window to let in some fresh air and immediately regretted it. Her nose was assaulted with the pungent aroma of pig manure. She laughed. She had forgotten it was time to coat the fields with the fertilizer. This was definitely one thing she didn’t miss after she had moved out of her parents’ home ten years before.

* * * *

All Rights Reserved ©Stephanie Ryan 2014

Thank you for stopping in today. I hope you enjoyed this installment. Next week is Chapter 3 and we get to learn more about Jake and Matt's relationship and Miranda gets to meet Jake face to face. Will sparks fly or will something come between them right from the start? Stay tuned!

Until next week,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

#FreeRead from @StephRyanAuthor's Debut #Romantic #Suspense Novel DANGEROUS MEDICINE

Welcome to the very first installment of my free read here on Through Stephanie's Eyes. Thank you to all who participated in the poll. Dangerous Medicine was the overwhelming winner. To celebrate, I decided to offer the first five chapters here as a free read. Later in the summer, the entire book will be published by Sassy Vixen Publishing.

In Dangerous Medicine, you meet Dr. Miranda Jacobs, a veterinary cardiothoracic surgeon in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Thefts of one of the most common veterinary anesthetics are on the rise resulting in the sale of it on the street as "Special K." Miranda comes face to face with the devastating effects of ketamine when her brother is slipped some at a fraternity party. He has a severe allergic reaction that ultimately puts him into a coma. 

Miranda puts her fast-paced career on hold in order to be with her family at her brother's bedside. It's on the way to the hospital that she literally collides with Detective Jake Martinelli. Sparks fly between them, and Miranda finds herself fiercely attracted to Jake even though she knows very little about him. 

Without giving away anymore of the story, here's the first chapter of Dangerous Medicine.

Chapter 1

“Okay, I think we’re ready to close now. Vicryl with the three-quarter inch needle please.” Miranda Jacobs deftly closed the muscle and skin layers then handed the instruments back to the intern who assisted her with the surgery. “I think you can handle it from here, Jordan.”

The newest intern appeared to barely be able to hold in her excitement. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dr. Jacobs. I’ll take good care of her.”

Miranda smiled behind her surgical mask. Jordan had followed her around every waking moment for the last few weeks and had demonstrated she was ready to take on more responsibility. Miranda remembered her intern days well. She didn’t get to be one of the best up and coming veterinary cardiologists in the state without countless hours in the ER and recovery room with her patients. When she noticed the same drive in an intern, she immediately took them under her wing, as her own mentor had done with her. It was Miranda’s way of giving back to the profession that had quickly become her passion and her entire world.

In this particular case, Jordan had more than earned her spot next to Miranda ligating the patent ductus of the tiny eight month old Maltese puppy. Not only did she handle all the pre-operative workup, Jordan took the time to create special handouts for the owners about what would happen during the surgery and recovery for their pet. She won over the clients as well as the staff with her attention to detail and confidence in her surgical abilities.

Miranda backed away from the table, pulled off the sterile surgical gown and winked over the top of her glasses. “Don’t thank me yet. We still have four procedures to do this afternoon and a full outpatient schedule. Make sure you grab a bit to eat when you’re through.” She left the surgical suite and removed her cap and mask in in one motion. Her naturally curly, auburn hair tumbled down over her shoulders. Much to her chagrin, it was very unruly this morning. She searched her locker for a clip to pull it back away from her face. She sighed at her reflection in the small mirror on her locker door. Stray curls haphazardly framed her face. “I guess that will have to do for now.”

She grabbed her white lab coat and slipped it on over her dark green surgical scrubs as she walked down the short hallway to her office. The rest of her staff had already gathered and waited for her to begin their lunch meeting. “Oh, what angel got the pizza?”

Leigh Ann, Miranda’s head technician, smiled. “We knew if we left it up to you, you would stay in surgery all day while the rest of us starved.” She passed a plate with two massive pieces of pizza loaded with meat and gooey cheese. She shook her head and laughed. “I don’t know how you can eat so much junk food and look like you just stepped off a runway during Fashion Week in New York.”

Miranda scrunched up her nose, stuck out her tongue and snatched the plate from Leigh Ann’s hands. She took a large bite out of one of the slices, closed her eyes and sighed. “Mmmm, this is absolute heaven. Tell you what. When you have as many nieces and nephews to chase after as I do, you’ll learn to eat whatever you have to eat in order to keep up with them. Can’t serve salad and soup to them and still keep favorite aunt status now can I?”

Leigh Ann’s laugher joined that of the rest of the group in the room. “I guess not. Now sit yourself down. This will probably be the only time you get to do so today with the look of the schedule.”

Miranda kicked off her shoes then plopped down into the overstuffed chair in front of her desk. She pulled her legs under herself and pushed several files out of the way to make room for her plate. “Go ahead. Let’s get this party rollin’.”

“Leigh Ann handed Miranda a bottle of water and cleared her throat. “You have four patients in the hospital slated to go home today. All have recovered well from their surgeries this weekend. Jordan is in Recovery with the Klein Maltese now. So far, so good. The patient is already up and moving around. Your next surgery is at two o’clock…the thoracic tumor. Here are the preliminary findings of the needle biopsy. They’re going over the slides one more time but it looks like another lymphoma.”

Miranda flipped through the patient’s chart and added the histopathology report to her own notes. She sighed. “I had hoped we’d be dealing with a benign mass this time. I’m not looking forward to cracking open this dog’s chest again. Let’s hope this will be the last—”

The loud ring of her cell phone pierced the quiet of the room. Miranda jumped at the unexpected sound. Very few people had the number and one of them sat wide eyed in front of her. Please let everything be all right. She forced a wave of anxiety and nausea back down deep in her gut. The photo on the screen told her the call was from Michael Jacobs Jr. “Hello? What’s wrong?”

The voice on the other end swore softly. The deep baritone of the older of her two brothers came through loud and clear and did little to calm her. “How do you know there’s something wrong?”

“Michael, no one ever calls me at work just to chat, especially not on my cell. What’s wrong?” Miranda’s heart pounded. “Is it the baby?” His youngest had been sick with a nasty cough the last weekend she’d been able to visit.

He sighed. “No honey. It’s not one of the kids. It’s Matt. He’s been taken to St. Mary’s. We need you to come home right away.”

Her stomach dropped. The pizza long forgotten as the fear took over. Good thing she was already seated, otherwise she’d have crumpled to the floor in a heap. Leigh Ann herded everyone out of the office to give her more privacy. “Matthew?” She found it hard to say anything more as her throat constricted. “Wh…what happened?”

“I don’t know, Randi. Pop said Matt went to some frat party last night with a bunch of friends. They said he had a seizure, fell down some stairs and cracked his skull.” Michael’s voice broke and Miranda could tell he was trying hard not to cry. “He’s in a coma. Please come home. Mom and Pop need you.”

Her mind reeled. “He’s never had seizures before. Something must have been slipped into his drink. No one has a seizure out of the blue.”

“The doctors found something called ketamine in his system. Besides the effects of the drug, they think he had a bad allergic reaction to it and that’s why he seized. Isn’t that a veterinary drug? How the hell did that get into a beer?”

“Oh God, Michael.” Miranda sighed deeply as she remembered the letter from the Drug Enforcement Agency sent out to all the veterinary clinics earlier in the year. “People have been stealing it from veterinarians and selling it on the street as something called Special K. The police have dubbed it the latest date rape drug.” Her vision blurred as tears filled her eyes. She struggled to ask more questions, but her mind wouldn’t form the right words. I don’t understand this at all. None of it makes any sense.

“Just come home, Randi. I know you have a loaded schedule and all, but we need you here to help explain what’s going on with Matt. We’re staying at the house, kids and all. It’s a bit crowded, but I think we have to be together now.”

“I’ll be home tonight.” Miranda dropped her phone on her desk. Her legs felt too wobbly to hold her up, but when she looked at the half-eaten pizza on her desk, her stomach rebelled. She bolted out of her seat and barley made it to the bathroom in time.

* * * *

“Martinelli, you’ve got to stop blaming yourself for what happened to the Jacobs kid. You didn’t send him in there. He went in on his own. He told you himself he wanted to nail the creeps responsible for the date rape of his friend.”

Jake rubbed his eyes. Exhaustion had crept in while he wasn’t looking. He’d slept very little since he’d received the call. Matthew Jacobs, one of his informants at the local university for the last two years, had fallen into a coma. “I know, Lieutenant, but I can’t stop feeling I should’ve been able to protect him—maybe kept a closer eye on him. Hell, I knew he was chomping at the bit to bring down those frat boys. I just thought he would use his brain and let the police handle it.”

“Hey, the kid had never given you a reason to think he would go vigilante on you. He’d been a great source of information for your investigations of the dealers on campus. He didn’t get this involved with any of the other cases, so how could you have seen it with this one?

The look on the Lieutenant’s face told Jake all he needed to know and he was right. Jake knew he’d become too close to the Jacobs boy and should be removed from the case, but one way or another he’d be involved. He’d turn the city upside down, rattle every informant and thug he knew until he found the one who had put his young friend in the hospital—even if it cost him his badge.

“Why don’t you get out of here? Take a few days off. Go visit the kid in the hospital. Your caseload will keep and I’m sure his family would like to see you. From what I hear, they’re really fond of you—especially his mother.”

“I doubt any of them will feel that way when they find out I’m the one who put their son in danger in the first place. I should’ve never told him any of the details of the case against the frat boys.” He filled his lungs and slowly let the air out again. “I’ll take you up on the time off and call you when I know more about Matt’s condition.” He stood up, grabbed his leather jacket from the back of his chair and strolled out of the office. Outside, the sun had set low in the sky, but the resulting fireball still refused to give up without a fight.

For once he was grateful to have an excuse to don his retro mirrored sunglasses. The glare from the setting sun never bothered him, but the tears that filled his eyes did. He hated the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that had flooded through him all day. As he slipped behind the wheel of his Jeep Cherokee, he found himself at a loss as to where to go first. He had wanted to stop by the hospital before visiting hours were over for the night, but he didn’t know if he would be able to face the entire Jacobs clan all at once.

Matt had told him all about his large, close-knit family. Jake had never had that kind of family life himself. He’d married young, and after only three years and a messy divorce, he’d managed to remain single ever since. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to have a family of his own, but he’d never seemed to have the time to look for his soul mate. After his ex-wife had run off with his best friend, he’d turned a bit gun shy about opening his heart up to another woman again. He’d grown to like being an over forty-year-old loner with no one to answer to if he’d have to work late or just wanted to hang out all day in his sweats while he watched football on the sports channels.

He looked into the rear view mirror and then rubbed the two-day-old stubble that covered his jawline. He didn’t recognize the man that stared back at him. His dark brown eyes appeared bloodshot from lack of sleep, and his long wavy black hair refused to stay tied back with the leather thong knotted at his neck. “Well, ain’t you a beauty.” Jake turned the key to start the engine, put the Jeep in gear, and headed toward his apartment for a shower and shave. Once he’d made himself a bit more presentable, he would make his way over to the hospital.

Momentarily lost in his own thoughts, he missed an incoming call on his cell. He glanced at the screen, but didn’t recognize the number. Instead of pulling over, he waited until he’s traveled the last three miles to get to his apartment and then returned the call.

“Detective Martinelli? This is Mike Jacobs, Matt’s brother. Thank you for calling me back.”

“Has there been any news about his condition? I just got off work and had planned on stopping in within the hour.”

“No news yet but I had hoped you would be able to do me a favor though. Could you stop by my parent’s house and pick up my sister, Miranda? I know this is asking a lot, but I don’t want her to travel up here alone. I know my sister very well. She’ll put on a good front for the family even though she’s falling apart inside with worry about Matt.”

Jake hadn’t met any of the family other than their parents so Mike’s request caught him off guard. Even though it wasn’t something he’d expected to be asked to do, he felt relieved to do anything to help. He hadn’t looked forward to sitting around and waiting for any word from the hospital, so this would be as good of a distraction as any. “Sure, it would be no trouble to swing by and pick her up.”

“Thanks. Oh, don’t mention to her I asked you to do this. She’d kill me. Randi’s pretty headstrong and can usually take care of herself, but with Matt here…I guess you would have had to hear the sound of her voice on the phone when I told her the news. She sounded—fragile. That’s not my sister.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll think of something to tell her. Actually, I’m looking forward to meeting her. Matt had always spoken very highly of her. I got the distinct impression they’re very close.”

Mike sighed. “Yes, they are. I don’t know how she’ll react if he never comes out of this. She might withdraw completely from us and immerse herself deeper into that career of hers. Sorry, it’s just that I miss her and when something like this happens—I need to know she’s safe is all. Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome. See you soon.” Jake plugged his cell into the wall charger and made his way toward the bathroom. The sooner he cleaned up, the faster he’d be at the hospital with Matt’s sister in tow. Now he had to think of a believable cover story to get her to accept a ride from a stranger. He laughed at how bad that sounded. Probably best I introduce myself as a cop before she calls 911 on me. Don’t think the Lieutenant would ever let me live that one down!

* * * *

All Rights Reserved. ©Stephanie Ryan 2014

Stop in next week for Chapter 2!

Until then,

Friday, March 14, 2014

#FridayFantasy: Sensuous Promo’s Presents - Book Tour for Give Me Shelter by Alexis D. Craig @Dispatchvampire

Welcome to Friday Fantasy Free For All here at Through Stephanie's Eyes. This week I have a special treat. I was asked to be a part of another book tour hosted by Sensuous Promos. My little blog is the SIXTH stop for author Alexis D. Craig. Each stop you get to read one of four different excerpts, each tailored for the heat levels of the blog stops. How cool is that?

So sit back, relax and enjoy today's sneak peek at Give Me Shelter.

Welcome to Sensuous Promo’s Give Me Shelter Book Tour.


Give Me Shelter By Alexis D. Craig  

Inspector Eli Miller's unspoken feelings for his partner, Bex, color his whole life. When his past comes calling, will it be the push he needs to seek a future with her?

Inspector Rebecca 'Bex' Mulcahy has lived long enough to know that love is a street con at best, and a dangerous distraction at worst. Any feelings she has for her partner Eli definitely fall into the latter category. Will her dedication to her job keep her from finding a possible future with Eli?Their latest case is protecting Violet Burrell, a young woman with scars on her soul stretching back to birth, who inadvertently witnesses a shockingly brutal murder at the hands of a sadist. Violet is determined to testify in court. Her strength and courage impress Eli and Bex, who will protect her at all costs.

But it is Violet’s beauty and spirit that entrances Junior Inspector Atticus Randall. Atticus is also assigned to protect Violet, and while he knows he should ignore his growing feelings for her, he just can’t stop himself from falling for the brave beauty.

Life in the Las Vegas branch of Witness Protection has never been more tangled. When the emotional landmines start a chain reaction, everyone in the blast radius is going to need a little shelter.

“Heterochromia.” A blue eye and a green eye were hard to miss, especially prominent when she lined her lashes in jet black. He’d never been this close to her before, never face-to-face, but there were many other things he could have said that would have been so much smoother. Dammit.
“Actually my name is Zoe. The autosomal dominant gene is just one of my many features.” She licked her lips and laughed as she dropped her head forward. She looked up at him through her lashes and his book bag landed on his foot as he lost control of his fingers. He took his student ID from his pocket and slid it across the counter to disguise his trembling hands.
“I-I know your name,” he stammered, hoping not to sound like a stalker. The heat in his cheeks was distracting as hell. “You’re in Stayton’s Philosophy of Living and Dying lecture.”
“And you’re in Satterlee’s Romans d’Amour.” She took his book and drew it across the counter slowly, presumably to deactivate the anti-theft tag. The tips of her pigtails swooped down over her shoulders as she looked over the book and found the check-out card. She held the card up under the infrared light and then did the same with his student ID.
“Le même.” He hoped there was no one in line behind him, because he wanted this interaction to go on for as long as possible. “I’m Eli, by the way.”
“Interesting choice of reading material, Eli.” She handed the book and his ID back to him and got a tinge of blush in her cheeks when their hands touched. “Personal or independent study?”
“How do you know it’s not for a class?” he challenged. A quick look behind him as he knelt down to put the book away in his bag told him that he had all the time in the world to chat up the sexy little librarian. He slung his bag over his shoulder as he stood, and was glad for it when she leaned back and he could see the rest of her outfit. The lacy thing was the top of a bustier, the color of the faintest rose, which was really more of a display case than a foundation garment. She’d had to open up a couple of buttons, lest they become potentially lethal projectiles and put out someone’s eye. He really hoped he wasn’t drooling on the counter.
“Trust me, it’s not on any syllabus, and I would know.” Her every breath made him lightheaded.
Her every movement made his ears hum.
“It’s for personal reading.” He was gratified to see her inky eyebrow arch in response. She hopped down off the chair and for the first time he realized how tiny she was. Five foot and maybe a handful of pennies, compared to his 6’2” frame, she was practically a munchkin. She flounced over to the desk and bent over a drawer and he knew that his dreams tonight were probably going to kill him with the images of today, including the laces up the backs of her stockings.
Zoe bounced back with a bright pink sticky note in the shape of a kitty with a bow attached to her fingertips. She held it out to him. “In case you ever want to talk about it. Discuss major themes and such.”
Her number, holy mother of geek gods, she was giving him her number.

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