So after a crazy-long delay from my original planned launch date of last year, I now have three new titles available (2 for immediate release and 1 for preorder). They are currently available in ebook format from Amazon and Smashwords, with more retailers to follow. I’m also working on print versions, so keep an eye out for an update on that as well. 😉
Striking Distance (A Kira Brightwell Short, Book 0)
Bad things can happen to good people–sometimes by accident, and sometimes by design.
Even though Kira has just graduated from college, she feels adrift with no sense of purpose, which doesn’t fit well at all with her parents’ plans for her future. She escapes to her grandparents’ cabin for some much-needed time alone, but someone has a more permanent getaway in mind for her. Suddenly, post-graduate blues don’t seem so important.
For Kira Brightwell, this is where it all begins…
This 14,000 word thriller origin story is Book 0 in the Kira Brightwell Series and prequel to the novel Split Decision. (Excerpt below.)
Split Decision (A Kira Brightwell Thriller, Book 1)
Kira Brightwell is a survivor. Trevor Wright is hoping she is something more.
Kira doesn’t know what to think when her former high school tormentor contacts her from out of the blue, claiming to need her help. Between graduating from college, outwitting an abductor, and then acquiring MMA skills in the three years since her escape, high school seems like a distant memory. But that doesn’t mean she’s ready to forgive and forget.
Lucky for Trevor, Kira’s past still haunts her, and his problem hits a little too close to home for her to walk away.
This 71,000 word fast-paced thriller novel is Book 1 of the Kira Brightwell Series, and the sequel to Kira’s origin story, Striking Distance. (Excerpt below.)
Black and Blue (A Kira Brightwell Thriller, Book 2)
**PREORDER (Release date: Oct. 5)**
People think it pays to have friends in high places. Kira would rather fly under the radar, especially when those connections come with a certain Trevor Wright attached. But four months have passed since the Procurer last slipped away without a trace, and a phone call from Trevor’s father with the promise of a potential case could be just the distraction Kira needs–provided she can live to solve it.
This 63,000 word fast-paced thriller novel is Book 2 in the Kira Brightwell Series, and the sequel to Split Decision.
Striking Distance Excerpt:
I have to get out of here.
The words echoed a litany in Kira’s mind as she yanked open her car door, tossing her duffel bag onto the passenger seat. She took one last look at the beautiful two-story house with its pristine, white trim, and immaculately maintained garden—the only home she could remember. It looked like something out of a postcard in the afternoon California sun. She did her best to ignore the pang of guilt at her imagined reaction to the note she had left behind for her family to find. If she tried to talk to her parents face to face, she would never be able to get away, never mind what would happen if her sister dropped by. She shook her head, setting her long, brown ponytail swinging against her back. They would never understand.
She had tried—repeatedly—to explain her objections to her family’s well-intended plans for her now that she had finally graduated from college. The problem was that she could provide no other alternative. Now that she had her degree, she was free to move on with her life. She had worked hard, and her years of study had paid off. She could speak French, Spanish, and Italian, and had taken a few courses in Russian and German. Translation work seemed like the obvious choice. But with her school years behind her, Kira found herself wondering where the time had gone, and what she really wanted to do with her life. She enjoyed the challenge of learning new things, but the idea of working for her father, or getting a job as a translator seemed equally boring and unfulfilling options, which only made her feel guilty for spending so much time and money on school in the first place.
Of course, her sister, Kori, only made matters worse. She was the darling firstborn, who had married one of their father’s star employees, much to their parents’ approval. She had her own successful child therapy practice, and had just given birth to a son. In other words, she was the perfect daughter, which only made Kira look worse by comparison. Kira loved her sister, and looked forward to being an aunt, but the two of them had very little in common. If anything, Kori usually sided with their parents when it came to trying to seize direction of Kira’s life.
Kira squared her shoulders. She knew she was the black sheep. No matter how hard she tried, it was the way things had always been. But now she was at a crossroads. Would she take a job at her father’s financial firm and keep the peace, take the middle, ‘practical,’ role of translator and maintain some of her independence, or… what? She couldn’t help but feel there was some other option she should explore, but she had no idea what it was.
Which was why she needed to get away.
She turned away from the house to get into her car when she heard another vehicle pull into the driveway beside her. She closed her eyes and suppressed a groan, knowing who she would find when she turned around.
Of all the days for Mom to get home early…
“Kira?” Her mother got out of the elegant, gray sedan to stand in front of her. Her brow was furrowed in an anxious frown as her eyes darted toward the duffel bag. “What are you doing?” She wore slacks and a pale, pink blouse, and her blond hair was perfectly styled.
As always, Kira felt like a walking disaster standing next to her. She became painfully aware of her own worn jeans and sneakers, and lack of makeup. Her only concession to her appearance was her green T-shirt, which brought out the color of her eyes.
“I’m, um, going to the cabin,” Kira said, trying not to mumble. She felt her cheeks flush. “I left a note in the kitchen.”
Her mother shook her head. “Whatever for?”
Kira scuffed her toe against the asphalt. “I just want to get away for a few days.”
“By yourself?” her mother demanded, raising an eyebrow.
Kira looked up to meet her gaze with a flash of annoyance. “Why not? I’ve done it before.”
“That’s not the point. You know your father and I don’t like it when you go there alone. What if something happens?”
“I’ll be fine, Mom. Nothing’s going to happen. I just need some time alone, OK?”
“You know, your father was hoping to talk to you about starting work soon,” her mother said, her lips forming a hard line. “He already has a position lined up for you.”
Kira’s gaze slid away to focus on a nearby flowering shrub. “I know. And I really appreciate that. I’m just not sure it’s what I want.”
“I think it could be good for you,” her mother said, pressing onward. “You’re smart enough to be good at it, and you could move up quickly if you work at it. Besides, it might help you to meet some new friends, or even a nice boy. That’s how your sister met Adam, before she started her practice.”
“I know!” Kira blurted in frustration. She took a steadying breath. “I know. But I’m not Kori. We don’t want the same things.”
Her mother uttered an exasperated sigh. “What do you want, Kira?”
Kira bit her lip. Her escape wasn’t going at all as planned. She wished her mother would just let her leave…
“I—” Kira’s voice was cut short by the muffled notes of Darth Vader’s ‘Imperial March’. She fumbled to fish her phone out of her pocket, nearly wilting with relief at the timely interruption. “Sorry. I need to take this.”
She swiped her finger across the screen of her phone and put it to her ear. “Hey, Rob. What’s up?” She avoided her mother’s glare.
“Hey, Kira. What have you been up to? I haven’t seen you in a while.” The familiar clicking of Rob’s high-speed typing sounded in the background as he spoke.
“Yeah, I’ve been kind of busy,” Kira said, not wanting to get into her issues in front of her mother. “Besides, I can only spend so much time cooped up in your parents’ basement. Maybe if you went out once in a while…”
Rob scoffed. “You know how I roll. I prefer to stay close to my Fortress of Solitude.”
Kira rolled her eyes. “You mean ‘cave’—Cave of Solitude. In no world is that pigsty basement a fortress.”
“Have you been talking to my mom again?”
Kira shook her head and tried to get things back on track. “Look, is this a social call or what?” Rob was one of the few people she was close friends with, but he usually called her when he wanted something.
“Right. Can you come over? I have a proposition for you.”
If any other guy had said those words, she might have suspected innuendo, but Rob had come out back when they were in high school.
“Interesting, but I think we both know I’m not your type,” Kira bantered.
“Very funny,” Rob said in a dry voice. “Now can you come over or not? It’s important.”
She doubted whatever Rob wanted was as high priority as he was making it out to be, but Kira’s curiosity was piqued, and he was giving her a perfect opportunity to slip away from her mother.
“Yeah, I’ll be over in a few,” Kira said, ignoring her mother’s dark look. “I’m on my way out of town anyway. I’ll stop on the way.”
“Cool. See you soon.” Rob hung up without even thanking her.
“Typical,” Kira muttered as she slipped her phone back into her pocket.
“Was that Rob?” her mother asked.
“Yeah, he needs me to swing by. He said it’s important.” Kira’s words hung in the air between them.
Her mother shook her head. “I don’t know why you waste your time with him. You could do so much better. Besides, it’s not as if he’s ever going to be interested in you.”
“We’ve been over this. He’s my friend. I’m not pining after Rob.” Kira suppressed a shudder at the thought. Even if Rob were straight, he was definitely not her type. But her mother couldn’t seem to get past the idea of her having a male, gay friend, instead of a gaggle of girlfriends.
Like Kori, of course.
Kira shrugged off the familiar argument. “Look, I have to go.” She gave her mother a quick embrace before climbing into her car and placing her phone in its dock.
Her mother shook herself. “I still don’t want you to go to the cabin. Why can’t we talk about this?”
“We’ve already talked about it.” Kira looked up from where she sat. “Please, Mom, I need this.”
Her mother’s shoulders slumped. “Fine. Just make sure you keep in touch, OK? Remember to set the alarm system before you go to bed. And drive safe, honey.”
“I will,” Kira promised. “I’ll see you in a few days.”
She closed her car door and backed out of the driveway with a wave. A wave of relief washed over her as she watched her mother’s figure and her childhood home shrink into the distance of her rear-view mirror.
Split Decision Excerpt:
Kira sidestepped her attacker, dodging another blow. He had a few inches on her tall frame, but she was faster and more agile. Still, she knew she couldn’t keep ducking his punches forever. Eventually, she would get caught by his reach. She was running out of time. If she was going to turn things around, she needed to do it soon.
His fist grazed the air beside her left cheek. She aimed her knee toward his unprotected side while his arm was still extended, slamming it into his ribcage. She put all her pent-up rage and aggression into her attack, immediately following with a spinning backfist as her attacker instinctively lowered his guard to protect his abdomen. Her fist landed against the side of his head, and he began to wobble.
She struck with her foot next, hooking it around his ankle to sweep his legs out from under him—a technique that would never have worked if she hadn’t already managed to rock him. She followed him to the ground, fueled by adrenaline, and unwilling to lose her advantage.
They scrambled for several moments, grappling for supremacy. Her attacker was already recovering his wits. Somehow, he managed to get behind her—the last place she wanted him to be. A barrage of punches rained down on her ribcage as he pressed his chest against her back, hooking his legs around her to hold her in place. Kira resisted the urge to scream in frustration. She knew what would come next…
She did her best to block the incoming blows to her side with her right arm, trying to gauge the moment when her attacker would make his final strike. The punches were only a distraction. Still, that knowledge didn’t make them hurt any less. Each one made it more difficult to steady her breathing.
Dammit, stay focused! If you can’t breathe, you can’t escape.
A shift of movement behind her stirred her instincts. She shot her left arm up beside her head just as her attacker wrapped his own left arm around her neck in a chokehold, securing it with his right. She heard a muffled curse. He had hoped to catch her off guard. It wasn’t much, but her raised arm gave her just enough room to keep breathing while preventing him from tightening his grip. Part of her mind spiraled into panic. She had bought herself some time, but not much.
Images flickered through her mind at high speed. A locked room… The terrified expressions of the other girls who had been taken captive… Screams echoed in her ears. Kira clenched her jaw and began to strike, lashing out with her free elbow at the man behind her. She heard a satisfying grunt of pain. She kept up her attack with grim determination, the tingling in her pinned arm and her shallow breaths pushing her to fight for freedom.
First, her attacker’s legs fell from around her waist as he tried to shift his torso away from her while maintaining his choke. Darkness crowded her vision, but Kira used her feet to scoot her body back toward him and within reach of her elbow. She knew his ribs must be getting sore, and his arms must be tired from holding her. If she could only last a little longer…
Just when she thought she was about to pass out, the arm around her neck loosened. She slithered out, gasping for air, her left arm numb. She lay on her back in a defensive posture with her legs ready to lash out as she tried to get her wind back.
Her attacker was frustrated now. He rose to his knees and launched toward her, fists flying. Kira knew she couldn’t withstand another barrage. He clipped her jaw with the first punch, rattling her.
Another one like that, and I’ll be finished.
His other fist sped toward her. She moved her head at the last second. In one fluid movement, she seized his extended arm and pulled him toward her, wrapping her left knee around the back of his neck while sweeping her ankle toward her right knee in a triangle choke. His eyes widened for a moment as he realized what was happening. He began to struggle, but Kira reached for her left foot and pulled it toward her, tightening her hold and locking her ankle into place behind her opposite knee.
As her attacker continued to struggle, Kira fell into a trance-like state, every fiber of her being focused on maintaining her grip. Her surroundings faded away and the terrified screams returned, filling her ears. She squeezed her legs tighter. She was going to save the others. She had to. No one else knew where they were being held captive. Part of her mind noticed a repetitive thumping against her side, but she ignored it, maintaining her hold.
“Kira!” A hand grabbed her shoulder, shaking her. “He’s tapping. Let him go.”
Kira shook her head, momentarily disoriented by the sudden appearance of the black fence of the MMA cage around her. From the disapproving frown on Chris’s face, she got the impression it wasn’t the first time her trainer had tried to get her to release her opponent in the last few moments. She released her ankle and unwound her legs with a flood of guilt. She had completely lost track of the fight. She couldn’t even remember who her opponent was. He slumped out from her grip, barely conscious. Kira felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. His features were obscured by a curtain of dark hair that had come loose from his ponytail. He pushed it aside, looking up at her with hazel eyes, still trying to get his breath.