Here's an excerpt from Eternal Hearts (Book 2) set to release on May 1, 2009. :) And I should warn you, there is some explicit language in this excerpt!
Toni still stood on the curb, staring down at a wayward gum wrapper caught against a sewer grate when she heard a growl resonate behind her. She whirled around just in time to see Brick and 8-Ball barreling through The Rivers lobby doors.
Both looked more than just a little pissed.
“Where the hell have you been?” Brick yelled. “We’ve been here for fifteen minutes. I thought 8-Ball told you to stay here.”
“Well hello, Brick. It’s so nice to see you, too. What?” She leaned forward and cupped a hand behind her ear. “How was the drive you ask? Oh, it was fine." She straightened and waved a hand at him. "Hit a little traffic around St. Louis, but other than that it wasn’t too bad. Thank you so much for asking.”
She squeaked when, with only a few steps, Brick closed the distance between them and sank his fingers deep into her biceps. Pain shot down her arms as he lifted her to meet his seven foot two inch gaze.
Normally, she wouldn’t be bothered by his touch. He was a very sexy, very predatory man. But more than that, he’d always been her friend. His messily spiked black hair and hard, dark features usually made her melt. And his Southern drawl oozed with so much raw sensuality it made her feel tingly.
But this time the tingles weren’t good ones.
His dark grey eyes practically glowed with anger. “I’m not playing around, Toni. If anyone saw you and Locke finds out, he’s gonna have my ass in a sling.”
Toni tried to keep her head steady when the shaking started, but the term rag doll swept across her mind and made her smile. She bit it back as soon as his nostrils flared in response.
“You find amusement in this? I put my ass on the line to meet with you, and it’s only gonna get worse when I ask Locke to let you stay. The least you could’ve done was stay where 8-Ball told you to.”
“Put her down, Brick,” a deep, raspy voice growled from behind Toni. Her spine tingled as the sound pushed past it, reverberating in her chest.
Relief coursed through her as the shaking stopped, but was replaced by a painful moan when he squeezed her arms even tighter.
His eyes moved up and behind her. “Fuck you, Drake. This doesn’t have a goddamn thing to do with you.”
She tried to look back and see who Brick was talking to, but she couldn’t. His hold made her shoulders scrunch up next to her face so she couldn’t even turn her head.
“I mean it, Brick. Put her back on the ground and get your hands off her.”
Still dangling in mid air, Toni caught the roar of a revved engine right before a black Chevy Avalanche careened up over the curb behind Brick. No doubt, it was the rest of his Enforcement Team coming to join her latest debacle.
How did she manage to make a mess of even the simplest things?
Brick exchanged a grin with 8-Ball, who stepped beside him just before Kane and Skull jumped out of the ill parked SUV.
“What the hell is going on here?” Skull asked, glaring between Brick and 8-Ball. “Brick, why are you shaking the shit out of Toni?” His eyes shot past her. “Why does Drake look like he’s hungry and you’re the only thing on the menu?”
The guy behind her, who she now assumed was Drake, laughed at Skull’s comment.
Laughing at Skull? Oh, this was new.
Skull flashed an angry glare around. “Would someone answer my fucking question?”
The answer came from over her shoulder. “It appears that, Brick, here, fashions himself a woman beater, Skull. You know I can’t just stand back in the shadows and watch.”
Toni’s attention went immediately to Brick as his body tensed, his fingers digging just a little deeper into her arms. If she didn’t know better, she’d have believed the angry edge to his eyes had dimmed with a tinge of fear.
8-Ball, seemingly unmoved by the drama unfolding, simply chuckled and smacked Brick’s shoulder. “Brick, I think you’re pissing Drake off. You should probably put her down before he eats you.”
The muscles in Skull’s chest visibly flexed. “Look, if somebody doesn’t give me a real answer, I’m gonna have to shoot someone. And since I know everyone here fairly well except you, Drake, looks like you’re the target.” The period to his sentence was the .44 Magnum he pulled from his coat.
Panic exploded in Toni’s chest. No one was shooting anyone. She immediately searched for Kane. He was usually quiet, but also tended to be the smarter one. Yet when her eyes found him, he simply folded his arms over his chest and shrugged.
Great. Just great.
Toni waited with bated breath, hoping the idiots wouldn’t go any farther. But when Drake gave a hearty laugh at the same time a wisp of shadow whipped out from underneath the Avalanche and ripped the gun out of Skull’s hand…instinct reminded her backing down was too much to ask from a group of testosterone driven Neanderthals.
Skull squealed like a kid when someone steals their favorite toy, then bent down to look under the Avalanche. He straightened with a frown, which fell open when his eyes shifted beyond her and Brick.
Damn it! She had no clue what was happening behind her.
“This is a piece of shit,” Drake said matter-of-factly. “You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn at point blank range. And if you ever pull a weapon on me again, I’ll beat you with it.”
Drake had Skull’s gun? He couldn’t.
But when it sailed over her head and landed in Skull’s hands, the unbelievable was proven.
Skull’s nostrils flared. “I’m not afraid of you. So don’t even try to intimidate me. I don’t care what the hell you do for a living.”
The snap of bared fangs coupled with a bestial growl, one that made even Toni’s darker side shrink back, sounded behind her.
Skull quickly looked away.
Okay. She’d had enough. She kicked at Brick’s thighs. “I already talked to Locke. He knows I’m here and he doesn’t have a problem with it. He even gave me a suite at his hotel. Now, would you tell the giant to put his piece away and put me down?”
Brick dropped her immediately.
Not expecting it, Toni hit the ground, crumpled and banged the side of her head against the pavement. Stinging pain erupted behind her left eye. She covered it and rolled flat onto her back. “Why does everything in this city have to be so damn difficult?” she screamed into the sky, hoping it would answer.
“Look,” she groaned. “I just want to go to the hotel and sleep. Is that too much to ask? I’m tired. I’ve been driving since sunset, and really, all I want is a warm bath and a soft bed. Why is that so much of a problem?”
She felt five sets of eyes on her, but nobody uttered a word. Was this really what she came back for? Had she driven thousands of miles to end up completely confused, shaken mentally and physically, and then yelled at?
It was Brick’s voice that finally broke the silence. “When did you talk to Locke?”
“He pulled up behind me in his limo just after 8-Ball called to tell me you guys would be late.” She knew what came next, so she preempted him in the same breath. “And to answer your next question, he told me to stay at the hotel and be in his office tomorrow night at midnight. And yes, I remember where his office is. How could I forget?”
She’d expected more yelling, but what she got instead made the tears she’d been fighting all night well up again. “Toni, Darlin, all you had to do was tell me you’d already talked to Locke. I would’ve let you go.”
She lifted her head from the ground to glare at him. “I was scared to talk while you were shaking me for fear I’d bite my own tongue off!”
Completely ignoring her remark, he checked his watch. “All right boys, it’s damn near 2:30 a.m. Time to do last rounds. Someone needs to escort Toni to the hotel and stick with her until she gets her meeting with Locke. I don’t want her alone for a second. Our kind is nothing if not opportunistic. Who’s going with her?”
Skull, 8-Ball and Kane stared back and forth between each other. From the looks on their faces, not a single one of them wanted anything more to do with her tonight.
She closed her eyes and laid her head back against the frozen pavement. Fine. She didn’t need their over muscled asses glued to her anyway. She’d been alone and unwanted this long, a few more days certainly wouldn’t kill her.
“I’ll do it.”
Toni heard the acceptance, yet wasn’t sure which one had finally given it. She opened her eyes to look, but instead of the Giants…all she saw was a pair of gorgeous blue eyes gazing back at her.
And in that moment, she was spellbound.