And what a relief, I have to say. I’m looking forward to a few days of rest and relaxation, and then it’s back to work to finish the Blackstone Trilogy. So without further delay, Crossfire: Broken is available at Smashwords , Amazon , Itunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Thank you to all the readers who came to this blog to chat to me and chase me a little bit, I really needed it. Thanks again.
As I promised a few days ago, here are the first three chapters of the third Driftwood book, which is provisionally being called Crossfire: Broken.
By Niki Savage
Copyright 2016 Niki Savage
This publication is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Niki Savage.
Book 3 of the Driftwood Trilogy
Clad in a black leather teddy, the six foot tall blonde dominatrix shook out the coils of the bullwhip she held in her hand. Some distance in front of her stood her helpless victim, but in this case, not quite so helpless. He has chosen to be here, has even brought the whip he wanted her to use, and has decided for himself how many lashes she should give him. He wanted two hundred in total, divided into ten visits. His visits were irregular, mostly four weeks apart, but after his third visit he was absent for seven weeks, leaving her panicking at the prospect of losing her biggest paying customer.
This was his fifth visit, and by the end of it, he would have received one hundred lashes in total. By now, their routine was familiar, with him already in position by the time she entered the room. It was a bit disappointing, because she would’ve liked to see his face before she punished him.
She had an intense interest in human nature, and wished that she knew why this beautiful man needed her to punish him so viciously. A bullwhip in her expert hands was a fearsome instrument. Though she was supremely skilled with the instrument, able to inflict maximum pain without breaking the skin, it was still a terrifying and excruciating experience.
None but the most hard core enthusiasts came to her for this particular treat, and even they often invoked the safe word by the fifth lash, and that was when she was going easy on them, using the bullwhip to terrify more than to injure. But it was enough for many of them to get turned on enough to get their reward, a fuck that blew their minds, because she was good at that too.
Which was why this man vexed her. She had noticed right from the start that he derived no sexual gratification from the whipping or the humiliation. Whatever pain or anger he felt, he internalized, because little of it showed on the outside. But she knew he felt the pain, because after their last meeting he had winced when putting his shirt back on. That wince had been enough to give her the sexual gratification she sought. This was a job, after all, but she wouldn’t be doing it if she didn’t enjoy it.
She focused on the man in front of her. He wasn’t secured to the rack, rather he gripped where the shackles protruded, which made it look as if he was restrained, but it was just an illusion. She knew it was for her benefit, and he has never let go of the shackles during a beating, maintaining the effect that he was helpless.
His back was smooth and tanned, showing no marks from the eighty lashes she had inflicted over the past four months, and she was proud of herself for that. He stood about six feet tall in his blue denims and black boots, and his thick black hair hung to where his neck met his shoulders. She remembered from before that he had piercing pale blue eyes, which he often hid by allowing his hair to fall into his eyes, playboy style. He always had a few days of dark stubble on his jaw, but it looked good on him. Again, she wondered why he felt in need of punishment, and she wondered about the precise amount of lashes he had requested.
But she had a job to do, so without further delay she sent the whip snaking in his direction. It let out a satisfying crack before it connected his skin, and she was gratified to see him flinch. Without giving him a moment to compose himself, she sent the lash in his direction again, harder this time.
The man sucked in a huge lungful of air after the fifth lash, and she wondered if he was about to scream, like so many of them did, but again he disappointed her, dropping his head and absorbing the pain. But she wanted his pain, wanted to see his pain, hear his pain, and so she sent the whip out again, her blood singing in her ears as the whip cracked before making contact. The man didn’t use his safe word, and she realized that this was what he wanted. She had been too easy on him until now. He wanted the pain, and she no longer cared why, intent on drawing her own satisfaction from hurting him.
~ . ~
The man hanging on the rack was in a world of agony. Fire consumed his entire body, and reignited every time the lash of the whip bit into his skin. Breathing was difficult, because the dominatrix wielding the whip gave him no time to recover between lashes. Finally the woman understood what he wanted, understood that he needed to be punished. Her blows were harder than before, and as a red haze of pain clouded his senses, he wondered if she had finally seen his black soul. If she knew what he had done, she wouldn’t stop beating him until he lay dead on the floor.
He wished that he had the courage to let his tormentor tie him up, so that he could feel the helplessness that ‘she’ must have felt. Even after all this time, he couldn’t say her name, not even in his thoughts. He wasn’t worthy, wouldn’t be worthy until all the poison had been bled from his soul. With every blow that rained on his back, more poison seeped from him. But would it ever be enough, or would he become addicted to the pain, needing more and more of it to feel the peace that came afterwards?
He bit back the cry that rose to his lips as the lash cut his skin, and after the fierce burn, he felt a warm rivulet of blood dribbling down his violated skin, soaking into the waistband of his jeans. Yes, his tormentor finally understood. He needed her to beat him like a bad dog. She had to make him pay for his sins.
~ . ~
By the time the dominatrix came to her senses, the man had multiple rivulets of blood dribbling down his back, but still he held on to the shackles on the rack. He had taken all twenty lashes without using the safe word, which made this a dangerous situation, for her as well as for him. If she couldn’t control herself, and he didn’t stop her, where would it end?
“It’s over,” she said loudly, expecting that he would let go of the shackles and reach for his shirt, as he had before.
But after letting go of the shackles, he slowly sank to the floor, remaining on his knees and hugging himself as if to keep the pain inside. She ripped her mask off and ran to him as fast as her stiletto boots allowed. From close up his wounds looked bad, and she cursed herself for losing control. She touched the man’s shoulder with her gloved hand, but he didn’t respond to her touch.
“Are you alright?” she asked, tugging more urgently at his shoulder.
He took a deep breath and turned to her. “Like that,” he said in a husky voice. “That’s what I want, just like that, every time.”
She was unaware that her mouth had dropped open as she stared at him, noticing how his blue eyes glittered in the dimly lit room, as if a light came from inside them. Whether it was the light of near insanity she couldn’t say for sure, but it made her feel sick to her stomach.
* * * *
Karl glanced at Nancy, who sat beside him on the veranda of her house in Sandton. On the large green lawn in front of them, Danny played with the boy from next door. After their return from their holiday on the North Coast of South Africa, Danny looked tanned and healthy, so different from the pale, emaciated child he had rescued from the Somali pirates.
At the same time as he remembered the rescue, the unwelcome image of Stefan broken and motionless on the deck of the pirate ship flashed through his mind. He moved uncomfortably, shaking his head slightly.
Nancy put a comforting hand on his thigh. “What’s wrong? You look as if the world’s just descended on your shoulders.”
He sighed. “It’s back to reality tomorrow, I guess.”
She stroked his thigh gently. “It doesn’t have to be.”
He turned to her, a slight frown on his forehead. “I don’t understand.”
“You could stay longer, or maybe forever.”
Karl’s frown deepened. “I thought we agreed that once we’re married, our home will be on La Montagne.”
“I know, but these past ten days have been heavenly. It was so nice to see you on the beach, just being a normal father to your son.”
“I am a normal father. What are you getting at?”
“You’re not a normal father, Karl, not really. I worry about what might happen to Danny if you were suddenly…gone. He’s grown so attached to you that I fear he might never recover.”
“What’s brought this on?” he said, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.
Nancy clasped both her hands in her lap. She stared at Danny and his friend clambering on the jungle gym for a few moments before she took a deep breath. “I can’t stop thinking about…Stefan and Marcelle. It’s been ten months, and nobody knows if Stefan’s even still alive. It’s so horrible, and I can’t imagine what Marcelle and her children must be going through.”
Karl clenched his teeth and counted to ten before he said, “Marcelle is tough, and she’s a good mother. She’ll get through this.”
“I don’t care how tough she is. The love of her life is missing, presumed dead, and one day her little boys are going to want to know where Stefan is.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Karl said, keeping his tone even while trying to relax the tension gathering between his shoulder blades.
“Have you seen Marcelle recently? I just assumed that I would run into her on La Montagne, but Charlotte told me she hasn’t been back since she left with her kids.”
Karl cleared his throat. “I haven’t seen her in a while.”
“While Stefan was in hospital you were all over her, and now you’re just ignoring her? Why?”
“I’ve been busy with the search for Stefan, and running Omega, and visiting you and Danny. And in between all that, I’ve led a few missions in Europe, and two in Africa. We’re running short of senior personnel with Heinrich and me sharing the administrative duties. I’m going to appoint a senior man to do the admin, because Heinrich and I are required in the field. Our expertise is wasted behind a desk.”
“But you’re safe there.”
Karl stiffened. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you think it’s time?”
“Karl, you have me, and you have Danny. Imagine how we would feel if one day…”
“Get to the point, Nancy.”
“I just mean I would sleep better if I knew you were safe. You asked me last week to marry you, and I said I would think about it. But all I’ve been able to think about is…” She pressed her hands to her mouth. “I can’t say it.”
Karl didn’t answer her, keeping his eyes focused on the boys playing in the yard.
When Nancy touched his arm, he stiffened. “Is this what you think about all day? Me dead and you alone? I thought we’d moved past that?”
“I can’t get past it. Every day I think about Marcelle and imagine her pain, and I know I wouldn’t survive it if that had to happen to us. Her children are too young to remember Stefan, but Danny is turning eight next year.”
“I’m trying to think where this conversation is leading. What are you trying to achieve here?”
“I want you to choose us. Choose life. Be with us.” When Karl didn’t answer she carried on fervently, “I’ll marry you and live on La Montagne with you. I’ll give up my job and my friends and everything I know. We can have more children, anything you want. I love you, so much.”
Karl jumped to his feet, his agitation not allowing him to remain seated. “I seem to recall we’ve had this conversation before.”
“I know what I said in Mozambique.”
“My viewpoint hasn’t changed.”
“You just learned to hide it a bit better, didn’t you?” Karl said, a sneer marring his handsome features. “You thought if you gave me time to get attached to Danny, I might give in this time, and let you neuter me for good.”
“Neuter? What do you mean?”
“What do you think it would do to me to watch my men go on missions while I sit behind a desk? I’m still a young man, and in the best shape of my life. My skills are in demand on the battlefield, and the war we’re fighting against terrorism is far from over.”
“What about Danny? I love him, but I’d prefer it if he remembered me as a man who fought for what he believed in, rather than a weakling who spent his time behind a desk so his wife could feel secure. Do you realize what you’re asking me do? You might as well cut my balls off and put them on your mantelpiece as a trophy.”
“That’s not what I want. Please, just listen to me.”
“I have listened to you. You’re singing the same tune you sang in Mozambique and I didn’t fall for it then, nor am I falling for it now.”
Nancy’s back stiffened. “You’re being very disrespectful. I don’t deserve this.” She wrung her hands together in her lap until her knuckles showed white. “I want you to think about this, and I want you to choose. I deserve more than what you’re giving me.”
Karl’s mouth fell open in surprise. “You mean my love isn’t enough? I’ve taken you back into my life, despite the circumstances of your rescue. Despite the fact that my best friend is missing, possibly dead, and his wife is in agony. I’ve looked past all that and loved you and Danny anyway. And now you say that isn’t enough.”
“True love demands sacrifice.”
Karl laughed incredulously. “Sacrifice? What about the sacrifice Marcelle has made? Her husband is gone. My friend is gone. We made sacrifices so that you could live. But what have you sacrificed?”
Nancy remained silent and dropped her gaze to her lap.
“Tell me!” he shouted with such vehemence that she jumped in her seat.
“I feel as if you hate me right now,” she said in a small voice.
“Hate is overrated as an emotion,” he said coldly. “I warned you if you started your shit again, I would walk away without looking back. Well, consider me gone.”
“But what about Danny?”
“I won’t let you use him as a weapon against me. Call me if you want him to visit and I’ll send the plane for him.” He shrugged. “Or don’t. But whatever you do, you’ll have to answer for it when he’s older.”
Nancy stared at him, her eyes bright with tears. “I guess I was a fool thinking this could work.”
“No, I was the fool to let you draw me back in again. Goodbye, Nancy.”
Without a further word, he strode into the house and grabbed his bags, still packed from their trip to the coast.
Five minutes later, he was in his rented BMW, speeding up the street, heading for the airport. But the anger seething inside him needed an outlet and a short while later he pulled into a side street and cut the engine.
For a few seconds he sat motionless, trying to bring himself under control. But his breathing increased as he lost the battle, and he roared with rage as he slammed both his fists onto the steering wheel, again and again as his fury rose inside him like a tidal wave.
Long minutes passed before his anger ebbed, leaving him wrung out and breathless.
He should have taken the time to say goodbye to Danny before he left, he thought, filled with regret as he imagined the boy’s surprise to find him gone. But Nancy had left him no choice. The moment she had started speaking about Marcelle the scene had been set for a confrontation.
He has made every effort to get over what happened to Marcelle and Stefan, and move on with his life, and it was partly the reason why he’s avoided contact with Marcelle. He moved uncomfortably at the thought, remembering the vow he had made. But instead of keeping his vow, he had chased his own happiness, enjoying a carefree holiday while Marcelle suffered and Stefan remained lost.
Inadvertently Nancy had reminded him of that fact, while at the same time pushing her own agenda. Instinctively he knew that getting out of there had been the right thing to do. He had left before he said things he could never recall. The amount of anger he still felt towards Nancy had astonished him. He thought he had moved past all that, but the mere mention of Marcelle and her pain about the loss of Stefan had brought it all to the fore again. Without knowing it, Nancy had pushed all the wrong buttons and sabotaged herself in the process.
The guilt settled heavily on his shoulders. He could never give Nancy what she wanted, and he could never give Marcelle back what she needed. But maybe he should at least try.
~ . ~
Karl checked into the Southern Sun Airport hotel but declined the porter’s offer to carry his bags to his room, preferring to do it himself. He had no choice but to stay overnight, because the Omega jet was only due to pick him up the next morning, and wasn’t even on route yet, which was fortunate. He picked up his phone and made the call to cancel the jet. He planned to take a commercial flight to his next destination.
* * * *
Marcelle sighed as she pushed open the door of her hotel room in Stuttgart, Germany. She had hoped that winning the world championships for a fourth time might lift her spirits, even if just for a little while, but after the press conference she had felt her mood plummeting. Perhaps the celebrations later would lift her spirits. Several of the French riders were staying in the same hotel, and they planned to meet in the bar downstairs later that evening.
After a long, hot shower, she dressed in a comfortable gray tracksuit and stretched out on top of the covers of the double bed. She was exhausted from her exertions earlier in the day, and fell asleep within minutes.
~ . ~
When she opened her eyes a few hours later, she saw Karl sitting on a chair beside her bed. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again. But Karl still sat there, watching her with kindness in his eyes. Her heart plummeted. He had to be the bearer of bad news. She sat up, and without warning, tears spilled from her eyes. No, no, no, no.
“I’m sorry,” she said with a sniff. “It’s just a bit of a shock, seeing you here. Is Stefan still alive?”
Karl leaned forward and took one of her hands in his. “To be honest, Tiger, we don’t know. It’s been ten months, and we’ve found no sign of him.”
She stared at the lines of hardship around his mouth, and wondered if Kris had them too. The twins were suffering, not knowing what had happened to the cousin that they had come to regard as a brother.
She flicked her tears away with impatient fingers, angry with herself for having such a fragile hold on her feelings. “So why are you here then?”
“Do I need a reason to see my favorite sister in law?”
Marcelle tried but failed to smile. “I guess not.” She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and rose to her feet.
Karl jumped to his feet and grabbed her shoulder to steady her as she swayed for a moment before finding her balance.
She grimaced. “Sorry, low blood pressure. I shouldn’t get up so fast. And today’s race was hard.”
“For you, Tiger? I can’t believe that.”
“I’m not as fit as I usually am. Yes, I could still give those girls a hiding, but I had to put a lot of effort into it.”
“Well, congratulations. World champion again. But I thought you were planning to sit this season out, and have a baby.”
Marcelle led the way to a couch and sat down. Karl settled next to her.
“Yes, that was the plan,” she said. At Karl’s questioning expression she continued, “They implanted four embryos, and not one of them took. Actually, one of them did take, but I miscarried after six weeks.”
Karl pulled her into his arms. “I’m so sorry. I know you had hoped to draw comfort from carrying Jean-Michel’s child.”
She snuggled against his chest. “Even that has been denied me. The doctors said we can try again in a few months, but I’ve decided against it. I’ve realized that I’m really in a bad headspace right now. The miscarriage was probably nature’s way of protecting me. I’m hardly in a fit state to deal with the hormone changes of pregnancy.”
“So you started training again.”
“Yes, though I had missed most of the season, I trained and gained enough fitness to participate in the Tour de Feminin, and that brought me to race fitness to do world champs. And here I am.”
“And where are the boys?”
“With their grandparents. They’re happy to take care of them. They feel as if they’re getting a second chance with Jean-Michel. They’ve shown me his baby photos, and the resemblance is uncanny. Perhaps this will help them to heal too.”
“But what about Nicky?”
“They regard me as their daughter, and Nicky is a part of me, so as far they’re concerned he’s family too. They call him Nicholas instead of Nikolai, but I guess the French form is easier for them to pronounce.”
“When last did you see them?”
She sat up, moving out of his embrace. “About two months ago,” she said, an expression of guilt passing over her face. “But the season is over now, so I’ll be returning to the farm to be with them again. I’m sure they haven’t even missed me.”
“Are they talking yet?”
Marcelle smiled softly. “Just baby talk so far, but I’m sure they’ll get there.”
“Well, the reason I’m here is to invite you to La Montagne for the off season, the same as always. It’s your home too, you know.”
She shrugged, tears glistening in her eyes. “How can it be my home if Stefan isn’t there?”
“But we’re there, and your friends are there. Everyone would love to see the twins and spend some time with you. You’re family. Please Marcelle. Even if you just come for a month to brush up on your training. Remember you’re a rich woman, and therefore a target for kidnapping. I’m glad to see you’re still wearing your watch.”
Marcelle lovingly stroked over the gleaming timepiece on her wrist. “I never take it off. I don’t want to disappear without a trace again.”
“How do you think I tracked you to Germany?” Karl said with a wink. “Have you considered getting something similar for the twins? If you bring them to La Montagne we can explore a few options for a wrist or ankle band.”
“Actually that’s a great idea.” A shadow flitted across her face. “If I had to lose them too, I don’t know what I would do. But I guess they’re safe for now. I mean the world doesn’t even know of their existence. I was on La Montagne for my entire pregnancy, so there were no paparazzi pictures to entertain the public.”
“Best we keep it that way. Can you imagine if they knew? You wouldn’t have a moment of peace.”
“That’s why I took them straight to the farm. I had promised Jean-Michel that his children would grow up on the farm and get to know the wine business. Of course, I had hoped that he would be the one teaching them, but his father is still young enough to do it, so I guess that’s fine. But it would only be fair for them to spend time on La Montagne too, so that Nicky can learn about what his father has built.”
Karl smiled, but he had a sad look in his eyes. Clearly, he didn’t have much hope of finding Stefan after more than ten months.
“But I’ll continue to keep their existence a secret. They haven’t been to my apartment even. Not even my teammates know I have two children. Only Claude knows, and Anthony, and of course Doc Louis. But not Pierre-Henri. I still haven’t forgiven him for that time he gave me amphetamines and nearly killed me.”
Karl nodded. “Stefan wanted to sort him out for that, but the doc made him promise to behave.”
“Is Stefan really gone, Karl? Have you looked, really looked?”
“We’ve used all of Omega’s resources, and we’ll keep doing so. Sooner or later he has to surface.”
“If he’s still alive.”
Karl grimaced. “If he’s still alive.”
Marcelle stared down at her hands. “The thing I miss the most is being held. I miss his arms holding me tight when I feel like I’m ready to fall apart. I need his arms around me now, but I’m alone. I thought that winning the world champs would make me feel lighter, but it only lasted a few minutes.”
Karl moved closer and put his arms around her, cradling the back of her head in the palm of his right hand before pressing her face against his chest. “I’ll hold you, Marcelle, for as long as you need me to. I know it’s not the same, but it’s all I can offer.”
# # #
Crossfire, the first book in the Crossfire Trilogy, is free on Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Diesel. On iTunes, Crossfire has more than 220 ratings and reviews across the series, and on Barnes & Noble there are several enthusiastic five star reviews.
I have noticed a lot of new blog visitors, and it has left me wondering if they are looking for a different Crossfire Trilogy, written by Sylvia Day, which was published recently. So far only the first book “Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel ” is available. I believe the next one will be out in October. But while you are waiting, please check out the book I mentioned above. My Crossfire Trilogy is complete, and I promise love, romance, action and instant gratification.
If you look at the comments on the right hand side of the page, you will see that many readers have left comments saying how much they have enjoyed the Crossfire Trilogy. And the first book is free. That’s a good offer, and shows how confident I am that readers will go on to purchase the second and third book in the Crossfire Trilogy. The reading order is Crossfire, Crossfire: Fire & Ice and Crossfire: Hearts on Fire.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog, and please come back soon.
When Dr. Nancy Kendall, a trauma doctor from South Africa, took a stroll on a Mozambican beach, she had no idea how her life would change during her six-week holiday. She had gone to Mozambique to forget, but instead found a man who couldn’t remember his name or his past.
Driftwood can stand alone as a romance novella, but is also a prequel spinoff of the Crossfire Trilogy, and serves to introduce some of the main characters. I’m hoping that new readers will go on to pick up the rest of the series, but for readers who have already enjoyed the Crossfire Trilogy, this is a nice bonus. Readers who use other platforms need not despair. If you have a PC, a tablet or a smartphone, you can go here to download the free kindle software that will enable you to read Driftwood.
Unfortunately, Crossfire isn’t free on Amazon. Unlike Smashwords, Amazon would require me to sign an exclusivity agreement for Crossfire if I want to give it away for five days out of every ninety. This is what I did for Driftwood, but I will never do it for Crossfire.
The only other way Crossfire can go free on Amazon, will be if readers report a lower price. So if you have a few minutes, please go to the Crossfire page at Amazon, and click on the link that says ‘tell us about a lower price.’ Then you put in the link for B&N or iTunes or Sony where Crossfire is free, and you’re done. If enough people do that, Amazon will have to react and match the free price.
Driftwood will be free on Amazon on Friday and Saturday. The promotion will start at 12:00 am Pacific Standard Time on 20 April and end at 11:59 pm PST on 21 April.
It is now 04:14 on a Wednesday morning in South Africa, but I know somewhere in the world, it’s still Tuesday. So I think that still counts. I kept my promise, and Crossfire: Hearts on Fire is available on Smashwords and Amazon.
By the way, for those who read the first few chapters of Hearts on Fire at the end of Fire & Ice, it would be worth it to start Hearts on Fire from the beginning, because I made a few changes to those first few chapters.
Happy reading to all, and thanks for your patience. (I’m going to bed now, and I plan to sleep for a week.)
Well, I guess that’ll teach me to make promises. Two months ago, on February 7, a reader asked me when I planned to publish the third installment of the Crossfire Trilogy. I had just finished the manuscript, and replied very confidently that I’ll release Hearts on Fire in 6 to 8 weeks. After all, I just had to do the edits, right? Wrong. I had miscalculated, forgetting that Hearts on Fire at 96 000 words was almost double the length of Crossfire or Fire & Ice, which had each taken me two months to edit. And double the length means double the editing time.
I did my best, working seven days a week, in the process cutting nearly 7000 words from the manuscript while tightening up my language. Don’t worry, I didn’t cut any scenes, just silly words like eventually, finally, really and other words that slow down the speed of the story. Believe me, when I edit it’s more like an interrogation of the manuscript, and it’s brutal.
The good news is that I almost made it. And if April 7 had not fallen right in the middle of the Easter weekend and left me with a very busy household, I would have made it. Yesterday I still thought I had a chance, if I used Los Angeles time instead of South African time, but an hour ago, I realized the game was up.
To give you an update of my progress, the edits are finished. What I normally do once the edits are finished is to convert my word file to a kindle file, load it on my kindle, and give it a final read through as a reader, not a writer. I have the uncanny ability to read a piece of my work as if I had not written it, so this final read through is very important. I always think of a book as a symphony, and when I read it for the last time, I’m listening to my book’s music, and listening for clangers. Yes, I just made up that word. But what I mean by that is anything that jars, anything that pulls you out of the story, like this. CLANG. It could mean a missing word, or an extra word, or a missing punctuation mark, anything like that.
That’s what I’m busy with now, but with the amount of interruptions I’m getting, I’ve had to put it aside. I’ve realized there is no point in trying to rush it, because I would hate to put out a product that isn’t as perfect as I can make it.
So I’m in the homestretch, and will announce it here the moment Hearts on Fire is available.
I want to say Tuesday but I don’t want to make any promises. Shh.
When Dr. Nancy Kendall, a trauma doctor from South Africa, took a stroll on a Mozambican beach, she had no idea how her life would change during her six-week holiday. She had gone to Mozambique to forget, but instead found a man who couldn’t remember his name or his past.
Driftwood is a 15000 word novella that I wrote to escape the monotony of editing a 96 000 word manuscript, which is of course, Crossfire: Hearts on Fire, the third book in the Crossfire Trilogy. My creative spirit needed relief from spending day after day analyzing words and sentences, and polishing my prose. While it is a necessary procedure, and those who have read my books know that I take it very seriously, it isn’t much fun.
Readers who have enjoyed the other two Crossfire novels will probably remember Karl Dietzen, Stefan’s cousin and right hand man. Though Karl is a secondary character in the series, he features prominently in Crossfire: Hearts on Fire, which prompted me to see if I could write a novella with Karl as a main character.
Driftwood takes place in the year 2000, three years before Stefan meets Marcelle, when he is still busy building Omega into the huge organization it was to become in later years. For readers who have grown to love Stefan, he doesn’t feature in Driftwood, except briefly near the end. But even that brief glimpse will give readers a strong insight into the kind of person he was before he met Marcelle.
Driftwood can stand alone as a romance novella, but also serves to introduce the Crossfire Series. So certainly, I am hoping that new readers will go on to pick up the rest of the series. For the next three months, Driftwood will be available on Amazon exclusively, but readers who use other platforms need not despair. If you have a PC, a tablet or a smartphone, you can go here to download the free kindle software that will enable you to read Driftwood.
And that’s not the only good news. Tomorrow (24th), Saturday (25th) and Sunday (26th), Driftwood will be free on Amazon. This is the first time I’m running a free promotion on Amazon, so take advantage while you can. And if you love it, please tell your friends, or drop a short review, if you have the time. A review can be a single sentence, such as these two from Nook readers. When I read that first review, I had a smile plastered on my face for three days straight. I don’t need long reviews, that first gut reaction is good enough for me.
This is just a little taste of my novel “Crossfire” which is available on Kindle and Smashwords. It is an action romance (does such a genre exist?) of approx 70 000 words and this excerpt below is the first chapter. All comments are welcome.
Time stood still for a long moment as the April sun sank behind tall buildings, rushing shadows applauding the victorious darkness. No birdsong comforted the sun as she bled from mortal wounds. Silence reigned in the industrial area on the outskirts of Paris, abandoned for the weekend.
A black crow sat on a rooftop, silhouetted against the bloodied battleground of the sky. The bird shook shiny feathers, peering at a large cat foraging in the alley. The cat scattered without warning, and then the bird heard it too, heavy footfalls, approaching fast.
A man appeared, running unsteadily, one outstretched hand using the filthy wall of the narrow alley for balance, and the other pressed against his abdomen. As the crow watched, the lean stranger stumbled and fell. Curious, the scavenger leaned forward with more interest. The man dragged himself back to his feet, uneasily glancing over his shoulder before resuming his run. The bird watched him go.
If the wounded man had seen the crow, he gave no sign as he continued his headlong flight into the dusk. He ran with the desperation of a hunted animal, intent only on survival. Though darkness exerted a stranglehold on the light, the fleeing man knew his ally wouldn’t triumph soon enough to save him. The deserted streets confirmed what he already knew, that he couldn’t expect help from anyone. Perhaps it was better this way. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if more innocents died in the crossfire.
The man knew he had reached the end of his strength reserves. He had run nearly two kilometers since escaping the hail of death directed at himself and his men. With every beat of his heart, he could feel more blood pouring out of the ragged exit wounds the bullets had left.
By now, his assailants knew he had escaped their ambush. Soon they’ll start combing the area, baying like bloodhounds at the scent of his spilled blood. The grim thought prompted a new turn of speed from his tired legs.
Then, he saw it. A yellow La Poste sign. He knew security gates barred the locked inner doors of the building’s lobby, but the outer swing doors couldn’t lock. The open doors allowed customers to collect their mail from the locked post boxes outside of normal hours.
His clouding vision fixed on the building, the man lurched towards his sanctuary, his boots crunching in the coarse gravel. The post office would afford him refuge, and a chance to fight. Undetected, he could remain there until dark, and then go to the emergency rendezvous.
He fell against the mirrored swing doors, using his momentum to push them open as he cast a final glance over his shoulder. He hung there for a moment, swallowing hard as he tried to still his ragged breathing, listening for sounds of pursuit.
Reassured, he picked a spot about ten feet from the entrance, and sank to the floor, resting his back against the wall, stretching his legs out in front of him. A moan escaped past tight lips as the pain threatened to overwhelm his senses. He pushed the darkness away, gritting his teeth. Pain signaled life, even as it promised possible death. The thought reminded him he had no time to waste.
Awkwardly he removed a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic from the belt of his jeans. His left arm was useless to him as he tried to reload the gun, but after a few failed attempts, the full magazine slid into the weapon. Feeling a surge of triumph, the man clasped the pistol between his knees and pulled the slide back with his right hand, feeding a bullet into the chamber. He put the gun on the floor next to him, ready for use. He repeated the process with a second identical pistol, afterwards pushing the weapon back into one of two holsters nestling in the small of his back.
His immediate survival assured, he put his right hand beneath his black leather jacket, trying to assess his injuries. He found his shirt and jeans soaked with blood, but he didn’t have the means, or the energy, to stop the bleeding. Shock had him in an icy grasp, stealing away his resolve. Nausea coiled in his stomach, and he shivered as an ominous chill infiltrated his body.
Fighting his failing senses, he realized he didn’t have the strength to walk to the emergency meeting. His assailants will find him, and corner him, in this cold, dark place. He’ll fight, but save one bullet for his own use, if things start to look hopeless. They’ll never take him alive, not again.
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Chapter Two is in the next post.