I hope everyone's enjoying the festive season. Everything's nice and peaceful in my house - yep, this year I've turned into one of those people I hate - prepared. I've done all the shopping I can and put up all the decorations.
But I'm not just writing to brag - although clearly it is one of the reasons - I'm also writing to let you know that it's my intention to release Book Four in the Supernatural Enforcers Agency series before Christmas. It will be about Gerry and Jessie. There's a quick peek below, and I'll let you know when it's available on Amazon.
Sealed with a Hiss peek
Jessie Duchamp hummed Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree as she poured herself another cup of punch. It was supposed to be non-alcoholic, but she guessed by the swaying figures and chuckling pair of hyenas from HR that there was a secret ingredient in there. Not that she minded. It was Christmas, and if that wasn’t the time to get merry off your ass, then when was it? Her squirrel twittered in agreement.
She shuffled her curvy frame around the makeshift dancefloor. A tall, redheaded tigress and a vampire were practically dry humping one another as they danced.
“Get a room, Isis!” yelled a tall lioness from the other side of the floor.
The redhead flipped her the bird and curled herself even closer to the coldly sensual vampire. He caught Jessie staring and licked his tongue over his fangs. Her squirrel almost jumped out of her fur, and Jessie scuttled away in the other direction.
Hey, shifters she could handle. She was used to shifters. She grew up with shifters. Blood sucking fiends were another matter. But, she guessed she would have to get used to them.
At twenty-three, Jessie had just completed a masters in computer science and she had been snatched up by the Los Lobos Supernatural Enforcers Agency. Headhunted to join their tech division. She was thrilled. Her mom hadn’t stopped squealing for two days when she told her.
Today was her first day, and it also coincided with the agency’s Christmas party. She supposed that was a good thing; you never really knew a person until you’d seen them blind, stinking drunk.
A tall, rangy looking shifter jogged her arm as he brushed past her. “Sorry,” he murmured with a wide, toothy smile. Hmmm, alligator. “Damn, it spilt on your sweater.” He pointed a long finger at a blossoming dark mark on her boob.
“Well, I know one way you can apologize.” With a saucy smile, Jessie pulled out a sprig of mistletoe and dangled it over her head. Hey, she was a computer geek, not a prude.
The gator raised his eyebrows before letting out a raucous guffaw. He bent down and planted a whopper on her lips before sauntering away.
Yep, that was victim number four. Who was going to be next? She weaved in and out of the crowd. She avoided getting too near any vampires for fear that they might not stop at a kiss. Her blood was fine where it was, thank you very much.
She spotted a group of her own kind – geeks – and decided to join them. Robbie, a bobcat shifter she met earlier, beamed at her and pushed his glasses up his nose as she approached. Her squirrel bounced up down. He was boyishly handsome with tousled brown hair and dark blue eyes, while sporting a fair amount of muscle. But most importantly, he loved Dr. Who and also thought that Firefly was the best TV show ever made. She’d already snagged him for a kiss and he had blushed fiercely. He was cute and sweet - yes, he was just her type. Although, he was technically her supervisor, she wondered whether she could circumvent the rule about colleagues not dating.
She slipped into the group and listened as they listed the reasons why the Captain America movie was nowhere near as good as the comics. She was never really into comics, so she tuned away and found Cora staring at her. Despite herself, she jumped.
“Oh, Cora! You startled me.”
“Sorry,” said Cora unapologetically as she wandered away.
Cora was a mole shifter another new recruit to the tech division. They had both spent the morning being inducted and given a tour of the building. But while Jessie tried to flippantly crack jokes, Cora had a more serious mien. Cora seemed to be very wary of everyone. Even now she was watching everyone with suspicion, as if they might all just attack at any minute. Jessie thought she was crazy – everyone she’d met had been wonderful and so friendly. She looked around the room at her new colleagues in various stages of inebriation and knew she was right – they were terrific.
The gator shifter she had accosted earlier was standing around with a group of equally big, tough looking male shifters. He saw her looking and winked. A group of witches were creating some alarming indoor fireworks that didn’t seem to cause any alarm in anyone else. Towards the back of the room congregated the SEA directors. They were distinguishable by their suits, tolerant smiles directed at their subordinates and the fact that they weren’t either hammered or on their way to being so. They were far too fancypants for her. In her squirrel colony, there were only two occasions when suits were appropriate – mating ceremonies and funerals. Anything in between could be navigated with a reasonably clean sweater and slacks.
The argument over the Red Skull started to get a little heated so Jessie ducked away to grab some more punch.
“Glad you decided to work here?” Robbie asked, suddenly appearing at her elbow.
“Definitely,” she replied enthusiastically. She was itching to get to work.
They looked up as a dark, grouchy looking wolf shifter slammed his fist into a jaguar shifter. A huge polar bear shifter stepped between them breaking it up before it could really get started.
Robbie waggled his eyebrows. “Still glad?”
Jessie giggled. “Yes, very.”
“Guys, guys, guys!” yelled the redheaded tiger shifter of earlier running into the middle of the room. “It’s snowing!”
There was a collective ooohhhh and a stampede as everyone rushed to find a window. Jessie squeaked as she was caught up with the crowd. She knew that snow was rare in the sunny climes of Los Lobos, but come on!
She caught a helpless look on Robbie’s face as she was swept away. Fearing being trampled to death by larger shifters, she ducked into a corridor as soon as she could. Unlike the rest of the building, it wasn’t decorated with garish holiday decorations. Undeterred, Jessie tried the first door she came to and smiled as she saw it was an office with a huge window. And yep, it was snowing. She giggled and ran to the room, practically pressing her nose against the glass. Okay, maybe she was a sucker for a bit of snow, but it conjured images of making snowmen with her siblings and sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows while her dad told ghost stories and her mom knitted holiday sweaters. Yeah, the Waltons had nothing on them.
“May I help you?” demanded a cool voice.
Jessie yelped as her squirrel chittered in alarm and she banged her head against the window. Jessie looked round to find a man half-shrouded in darkness, sitting at a desk and obviously regarding her with interest. He was hard to make out in the darkness of the office, but she caught the hard lines of his face.
“Damn, you scared the hell out of me!” she scolded him while rubbing her forehead.
The surprise was obvious in his voice. “I’m sorry?”
“You should be,” she huffed.
He leaned back in his chair and she caught the glint of glass as he sipped his drink. “Why aren’t you at the party?”
“Why aren’t you?”
He let out an exasperated snort. “This is my office you just happened to crash into.”
Jessie felt a tug of chagrin. “Oh. Whoops.” Her squirrel was silent, for a change. Neither annoyed nor scared by this stranger, more… intrigued.
He flicked a light on and she stifled a gasp. Okay, he wasn’t just Mr. Dark and Miserable, he was Ms. Dark, Miserable and Pant-wettingly Gorgeous! He wasn’t usually her type, but his hard, brooding face and silver eyes made her insides quiver.
He stood and made his way over to her; his movements were fast and fluid, like he was gliding her way. She had a brief panic as she suspected he might be a vampire, but a quick sniff confirmed that he was a shifter. A python to be exact. That wasn’t much comfort – squirrels were easy prey for the enormous snakes. Even if he did smell even better than cocoa, marshmallows and peanut butter all put together. Yep, she would love to just lick and bite her way over his hard body…
She felt an immediate flush of shyness as he approached. Faced with this immaculate man in a designer suit, she was all-too aware that she was wearing a Rudolph sweater with a light-up nose and her hair was streaked with festive shades of green and red. What had seemed like a fun idea that morning now felt completely out of place. Lord, she must have looked demented.
Her animal mewled as he peered down at her, his lithe frame easily topping six-feet and towering over her own five-foot-four. “I doubt you’ll bruise.”
“Hmmmm?” What was he talking about?
“Oh!” Right, yeah, that embarrassing thing that happened like two minutes ago. “Well, I’m a fast healer.”
He inhaled softly and his eyes shuttered slightly. “Squirrel.”
“Python,” she retorted.
A corner of his mouth tugged upwards but quickly settled back into a thin line. “Who are you?”
“Jessie… ah, Jessica Duchamp. I just started today. I’ll be working in tech support.”
“That explains why I’ve never seen you around before,” he muttered, thoughtfully. His eyes strayed to her breasts, and either he was mightily interested in Rudolph and the punch stain, or he was just impressed by her rack which seemed to be heaving a mile a minute. That was all thanks to her squirrel who was starting to get a little giddy.
“So, Ms. Duchamp, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Well, there was the party, and then someone shouted out that it was snowing. So everyone was stampeding everywhere and I didn’t want to get crushed so I ducked in here, and then, well, you know the rest.” She blushed furiously under his piercing gaze. “So how come you’re in here all alone.”
He smiled coldly, but moved a couple of inches closer to her. “I’m not one for celebrating.”
“But it’s Christmas, and it’s snowing. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate?” she murmured, ignoring the urge to move closer to him, too.
He snorted and looked out the window. Her squirrel simpered as she studied his handsome form. A flush of arousal trickled through her, making her body ache with need. Maybe it had been a couple of months since her last boyfriend, but being close to any other man had never felt anything like this. His scent, so warm and comforting, yet delicious and sensual seemed to invade her senses. She felt almost lightheaded, like every cogent thought in her head had fled, leaving only the desire to be near this male.
His eyes flickered to her hand. “What’s that?”
Jessie came to her senses and realized she was still clutching the mistletoe. “Oh! It’s nothing,” she stammered, pressing it behind her back.
“It looks like mistletoe to me,” he said, unemotionally.
“Oh… ah… I…”
Damn, what was wrong with her? With men she was usually so flirty and teasing. But getting this one up close turned her into the village idiot. Well, wasn’t she in comparison to him? He was cool, calm and sophisticated in his tailored suit, with his lavish office and aged whiskey. She was just guessing about that last part – in truth she had no idea. She was more of a rum and coke kind of girl – cheap rum at that. Or a cocktail like sex on the beach. Hmmm, yes, sex on the beach with this guy sounded appealing. Just finding out what he hid under his perfect suit sounded appealing. Her little beast chirped in agreement.
He leaned dangerously close to her as his hand snaked around her back. She could feel his breath tickling her cheek as his chest grazed hers. The brief touch instantly made her nipples harden. He stiffened and she shrieked in surprise as her sweater came to life and a tinny rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer started playing from her chest area. Yeah, it didn’t just light up – it played music, too. It had seemed cute in the shop, damnit!
Her squirrel groaned and almost slapped her paws over her eyes to hide herself from the shame of it all. Could she have been any less sexy at that moment? Only if she’d been wearing one of her Gram-Gram’s flowery housecoats, hair curlers and a wheatgrass face mask – that combination was enough to wilt any man’s arousal.
He used the distraction to pluck the mistletoe out of her hand. He twirled it between his long fingers. “Nice sweater.”
“I thought it was cute.”
“It is – very,” he breathed. “Were you planning on using this?” He held up the mistletoe.
“I already have,” she admitted, ignoring her squirrel’s harrumph. A lady would never kiss and tell, as her Great Aunt Ruthie would say. Course, she had pretty much dated every man in her small town, so she really couldn’t judge.
His lips tightened, and his eyes seemed to be swirling with black. “How many times?”
“Not many. Would you like to use it?” She blurted that last part without thinking. Or rather, she blurted that last part because she was thinking with her libido. Her animal twittered in approval, but Jessie felt like an idiot. She half expected him to laugh right in her face. Before he got the chance she tried to move away, but he stopped her.
She gasped as one of his strong arms slid around her body, pulling her tautly against his. His arm settled around her waist as softly, but insistently his lips pressed against hers. Her beast practically fainted like a southern belle. She moaned at his taste, the sweet, heady flavor danced along her lips, warming them before spreading throughout her body, making every inch of her shudder in awareness. Soon – far too soon – he pulled away from her and she realized he really had been holding the mistletoe over their heads. Surprisingly, she also noted that her own hands had crept up his chest and were clutching at his shoulders. Even more shocking was the evidence of his desire pressing right into her stomach, and it was a damn impressive amount of desire, more than she’d handled before.
“Oh, my,” she whispered, while her squirrel fanned herself.
He viewed her through hooded eyes. The coolness of his eyes was tempered by his lust, but also something else, something like recognition. He tossed the mistletoe to the ground as he pressed his forehead against hers and closed his eyes, murmuring one word, “Mate.”
And naturally, at that moment, her sweater broke out into another verse of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.