Delve into six stories from the paranormal realm…
Caveat Emptor (story one): Mark buys a house for half the market value. He’s thrilled with the deal, but he has no idea he’s about to discover the full cost. As they say, “Let the buyer beware.”
The Meaning of Life (story two): Eric obsesses over discovering the meaning of life. Given how thick-headed and self-absorbed he is, it will take someone else to spell it out for him in big, bold letters.
In the Sand Beneath the Dawn (story three): Carly has just about given up on life, but she’ll learn Fate isn’t finished with her, and is shuffling the cards to deal her new hand.
See You in My Dreams (story four): Arthur teeters between two places at once. Reality has split his existence into two parallel realities, and he doesn’t even know it. Unfortunately, life will only offer one solution to his problem.
Planet 94 (story five): Senja and Petre make the scientific discovery of a lifetime—a planet teeming with life. Among the ruins of a lost civilization, a new discovery will make them rethink everything they know about their own history.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving (story six): Samantha works hard and makes just enough money to get by with little to spare. When her company has a big celebration and she needs to buy a gift for her boss, she’ll get a taste of buyer’s remorse when she ignores her instincts and buys a gift from a strange little shop that hadn’t been there only yesterday.
What you can’t see can hurt you.
~~ Excerpt from Caveat Emptor, story one ~~
The alarm clock blared. Sunlight filtering through the window shades cast a sickly grey hue about the room. Three open moving boxes sat on the floor near the closet, their contents sorted into piles waiting to be moved to their appropriate places. Mark had moved in just four days ago.
The divorce had been bitter. His ex-wife got the house, the kids, and half of everything else. He got to pay the mortgage, alimony, and child support. He never would have been able to afford this place if it hadn’t been for the circumstances. Three previous owners, all young men, had died in this very bedroom. All had died in their sleep of unknown causes within days of moving in. Mark had laughed at the idea that the house was to blame. The first time he walked in, it had felt so welcoming, drawing him in. When he made a ridiculously low offer for the place, he’d been shocked when the bank accepted it without counter. Now, he lay motionless on the bed, beads of sweat glistening on his ashen face. Mark was dead. Number four. He wasn’t laughing any longer.
Jim Proctor has been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy since high school, bitten by the Sci-Fi bug while reading Frank Herbert’s Dune. He has worked as an engineer and laboratory scientist for almost forty years, and uses his expertise to create believable frameworks for his science fiction stories. He is married with four kids, all adults now, who remind him he was born before dirt was invented. He enjoys sitting down with his laptop and his new writing partner, Bailey, a two-year-old yellow Labrador.
OLD FLAMES BURN WHITE-HOT
Firefighter Jackson Donovan doesn’t look back—as a rule. So when his past comes roaring back to life in the form of not-so-damsel-in-distress Becks Benning, the last thing he wants to do is relive old times. No matter how tempting she makes it seem…
Now thanks to his two interfering brothers, Becks is living with him while she looks for a new place and tries to pick up the pieces of her tattoo business that went up in flames. Which means a grown up, smokin’ hot Becks is in his house, digging up old wounds. And despite his better judgement, the more time he spends with this smart, artistic, incredible woman the more he wants her in his bed—and his future.
Becks always had it bad for Jackson. Unfortunately for her, not much has changed—he’s still honorable, hard-working, sexy as sin—and closed off. But there’s more than one way to get to a man’s heart and if Jackson doesn’t want to recall old memories, she’ll just have to help him make new ones. Because now that she’s found Jackson again, she’s not letting him go.
Preview courtesy of Jaci Burton’s website
They’d gotten separated from the rest of the group when the downpour started, but that happened sometimes. Jackson hoped the rest of them were okay in the tents. For tonight, it was just him, Rafe and Kal.
They’d been lucky to find this abandoned piece of junk house, so they could have a roof over their heads during the storm. Jackson was on lookout tonight, because you never knew who might be prowling for space, or the cops might come and bust them and the last thing they needed was to be dragged back into some shitty foster home worse than the last one.
Foster homes were a crapshoot. Sometimes you got lucky and they were decent. More often than not you got people who were in it for the money, or the system was so overburdened with kids you ended up shuffled from one home to another and you couldn’t even remember anyone’s names. They sure as hell didn’t remember yours. And then sometimes you got the mean ones. At fourteen, Jackson could handle himself. Rafe was getting there at thirteen, but Kal was only twelve. As the oldest, Jackson was responsible for looking out for the younger ones. His brothers. Not by blood, but they were still his brothers.
No, they were better off on their own where they had each other’s backs and no one could ever hurt them again.
Tonight they gotten lucky and had a place to sleep out of the rain. They’d scored a whole pizza some jerkoff had left uneaten on his back porch while the dude was inside having an argument with his girlfriend, so they had full bellies. Rafe and Kal were asleep on the floor in another room while Jackson stood watch. He gazed out the living room window of the old beach house, watching lightning arc across the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was a bad one tonight and the rain was coming down hard.
He walked away from the water view and made his way to the front of the house. He scanned the street out front to make sure it was still clear. Because of the rain, no one was wandering around, which made him feel more secure.
Not that you could ever feel completely safe. Not when you lived like they did.
He pushed off the wall to wander around. Lots of windows in this place. He’d bet it was killer when the sun was out. But tonight the rain made it cold, so they’d shut all the windows earlier. His boots creaked on the worn wood floor. As he moved from room to room he could imagine a family with a couple of kids and maybe a dog running this joint. They’d probably have nice furniture, some cushy-looking couch where they’d all cuddle together and read at night.
He could still remember what it was like to have a family, though that had been a long time ago and there was no point living in the past. He wasn’t gonna get that life back.
Anyway, this was a decent beach house, and maybe someday it would get fixed up. Or maybe torn down. But tonight, it was their shelter and they didn’t have one of those very often.
Having made a circuit of the place, he returned to the living room and sat down in the corner. He leaned back against the wall and settled in.
Jackson woke up coughing, something burning his lungs so badly he couldn’t breathe. He tried to open his eyes, but when he did they burned.
He fought to suck in air, found his voice so he could call out for Rafe and Kal. They didn’t answer. His stomach tightened as he saw flames lick up the wall across the room.
Oh, shit. Fire. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want his brothers to be dead. Tears pricked his eyes as he tried to see through the thick, black smoke. He pushed himself onto his hands and knees, trying to remember where the door was, what room the boys were sleeping in. Had they been right next to him, or had he moved into another room? His brain was fuzzy and he couldn’t remember.
He coughed, the smoke entering his lungs with every breath he took. He pulled his raggedy T-shirt over his mouth, trying to stifle the smoke. He had to get to Rafe and Kal. He was the oldest. It was his job to save them.
He called out to them, rasping out a cough with every few words. But he kept at it. They had to hear him. If he could hear them, he could get to them. Then they’d figure a way out. Because no way were they dying in this piece-of-shit building today.
Finally, he heard voices. The sound was faint, but he wasn’t imagining it. He’d definitely heard it. It was them. It had to be them. Which meant they were alive. He crawled toward the sound, his own voice hoarse as he yelled out in response.
“I’m here! Hang on.” The smoke grew thicker and he could feel himself slipping away, but sheer determination kept him conscious. He was their brother. They’d been through so much together, had survived so much together. This fire wasn’t going to get them.
When he saw the light and the tall shadow looming over him, he thought maybe it was too late. He was dead and this was some dark angel come to take him away. But then strong arms scooped him up.
“It’s okay, buddy,” the dark angel said. “I’ve got you. You’re safe now.”
Jackson shook his head and gripped the angel’s arm, barely able to stay conscious. “My . . . my brothers.”
“They’re safe, too. They’re outside. Come on. Let’s get you out of here.”
Jackson sighed in relief and let himself fall into the darkness.
Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.
As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.
Alone and exhausted after her month-long sojourn as a shooting star, Solina Mundy flees to southern California to lie low, recuperate, and plot a survival strategy. The one person she trusts to watch her back is her best friend, Skyla Ramirez. But Skyla has been missing for weeks. The arrival of a dangerous stranger and the discovery of a legendary weapon of mass destruction force Solina out of hiding and back into the fight for her life.
Solina knows she won’t last long on her own. She must find out what happened to Skyla and unite her contentious allies if she hopes to track down this devastating weapon before her enemies use it to burn the world to ash.
While recovering from a devastating betrayal, Solina becomes increasingly drawn to Thorin as he helps her hunt down Skoll, the mythical wolf who vowed to kill her. If she can find and destroy the beast, she’ll bring a swift and brutal end to her enemies’ schemes. But nothing ever goes as planned in Solina’s strange new world.
During her search for Skoll, Solina uncovers a plot to unleash a battalion of legendary soldiers and launch an apocalyptic war. Before she and her allies can locate the fabled army, several ghosts from her past return to haunt her. Solina must fight for life and the fate of the world, or her hopes for love and a peaceful future will go up in flames.
Midnight Burning Excerpt
As if he sensed my reticence, Val made the move that he must have thought would convince me to agree. But it was the wrong move. He swooped me into his arms and kissed me, hard and possessive. For a heartbeat I saw an image of the earth sinking into a sea of fire, but reality returned in the next moment. Val’s kiss was brutish, like he was trying to claim me. I didn’t care for it at all, and I shoved at him. “Val, stop it,” I said, turning away to gasp for breath. I reached for my fire, but I never got the chance to use it.
This time when Thorin appeared, it wasn’t in his usual silent and sudden way. His arrival was loud, like a steam train roaring into the station, crashing against Val and slamming him into the wall. I gasped and jumped out of the way.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Val?” Thorin raged like an angry giant. Fee-fi-fo-fum, indeed. “She made it clear that she wants you to leave her alone.”
Val shoved against Thorin, his biceps bulging from the effort, but Thorin held him in place.
“She came to me,” Val said. “Apologizing, hoping to make up. Why don’t you ask her what she wants?” Val’s eyes darted to mine. “C’mon, Solina, tell us. You want me to keep my hands off?”
Thorin shoved him again. “It was a lot more than your hands.”
“Who do you think you are, Thorin? Her father? Her jealous lover? I know for a fact she’s never laid a hand on you.”
“You don’t know anything,” Thorin said.
Val’s certainty wavered for a second, his eyes flickering between me and Thorin. “Bullshit,” Val said, finally working up the force to push Thorin away. Val stormed over to his bed, grabbed the messenger bag containing his things, and slid the strap across his chest. “This is all bullshit.”
Fire simmered just under the surface of my skin, pushing like shaken champagne strains against a loose cork. The little devil on my shoulder urged me to let it out, convert all my feelings into a messy conflagration and burn down both Val and Thorin. Fortunately my voice of reason spoke louder. By the time I recovered my composure, Val was already out the door and making his way down the hall, so I turned my indignation on Thorin.
“What the hell?” I said. Thorin glared back at me, his eyes black and bottomless. “Who asked you to interfere?”
“Last night you announced to the whole house you were finished with Val. Then I come around the corner to find him plastered all over you, and you didn’t look like you were enjoying it.”
“Irrelevant!” I screeched. Thorin was intent on making me the damsel in distress, and I was sick of being underrated.
Thorin folded his arms over his chest and glared at me. “Who knew you were such a fickle creature, Miss Mundy?”
“It’s irrelevant because I was perfectly capable of handling Val on my own, but you always underestimate me. I’m not helpless. And stop calling me Miss Mundy. We both know you only do it to get under my skin.” I raged at him over the inconsequential because I didn’t want Thorin to know the depth of my confusion and hurt. Val’s insistence on treating me as some trophy to claim felt like a metaphorical fist squeezing my heart.
Thorin stepped closer and leaned down so that we were nose to nose. “And you continued to humor Val just to get under my skin.”
“Why won’t you understand that what happens between Val and me has nothing to do with you?”
Thorin leaned in even closer and dropped his voice. His warm breath brushed my cheek when he said, “Why won’t you understand just how wrong you are about that?”
“What are you saying?” My voice went dry and raspy as Thorin’s closeness filled my senses. My heartbeat changed from a frantic gallop to an anticipatory lope. My body was so quick to betray my convictions.
He brought his lips mere millimeters from mine and then stopped. His scent was thunderstorms and burnt sky. He cupped my face in his hands and rubbed a thumb over my lower lip. His touch was lightning, and it brought forth images of boiling clouds the color of bruises and winds like artillery, tearing into an army of shadows bearing claws and teeth. He growled, cursing in a language I did not recognize. If I’d had to guess, it probably translated to something along the lines of “damn it to hell.” Then he shook his head, and in a rough and broken voice he said, “I’m not like him. I won’t make his mistakes.”
All the stories in The Norse Chronicles can be purchased separately.
See below for those links and for A Norse Chronicles novella, not found in the collection above.
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Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, super heroes and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s curled up with a good book.
~ BOOK ONE ~
Elusive billionaire and sea dragon shifter, Murdoch Rudraige lives in the shadow of his successful twin and is tired of not being taken seriously within the Clan’s international shipping conglomerate.
Until Annalisa Bartello, an employee from California, crashes into the front gate of his seaside estate and assumes Murdoch is his twin brother. She is risking her life to bring them proof of a corporate traitor and he is lying to her.
Murdoch knows immediately that she’s his mate – but how can she love him after she learns he’s the screw-up twin and a sea dragon?
Until it’s settled, Murdoch isn’t willing to let her out of his sight. Not until he’s certain she is safe, and he has had time to figure out how to explain dragon shifters to the curvy human.
~ BOOK TWO ~
Devlin’s predictable life was about to implode… Thanks in part to a mystery woman’s New Year’s Eve kiss. And a competitor’s unprecedented appeal for help.
Sea Dragon shifter Devlin was comfortable with the routine of his Tokyo-based shipping executive job and his solo existence. Until the unexpected events of New Year’s Eve tipped his entire life on edge. Was he ready for the challenges? Was a crash course in drastic change a bad thing?
Like discovering the feisty human female is his fated mate?
And working with her, a virtual stranger, to track down a bomb toting madman?
You’ll love this book because everyone enjoys watching an odd couple become a team and work through their issues together.
~ BOOK THREE ~
Whenever his Sea Dragon chieftain called, Liam’s life went to shitte…
Hunters attacking the Druid’s secret island?
No sweat. Call a Zodiac Shifter Guardian.
Just not him…
Sea Dragon shifter Liam Rudraige was up to his eyeballs managing Muirdris’s shipping business at the Port of Dublin, plus the Port of Cork expansion, and all the while dodging stalker salesmen.
Until the boss called…and Liam was forced to swim the fastest undersea route to the Druid’s magical island sanctuary.
NY public relations guru, Heather Daniels, despises belligerent sales reps. Seriously, what could be worse?
Transferring to Ireland to discover she’s expected to clean up after her stalker-zilla predecessor. The aggressive jerk left a real mess. And the first executive listed on her make-amends-inventory, Liam Rudraige, has disappeared.
~ STAY TUNED, BOOK FOUR ~
~ Coming the end of May 2019 ~
~ FUTURE RELEASE, BOOK FIVE ~
~ Coming July 2019 ~
~ CHECK OUT THESE WONDERFUL SERIES BY CJ MATTHEW! ~
Extreme Reboot (TBA)
Fatal Tide (TBA)
The Colonel’s Daughters, A Quintet
Compromising the Captain (TBA)
Stay connected with CJ Matthew at any of these locations…..