A little while back, I shared an excerpt from the paranormal romance I’m writing. I didn’t share the beginning, however, and later thought that maybe I should have! So here’s the opening to the book!

I am in final edits now, and I am super excited about it! It’s hot and funny and action-filled and angsty and and pretty much everything I was hoping it would be.


I got home late, switched on a light, and someone grabbed me from behind. His forearm squeezed against my throat.

A shock went through me like being struck by lightning. Every muscle in my body locked up at once. I screamed and started to fall. His other arm clamped around my ribs.

The pain receded. I tried to scream again. As in a nightmare, I couldn’t get out more than a small cry.

He dragged me to the kitchen and dropped me in one of the chairs.

My arms and legs refused to move. I felt both numb and stuck full of knives. A loaded .22 waited in the drawer of my nightstand, but a lot of good it did me now. Eighteen years of target practice with my dad and my sister, not to mention hunting with Uncle Charlie, all going to waste.

My thighs were damp. Jesus. I had peed my pants.

Breathe. I needed to breathe. The air shook in my lungs as he tied my wrists to the back of the chair.

“You tased me,” I gasped. Stupid. Obviously he had.

“One-second burst,” he stated, in a detached baritone voice. Crouching down, he bound my calves to the chair legs with plastic ties. I tried to kick him in the face. My foot only twitched.

“Who are you?” Like he was going to hand me a business card.

A robber with any sense would choose a nicer house. I didn’t like the other possibilities.

He straightened and stepped back, and I got my first look at him. White, with narrow steel-blue eyes, in a rawboned, hostile face. I would need to describe him to the police. Hopefully. Over six feet tall, broad shoulders. Light brown hair cropped very short on the sides and just a little longer on top. Military?

Around my age, thirty-two, or a couple of years older. His nose had a slight bend in the middle, as though it had once been broken.

No one would have seen him, way out in my little rented house past the city limits. Or if they did, he wouldn’t stand out much, in a black tee shirt, jeans, and a backpack. Sometimes people liked to walk in the desert, especially on a cool night.

He locked the front door, turning the double bolt with a click. As he strode back to me, images of the sickest crimes I had ever heard of flashed through my head. Torture, sexual violence. Cannibalism. My pulse slammed in the side of my neck as though the vein might explode.

“Please don’t kill me,” came out of my mouth. “Or rape me.”

Did he flinch? No, he couldn’t have. “I’m not a rapist.”

Just a killer, then? Anger washed through me like a fresh current of electricity. “Is this how you get off?”

He set the backpack on the floor and unzipped it, saying, “I’m going to cover your mouth so you can’t cast a spell.”

“A spell.” Had I really heard him right? “You’re insane.”

He leaned close with a length of duct tape. I jerked my face away, but he still managed to press it hard over my mouth. A strand of my long hair got caught in it, tickling the corner of my lip.

The numb prickly feeling had dissipated. I struggled hard against the zip ties. I wasn’t particularly strong, five foot five and average sized, but maybe adrenaline would give me the strength to pull right through them, or break the chair. They only bit through my skin. Stupid well-made furniture.

The impassivity in his shadowed, sculpted face made him look like an angel of death.

“Cassandra Rios, you are accused of using deadly magic against your enemies.” Nobody called me Cassandra, except my dad, when I had gotten in trouble as a kid.

I was in trouble now. Would the cops tell my parents they had found my body? Would anyone find it, or would he hide it somewhere?

“A jaguar killed your ex-husband Richard Belton six months ago.”

Shit. The animal attacks.

I wanted to scream, They weren’t my fault!

Though I wasn’t sure that was true.