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Now Available in Print

December 31, 2008

Woohoo! Stripped Away is now available in print. Check out your local bookstores or favorite online vendors so you can oggle a copy of your very own. 🙂 Seeing as I was celebrating its release earlier on my publisher’s chat loop, I thought I’d post a little Stripped Away Trivia and an excerpt.

First the trivia:

1. The title for Stripped Away came to me before I even had much of the plot figured out.

2. It’s book two in my Shadow Destroyer series, but can be read as a stand-alone.

3. The Dolphin’s Cry by Live was the song I listened to the most while writing Stripped Away.

4. I wrote it in just under two months (not counting editorial revisions *g*).

5. A telepath Destroyer named Darcy caught me by surprise in Stripped Away. Her story will be the last in the series.

Stripped Away

Nothing gives Quinn a rush like hunting and vanquishing the very demons that changed her life. But lately something is off. Way off. Nightmares she can’t explain, irrational fears surfacing at the most unexpected moments. And when her twin sister vanishes, Quinn’s world starts to come apart at the seams.

Since becoming an agent for the Shadow Destroyers, Braxton has excelled at playing by the rules. Until, in a moment of weakness, he let his common sense desert him for one night in Quinn’s arms. A night she doesn’t remember. For weeks he’s kept their relationship strictly professional, but seeing Quinn so edgy and lost puts his telepathic abilities—and his restraint—to the test.

As the search for her sister intensifies and everything Quinn thought she knew comes into question, Braxton seems to be the one true thing she can hold onto. Until she discovers he’s been keeping a very big secret of his own.

One that may destroy her trust just when she needs him the most.


“Something going on with you lately?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” she said without looking at him, stabbing the still unlit buttons just for good measure.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. How long until this death crate moves?”

“They said a few minutes.”

Might as well have been a few hours. She needed to focus. All around her she could feel the four walls creeping closer. Her heart thundered like a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred tearing up the track.

Braxton lifted a hand and she instinctively pulled back from his touch. She snapped her gaze to his, fighting not to lose it.

“I’m not going to hurt you.”

“I know.” And she did know it, but hell she wanted out of this box. She eyed the ceiling tiles again.

“You’re not thinking about—” He caught her hand this time. “You’re shaking.”

The warmth from his hand spread over her wrist and up her arm.

“I don’t like this.” Admitting even that much was hard.

He started to let go of her. “Don’t like what?”

She grabbed hold of his hand—an anchor for her now. Distraction. She needed to focus on something until the elevator got moving. The clicks and snaps of the maintenance worker ticked in her eardrum like a bomb. Braxton was all she had and the adrenaline whooshing through her system brought the first thought right to her lips.

“What did I do?”

He frowned.

“What did I do that you suddenly found it hard to be around me?”

When he didn’t respond right away, she tightened her grip. “I want to know what changed things. Why we can’t be in the same room anymore without you glaring at me and meaning it?”

“I didn’t mean it before?” The teasing comment was a transparent attempt to avoid answering the question.

Another loud creak up the shaft had her closing her eyes. A wave of nausea hit her hard and she pressed her lips together. She had to get out of here. She moved away from him and into the corner of the elevator where she could use the railings to give her a little boost up.

“Don’t.” Braxton reached for her.

She pushed him away. The walls eased closer and she could hear her own panicked whimpers in the back of her mind. “I can’t stay in here.”

“Slow down. Talk to me, Quinn. Tell me what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. I can’t breathe, I can’t think in here.” Her back hit the wall, the smooth finish almost hot against her rapidly cooling skin. She splayed a palm against the wall, cringing at how close it felt. Her knees quivered, threatening to give out and dump her to the floor.

“Easy.” He lowered his voice and for a moment the soothing tone penetrated the thick fog that made it impossible to think beyond the fact it was dark and she couldn’t move more than a few feet in any direction.

What was happening to her?

Braxton slid an arm around her back, drawing her closer.

She bit her lip against the sigh of relief that tore through her, and buried her face against the strong column of his throat. His arms locked around her, making her feel safe. Protected.

That should have been a laugh. She’d been on her own long enough that she hadn’t thought she needed to feel protected.

“It’s okay,” he murmured against her hair, the gesture so familiar she might have dreamed this before. He rubbed her back in lazy circles. “Tell me what’s happening with you Quinn.”

“I don’t know,” she managed, her throat too tight to get any more words past without making it obvious how close to tears she was.

The lights flickered on full and the elevator resumed its climb. Her heart slowed, but she didn’t loosen her hold on him, didn’t let him back away either.

The doors chimed and slid open on their floor, but she didn’t move. Nothing should have stopped her from flying straight out of there and embracing a wider space. Nothing save how good it felt tucked in his arms.

He didn’t force her away, and her pulse ticked off the seconds as she waited for exactly that. Waited for him to act as though holding her was the worst sort of chore. Instead, he slowed the lazy circles, but didn’t stop.

Quinn tipped her face back, her breath still fast and shallow. His finger brushed her cheek as he tucked her hair behind her ear. She could feel each plane of skin and muscle pressed intimately against hers, feel it warming her straight through.

“You okay?” The question slid out in a tone she didn’t recognize. His dark amber gaze traveled over her face, nothing resembling the customary cynicism that he reserved just for her lately present.

“I’m better now.” How could she not be? She was in his arms, and not there just long enough to be tossed right over his shoulder from their sparring days.

She studied the shadowed jaw he was content not to shave more than every few days. Full lips parted, his breath warm on her cheek. Her insides knotted but for completely different reasons than moments ago. The palm against her back tightened, his fingertips sinking into her skin with enough pressure to make her aware of the way his attention had dropped to her mouth.

The urge to close her eyes and push up on her toes to meet his lips swirled through her.

“Sorry about that.” The unfamiliar voice pushed them apart as the maintenance guy studied his clipboard as they stepped hastily onto the main floor. Quinn wasn’t sure if she imagined the soft squeeze of Braxton’s fingers over her hip before he put distance between them.

With no further explanation, the man disappeared into the elevator, leaving them alone once more. Her gaze wandered to the overhead numbers lighting up as the elevator descended. What had happened in there? She had never freaked like that before, never felt so vulnerable.

“Tell me what’s going on with you.”

She didn’t need to look at him to know the tender side had vanished back under his usual detached demeanor, and she allowed herself a moment to mourn the loss. Then she squared her shoulders, buried the need to go back to how they’d been seconds ago, and spun on her heel.

“I’ll see you at the debriefing.”

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