3 Romantic Suspense Excerpts: Deceived, Mercury Striking, and Into the Fury

Today, I’m pleased to share excerpts from Deceived by Kate SeRine, Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti, and Into the Fury by Kat Martin.

These are excerpts we shared during tours when we were on Books That Hook. Because that website got deleted, we are trying to restore all of our content, in some fashion. Instead of posting the entire tour for each, which would no longer be relevant, we decided to just retain the excerpts for our readers to continue enjoying.

Some of the excerpts are long, so click the MORE button if you want to continue reading.

Excerpt from DECEIVED by Kate SeRine

“I thought we were safe here,” Sarah said, her arms crossed over her chest.
“We’re as safe here as anywhere until we get to my place,” Luke assured her.
She lifted a brow. “Yet you’re acting like you expect someone to come barging in and attack us at any moment.”
He took a step closer and immediately realized his mistake when his heart started pounding at the nearness of her. Shit. He shoved his hands into his pockets to keep from touching her. “If being paranoid is what’s going to keep you and your son alive,” he said, “then guilty as charged.”

“Please don’t take this the wrong way, Luke,” she began, edging closer, damn it all, “but why does it matter so much to you if Eli and I are safe? You don’t know us. I get that you’ve been given an order, but I also heard you talking to your commander and know you’d rather be somewhere else. If you’d insisted that someone else watch over us, I would’ve understood. I can just go to the police, tell them what happened. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Luke stared at her for a long moment, trying to figure out the answer to her question. Hell if he knew why it mattered so much to him that he keep them safe. In the technical sense, he protected people every day and had for going on fifteen years when he added up his time in the military and then working for the government and now with the Alliance. But she was right—this assignment was hitting him on a level he hadn’t anticipated.
“I guess because, when I wasn’t much older than Eli, someone took my mother and me in, watched over us when we needed it,” he finally said, not sure where the explanation was even coming from. “And someone else did the same thing for me again a few years ago when I was in a really dark place—except this time the enemy I was up against was myself. If it wasn’t for that person stepping in, I don’t know where I’d be. But dead is a damned good bet.”
Sarah straightened. “Oh. God. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Luke told her. He shook his head as his vision went a little blurry. Suddenly too tired to stand, he leaned against the edge of the sink. “I made a promise to keep you and Eli safe, Sarah. I’ll keep it. There’s no way I’d abandon you, so don’t worry about it.”
The next thing he knew, Sarah’s arms were around his neck, hugging him tightly. He resisted the urge to wrap his arms around her and hold her close, to bury his face in her hair and let the warmth of her wash over him. But when she pressed a kiss to his cheek and whispered, “Thank you,” in his ear, he almost gave in.
Fortunately, before he could move, she stepped away and hurried back into the room with Eli, leaving Luke gaping at the empty doorway and wondering exactly what the hell he’d gotten himself into…

Excerpt from MERCURY STRIKING by Rebecca Zanetti

Jax rubbed his gritty eyes and left Lynne in his room, already planning how to best use her. He strode down the worn concrete stairs to what had always been a crappy alcove that served as entrance to the upper two floors of the rentcontrolled brick building. The first floor had consisted of a free medical clinic, soup kitchen, and offices for attorneys down on their luck. When he’d created the Vanguard headquarters, he’d changed the clinic into a triage infirmary, the soup kitchen into a soldier cafeteria, and the offices into his war rooms. He’d tossed legal books out in favor of weapons.
Well, he’d actually burned them for fuel. The old laws no longer mattered. Then he’d promptly punched doorways between the three areas for better access.
He hit the alcove, turned to go through the new doorway to the soup kitchen, which was dead empty at the hour of dawn. The smell of burned tomatoes followed him as he skirted tables and rickety lawn chairs for another new doorway, this one to the former waiting room of the clinic.
Banging echoed from the back of the suite, so he crossed behind the dented reception desk. He found his man in a room that used to be the lunch room of the clinic. A blue halogen lantern gave off an otherworldly glow in the small space.

“How much B do we have now?” he asked.
Tace Justice, dressed in full combat gear, glanced up from a microscope they’d found at a junior high several months ago. It rested on a surprisingly smooth wooden table in the center of the room, across from a counter lined with other medical supplies. “Finished the inoculations for this month, except for yours, and this is it. We’re out, kaput, done.” He stood and grabbed a syringe. “Since you’re here, let’s wrap this up.”
Jax grimaced and tilted his head to the side.
The needle slid in, and fire flamed through his neck. “You have the finesse of a fucking elephant,” he muttered.
Tace shrugged. “I was a field medic, not a doctor or a nurse. Take it and shut up, or go to the main infirmary for civilians in the center of Vanguard territory.”
Jax scrubbed both hands down his face and glanced at a child’s drawing of a distorted blond guy with his head open taped to the wall. “Is that supposed to be you?”
“Yep.” The Texas twang deepened. “Not sure what it means, and the open head is a little creepy, but it’s nice the kids found some crayons.”
“Lena?” Jax asked with a sigh.
“Of course.”
The little girl often found a way to wander into military headquarters to give presents, and Jax had a drawer in his quarters of oddly shaped and painted rocks she’d showered on him. “They need to do a better job of keeping the kids inner territory.”
“Then you should go inner territory more so folks can see you,” Tace said.
Jax avoided going beyond his command unless absolutely necessary and stuck to the perimeter of the seven square blocks, making sure their defenses stayed shored up. Barbed wire fencing protected the entire territory, which was a trick he’d learned from serving at several military bases, and he didn’t want to discuss going inner territory. “We’ve been getting shot up with B for months. Is there any chance our own bodies will take over production of the vitamin so we don’t need the shots?”
“Hell if I know, and so far, the new data hasn’t helped. Nobody knows about Scorpius.” Tace winced. “I can just affirm from my own review of the public documents initially sent out by the CDC that vitamin B, in this concentrated form, provides a protection so that if somebody contracts Scorpius, they might live through it. The B seems to keep the bacteria from spreading in the body. By testing those who have confessed to being survivors, the CDC discovered the Scorpius bacteria localizes just in saliva and blood.” Tension rode his words. “Of course, most survivors don’t tell me the truth in our community, so I don’t know who has been infected.”
In his past life, Tace had been an army medic after having grown up on a Texas ranch with several siblings, all of whom had succumbed to Scorpius. Now he gave off a vibe of being one with the universe and at peace. But he was a damn good medic who at least somewhat understood Scorpius and vitamin B.
Jax grimaced as thunder rolled again. Shit, they needed rain but not bad wind. “It’s a vitamin,” he muttered. “Vitamin fuckin’ B.”
Tace blew out air. “The B vitamins deal with dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which has something to do with hormones and empathy. That’s all I know.”
Jax scratched his stinging neck. “Have you had much of a chance to go through the data we took from the CDC outpost and contracted labs in the area?”
“We went through it for medical data, but some of it was pretty confusing.” Tace stretched his shoulders. “Why?”
Jax rubbed his chin. “Lynne Harmony thinks she might be able to find a concoction that creates B in the blood so we won’t need constant injections. She’s not telling me everything, but I think she was truthful about that.”
Tace stilled. “Interesting. The research I read did talk about B quite a bit, but some of it might as well have been in Sanskrit.”
“You don’t know much.”
“Probably not nearly as much as Lynne Harmony does.” Tace turned and leaned back against the counter, scattering papers. “Is it true? Do you have her?”
“Yeah.” Jax looked at the collections of drugs, chemicals, and test tubes, which had already been in place in the building. They’d made good use of the facilities, mainly because the compound was situated perfectly to protect and defend. A row of warehouses lined the rear of his territory, backed by an old street and several worn railroad tracks. Then many apartment buildings congregated around an old elementary school that now served as the main hospital for his people. Several businesses took up space with a church in the center.
The seven square blocks also had held a food distribution center by the warehouses, which was now well guarded. He’d immediately run barbed wire around the entire territory inside the public roads while barricading it with semi trucks, vans, cars, and piles of tires on the roads outside.
Yet an attack was coming. He could feel it. “Do you have the facilities necessary to study her blood, if she gives it?”
“If?” Tace asked slowly, crossing his arms.
“Answer the question,” Jax ordered his chief medic. Now there were three doctors inner territory, but he trusted Tace most. They’d known each other for almost six months and had fought, killed, and nearly died next to each other during rounds of attacks. The six-foot blond had been on leave from the army when the shit had hit the fan. “Please answer.”
“No.” Tace rubbed his square jaw. “We don’t even remotely have the resources to study her blood, so there’s no reason to take any of it. Did you see her heart? Is it really neon blue like in the pictures?”
“Yes.” The CDC and newspapers had shown pictures of Lynne’s heart before the epidemic had spread. “If I can somehow find you the right equipment to take her blood, maybe you can create a cure?” Jax asked.
Tace snorted. “Sure. I mean, the CDC and some of the smartest doctors on the planet were unable to do so, but why the hell not?” He gestured around the makeshift lab. “Without electricity and millions of dollars of high-tech equipment, the most I can do here is look under an old microscope. There’s no way for us to find any sort of cure in her blood, even if there is somehow a cure that the real CDC missed.”
Jax exhaled slowly. “No need to be an asshole. Just think about it.” The second they lost hope of survival, they lost everything. “Hope is the dream of a waking man.”
Tace snorted. “I like that quote better than the we’re all gonna die quotes you spouted yesterday.”
Jax rubbed his aching temple. “I was moody, and now you seem concerned.” Tace was as good-natured as they got, and Jax relied on him to cheer up the troops when necessary, which was more often than not.
“Concerned?” Tace slowly nodded. “Based on the rumors we’ve heard, you’ve brought a woman rumored to be carrying something more dangerous than the Ebola, AIDS, and smallpox viruses combined with the plague, meningitis, and flesh-eating bacteria into our barely secured home base, and you’re keeping her at command headquarters.”
“Her knowledge is our hope. Our only hope.” Jax rolled his shoulders. “You know as well as I do that there a million unfounded rumors out there. Yeah, they say she’s carrying a new, even more deadly mutation of the contagion, but you know that’s probably not true. We know for sure she’s the one person still alive with the best chance of finding a cure.” Though he’d expected resistance from his men, he hadn’t thought Tace would be reluctant. “This could turn the tide.”

 

Excerpt from INTO THE FURY by Kat Martin

After he’d talked to Heather and a couple of the other girls about the notes they’d received, he’d decided to concentrate on the four women who lived in the Seattle area, since the note had likely come from someone in the vicinity.

That meant Valentine, Megan, Delilah, and Isabel. He’d spoken to all but Isabel and come up with zilch.

He figured Mark Dargan, Valentine’s trainer, was worth talking to. As Ethan shoved through the glass front door, the familiar sounds of clanking metal and the thud of weights dropping onto rubber mats reached him. The air conditioner hummed, keeping the rooms just shy of chilly, exactly the way he liked to work out.

At the front desk he asked for Dargan, found him easily. Six feet tall, blond and athletic, the guy seemed popular with everyone in the gym. He was working with a client, midforties, balding, and probably fighting to keep the weight off. Fortunately, the workout was coming to an end.

Finished with the last set, Dargan’s client set down the barbells, said good-bye, grabbed his workout towel, and headed off to the showers.

“You’re Mark?”

“That’s right.”

“Ethan Brodie. I’m working security for La BelleYou know the name, right?”

“Yeah. One of my clients models for La Belle.”

“Valentine Hart.”

“That’s right. What can I do for you?”

“With the show coming up, we’re trying to nail down any potential problems before they arise. Valentine mentioned she’d had trouble a couple of times with guys working out at the gym. Said you’d handled them.”

Dargan shrugged a set of lean-muscled shoulders. The guy was in great shape. But he got paid to be, same as Ethan.

“Wasn’t any big deal,” Dargan said. “One or two got flirty, tried to get a date. One got a little pushy.” Mark grinned. “I told him I was Val’s boyfriend and he’d better leave her alone.”

“Are you?”

Mark shook his head. “Don’t I wish. She’s too busy for men. Or at least that’s what she says. We’ve never really been more than friends anyway, and besides, I’ve started seeing someone.”

“Good for you.”

“Val’s the best,” Mark said. “She’s got a beautiful figure,  not overly muscled, you know? Just smooth and toned and fit. That’s what La Belle wants in a model. It’s my job to keep her that way.”

Ethan thought of how she’d looked in black tights under a pair of cutoff jeans, midriff bare, her top cut just low enough to hint at full breasts. His mind conjured an image of what she’d look like in nothing but skimpy lingerie, and an unwanted tightening started in his groin.

“Any chance the guy who gave her trouble would pursue the matter, send some kind of threatening note to Val and some of the other models?”

“I don’t think so. The man never bothered her again, only came around here a few times after that. Most guys start working out but stop after a couple of months.” Mark’s gaze ran over Ethan. “Not you, though. You stay in shape.”

“Part of my job, same as you.”

“You’re a bodyguard, right? How about keeping a special eye out for Val? Like I said, she’s the best.”

“Seems you aren’t the only one who thinks so.” Mark glanced over, caught a wave from his next customer. “Anything else?”

Ethan handed him a card. “Not unless you think of something.”

Mark took the card and walked away, and Ethan headed for the door. As he reached the parking lot, he looked down at his big stainless-steel wristwatch. It wasn’t that late. Clouds still hovered above the city, but a weak sun pushed through in places.

It wasn’t Hannah’s bedtime yet. His daughter would still be awake, and he wanted to see her. Since he would soon be leaving the city, he was determined to make that happen, and this time Ally wasn’t going to stop him.

The porch light was on when he rolled up in front of the big two-story house, parked his black four-door Wrangler hardtop at the curb. Through the curtains, he could see the yellow glow of the lamp next to the sofa in the living room.

He had almost reached the front door when he heard Allison’s laughter out in the backyard. Ethan stepped off the cement path and headed in that direction. Stopping at    the side gate, he lifted the latch, shoved the gate open, and kept walking.

Allison Winfield sat in a blue canvas swing on the big covered patio. A man in a short-sleeved yellow Izod shirt, sandy brown hair neatly combed, sat in the swing beside her.

In the fading light, Ethan could see Hannah sitting crosslegged on the patio a few feet away, playing with the doll he had given her. Her silky blond hair, pulled up in a ponytail, swung from the top of her head, and her blue eyes danced as she spoke to the doll she’d named Martha, God only knew why.

His heart squeezed. Surely his little girl couldn’t have changed so much in the few weeks since he’d seen her. Surely she didn’t look older, more grown up. Yet, as he watched her, it seemed that she did.

He started striding toward her, heard her squeal of delight when she spotted him, felt a tightening in his chest.

“Daddy!” She was on her feet and racing toward him, the ponytail on top of her head bobbing madly. “Daddy!”

Ethan bent and scooped her up in his arms. She smelled like cinnamon graham crackers mixed with a child’s natural sweetness. Just holding her made his heart hurt.

“Hi, sweet cakes. How’s Daddy’s best little girl?”

She giggled, slid her arms around his neck. “I’m Daddy’s only little girl.”

Ally’s shrill voice had him turning. “What are you doing here, Ethan? You know you aren’t welcome.” Allison Winfield was auburn-haired, of average height, and very pretty. She had a great figure and came from a family with way too much money.

She was also spoiled and conniving. When he’d met her, he’d been so in lust he hadn’t been able to see her faults. By the time she was pregnant with Hannah, it had been too late. “I’ve got a job that’ll take me out of town for a while,” he said. “I wanted to see Hannah before I left the city.” He kissed his daughter’s soft cheek and she giggled. Hannah made up for all the trouble Ally gave him.

“The least you could do was call before you showed up uninvited.”

“Every time I call, you say you’re just leaving. There’s never a time that’s convenient. She’s my daughter, too, Ally. If you don’t start making it easier for me to see her, I’m going to take you back to court.”

He’d had to hire an attorney and get a DNA test to prove he was Hannah’s father. He’d spent a small fortune on legal fees to establish his rights, and if Allison continued to block his visitation, he was going to have to go to court again.

“Do whatever you like,” Allison said smugly. Because she was still on Daddy’s purse strings, legal fees and court costs weren’t a problem for her. “You should have thought of Hannah before you left me.”

“You’re the one who ended it, Ally. I would have married you and you know it.”

“And divorced me. You made no bones about it. You said from the start you didn’t think it would work.”

“I couldn’t make you happy. Both of us knew that.” He tipped his head to the man who stood watching from a few feet away, back straight, shoulders rigid. Slender, athletic, and handsome, he looked like a guy who played tennis or golf; not a tough guy, but ready to defend his damsel in distress.

“Who’s your friend?” Ethan asked.

Allison glanced behind her, tossed her shoulder-length auburn curls, gave the poor fool a come-on smile. “That’s Arthur. If it’s any of your business, which it isn’t.”

Ethan ignored the guy, tried not to feel sorry for him. “I just want to see Hannah, Ally. I’d think you’d be happy about it. Seems like you could use a little time to yourself once in a while.”

Arthur walked up beside her, set a hand possessively at her waist. “If you want me to make him leave, Allison, I will.”

“Take it easy,” Ethan said. “I’m just here to see my kid.” He turned to Ally. “Give me five minutes and I’m gone.”

Her mouth curved into a catty smile. “Why should I?”

“Because if you don’t, there’s going to be trouble and your friend will feel obliged to interfere. That won’t go well for him. Five minutes. That’s all I want.”

She cast Arthur a glance. He was puffed up and ready to fight. Ally must have known what the outcome would be if she goaded him any further.

“Fine. Five minutes. Then you leave.”

 

I hope you enjoyed reading these excerpts. If you’d like to read more excerpts, there are some author pages that have them, and all of our posts with excerpts can be found in our main menu under ‘Features’ and ‘Excerpts.’ You could also click the tag below.

About Jen Schaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).
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