Sunday, July 01, 2012

New Publication: Muse

Muse is not entirely new; the book was originally published by Holly Lisle many years ago. With the manuscript back in my hands, I did a much-needed edit and updating. I choose Muse as an 'easy' next publication and one I wanted to get back into print. This proved to be a really fun book to work on again. I hope you enjoy it!

For a limited time, you can get the book for $1.99 from Smashwords (available in all major ebook versions there, including Kindle, Nook, Sony and PDF).
Use this code: ZH59P

Welcome to Muse....

Stranded when his car breaks down, Killian Dain Fox overhears a cop and a gas station clerk discussing murder and the exchange of money. Although he tries to believe he misheard the conversation, by the time KD meets a few more of the locals, he's convinced the entire small town is inhabited by a gang of murderers.

Between the massive storms that threaten to flood the town, a would-be killer on the loose, and his growing attraction to the town's pretty mayor, Killian Dain Fox is on a roller-coaster of a ride. And when someone tries to kill him, he just hopes he can get out alive.

(Book contains mild sex scene.)

Here's part of Chapter One:

There were not supposed to be any hills in Nebraska, which is why he came this way.
Killian stomped on the gas pedal and listened as the engine revved like a grand prix racer . . . and the car continued to slow with the top of the hill a good ten yards away. Momentum alone kept them moving upward while gravity dragged at the back bumper. He didn't think old Rosie the Rambler could take this one.
And to make certain Killian knew all the world and God stood against him tonight, lightning flashed almost directly overhead. A heartbeat later, the first splotches of rain hit the dusty windshield as the car crept forward, so slow the speedometer didn't move. Thunder rolled through the air and a wind gust sent dirt and twigs rushing ahead of the car with a not so subtle reminder that everything moved faster than him tonight.
Row after row of corn stretched out on both sides of the road, the stalks waving back and forth like demented stick men drawings. A deer darted out of the cornfield to the right pausing to watch the car before he made a leisurely jaunt up the incline. The animal stopped at the crest of the hill to look back, probably laughing before leaping once more into the frantic cornfield.
By some miracle, Rosie reached the crest. Killian pulled over to the side and had a short-lived celebration. Very short-lived; in the next flash of lightning saw see an even higher hill ahead. He would never reach the top of that one, even with a good rollercoaster run down the far side of this one.
Rain fell harder as he shoved the car door open and stepped out. He welcomed the cold winds after the stifling heat and humidity of the long day, sweltering day. However, having grown up on the high plains of Colorado, he knew how dangerous storms like this could be.
Maybe lightning would strike him and he wouldn't have to go the rest of the way to Chicago and work for KKGO -- The television station on the Go! -- as their third shift news commentator. Maybe fate, God and Rosie the Rambler all conspired to keep him away from a job he hadn't wanted in the first place.
Lightning branched through the sky from east to west in a continuous line across the horizon. His breath caught at the sight, awed by the power of Mother Nature as the storm briefly illuminated the shadowed land between one hill and the next.
Gas station sign.
"Holy shit, Batman! We're saved!"
The glowing neon sign sat just a little off the road at the bottom of this hill. Rain already nearly obscured the location, but he marked the spot and jumped into Rosie, pulling the door closed against the wind and the sudden deluge of rain.
Killian stomped down on the gas pedal. The car inched forward, the tires slipping on the wet weeds at the side of the road. Stupid mistake to pull over, especially since he hadn't seen another car in half an hour or more. The last had been a black Corvette heading like a bat out of hell in the opposite direction. Probably an omen and he'd been too stupid to read the signs.
Rosie unexpectedly broke free of the entangling weeds, hit the pavement with a painful jolt, and started down the hill. And damn they were moving fast! Killian turned on the windshield wipers, for what little good they did in this deluge, and hit the horn in case the deer had wandered out somewhere ahead of him, thinking himself safe from a car it could out walk.
He began to brake near the bottom of the hill, desperately trying to find the turnoff through the deluge. Even if he didn't find the road, he wouldn't have far to walk. Then he saw the sign -- Welcome to something -- and turned the car sharply to the left and onto the side road. He could see the gas station on the right where a glowing red Quickshop sign illuminated a doorway that looked like the gates to heaven on a night like this.
Rosie coasted to the edge of the sloped driveway. Killian pulled off to the side, miring the car in mud and weeds once more, knowing the car would never take even such a small incline. She'd gotten him this far and he could walk the last half block to the entrance.
The rain hadn't let up. Killian pulled his hooded jacket out of the debris of food wrappers and discarded maps. Then, looking at the upward curve of the driveway, and considering the rain and wind, he wrestled his cane out as well. No use taking any chances.
The cane proved a wise decision. The asphalt from the street to the gas pumps looked like the cratered field in a war zone; potholes nearly put him down three times.
When he reached the pumps he could see two people inside and one of them was even a cop! He spotted the police car parked at the side of the building beside what might be a Gremlin. He didn't think any of those were still on the road. The sight made him feel a little better about his old Rambler.
If not the actual gates of heaven, he had at least reached help. The sanctuary included a coffee dispenser on the wall opposite the door. The thought of even bad hot coffee appealed to him after this drenching rain. Killian hurried the last few steps and pushed open the door to a flood of air-conditioned and coffee-scented air.
The tall, lanky clerk at the register glanced in his direction before turning back to the shorter, dark-haired cop who leaned against the counter.
"No, I can't, Tom," the clerk said with a remorseful shake of his head. "I did that with Angela. This has to be unique for George. Strange. Different."
"That's your problem, Don," the cop answered. "Maybe you should try for something less exotic this time."
Killian went past the two, grateful for the chance to reach the coffee before he had to deal with the car problem. The cop didn't look likely to go charging off at any moment, at least.
"Oh yeah. That's easy for you to say," the clerk answered, sounding desperate. "You don't have another five people to kill."
Killian, a plastic cup in hand, glanced at the clerk, thinking he must have misheard. He purposely turned away and poured the coffee, putting the lid over the top of the cup before he started back to the register.
The cop shook his head. "You're running out of time, Don."
"I know I'm running out of time! I've managed three unique murders already. They really can't expect more from me!"
"You took the money. You could try giving it back."
"You know I can't. And what would I do if I could? I'd have to change my name and start over, if I could even get a contract again. No. I have to come up with a good way to kill him!"
Killian took a step backwards, but the clerk looked up, suddenly startled as though he hadn't seen Killian walk in. "Oh! Sorry, I thought you were a snit when you came in!"
The cop slowly turned. Killian looked to the door, but he didn't think he could get past both of them.
"You didn't drive up. Let me guess." The cop shook his head as he waved towards the storm. "Car problems? Always happens on nights like this, doesn't it?"
Words froze at Killian's lips. He forced sounds out, trying to remain calm and ignore the wild speculation rushing through his head. At least he had the cane for whatever protection it might be. "Ah. Yeah. Car problems. I coasted as far as the drive."

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