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Monday, March 11, 2013

Excerpt of Shrouded in Illusion

I've been wanting to get Shrouded in Illusion, the 3rd book in the Shrouded Series, done and published for far too long. It's done, but just needs a quick copy edit. Oh, and I almost forgot that it's missing a cover, which I have yet to be able to think about. lol

Between running my business, Bella Media Managment, working part-time as an accountant, volunteering at my local writer's chapter, not to mention family, writing seems to have been pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do. I'm hoping to change that. Maybe if I start talking about the third book, I might just get focused to the point of putting writing first for a change. Below is an excerpt of Shrouded in Illusion.

** *** ***

David glanced over to where the croupier raked in her chips.  “That didn’t go well.”

“I expect to lose every now and then.  After all, when it comes to roulette, the odds are against me.” 

She shrugged, obviously not upset at dropping a couple hundred.  In his opinion, the woman was far too detached and in control of her every movement and expression to be anything but a pro, but she wasn't a regular.  He'd been performing at this casino for the last two months, and he'd have noticed her by now.

When he watched her lose two more times, David inwardly winced.  Over a thousand in less than fifteen minutes and not one bead of sweat on her brow.

David wondered if she handled sex with the same cool, controlled way she gambled.  Did that facade hide a wild side?  Did a touch, a word, send her over the edge?  Or did it take more?

She lost yet again.  By God, if his dad had been watching, the man would have had a coronary.

She glanced his way.  “Relax.”

David hadn’t realized he’d protested aloud.  “I guess my background’s showing.  Can’t seem to get rid of memories of being dirt poor as a kid.”

She wrinkled her nose, drawing attention to her freckles.  He really did like those freckles.  Or maybe he just liked them on this particular woman. 

“You don’t have to worry,” she assured.  I’m not throwing my savings away or stealing from my son’s piggy bank.”

“You have a son?” he asked in surprise.

“Yes.” 

The expression on her face didn’t change, but David sensed an immediate tension and wariness radiating from her.  Despite his curiosity, he decided to respect her privacy and veer off the subject of her son.

“You might not be throwing away your savings, but you’re tossing enough around that if you keep it up, management’s going to love you.”

Hey, if she wanted to waste her money, that was her business.  He wasn’t interested in her bank account, but her body on the other hand...

She glanced up at him.  This time he hadn’t been ogling her breasts, but his thoughts hadn’t been any better.  Twice now she’d caught him.  The woman must have a sixth sense when his mind hit the gutter.  

“Possibly.  But the evening’s not over.  I could go all night.  It depends.” 

At the double-entendre, his gaze sharpened, but her angelic expression gave nothing away.  Maybe he’d twisted her words into something he wanted to hear.  Then again, her mind might have dove into the gutter alongside his.  Wishful thinking perhaps...

“What’s your favorite number?”

At her abrupt question, he frowned.  “Seven.”

“Then seven it is.”

She placed her remaining chips on his lucky number. 

David stiffened.  “Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Don’t worry.  If I lose, I won’t come after you.”

David swallowed.  Another innuendo.  This one worse than the last.  If he kept this up--
Jesus.  There he went again--

“Watch,” she urged in a whisper.

David did.  The ball tumbled and clattered around the roulette wheel.  As the wheel slowed, the ball landed on seven and quivered as if struggling against some invisible force.  The wheel whispered to a stop and the ball stilled and remained on...seven.

Just like that.  She’d recovered her losses and added a couple of thousand to her pot.

“That’s amazing!” he exclaimed.  And strange.  The odds of something like that occurring were astronomical.  

“By God.  Talk about luck!”

“You think it’s luck?”  She searched his face, her expression growing serious.

“What else could it be?”

“I thought you might know.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

At the sudden, unnerving intensity of her gaze, David tensed, feeling strangely vulnerable. 

“Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.”  She shook her head and looked disappointed as she collected her chips.  

“I’ll see you around.”

She planned on cashing in, and David hadn’t even gotten her name.  “Hey, don’t go yet.  How about a drink?”

“Not tonight.”

She turned and didn’t give him another glance.

“Hey, tell me your name,” he called after her as he stood, acting completely out of character.  He didn’t chase after women.  And he sure the hell didn’t yell after them either.

She paused and glanced over her shoulder.  Their gazes caught.

“It’s Skye Hunter.”

Her name hit David as if someone slammed a fist into his face.  He stood unmoving, unable catch his breath, think or respond as he watched her turn back around and walk away.  Sudden sweat filmed across his brow and sent a chill racing across his flesh.  For a wild second he thought he was going to pass out.  He shivered and frantically searched his pockets.  He pulled out a roll of antacid tablets and stuffed two down his throat. 
Skye Hunter. 

Just saying the name in his head launched his heart rate into overdrive.  The crazy part of the whole thing--he didn’t know why.  He’d never heard it until she’d told him seconds before.

So then, why in God’s name did her name bother him so much?

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