|I heard you, people who wanted a less-sweet Barbarian. :)|
Sweet Barbarian was never meant to have a sequel. Andaric was dead. But then Sweet received a less-than-enthusiastic review from a reader that said she'd only read the whole novel because she was hoping the brother would come back, but "no luck." At first, I was puzzled by that comment. Hadn't I made it clear that Andaric was dead in the first scene of Sweet Barbarian? I mean...hadn't I???
Then I thought--wait a minute. Andaric's execution happened off-camera. You only know about it because Glismoda told Valamir (in his dungeon cell) that his brother was being led out to his execution and Valamir was next. Guards were coming down the hall. Valamir was desperate to live, and so he accepted Glismoda's ridiculous pledge.
Then I thought, what else did I say in Sweet Barbarian about Andaric? He was younger than Valamir by a couple years; Valamir considered him to be headstrong, reckless, foolhardy, a little glory-seeking; he told Karly at one point Andaric was very much into women, something of a womanizer, perhaps. We knew from Valamir's inner dialogue that Andaric and Glismoda were lovers, and that Glismoda had played Andaric like a fiddle.
Hm, I thought. Andaric would be a really fun hero to write.
That's where the idea for this novel all started. Thank you, unenthusiastic Sweet Barbarian reviewer, for an AWESOME sequel idea! And I'm serious! If this book makes me rich, I'm looking you up, coming to your city, and taking you to lunch. Or maybe on a cruise, if we're talking REALLY rich. Unless you hate my Writing Guts, in which case, maybe I'll just send you a gift card. :)
Untamed Barbarian will release on August 15, and is up for 99-cent preorder until then.
Excerpt: A Dangerously Sexy Suspect
“I want you there when he wakes up,” Bergman said as soon as Kaiya and DeWitt came in.
She exchanged a quick grin with DeWitt before they sat down. “Yes, Chief.”
“Clear your head of any preconceived notions about him and give me your gut reaction after you’ve had a chance to observe him and get him talking. We’ll have DeWitt and two or three other big officers stationed in the room in case he manages to break out of his chair. We’ll hit him with so much voltage he won’t be able to move for a week.”
Kaiya swallowed. “Okay.”
Bergman grinned. “I’m exaggerating a little, but don’t worry; we’ll make sure he doesn’t come anywhere near you.”
DeWitt searched her face. “You’re not scared, are you?”
“Well, I…maybe a little. I wasn’t, but all the reports sound so intense.”
Bergman’s eyes twinkled with pure glee. “Oh, he’s scary as hell. Most violent suspect we’ve taken into custody since I’ve been with the department. But that doesn’t mean he’s our Meadowlark. So I want you to clear your head and go in there with a blank slate. Got it?”
Kaiya loved the way Bergman thought. “Got it.”
Back at her desk, she prepared her reports for the day and tried to keep her mind off Jaime Limas. So far there had been no leads on his whereabouts. But, her mother was safe in Texas and Kaiya had received no other threatening calls, so for now it was just the inconvenience of living out of a suitcase in somebody’s guest room that she had to deal with.
Officer Kendall appeared in the doorway. “Bigfoot’s awake.”
DeWitt glanced at the clock on the wall. “Two hours early. He wake up fighting, or docile?”
“Dehydrated, mostly. Medic is running fluids into him right now while we have him in restraints.”
“When will he be ready for interrogation?” Kaiya asked.
“We’re getting the room ready now. As long as the Neanderthal is feeling up to it and not ripping shit off the walls, we should be able to get him in a restraint chair and take you in to see him at about 11.”
She found her earlier fear subsiding, replaced with a curiosity to meet this suspect and get a feel for what his deal was. “Sounds good.”
When Andaric awoke a third time, he couldn’t turn his head or move his arms and legs. They had shackled him to a firm bed. He peered out of the corner of his eye at the man leaning over him, tending to his wounds. The healer had close-cropped, immaculate hair, and was wearing a close-fitting short-sleeved tunic made of a thin light blue fabric. He had attached a transparent cord to Andaric’s arm with a needle, apparently administering a healing potion.
The man noticed Andaric’s glare and said something in their language. Whatever it was sounded non-threatening, so Andaric relaxed a bit as the man continued healing him. The torchlights in the ceiling were blinding, and almost everything in the room was made of a shiny silver metal.
The man asked him a question, but Andaric didn’t respond. He didn’t feel like trying to communicate that he didn’t speak their language. The healer gave up waiting for an answer and moved to the other side of the table, checking some things around the area of the needle wound they’d given him in his left arm.
They obviously felt he was a danger, and probably thought he was responsible for maiming the girl on the beach, so why bother patching him up? It didn’t make sense, but at the moment Andaric was too exhausted to resist. Besides, he would need this curing in order to escape the prison later. As soon as they let their guard down, he would figure out a way to get out without them getting a chance to use their advanced poisons, arrows, and lightning weapons on him.
A door opened, and a second man’s face appeared in Andaric’s line of sight. He asked Andaric a question, and when he got no response, the healer said something to the guard about him. The two of them chatted a moment, glancing every so often at Andaric’s face. The healer withdrew the cord from Andaric’s arm, then cleaned and bandaged the pinprick while finishing up his conversation with the guard.
The guard left, then returned with more guards and a chair that rolled on wheels. A tall, muscular fellow stationed himself at the door with a weapon readied in his hand while the others released Andaric’s bed bindings. When they chained his wrists together and moved him to a sitting position, Andaric didn’t resist—now was not the time, while four guards were holding him and a fifth one on high alert by the door. He only wanted to get free, not stage a full-on battle to the death with guards who had poisoned needles and exploding hand weapons.
They pulled him to his feet, then applied enough force to his arms to make it obvious they expected him to sit in the rolling chair. Andaric stood eyeing the guard in the doorway. The guard eyed him right back, defiant.
Bastard. Andaric had a sudden urge to lunge forward and hit him in the face with the wrist chains, but hesitated. He’d surely trip in the ankle cuffs trying to tackle someone so far away. And the bright orange clothes would make it difficult to run out of the prison unnoticed if he tried to escape in broad daylight. Better to wait until nightfall.
One of the guards said something over his shoulder to the healer, who came near with a needle and showed it to him. Andaric got the message—more paralyzing poison would be in store if he didn’t comply, so he reluctantly squeezed into the small chair. The guards went to work strapping him to it by his shoulders, wrists, and ankles. Andaric clenched his fists and tested the wrist straps a bit—they were made of a tough fiber that wouldn’t be easy to break.
They rolled him out of the room and down a hallway, arriving at a small metal closet that had doors that opened and closed by an invisible mechanism. The closet turned out to be a hoist of some sort that moved swiftly downward. When the doors opened again, they were in a darker part of the stronghold, probably underground. No doubt they were taking him to the dungeon to await execution now. No matter, he would find a way out as soon as they left him alone in his cell that night.
They took him into a barren dining room and rolled him to the table. The tall captain followed with his weapon to block the doorway. Were they going to feed him a meal now? He hoped so, because he was starved. And he needed to regain his strength to fight them if they tried to execute him or impede his escape later that night.
A woman walked in. A ruler of some sort, escorted by another guard. No, they weren’t feeding him a meal, but they were definitely feeding him a feast for the eyes. Unbound wavy hair the color of shiny, pure gold tumbled down her back. She had beautiful green eyes painted with perfect black lines and shiny red-painted lips. Full, ripe breasts strained against her tight-fitting shirt. She wore a little coat and a shockingly short skirt, both of which were in the style of a man’s apparel. Yet…on her, the masculine clothing looked somehow feminine and stunning. She had wide, strong hips, beautifully thick, smooth legs, and the sexiest black shoes he’d ever seen.
He tore his gaze away from her feet to find her calmly watching his every expression. Who was this lovely creature, and what did she want? He couldn’t wait to find out.
Whatever Kaiya was expecting to see was not exactly what greeted her when she entered the interrogation room. The suspect wasn’t a gnarly, disgusting Neanderthal; he was a fricking Adonis, with gorgeous sun-bleached blond hair and a body covered in solid muscle head to toe. His long mane was a tangled mess and his overgrown beard desperately needed a trim job, but he was mind-numbingly handsome beneath all that scruff.
She cleared her throat, seated herself at the table, and laid her notebook and pencil down. “Hello, I’m Ms. Martinez, psychologist for the Huntington Beach Police Department.”
He watched her face. His eyes were a light amber color, framed with thick, dark lashes and arching dark brows.
“Have you been read your rights?”
No response, and no movement, but she didn’t sense defiance. It was more like he was waiting. Observing.
“He’s been read his rights, Ms. Martinez,” Kendall spoke up from the prisoner’s side.
Kaiya nodded, then studied the suspect’s face again. “Do you wish to have an attorney present during our meeting?”
No response. No movement. She got the impression that he didn’t understand a thing she was saying.
“Do you speak English?”
Nothing. He glanced down at her breasts, then back up at her face. Kaiya felt a little warm, tried to re-focus. His peek at her boobs hadn’t been predatory. It was more like he was just very distracted by her breasts. She mentally cursed her shirt choice this morning, tugged her jacket together, then folded her hands together on the table. His gaze was drawn to her manicured blush-pink fingernails for a moment.
He is totally checking me out. And good lord, his eyes are gorgeous. They had a foreign, ancient look. She didn’t know why she wanted to describe his eyes with the word “ancient,” but there it was. It was as if he came from a very different, old-world culture. He seemed out of place here. Perhaps he was European?
Kaiya glanced around the room at her colleagues. “Has he spoken English to any of you?”
The officers looked at one another, shaking their heads. Brooks spoke up. “I haven’t heard him say a word, Ms. Martinez. I don’t even know if he talks.”
Kaiya addressed the suspect again. “You’re under arrest for murder. You could be facing the death penalty. Please tell me if you understand anything I’m saying.”
No response, and zero facial reaction to the terms murder or death penalty.
“Are you mute? If so, please indicate a ‘yes’ by nodding.”
“Are you deaf?” She signed are you deaf with her hands while she said that. The suspect watched her gestures curiously but gave no reaction or response.
She wrote Do you read English? on a blank page in her spiral and turned it around to show him. He studied it as if he were truly trying to decipher it, but it was clear he had no clue what she’d written. He was not disabled mentally—the intelligence was clear in his eyes. In fact, she sensed almost a frightening intellect, beyond what she and her colleagues understood. As if he knew things they could never guess.
Kaiya turned to DeWitt. “I don’t think he’s an English speaker. I think he’s from another country. Hasn’t got a clue what any of us are saying.”
“I think you’re right. How do we find out what language he speaks?”
She shrugged. “Trial and error. We’ll have to call in some linguists.”
DeWitt addressed the officers holding the suspect’s chair. “Do you fellows have it under control while Willoughby escorts Kaiya out of the room?”
“Okay, Kaiya, just stand up slowly and let us move between you and the suspect,” DeWitt said.
“Let me say something else to him first.”
Kaiya fixed her gaze on the suspect’s face, speaking earnestly. “We want to help you. I want to help you. Don’t fight us, and we will get to the bottom of this.”
He studied her, taking in a barely-perceptible breath, then blinked, a sign of acquiescence.
“I will see you again soon,” she added softly before closing her spiral, clutching it to her chest to hide the gap in her damn shirt, and rising to her full height. The suspect never took his sexy-ass eyes off her as she stepped back from the table. Officer Willoughby ushered her to the door, and DeWitt closed it behind them.
Kaiya fanned herself with her spiral as she rode in the elevator back up to the first floor with Officer Willoughby, her mind spinning. Hells bells. Damn. Oh, hello, our serial killer suspect is your every fantasy come true, ladies. Sexy doesn’t even begin to—
“Freaky deal, huh?” Willoughby commented, breaking her reverie. “So you think he’s here from another country? We should be able to find immigration records if so. Unless he entered illegally. He didn’t have an I.D. on him, so that could be the case.”
“Yeah, I’m…not sure.” She thought about his gorgeous sun-streaked Nordic-looking hair and beard. “He doesn’t really fit the undocumented worker stereotype. Not that we don’t have people entering illegally from all over the world, but…how do you hide in a car trunk or sneak through airport security if you’re almost 7 feet tall?” His enormous, muscle-bound shoulders and ripped arms would also cause issues with hiding in small spaces, but she chose not to point that out to Willoughby, lest she seem like some kind of perv who was attracted to mass murderers. But the truth was, this guy wasn’t so much a long-limbed Bigfoot as he was a larger-than-life Thor. The man was solid muscle, and far too big for the restraint chair.
Back in her office, she began Google-searching linguists, professors at the local universities, and translation services, making notes in her spiral. That ancient, sexy look in Thor’s amber eyes kept haunting her, interrupting her thoughts as she worked. She told herself that her interest in it was purely professional and pressed on.
Download your copy of Untamed Barbarian here!