|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 entered.
Kaiya exchanged a glance 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 three or four other big officers stationed in the room in case he manages to break out of the chair restraints. 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.”
Officer Kendall appeared in the doorway. “Bigfoot’s awake.”
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 tied him to a bed of some sort. He peered out of the corner of his eye at the man leaning over him, tending to his wounds. The healer had close-cropped, very neat hair, and was wearing a close-fitting short-sleeved tunic made of a very thin light blue fabric. He had attached a transparent cord to Andaric’s arm with a needle again, administering some sort of healing potion apparently.
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 room was very bright with the torchlights behind the glass in the ceiling, and almost everything in the room was made of some sort of 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 of some sort, and probably thought he’d been 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.
Guards entered the room with a chair that rolled on wheels. A tall, muscular fellow stationed himself at the door with a weapon readied in his hand, and two men stood on each side of Andaric’s bed to release his bindings. They shackled 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.
The guards 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, but hesitated. He’d surely trip in the ankle cuffs trying to tackle someone so far away. And his bright orange clothes would make it more difficult to run out of the prison unnoticed if he escaped 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 Andaric. 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 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 short coat over her shirt 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 big, strong hips, beautiful 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 and move.
Who was this lovely goddess, 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 cover model for a romance novel, covered in solid muscle head to toe. He had a long mane of unruly, sun-bleached blond hair and a scraggly, unkempt beard, but he was clearly mind-numbingly handsome beneath his scruff and mess.
She seated herself at the table, laid her notebook and pencil down, and cleared her throat. “Hello, I’m Ms. Martinez, psychologist for the Huntington Beach Police Department.”
He watched her face silently. His eyes were a deep 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. “You have the right to have an attorney present during our interview.”
No response. No movement. She suddenly got the impression that he didn’t understand a thing she was saying.
“Do you speak English?”
No response. He gazed down at her breasts, then back up at her face. Kaiya felt a little warm, and 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 as she 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 sweet 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—she could see the intelligence in his eyes. In fact, she sensed almost a frightening intelligence, beyond what she and her colleagues understood.
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.”
DeWitt nodded. “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 very slight 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 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 definitely too big for the restraint chair they had squeezed him into.
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.
Reserve your copy of Untamed Barbarian before August 15th if you want the 99-cent deal! ;-)