Tuesday, January 29, 2013

His Salvation Blog Tour - First Week's Winner

I am very sorry I didn't get a chance to announce the winner of this week's blog post contest last night! I came home with a horrible migraine and crashed right after a shower and dinner. :-/ So here I am to inform everyone of the winner.

This week's is Deb at the email address of Deborahhansen52 (at) yahoo (dot) com. I will notify her via email as well. She has won a signed paperback copy of His Salvation! :)

I hope you all had fun this week and don't forget to comment before the 4th of Feb for a chance at the Grand Prize package. I will be tweaking the rules of that a tiny bit during my post next week as I realize it is hard for everyone to comment every single week for two months.

I guess instead of waiting until next week during the post at Augusta Li's blog, I should explain this here so everyone is aware. I was thinking over the rules of the Grand Prize bundle and realized it may be difficult for everyone to post each week. SO my rules will tweak a little, for every week that a person comments on my blog post, you will receive an entry into the contest for the Grand Prize bundle. That means, if you comment every single week faithfully, you will have 9(!) entries into the drawing which means you'll have 9 chances to win! I will be placing all names into a spreadsheet and using a random number generator to pull a number. :) So it keeps it fair for everyone.

Thank you to everyone who participated at Tali Spencer's blog this week. You still have until 11:59p on Feb 4th to post a comment for this week! So be sure to stop by and say hi! ^.^


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Ending Giveaway Blog Hop Winner Announcement!!

Today was a pretty good day. Went to a few yard sales with the parental units and ended up picking up a couple of things I can use for my jewelry making venture I have yet to fully invest any time in. LOL. I have a ton of supplies now, I just need to get some stuff done.

So on to what everyone is here for! The winner of the contest!

It's almost 10pm here on the 26th of January and I decided to choose the winner now since its almost midnight and it appears that my post has received all of the comments its going to. :) I really appreciate all of the wonderful responses I've received. I can only hope that my His Salvation Blog Tour will go over just as well in the coming weeks. There were so many entries and unfortunately only one prize to give away this week. The blog tour will contain a weekly prize as well as a Grand Prize so there are plenty more chances to win, including paperback copies of His Salvation.

The winner of the His Salvation eBook copy is Sharon S at schofield726(at)comcast(dot)net! I will also email Sharon as well as post the announcement on Facebook and Twitter. :) Congratulations Sharon! Look for an email from me in the next half hour or so.

Remember tomorrow is my first post on my tour at Tali Spencer's blog! Stop by to enter for the weekly prize as well as to begin your race for the Grand Prize at the end of March! http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com/?zx=e609deff8f253604

Kisses, J.R.

His Salvation Blog Tour - Weekly Prize & Grand Prize @ the End!

On the spur of the moment Wednesday afternoon, I decided to put together a His Salvation blog tour that will go through to the end of March. Each week I will be posting at a new blog with information, excerpts, and a chance to win a prize. There will also be the chance at a Grand Prize bundle at the end of the tour. The catch for the Grand Prize is that you must post a comment each week before the next post goes up! There will not be another chance to enter for the Grand Prize bundle once the post is made for the following week. 

EDIT Jan 29th 2013 - The Grand Prize rules have been tweaked slightly. You do not need to post every week to qualify. For every post you make a comment on during the next nine weeks (including Tali Spencer's blog this week) you will receive one entry into the Grand Prize drawing. If you post every week, you'll receive 9 chances. If you post once, you'll receive one chance. (Comments MUST be made within the time between each post. Comments made after the next week's post is up do not count!) The drawing will be made by random number generator. All names will be placed in a spreadsheet in the order comments were made and a random number generator used to choose the winner based on the number in the spreadsheet! Fair, yes? Good Luck, everyone!

The weekly prizes include either a signed paperback copy of His Salvation, a tote bag with the His Salvation cover on the front, swag charms (a total of four), or a $25 gift card to Dreamspinner Press's website for more ebooks of the winner's choice! These vary per week.

The Grand Prize bundle includes: 
  • An autographed paperback copy of His Salvation
  • An autographed paperback copy of Chasing Seth
  • A Tote Bag with the covers of His Salvation, Chasing Seth, and Touch Me Gently on the front 
  • One of each swag charm (total of four)
  • A Bookmark
  • One of each swag promo poster (total of two)
  • AND either a KINDLE, NOOK, or a GIFT CARD of equivalent value
    • Disclaimer - The Kindle or Nook would be the basic edition (Roughly $69 to $79 value.)
Please remember you must post a comment each week before the next post goes up to qualify for the Grand Prize package.

Blog Links and Tour Dates

Jan 27 -Tali Spencer - http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com/

Feb 5 - Augusta Li - http://www.booksbyeonandgus.com/2013/02/05/j-r-loveless-is-here-today-and-offering-prizes/

Feb 13 - Redz World - http://redzworld.blogspot.com/?zx=849691606df8d184

Feb 18 - Sui D. Lynn - http://suidlynn.blogspot.com/ 

Feb 27 - Hayley B. James - http://www.hayleybjames.com/ 

Mar 4 - Skylar M. Cates - http://skylarmcates.wordpress.com/

Mar 12 - Diane Adams - http://dianeadams500.blogspot.com/

Mar 19 - Kathy Branfield - www.bookreviewsandmorebykathy.com

Mar 26 - Mrs. Condit - http://www.mrsconditreadsbooks.com/

So there you have it. The entire blog schedule laid out along with the rules behind the Grand Prize drawing! I hope you can all participate each week and help me make this a successful, fun, and awesome blog tour! Maybe you'll even discover a few new authors along the way or make some new friends. I will try to mix up the posts and make them more interesting and hopefully a little more interactive for everyone. ^.^

Of course I will do my usual posting on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and wherever else I can find to remind everyone to go make their comments to enter for the weekly contest as well as the Blog Tour Grand Prize bundle. :) So we be sure to keep an eye out for those reminders! There is no limit on where I will ship the prizes, so everyone is welcome to join in!

Please share the information with your friends and family as I would really love to see the turn out for the weeks to come and the Grand Prize contest to be quite significant! If there are any questions about the contest please let me know.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

SammyJo Hunt Dishes on Deal with the Devil!

2 FREE EBOOK COPY GIVE-AWAYS of DEAL with the DEVIL!!! – Stop by, comment, and enter to win! All persons who comment will be entered to win one of 2 Free Copies of my new m/m novella after the post has been up for 48 hours. Winners will be contacted by email, so be sure to stop by!

What is it about the M/M genre that makes you enjoy writing it?
I love romance, pure and simple. At the heart of everything, I love a great romantic tale full of twists and turns that centers around two main characters who must navigate the waters of love to find their way together. Beyond that, I think beautiful gay boys are extremely hot and appealing. They’re interesting together, not the same as normal hetero couples such as we’re accustomed to reading about in romance books. I love telling stories about them and that’s what keeps bringing me back to the genre; that, and the desire to tell engaging stories that draw the reader in and keeps them coming back for more.

Knowing my readers are satisfied and emotionally filled at the conclusion of reading something I’ve written is the main reason I write. It’s important to me that my audience comes away feeling like the world is a good place, with hope, love, warmth, and promise, and that happiness is attainable for each and every one of us. I love making my readers feel happy.

What projects are you working on now?
I’ve written about 28 books, novellas, and short stories over the past four years, and I’m slowly working on getting those published. As a grad student, I’m busy and have my studies which keep me away from writing. But after taking a bit of a break to focus on my education the past half year, I’m back to writing and going full steam ahead! I’m working to get many of those stories into print over the next year or so.

As for current publishing goals, Deal with the Devil released today and is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other fine ebook retail sites. And Checkmate! will release Feb. 9th from Silver Publishing, a fun hot story about two men and a friendly game of Chess. In addition, even though there have been some personal challenges which put a couple of my latest novels on hold during 2012, I’m hard at work putting the finishing touches on two novels that will be coming out this Spring and Summer of 2013, respectively.

Those novels include Murder, Most Likely, being co-written with sci-fi writer Derek Austin Johnson. It’s a dark, erotic thriller and murder mystery with a married couple at the center of the story. It’s male/female and m√©nage erotica, combined with a gritty murder mystery and elements of the BDSM lifestyle. Then there’s Haunted by Obsession, a male/male erotic romance, paranormal ghost story, and murder mystery based on a fictional murder that occurred more than one hundred years ago.  I love this story, because I love a good old-fashioned ghost story.

I’m really excited about the forthcoming releases of both of these hot & sexy novels. I can’t wait to see how readers respond to them, and hopefully gobble them up! There’s definitely more stories coming from me this year in 2013 on the horizon. So be watching for those announcements in the near future.

Deal with the Devil - BLURB:
Derrick Delaney has been a high-class professional stripper for several years, rolling in money and living the good life. He entertains his choice of elite private patrons in the upstairs VIP lounge, and has his goals and dreams mapped out. Among those plans, taking time out to fall in love is not an option.

Then Scott Silver, a famous rock star, walks into the club and into his life one sultry, fateful night. Their not-so-chance meeting develops into an unquenchable obsession for both the exotic dancer and his musical benefactor. When Scott reveals his true agenda, Derrick’s feelings of anger and betrayal are not enough to make him turn his back on the singer. Come along for the ride as passion sizzles, sparks fly, and fireworks erupt when against his better judgment, Derrick is pressured into signing a Deal with the Devil.

Adult Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Deal with the Devil - 750 words:

Scott’s behavior mystified Derrick. He acted as though they were on a date instead of him being a paid escort. He shook his head, a small smile curving his mouth. Perhaps the man was telling him the truth, and he really didn’t expect anything else in return for his money. This had to be a first for Derrick. No one had ever just paid to meet and talk to him.

He raised wide, questioning eyes to Scott. “Yeah, you can kiss me,” he murmured, waiting, his lips parting slightly in invitation.

Scott paused, watching Derrick’s eyes for a few seconds before leaning in to bring their lips together. It was soft and hesitant, not at all what Derrick was expecting. It sent a myriad of hot shivers coursing through him. Their kiss lingered for a moment longer before Scott pulled away, leaving his heart racing like a schoolboy.

“Can I see you?” Scott asked, eyes dropping to the growing tent in Derrick’s jeans. Raking his fingers across Derrick’s crotch and scratching at the zipper, Scott indicated what he wanted without force or demand. It made all the electricity in Derrick’s body start sending hot jolts of electricity straight to his cock.

Breath quickening ever faster, Derrick fumbled with his zipper, suddenly feeling like a fifteen year-old kid on his first date. Those arctic blue eyes held him prisoner, fingers shaking as he undid the top button and slid the zipper down. Opening his jeans to reveal white briefs, he ran his hand over his hard-on, palming himself, then reached out and took Scott’s hand. Bringing it to him, he placed it warmly on top of his cock, cupping him through his underwear.

Together, they eased the elastic waistband down to reveal his throbbing shaft. Derrick watched as Scott’s eyes went dark with want. The man was unlike any he’d ever met before. It terrified him, sending off more alarms; but then, desire was there, too. Desire like Derrick hadn’t felt in a very long time for anyone . . . maybe never . . . surged rapidly through his body. He sucked in a tight breath as long fingers gently caressed him, thumb rubbing the underside of the head and down the large vein that pulsed beneath the skin. It sent more chills rushing through his body, this slow death by fire from Scott Silver’s touch.

He watched, fascinated, as Scott’s fingers moved up and down the rigid shaft, stroking hot, velvet skin, teasing and driving him wild. Normally, clients wanted Derrick to pleasure them, not the other way around. He didn’t know what to make of this guy. But he wanted more.

“I want to suck you off. Can I?” Scott purred sensually, voice vibrating with desire. Derrick nodded mindlessly, watching as his ebony head bowed low and soft pink lips opened wide to take him inside. Enveloped in that warm mouth, for the first time in forever, Derrick knew he was in trouble.

“Oh, fuck,” he breathed. Defenses suddenly down, Derrick’s breath caught in his throat, surprised at just how good it felt to be touched by this man. He was losing his sense of control over their private party, a critical error in judgment.

Head falling back against the couch, he closed his eyes and wallowed in the sensations of being blown, expert lips and tongue giving him intense pleasure. He felt Scott go all the way down on him, nosing his groin, inhaling his scent, fingers snaking between his thighs to fondle his balls. Then a tender finger was pushing inside his ass, curling tightly and hitting against that spot that stole the air from his lungs, causing his hips to thrust up for more.

A few more seconds of that talented mouth working his cock, a long finger up his ass, and Derrick was groaning and coming in a heated rush, pumping his load down Scott’s throat. Hips jerking, cock stuttering to empty itself of every last drop of cum, and Derrick was breathless, drained of all energy. When Scott pulled off, it was with a lazy lick over the top of his slit, tongue digging into the tiny opening to tease, tickle, and suck him clean.

“You’re delicious,” he commented softly, voice low and gravelly as he met Derrick’s totally lust-blown eyes. Derrick stared back, trying to focus on that beautiful face, those intense blue orbs did fucking things to his insides. “That was amazing,” he whispered, uncertain, guard fucking blown along with his reserves.

Buy Links for Deal with the Devil:

About the Author:
SammyJo Hunt is female, age 44, and has made northern Utah her home for almost twenty years. She has not married and is owned by her pet tabby cat Bug. She is currently attending graduate school pursuing a Master's Degree in Human Services and Counseling. SammyJo has a Bachelors Degree in Social Work, and serves families, children, teens, and the LGBTQ communities.

She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with friends and loved ones. Ms. Hunt loves hot sexy boys and steamy heroes, along with the challenge of spinning a good tale. Happily-ever-after stories are a great source of her inspiration. She enjoys making her readers fall in love with her characters, and nothing gives her more personal satisfaction than knowing her stories inspire true love and happiness for those who read and enjoy them.

Also by SammyJo Hunt:
A Wicked Encounter
The Soul Awakening - part of Chasing the Dream Anthology
Checkmate! - part of “Silver Presents…Love is Love Anthology”-Coming Feb. 9th & available now for Pre-Order
Broken Hearts & Candy Kisses

And Coming This Year in 2013:
Murder, Most Likely – Available this Spring
Haunted by Obsession – Releasing Summer 2013

Connect with the Author:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Endings Blog Hop - My Happy Ending and Contest to Win an eBook!

When people think of happy endings they usually correlate it with romance and ending up with the person deemed to be your ‘soul mate’, but I like to think it can actually refer to more than just being with the person you love. It can apply to someone diagnosed with cancer who's pronounced cancer free after going through the treatments, surgeries, and chemotherapy sessions. It can apply to someone who finally allows themselves the freedom to accept who they are and share that with the world, maybe someone who is in the closet and opens the door to step through to the life they deserve to live – a happy, open one. Or even someone who realizes and accomplishes their lifelong dream.
This blog hop event is to share your own happy ending. Mine comes in the form of achieving my dream of becoming a published author. I look at my blog roll and see the covers of each book or short story I have already released and cannot believe how far I have come in the last three years since my first book Touch Me Gently was accepted. I find myself constantly pinching myself mentally to see if it’s real. My only desire now is to keep moving forward and continue to accomplish writing and publishing further novels and short stories.

I am humbled by the response to my novels as well. The number of emails, posts, and likes on my Facebook page has encouraged and pushed me to keep moving forward, to continue creating new worlds and characters within those worlds. I can only hope I never disappoint them and that everyone will continue to read and enjoy the stories I bring to them. The icing on the cake for my happy ending would be seeing one of my books brought to life in a real life movie, but that isn't something likely to happen at this point. But one never knows in the future, right? I keep my fingers mentally crossed that it can happen someday.

Now on to what you're really here for... the contest! For this give away event, I will be offering up a free e-book copy of His Salvation! First time give away, too. His Salvation is my latest novel release and has only been out since November 23rd of 2012. It's slightly different from my previous novels and I think you'll find it's a different avenue than the usual m/m romance.
All you need to do to enter to win is post a comment between the 19th and 26th of January. I will be choosing one winner at random from the comments. :) 

Be sure to stop by the other blogs by clicking on the banner on the right hand side of my blog for a chance to win many other wonderful and awesome prizes! 

In an attempt to atone for his sins and find some solace, ADA Agent Gabriel Romero helps other Deviants in need. But with threats from both sides—Normals and the Deviants who despise them—he finds it harder and harder to outrun his ghosts, especially after a difficult mission to rescue twin brothers held at an enemy compound, where Gabriel meets Alexander Ryker. Gabriel finds his new charge unexpectedly attractive, and that’s a complication he does not want—one he thinks he doesn't deserve.

Despite the frosty reception from the stubborn agent who rescued him, sheltered telepath Alex feels an instant connection through the pain he sees in Gabriel's eyes, and he does everything he can to gain his attention. The realities he must face while mastering his ability are hard, but failing to learn to defend himself is not an option. Soon he'll need his newfound strength to convince Gabriel he deserves to live and love again.



A FILE landed with a small slap on the desk in front of Gabriel Romero. He picked it up and flipped the cover open while his boss, Bryan Sorensen, gave him the lowdown on his newest assignment. “Twin brothers, Alexander and Jason Ryker. Nineteen years old and very powerful, telepathic and telekinetic. They were abducted forty-eight hours ago before we could get to them.”

Gabriel stared down into the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. His chest tightened at the innocence shining up at him from the young man in the photograph.

“Gabe… Vincetti has them.”

He whipped his head up at Bryan’s words. “Vincetti? Are you sure?”

“Yes. Our inside intel tells us they were taken to a secret compound in Vermont. I need you to assemble your team and get them out of there.” Bryan grimaced. Gabriel could tell Bryan felt guilty asking him, due to the events five years ago. “You’re the only one I trust with this, Gabe.”

Gabriel didn’t say anything for several moments as he sifted through the file on the two teenagers. The boy who’d captivated him immediately was Alexander Ryker. The dossier stated that he stood at six foot even, with short dark-brown hair and green eyes. What it didn’t state was how flawlessly smooth the man’s face looked or how sexy the small dimple was that appeared in the corner of his mouth when he smiled. Gabriel forced himself to look at the next photograph of Jason Ryker. Jason had the same green eyes as his brother, but with a more worldly depth to them. His dark-brown hair hung to his shoulders, and a small silver hoop pierced the lower right corner of his mouth. The agency had been aware of them for a little over a year, and had been tracking them up until two days ago, when they’d been forced into a nondescript white van outside a convenience store.

“Level five?” Gabriel sucked in a sharp breath when he saw the number.

Bryan nodded. “Yes. Alex and Jason are both level fives.”

Alex was the telepath, and at that level, he could project his thoughts into another’s mind as well if he wished it, though the file held no mention of the young man doing so. Gabriel jolted in remembrance. There had only been one other person that he’d ever known who could do more than just listen. He shoved those thoughts away, refusing to think of the worst moments of his life. All that mattered was getting the boys back.

Jason, the telekinetic, appeared to be as strong as his brother, if not stronger. There were several eyewitness accounts of Jason practically lifting a car by himself to save a little girl who’d been struck by the vehicle and pinned beneath the wheel. He’d brushed it off as an adrenaline rush, but the agency knew better.

Gabriel looked back up at his boss and said, “We’ll leave in three hours.”

“Good. Contact me the instant they are in your custody. Use the safe house in Mineral Point. Lay low until we contact you.” Bryan looked at his best agent. “Be careful, Gabe.”

Standing, Gabriel nodded abruptly. He spun on his heel and strode out of his boss’s office. The Agency for Deviant Assistance offered guidance and help to gifted humans such as the twins. It was the only safe haven for anyone with special abilities. No one understood how the abilities developed, but the tension grew thick between the humans without gifts and the humans who possessed them. Ten years ago, a third of the population on Earth began to exhibit signs of strange behavior. The first incident pertained to a man who could levitate things around him when upset or angry. Within a month’s time, there were over five hundred documented cases of similar events happening all over the United States. Eventually it became known as a worldwide epidemic.

Normal human beings grew afraid of what these gifts could do to them or their families. Angry mobs broke out a year after the first occurrence. Gabriel had been twenty-two by the time the first Deviant murders occurred. They were dragged out of their homes, butchered, shot, or hung. At first, the police attempted to stop the incidents, but as the population of Deviants rose, they too grew afraid of what could happen to their families and loved ones. Soon it was an all-out war between Deviants and Normals. Deviants were forced into hiding, living in underground tunnels or abandoned homes. Fear of discovery and the knowledge that they were one misstep away from death left any Deviant shivering in the cold nights.

Gabriel remembered being one of those people. He’d been twenty-three when his own abilities surfaced. There’d been another murder of a Deviant, Paul, a friend of Gabriel’s from college. He’d been forced to watch as they brought him to the ground, strung the rope around his neck, and tied it to the back of a car. They had driven around and around the block, dragging Paul behind. Gabriel could still see the bloody mess Paul was by the time the bastards stopped. He would never forget the nightmare that time became, or the rage he’d felt for an innocent life lost, which caused his own abilities to manifest. He hadn’t been able to stop what happened next. It sent him running for his life as he tried to stay one step ahead of the humans who’d murdered his friend.

Five years of brutal slayings and destruction took place before the government stepped in and stopped the fighting. Known Deviants were sent to concentration camps in unpopulated rural areas, but it didn’t stop the Normals from trying to destroy them. In Gabriel’s opinion, it just made it all the easier for them to find the Deviants. Rogue groups of raiders hit the camps every chance they had.
A couple of months before the government tried to restrain the ever-heightening situation, Bryan Sorensen created the Agency for Deviant Assistance in memory of his child. Bryan’s son, Jamie, had exhibited signs of being a strong level five telekinetic. He attempted to keep Jamie’s abilities hidden, but a neighbor witnessed the child levitating his toys and, out of fear, turned the information over to a group of known Deviant hunters. At the time, Bryan was a successful attorney and a clear advocate for Deviants. He’d returned home from his office one day to find his wife and son dead on the kitchen floor. They’d shot his wife in the head when she tried to protect Jamie. To honor his family’s memory, he’d created the agency to assist any Deviant who needed a place to stay or to learn how to control their abilities enough to prevent discovery.

Bryan inherited an old farmhouse when his grandfather passed away, and after it sat empty for two years, he’d decided to put it to good use by making it the headquarters of the agency. Investing thousands, he’d renovated the farmhouse and added on additional rooms, as well as converting the run-down barn into a training facility. He’d also had the same private construction company build a garage big enough to house the agency SUVs, and eventually the helicopter they used for their missions. The agency, Gabriel’s home for five years, now accommodated up to thirty-five Deviants at a time, including the three five-member teams. Most of the Deviants were only there a matter of a month or two before being ensconced in a new life with a new identity.

Gabriel’s hands clenched into fists as he strode into the common room. Jackal lounged on the couch with his girl, Teresa, while arguing with Lizard and Tank about the greatest football player of all time. Chris, the resident computer techie and genius, sat surfing the Internet, and looked up at him as he entered the room. He saw the serious intent on Gabriel’s face and sat straighter in his chair. “What’s going on, Gabe?”

“Jackal, find Bear,” he ordered. Jackal was on his feet and out the door before he’d even finished speaking. Gabriel’s usual team consisted of the four Deviants, and Chris, a Normal, was the pillar of support they relied on heavily. They were the only people Gabriel would trust with his life and the life of any Deviant on the planet, aside from Bryan. In their past four years together, Gabriel had never run a mission without them.

Chris Reed, a clear advocate for Deviants, provided the gear needed to complete a mission. He usually stayed at the farmhouse, the ADA headquarters, directing them via radio with the blueprints of whatever building or compound their targets were being held in. Gabriel depended heavily on his intel and trusted his knowledge without question. Despite his supergenius status, Chris didn’t give off the “nerd” vibe most people associated with computer wizards and Internet geeks. Six foot one, he had a stocky build with well-defined muscles, blue eyes, and his head was almost completely shaved.
Bailey “Jackal” Ferris was a level four Deviant. Nicknamed the Jackal due to his cunning and speed, he had the ability to outrun just about anything and the strength to match. Jackal had been the only survivor of one of the concentration camps attacked in the middle of the night. He’d barely survived the blast that left him in a coma for two months. Bryan offered him a position at the ADA when he woke up, and Jackal had been there ever since. Jackal topped off at five foot nine with dark-green eyes, shoulder-length brown hair that he kept tied back, and a lean physique, which Gabriel supposed added to his speed and agility.

Vinnie “Lizard” Thomas, another level four, had also been in one of the concentration camps the Normals had raided. His ability to camouflage himself within his surroundings was the only thing that kept him alive. He’d seen his mother and father shot to death right in front of him. When he’d learned of Bryan’s agency, he’d sought him out and offered his services. Lizard despised Normals with every breath he drew. Six foot two, shockingly white blonde hair, eyes as blue as the sky, and around two hundred pounds of toned muscle made an impressive package. One ear was lined with multiple piercings, while several tattoos littered his body, the most obvious one a lizard.

Jorge “Bear” Vallejo, a massive mountain of a man at six foot eight, earned his nickname due to his impressive size and his strength. Bear was able to lift a car with one hand while shooting a gun with the other. His mother tried to smother him in his sleep at the age of twelve. His strength saved his life. The silent type, he barely strung more than two words together at a time. When he wasn’t running missions with Gabriel, he spent his time lifting weights and working on cars. Of Hispanic lineage, obvious in the dark olive-toned skin, black hair, and dark brown eyes, Bear had a temper that simmered to a boil before it exploded. Raised in Spain, he spoke Spanish fluently, but when he’d arrived in America, he’d made it a personal challenge to learn English just as completely. Bear tested at a level three, although many believed he should have qualified as a four.

Last but not least in Gabriel’s lineup was Jackson “Tank” Beauvard, also a level four. Tank did exactly what his name signified. A solid wall of muscle that could tear through buildings like they were paper, he was practically indestructible. Not even bullets could penetrate his skin. He’d come to Bryan a few years back, when his sister had been kidnapped by a group of Deviants known for their hatred of Normals. Tank stood at six foot six, dark-skinned with short black hair and dark-brown eyes. He’d been the last Deviant to join Gabriel’s team two years ago. They were still searching for his sister.

As soon as Bear entered the room, Gabriel launched into their newest mission. He handed the folder containing the information about the Ryker twins to Chris. “Twin brothers, Alexander and Jason Ryker, were abducted forty-eight hours ago and taken to a compound in Vermont. Both of them are level fives. We’ll be staying at the safe house in Mineral Point for a while. Be prepared to move out in three hours. We’re going in under the cover of darkness. Chris, we need a layout of the compound and where the boys are possibly being held. Tank, I’m going to need you as lead on this mission.” The others looked at Gabriel in surprise. “It’s Vincetti.”

If a pin had hit the floor at that very moment, it would have been heard for miles. Tank’s eyes grew hard, and his jaw clenched. Lizard growled low in his throat, and Teresa let out a small squeak when Jackal’s hands tightened on her arms. “Sorry, baby,” Jackal murmured, immediately letting her go and massaging the bruised flesh.

Gabriel knew every person in the room had a reason to hate Vincetti and the monsters who worked under him. He gave a grim smile. “Let’s move, people.”

The next three hours passed in a flurry of activity. Tank prepared the helicopter, while Lizard and Jackal loaded up the weapons they would need. Bear gathered together everything necessary for their time at the safe house. A heavy tension hung over the occupants of the farmhouse as the hours ticked by like mere minutes. The usual chatter and joking around was absent from the five men getting ready to enter the compound of their strongest enemy.

Gabriel headed up to his room in the agency to change and fortify himself for what was to come. He pulled a pair of black jeans up over his muscular legs, buttoning them before tugging on a black T-shirt with a black nylon weapons vest over it. Picking up two matching daggers, Gabriel slipped them into two of the slots in the vest before grabbing his gun and ensuring it was loaded. The noise of the gun cocking echoed in the silence of his suite. He shoved it into the holster and snatched up a black duffel bag sitting in the bottom of his closet to stuff a few changes of clothing into.

When he realized his hands were shaking, Gabriel gripped the edge of the dresser tightly and looked into the mirror. Haunted amber eyes gazed back at him from his reflection. A tension around his mouth turned the skin white, no matter how hard he tried to force it away. Memories bombarded him, as fresh as the day they’d happened, and he breathed deeply, repressing them as fast as they came. He could do this. He had to do this. Those boys’ lives depended on it. Shoving away from the cabinet, Gabriel seized his bag and stalked out of his suite. Nothing would stop him this time.
Exactly three hours after Bryan had given him the assignment, the team headed out. It would take them a few hours to arrive in Vermont, and Gabriel sat tensely in the passenger seat of the black SUV with Lizard at the wheel and Bear in the backseat. “You okay, Gabe?” Lizard glanced over at him in concern.

Gabriel could only offer a hard smile in answer to Lizard’s question. With his jaw clenched so tightly, he’d be surprised if he didn’t crack a tooth. Tank and Jackal followed behind in a similar black SUV towing a trailer transporting the chopper. They would stash the trucks and take the helicopter within a few miles from the compound. From there they would approach on foot. Getting into the compound would be the easiest part. Gabriel worried about getting out.

The six hours it took to get to Vermont were the longest Gabriel had ever felt. His mind kept returning to the image of the two boys, and knowing anything could be happening to them right at that very moment. His fingers dug into his thigh in frustration. He hated feeling helpless. It reminded him too much of the day Paul was killed and he’d been unable to stop those men. Just inside the Vermont state border, Chris’s voice came over the bud in Gabriel’s ear, disrupting his thoughts. “The targets are most likely being held in the back of the compound, boss. It appears that the place was originally a prison, shut down about twenty years ago.”

“Good work,” Gabriel barked. “Is there a way in?”

“There’s a section on the east side of the complex that shows a storm drain leading into the compound. Not sure if they’ve blocked it off or not, but that’s the best place to start.” Static crackled over the speaker for a split second before Chris continued, “If you go in on the east side, head north about half a click and you’ll see an entrance into the building. Inside, there is another access door to the old jail cells.”

Gabriel looked down at the small gadget in his hands as Chris transmitted the blueprints with the details he’d just given. He studied the layout, memorizing every building and room shown on the screen. It looked like there was every possibility of getting back out the way they came in if they could shut down the camp surveillance and alarms. “Is there a way to deactivate the security systems on your end?” he asked in a flat tone.

“Already on it, boss. Just give me the word, and with the press of a button you’re good to go,” Chris replied with confidence ringing clearly in his voice. He’d already thought that far ahead, and, after getting the blueprints, he’d started hacking into the system.

“Almost there, Gabe,” Lizard stated quietly. His hands tightened on the wheel as they approached the target zone for stashing the trucks. The helicopter would draw too much attention if they took off inside a town or city, so the vehicles would need to be stashed as far into the trees as possible.
In a matter of thirty minutes, the team was in the air and on their way to the compound. Gabriel’s face became grimmer the closer they got to their destination. Tank took lead the moment they were on the ground, and Gabriel followed closely behind. Lights shone from the compound, and they could see several guards patrolling the yard. They observed radio silence when they were two clicks from the fence. Gabriel sent the single beep over the radio to let Chris know to disable the systems. They would have to move quickly, because it wouldn’t take long for the guards to realize something was up.

The storm drain had a padlocked grate over it, but otherwise the drain remained intact. Bear reached out with one hand and crushed the lock, tossing the pieces to the ground. The gate swung open with a small squeal, and Gabriel’s eyes darted to the guards, holding his breath as he waited to see if they’d heard the noise. He carefully released it when they continued on their paths. He pointed at Lizard and Jackal before motioning for them to stay put. Lizard scowled but nodded.

Tank hunched over and stepped inside the drain, almost having to bend in half due to his height. Gabriel followed, with Bear taking up the rear. They stopped just inside the entrance to wait for the spotlight to sweep past their hiding place. The moment it passed, the three figures stealthily raced across the yard and flattened against the side of the building. Making their way north, they located the door Chris directed them to, and Bear made short work of the door handle, twisting it harshly.
Sweat built up on their skin, and Gabriel felt as though the tension would send him to his knees. They’d made it this far without a problem, but they still had to locate the boys. The dim hallway they entered beyond the door made Gabriel wary of whom they might run into. The three could see the other door just ahead of them, and they crept forward, all senses on alert. When they reached it, Gabriel motioned for Bear to wait. He closed his eyes and pushed outward, “feeling” for any presence of life on the other side.

Gabriel flicked his gaze toward Bear, tipping his head to indicate for him to open the door. The cells that lined the hallway had been modified from the original wrought iron bars to what looked like reinforced plexiglass. Horror slammed into Gabriel as he saw several cells were already occupied. Tank looked at him, a pleading expression in his dark eyes, but Gabriel shook his head. They couldn’t take them all. A low growl rumbled in Tank’s throat, and he swung back around to continue down the corridor. Gabriel knew how Tank felt. His jaw was a rigid line as he ignored the Deviants they passed.

The twins were in the second to last cell they reached. Gabriel could see one boy sitting with his brother’s head in his lap. More than likely they were keeping Jason sedated until they had a firm hold on him being able to use his abilities against them. Alexander looked up at them in surprise as they approached the cell, and fear shimmered in his eyes when he saw it wasn’t their usual guards. Gabriel saw Alexander clutch his brother tighter, and tried to reassure the teenager with a tight smile and a tip of his head. They were there to rescue them, not hurt them. Understanding dawned in those bright green eyes Gabriel couldn’t look away from. The boy was, no doubt, reading his mind, and their intentions were evident to him.

He finally managed to tear his gaze away from that intent stare and looked for an access panel. There was a keycard slot and pad on the wall. Gabriel pulled a small device from one of the pockets on his vest which contained a keycard. Punching in a couple of sequences, Gabriel slid the card through the slot decisively. The light stayed red, and he almost punched the wall in frustration. Tapping the piece in his ear, Gabriel fairly snarled over the radio, “Need a little help.”

Chris sounded surprised when he responded, “Problem, boss?”

“The keycard didn’t work.” Gabriel motioned for the other two to keep a lookout while he stared intently at the device on the wall. “It requires a code. Find it.”

The radio fell silent as Chris zipped through program after program, hacking into the security system at the jail until he located the necessary information. “Cell number?”

Gabriel glanced around the cell walls but didn’t see any identifying numbers. Agitation glittered in his gaze, and he looked at Tank and Bear. They’d been in there too long. The longer they remained in the compound, the more likely they would be discovered and possibly captured. “Be ready for anything.”

Bear’s eyes widened a fraction at the realization that Gabriel intended to use his abilities. In four years, the team had only seen him use them a handful of times. The three of them stepped back from the cell. Taking a deep breath, Gabriel concentrated on the plexiglass door. The glass shuddered before a powerful boom reverberated against the cement walls and it fairly exploded into pieces that scattered across the corridor floor. Gabriel pushed inside the cell in the breath of a second. He hauled Jason up into his arms, tossing him across his shoulder. “Let’s go,” he commanded quietly.

The moment Alexander stood from the bed, a piercing alarm sounded throughout the complex and red lights started flashing everywhere. Gabriel swore profusely. “Go, go, go!”

Tank started at a fast clip down the corridor while Gabriel shoved Alexander in front of him, followed by Bear at the rear. Several of the Deviants were pounding on the glass, begging them to release them. His stomach clenched as he swallowed the bile rising in his throat. There was no way to save them all.Gun shots rang out across the yard when they broke out of the building. Lizard and Jackal were keeping them busy, firing as they ran to cover the four of them. Gabriel felt a bullet slam into his shoulder and suppressed a loud roar at the pain tearing through him. “Jackal, Lizard! Let’s go!” he shouted through clenched teeth.

It felt like they were miles from where they had entered the compound. He was only able to take a deep breath when the drain appeared up ahead. Gabriel sheltered Alexander with his body as he practically pushed the boy into the storm drain. The others raced behind them, firing on the guards chasing after. Bullets thudded into the tree trunks a hairsbreadth from hitting their targets as they raced into the cover of the trees. The sound of the alarm echoed through the forest. Gabriel stumbled briefly under the weight of the boy across his shoulder. He could feel the warm, sticky blood flowing down his free arm. Tank stopped Gabriel briefly, yanking Jason from him. “I’ve got him, boss.”

He grabbed at his shoulder, trying to stem the flow of blood as best he could. Shouts could be heard behind the team, but farther back now. It wouldn’t be long before they reached the helicopter. Jackal had raced ahead of the group to start the engine, and they could hear the blades long before they saw the chopper. Lizard jumped inside, reaching out and pulling Alexander into the seat next to him. Bear slipped into the passenger side as Tank hefted Jason in and turned back to Gabriel, offering his hand to him. “Come on!” 

A bullet pinged into the metal side of the helicopter, and Gabriel whipped around, holding up his hand. The gun exploded in the guard’s grip, and he screamed as the shrapnel dug into his skin. Gabriel clasped Tank’s wrist, allowing the man to tug him into the chopper. Jackal took off as fast as safely possible. Gabriel watched the field flood with men below them. They were still firing at them, but they were too far out of reach for the bullets to hit anything with accuracy.

When they were finally heading toward the safe house, Gabriel slumped back and sighed, still holding his shoulder tightly. He felt eyes on him and rolled his head against the seat to see the boy staring at him. Unable to take the strong emotions ripping through him as he gazed at the teenager, Gabriel closed his eyes and attempted to ignore him. He’d learned a long time ago how to block out a telepath, and closed his mind to the boy.Lizard let out a profane word when he finally saw the blood covering Gabriel’s shirt. He shifted into the seat next to his friend and shouted, “Why didn’t you say you were hit?”

Gabriel felt pretty certain his face was pale from the pain and loss of blood, but he managed a cocky, though somewhat shaky, grin. “You know me, Lizard. I can take a hit and keep on trucking.”

Glaring at the stubborn bastard, Lizard reached out and stripped the weapons vest from Gabriel’s chest before ripping the shirt down the middle. He worked carefully to pull Gabriel’s arm from the short sleeve, but Gabriel still let out a hiss as the fabric pulled at the bullet hole. Lizard popped the end of a flashlight in his mouth as he examined the wound. Gabriel knew the bullet had gone all the way through, but figured it would need stitches. Lizard tore open the first aid kit from under the seat and wrapped the wound up as best as he could. “You’re going to need stitches,” Lizard yelled to be heard over the loud blades.

Gabriel grimaced but nodded, tipping his head back into the headrest. God, he hated needles.