My release date snuck up on me. I really thought this was coming out on the 15th for some reason, but SURPRISE on me, it's today!
Hop on over to Samhain and check out their home page, where The Soul Jar is first up!
Here's a little excerpt to whet your appetite:
Recognition hit Chance MacKenzie like a cold blade in the gut. Bree. Good Lord, she hadn’t changed at all. Even with her raven hair pulled back in a thick ponytail and her luscious figure hidden by a black sweatshirt, she took his breath away.
Of all the places he might have encountered her—all the places he’d studiously avoided since their last disastrous adventure—he’d never have imagined finding her here in New York’s Chinatown, slinking around in the back room of Chen’s famous curiosity shop.
This was no place for priceless treasures of any kind.
“You used to call me Chance,” he said as soon as he found his voice. The shock made his heart skip a beat. He could not have been more nonplussed if he’d encountered one of the Yetis that supposedly belonged to the gnarled, shriveled hands lying on the shelf behind her head.
“Only your friends call you Chance, and I’m not one of your friends.” Her reply stung, like a sharp pinprick in the callus that had grown over his heart since he’d seen her last, since he’d held her in his arms and planned a future with her at his side. Pushing aside the ache that had begun in the middle of his chest, he smiled wide, partly to throw her off guard and partly because the pain reminded him that he hadn’t actually died two years ago.
“Aw, can’t we get past that, luv? I forgive you for killing me. Since I’m not really dead, I can’t hold a grudge.”
The corners of her lustrous blue eyes sparkled. After what he’d put her through, he’d never have expected to see tears in those eyes, only the cold hatred of a woman badly scorned.
He looked away as she swiped at her eyes. Her voice wavered when she asked, “So how is it you’re not really dead?”
“Blanks in the gun.” He struck with surgical precision. No time now for apologies or complex explanations.
“I saw blood.” The last word came out as a choked whisper. What he wouldn’t have given to hold her in his arms and comfort her, to feel her supple body yield to his again.
If wishes were horses, he thought and struck again. “Exploding blood packets under my shirt. A ripcord tethered to the side of the balcony. A broken mannequin, wearing my clothes, tossed on the cobblestones below.” With each word, he cut her. Each confession wedged open the wounds he’d made so long ago, and he saw in her eyes that she bled anew.
Her lower lip trembled, just enough to draw his attention and hold it. God, he remembered her mouth, the taste of her, hot and sweet.
“If you’d like more details, why don’t we get out of here, and I’ll buy you a drink? Shimmy back out the window, and I’ll meet you once I’ve concluded my business with Mr. Chen.”
“Chen’s not here.”
“Yes, but he’ll be back very soon to check his precious cash drawer before he goes to bed, and part of my business is to be long gone before that happens.” He made a move to sidle past her, careful to avoid the slightest physical contact. If he touched her now…
She twisted sideways as he passed and plastered herself against the rickety shelves. Why did it hurt that she didn’t want to touch him either?
Her eyes followed him, darts of sharpened steel in the dimness. “What are you after, MacKenzie?”
“Priceless Yeti hands…and a dollop of petrified dino poo. I know I saw some around here somewhere. Fetches thousands on the black market.” Let her laugh, he thought. Let her laugh the way she used to at my stupid jokes.
“Cut the crap. No more lies.” She followed him a step, but stopped short of grabbing his sleeve.
He turned sharply, met those steel-blade eyes and braced himself against the flood of regret that threatened to drown him. “Lies saved your life, sweetheart. Without them, one or both of us really would be dead now.”
She said nothing, but a muscle in her jaw twitched. He longed to touch it and soothe away the anger that drew her up so tight. “Get out of here, Bree. Whatever you’re after, it’s not worth it.”
“But it’s worth it for you?” Her voice rose with the challenge. “We’re here for the same thing, aren’t we?”
“I doubt it.” No, he didn’t.
“Fine. Then take what you want and leave me be.” She turned away, flung herself into the deep shadows at the back of the shop. He’d have let her go, believing it was better for both of them to leave the past buried in the empty grave in New South Wales that bore his name. He would have, if he hadn’t seen what he’d come here for, gleaming over her shoulder in the meager light that filtered through the dirty window.
On a high, narrow shelf at the very back of the shop, it sat on a thin velvet cushion, looking like royalty among the peasants. The junk that surrounded it seemed to fade from view. The perfectly white oval was no larger than a woman’s palm, and it seemed to glow with an inner light. Chance wondered if the strange luminescence came from the two souls rumored to be trapped inside it or from his long unrequited desire to actually see the fabled object in person.
His mouth went dry. He could tell by Bree’s stillness that she’d seen it too. She’d found her objective, just as he’d suspected.
Now the question hung in the dusty, stale air of the shop. Which one of them would fulfill their mission and leave with the Soul Jar, and which would be left betrayed again?
For more, visit Samhain Publishing!