Thursday, 7 April 2016

My Guest ~ Tori Carson

First I would like to start off by apologizing... apparently I was supposed to promo this back on Jan 12th... but due to my own personal 'family dramas from hell' it totally slipped my mind... so hopefully Tori can forgive me.

Against the Odds

Publisher: Totally Bound
Release Date: 23 January 2016

Once their paths cross, their fates are sealed.

Sid is a master at solving cold cases. His mind thrives on the challenge. He has a knack for finding elusive clues and piecing the puzzle together, until he starts on the trail of a privileged teenage debutante who in a fit of rage burned down her design studio and brutally murdered her closest competitor.

As the years go by, the case becomes an obsession. Using age progression techniques, he knows the girl has grown into a beautiful woman. He wonders how many others have fallen into her web of deadly deceit.

Sasha is a brilliant interior decorator. Her designs are coveted by the rich and influential. She has a mysterious air. No one knows about her murky past and she’s determined to keep it that way. She survives by relying on no one and avoiding all personal connections. After a break-in at her office brings unwanted police attention, she feels the noose tightening. She must choose between escape and making a stand. To break free, she’ll have to do the unthinkable. She’ll have to learn to trust.

Reader advisory: This book contains references to human trafficking, as well as scenes of rape and physical abuse.

Fear pervaded every cell of her body. Alexa’s throat closed, refusing the smoke laden air. Flames raced through the studio, devouring her dreams. Bolt after bolt of custom woven fabric, designed for her new clothing line, gone in the blink of an eye. Her head throbbed from the beating she’d endured at the hands of her protector and guardian. She pushed away the pain and betrayal. Nothing mattered now but survival. Sliding in and out of consciousness, she lay still, biding her time until she could escape.

One last kick to her ribs, and a muttered obscenity, signaled his departure. Her attacker had ripped her files from the cabinet and scattered them along the floor. Her once priceless, ‘one of a kind’, designs were now ruined. He’d taken a sledgehammer to her computer’s hard drive, wrapped it in a bolt of embellished silk and set it ablaze.

She had to get out and that meant curling into a ball and crying her eyes out would have to wait. As she crawled over months of work, once coveted and protected, now discarded to fuel her funeral pyre, her hand slipped on the loose papers, sending her chin scraping across the blood-soaked floor. She dashed away the tears and continued. As she neared the doorway, she had to move Ezzy’s lifeless body from the exit. Alexa took Ezzy by the arm and pulled her farther into the room. Knowing that Ezzy was beyond help didn’t ease the guilt beating at Alexa. Her stomach protested over and over. Bile burned her smoke-scorched throat, her muscles twisted into knots as she fought to keep moving.

Alexa jerked awake, landing hard on the floor beside the single bed in her low-rent apartment. Thousands of miles and ten years later, the bad dreams continued to assault her. The roar of the fire still assaulted her ears. Her lungs still protested the acidic fumes and her stomach still rebelled remembering Ezzy’s mutilated body. Long ago, she’d accepted nightmares were a part of her life. She didn’t have the time or energy to feel sorry for herself. Betrayal and death were always there waiting for a careless moment. She’d vowed to never be careless again.

* * * *

 Sid stared at the young girl’s picture taped to his computer screen. It was a tactic he’d used many times while working on cold cases for the FBI. Yet this time was different. He didn’t need the photo front and center to keep Alexa on his mind. She lived there. Awake or asleep, it didn’t matter, her image was burned into his brain.

 He had stacks of other cases littering his workspace and thousands of others just a keystroke away. Why this one?

 “Hello,” Teague waved his hand in front of Sid’s face, “where’d you go?”


 Teague walked over and pulled her photo from the screen. “Missing?”

 Sid took the picture and put it back where it had been. His finger lingered over her face. Such a contagious smile and intelligent eyes didn’t fit the horrific crimes she was wanted for.

 “It’s a cold case a buddy of mine in New York asked me to review. Don’t worry about it.” His friend had long since consigned it to the hopeless case bin, but Sid continued to track down every lead. For whatever reason, he just couldn’t shake it. He hated to think about the man hours he’d put into finding the girl. All he really had to go by was a fingerprint.

 “Pretty little thing. How long ago did she disappear?” Teague was like a Gila monster, once he sank his teeth into something, he never let go.

 “Ten years.” She could easily be dead by now. A sixteen-year-old kid wanted by police and living on the streets didn’t have a hell of a lot of opportunities.

 “Damn. That’s a long time. Who do you think grabbed her and why is the NBIA pursing this case?”

 The National Border Interdiction Agency, his current employer, specialized in crimes originating outside the United States. “This one is off the clock. She’s not a victim. She’s an arsonist and a murderer, or so the theory goes.” How could a child like that brutally beat and ultimately murder her brother’s fiancĂ©e, set fire to her family’s garment warehouse then stage the scene in an attempt to fake her own death?

 “Any leads?” Teague continued to pursue the matter.

 Recently he’d been notified of a new hit on the partial print. Unlike the hundreds before it, this one was practically in his own backyard. It seemed doubtful that a young girl would leave the glitz and glamour of New York City to travel across the country and settle in Arizona, but there were some oddities that had his curiosity aroused.


 Teague motioned for him to keep talking.

 “Why the hell are you so interested?” Sid wasn’t comfortable talking about this case.

 “You’ve been telling me how I need to learn investigative techniques that go beyond a keyboard. Obviously this is something you feel strongly about. You aren’t even getting paid for this, yet you’re still spending your off time on it. Therefore, it must be a doozy. So walk me through how to solve a ten-year-old case.”

 Fuck. Why had he believed befriending Teague was a good idea? Although he tried, he couldn’t think of a single reason why he shouldn’t confide in Teague.

 “Recently a local interior design firm was broken into. A secretary, a temp on a six-month assignment, phoned it in. A couple of things caused the investigating officer to be suspicious.” He raised his index finger. “First, the temp was supposed to be filling in for a woman on maternity leave. After some digging, he found out there were five secretaries before this one and each had been hired as a six-month temp. And none of them left because they were pregnant.” He raised two fingers. “In fact, everyone associated with the firm is hired temporarily or as a contracted project-based employee.”

 “Could just be cheap. If you keep rotating the staff none of them are going to ask for a raise or expect benefits,” Teague suggested.

 Sid shrugged. “The owner, a young woman known publically as Sasha, is a big deal. Her designs are the latest craze. Everyone who’s anyone has at least a room decorated by Sasha. She isn’t hurting for money.”

 Teague looked at him closely. Sid obviously needed to work on his poker face.
“You and I both know that some of the richest people are the ones that pinch a penny until it screams.”

 Sid nodded. “According to the police report, once Sasha arrived, she told the investigator there’d been a misunderstanding. She said her boyfriend, who she refused to identify, had ransacked the office after an argument. She told him she was sure nothing had been taken and was adamant he drop the investigation. The detective didn’t buy it for a minute and ran the prints anyway.”

 “Does this Sasha physically match her?” Teague tipped his chin toward the picture.

 “The owner of Sasha’s Design is a twenty-six-year-old brunette, about five foot six, who reportedly netted several million last year.”


 “So why does she live in a studio apartment in a shitty part of town? According to the DMV, her company owns one delivery van and she personally owns a late-model pickup. Though they are both unencumbered, neither speak of that kind of money. You’d think a young girl earning seven figures would have a few creature comforts.”

 Teague nodded. “I’m assuming you’ve had an age progression artist give you a hand.”

 Sid hit a few keys on his computer and brought up the sketch. About a year ago, he’d asked for a workup. Sid believed in crossing his t’s and dotting his i’s. His nature dictated he cover every base, though he was sure he wouldn’t need it. This case was never far from his mind. Lately, he’d even been dreaming about her. Not the vibrant teen from the picture, but a very serious young woman. A damsel in distress. The type he always fell for. 

Against the Rules

Released: 8 May 2015

Targeted by a drug cartel, Teague is out for vengeance until Chantel lands in his lap. Is this fiery, redheaded submissive his lifeline or his downfall?

One nosy keystroke and Teague’s life was changed forever. He lost his identity, his family and is constantly running for his life. There is little doubt that the cartel will eventually find and kill him. Until then he plans to put as many of them away as possible. It has become his single-minded goal.

Chantel was raised with the knowledge that bogey men exist. She carries a gun and she knows how to use it. She is confident that she can take care of herself. Her only real fear is of dying alone, without ever knowing the meaning of true love.

Teague has a weakness for redheads and the cartel knows it. They’ve used it against him in the past. When Chantel literally falls into his lap, he knows it is too good to be true. Convinced that it will be his downfall, he pursues her anyway. After a weekend of life-affirming sex, he vows to never see her again.

Once Chantel has found the man of her dreams, she’s not going to let a threat against her get in the way. Now caught in the sights of a serial killer her father has spent his life hunting down, Chantel learns that there are worse things in life than death.

For a chance to save Chantel, Teague must choose between his life’s work and the young woman who has made his life worth living.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of kidnapping, torture, sexual torture, violence and references to human trafficking of children.

 “So, I created this spreadsheet to help me keep my schedule straight. I color-coded the games to align with the level I’ve achieved. That way I can spend the same amount of time on each game, yet track my advances…”

 Chantel knew that her eyes had glazed over an hour ago. Rodney hadn’t seemed to notice. He still prattled on about video games and spreadsheets. Neither appealed to Chantel and she sure wouldn’t combine the two. Abstractedly, she wondered if he had a spreadsheet tracking the number of times he had picked his nose tonight. She’d lost count.

 She looked longingly at the exit. It was so close. She could be out of the door in seconds. Then what? Go home to her empty house, curl up with an erotic romance novel and wait for the alarm to go off so she could go to work again. Oh yeah, that sounded like fun.

 The slurp of beer brought her attention back to Rodney. Oh, God, there he goes with the nose thing again.

 “Excuse me,” Chantel murmured reaching for her purse and bolting for the bathroom. There was only one for both men and women.

 Chantel leaned against the sink and dabbed at the tears trying to escape. “You knew Rodney was a loser and you went out with him anyway. You deserve crappy-ass pizza, wobbly, squeaky chairs and watered-down diet soda.” She turned toward the ceiling, hoping gravity would help keep the tears from rolling down her cheeks. Seeing the rain-stained ceiling tiles only added another candle onto her pity party cake.

 In college, she and her friends had once cast a spell imploring the gods to bring forth a bodacious man to live out her fantasies, a strong man who could satisfy her needs sexually and have an intelligent conversation afterward. She’d wanted a man who could set her panties on fire with just a look or a whispered command. Hell, now she’d settle for a man who was more interested in her buttons than the TV remote.

 Chantel fell back on her mantra after each rotten date. Life doesn’t need to include men to be meaningful and fulfilled.

 She almost groaned at that thought. Being filled… When was the last time she’d had sex? No, don’t go there! It’s not like it was that great anyway. Messy, sweaty and quick.

 Another glance at the polished steel that passed for a mirror told her she was presentable. With her head held high, like a prisoner determined to face her sentence with dignity, she pulled open the door.

* * * *

 Teague knew that he was being stupid. He knew he should have left temptation alone, but here he stood listening to the quiet sniffles and the one-sided conversation she was having with herself on the other side of the door. The beady-eyed twerp she’d been sitting with had Teague’s radar going off and his protective streak on full alert.

 As the door swung open, he used his body to block her exit. She responded by jumping backward away from him and farther into the restroom. He let the door close behind them. She clutched her purse and the vein in her neck beat fast, but she had a confidence about her he really hadn’t expected.

 “I’m sorry I startled you. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You looked so unhappy.”

 Her response was a very feminine laugh.

 God, her tinkling giggle teased his cock in such a wicked way. It also pissed him off. “What’s so funny?” This woman had no self-preservation skills. A man cornered her in the restroom and she started giggling. What the fuck?

 “Well, it’s a laugh or cry kind of night. I’m trying to keep to the lighter side.” She flashed him a sexy smile.

 He was watching her closely. She seemed to like what she saw. “Fight with your boyfriend?” He was clipped and terse. This hadn’t gone as he’d expected.

 Her jaw tensed and an eyebrow shot toward the ceiling. “Blind date,” she corrected with a haughty air that sent his balls ratcheting a notch tighter.

 “Dump his ass and I’ll see you home.”

 She ran her tongue across her upper lip and her eyes dilated. She sighed as if she’d considered his offer, but her conscience had won.

 “I’ve got my own ride, but thank you for the offer. It was sweet of you.” She met his gaze as if he was no threat to her at all.

 Her confidence and poise under pressure intrigued him. He’d have liked to spend the evening with her. She would have been a delight in bed, too, but she’d said no. He needed to be a gentleman and respect it.

 Mustering all the self-control he’d gained over the years, he made his feet move away from the door.

* * * *

 “Daddy, Daddy, special delivery,” Bobby hollered as he ran in the door.

 Agent Robert Foster of the NBIA, National Border Interdiction Agency, grabbed his son and spun him through the air. He marveled for the hundredth time at how the poor kid looked just like him, from his orange carrot top hair to the slight split between his two front teeth. “What do you mean, little man? What have you got there?”

 Bobby handed his dad a plain brown envelope with no markings of any kind.

 Suddenly sick to his stomach, Robert ran his hand over the top. It was smooth. No hint of wires or powder. Slitting the side, he found a simple index card with, Mr. G. requests target coordinates printed on it.

 Robert set Bobby down gently and turned away, fighting the urge to puke. He wiped the sweat from his brow and pushed down the panic. “Son, where did this come from?”

 “A friend of yours. Dad, his chopper was so cool. He gave me a ride home from school. He said we might go for a longer ride next time.”

 It took a minute for Bobby’s words to sink in. Blood drained from Robert’s face and his stomach knotted. “You aren’t hurt, are you?” He ran his hands from Bobby’s head to his toes as his mind raced, hoping without any real hope that he was wrong. “What did he look like? Did he tell you his name?”

 The panic roaring between his ears made it hard to listen. There was little doubt about who it was. Mr. G.’s hit man, Sammy. A cruel, sadistic bastard who would smile for the camera as he skinned Bobby alive and videotaped it for Robert to watch over and over. He couldn’t have been more terrified if the devil himself had taken Bobby for a ride.

 “No.” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t know. He said he was a friend of yours. His bike was way cool, Dad. It had skulls on the tank and blood-red forks. I can’t wait to go for another ride.”

* * * *

 At work the next day, Chantel was walking around in a gray fog. After paying for her portion of the meal last night, she’d left Rodney to nurse his beer while she’d gone home alone.

 It hadn’t taken long for her to realize she had made yet another mistake. She should have given Yummy Man her phone number. He had a confidence about him she’d rarely seen before. She’d been worried when she’d turned him down. He was a large man, muscular, with scarred hands. If she hadn’t been armed, she would have freaked out.

 Since he’d just smiled and let her leave, she figured her concerns had been for nothing. And she’d let a scrumptious man walk away. Oh well, everything about him had screamed ‘single forever’. She doubted he’d want two point five kids and a dog named Spot to come home to each evening. Then again, she didn’t need a ring on her finger and a certificate from the state to enjoy some mind-blowing sex. If he was even half as hot in bed as he had been in her dreams last night, she’d missed a hell of an opportunity.

 Still kicking herself over not even getting his name, she almost didn’t notice the well-built man kneeling down, not a foot away, until she ran headlong into him. As her body’s forward motion turned into a downward slide, she thought she saw her Yummy Man from the night before. Damn, another dream. But dreams didn’t rearrange your bra when you ran into them or smell fresh and sexy or scatter your paperwork all over the floor.

 “Are you all right?”

 His low, masculine timbre started her blood boiling. She was so lost in listening to the cadence all she heard was, “Rumble, rumble, purr.” Finally, it sank in.

 “I’m good, really good,” she crooned. Holy crap, he was better looking than she remembered. His blond hair was a bit on the longish side. Obviously, he was a man who followed his own style and looked darn fine doing it. 

About Tori
Tori lives in the beautiful Sonoran Desert with her loving husband of almost thirty years. She wakes up each morning to the howls of coyotes and the barking of her family dogs wanting to join the fray.

When Tori isn't writing, she's either spending time with her two, wonderful adult children, or creating stained glass art.

She likes her love stories scorching hot. She tries to infuse a fire and passion between her characters that rivals the blazing summer sun that Arizona is known for. Tori encourages you to bask in the heat between the covers of a Dominant/submissive, happily-ever-after, bondage romance.

Find Tori Here

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