Here’s a sneak peak of my new paranormal / military romance, When Darkness Whispers. In this first scene, Eva is on a murder investigation when she runs into a man from her past, which jars lost memories.
Some memories are better left forgotten…
Haunted by an unclear past, biologically enhanced Marine, Eva Montreaux, can’t be distracted from her mission. With American troops being brutally murdered on the island of Okinawa, it’s more than priority. It’s critical. But when her investigation brings her face to face with Marcos Delacruz, it triggers memories. Ones she lost. Memories that somehow include him.
Marcos Delacruz has tried to forget the woman who left him with nothing but empty promises. Even now, three years later, Eva doesn’t seem to express any guilt over breaking his heart. In truth, she seems to barely recognize him. This deployment has been challenging enough with too many restless spirits haunting the island. But when his own investigation forces him to cross paths with her once more, Marcos discovers there may be a deeper truth.
With the number of murders climbing rapidly and the rising need to track the murderer across the tropical island, Eva struggles to reclaim what she lost. But the island holds darker elements–a serial killer. One that doesn’t appear to be human.
Thrust into a world she can’t escape, Eva must discover a way to stop a murderer from destroying anyone else’s future, but how can she succeed if she can’t even remember what role Marcos played in her past?
When Darkness Whispers is a unique blend of paranormal and military romance you won’t want to put down! If you like haunting mystery, spine-tingling suspense, and Japanese mythology, you will love When Darkness Whispers!
“So how ‘bout a drink?” Sergeant Hunter asked Eva. “We’ll catch up on our war stories.”
Stories she’d forgotten. A time of war and deaths before the radical transformation. One that had required numerous waivers in a secret bunker outside of Quantico, Virginia.
“Can’t. I’m working.”
“Doing what?” He scanned her outfit—fitted black jeans, a black top, and boots. “You’re not in uniform.”
She experienced a warmer reaction from locals when she dressed like a civilian, but she wasn’t about to explain her assignment to him.
“It’s the Fourth of July,” Hunter added. “You should be celebrating, not working.”
Independence Day celebrations back in the U.S. were big, but something about being an American in another country brought out a different kind of patriotism. Especially in troops deployed so far from the country they’d promised to defend.
A tall man strode forward with Martinez. His broad stature stood out not only among the locals, but also the Marines around him. He fixed his gaze on her, making her brain sizzle. She couldn’t look away. His presence was palpable, and something about him was so familiar. She rubbed her fingers along her pants seam as she tried to remember. When the recognition hit her, she gasped, turning her head quickly in the hopes no one noticed.
She’d dreamed about him. His face was blurry, but the eyes were unmistakable, matching the ones staring back at her now. Her cheeks flushed as mixed emotions surged for dominance—anxiety about who he was and how she knew him, fear of her mission being compromised, and most of all, an unexpected thrill at seeing a man in the flesh, that she’d dreamed about.
Was he friend or foe?
His pale green eyes contrasted against his caramel skin, an alluring combination. In her dreams, the green of his eyes changed colors according to his moods, like the shades of camouflage. She caught herself gaping at the Marine they called Gunny Delacruz when she noticed Hunter watching her, waiting for an answer. She raised her chin to project a sense of calm despite the chaos brewing inside.
“I’ve got to get back to base,” she lied. “Have one for me, okay?”
Hunter touched her shoulder in a protective manner. “You know, you shouldn’t be out here all alone.” He leaned in to whisper and she smelled the beer wafting off him, again. “There’s a killer out there. Targeting Americans. Probably some fuckstick playing God or Buddha or whatever they worship over here.”
So much for the military keeping the situation hushed. They’d labeled the first two murders possible accidents, but after two more deaths, troops had asked more questions. The only thing the military had admitted was they were investigating suspicious deaths of Americans on Okinawa in cooperation with the Japanese authorities. Rumors spread quickly that there was a serial killer on the loose.
“Don’t worry, I’m with another Marine.” Eva wriggled out of his hold. “She’ll be back in a sec.”
Her gaze locked on the Gunny approaching as if in slow motion. He’d balled his hands into fists, but his face was stony—unreadable—spiking her already heightened anxiety. Her brain still sizzled searching for answers. Who was he?
“Staff Sergeant Montreaux.” He’d dropped the r in sergeant in a distinct Bostonian accent. He nodded without smiling, his eyes still fixed on hers. “Small damn world.” His greeting revealed nothing, but his cold expression raised her guard.
God, he smelled good. Her heightened sense of smell typically picked up bad odors, but his was a delicious mix of soap, aftershave, and male musk.
“Especially in the Marine Corps,” she replied in an even tone. “How are you, Gunny Delacruz?”
Hunter interrupted, “We’ll let you guys catch up.”
He sported a knowing smile. She’d forgotten he was there while fixated on the Gunny.
“Good to see you, Staff Sergeant,” he added.
Martinez said, “See ya around.”
Although distracted by her mission and her lost memories, she pushed a smile through.
Once the others moved on, Gunny Delacruz unclenched his fists and ran one hand through his closely cropped hair. She interpreted his actions as a concerted effort to calm some kind of powerful emotion.
“How long has it been—three years?”
The flat tone indicated he knew exactly how long. “I think so.” She’d stick to small talk. Small talk was safe.
He locked his eyes on her with unsettling scrutiny. “What have you been up to?”
More flashes of a hurried exit out of the desert in a Black Hawk helicopter came back to her and flooded her with guilt. What had happened? She gazed at his face, matching the features to the blurry parts from her memory. He must have meant something to her to reappear in her dreams. People came and went all the time in the military. After living and working with someone for months if not years, they’d be shipped away. Maybe forgotten. It was one big dysfunctional family. But he’d left quite an impression on her subconscious.
“Training,” she answered, staying under a broad umbrella. Even if she could tell him, he wouldn’t believe it.
Her mind blanked. For a tough-ass warrior, her legs were far too unsteady.
Remember the cover.
She raised her chin and replied, “An engagement mission.” She’d served as part of a FET, or female engagement team, in Afghanistan, which had been part of the reason she’d been pulled onto this unique team in Okinawa. Stick to the official mission. Change the subject quickly. Redirect to him. “What about you, Gunny?”
“Routine deployment. Ready to mobilize if there’s trouble in the Pacific.”
Eva nodded slowly before answering, noting his reply was just as guarded. “There’s trouble everywhere these days, isn’t there?”
Gunny Delacruz stared, saying nothing as if he could see everything she tried to hide. Her heart raced, but she refused to turn away. Those damn eyes affected her, sending heated sensations through her body.
When her phone vibrated, she was relieved for the distraction. Eva seized the moment to regain her bearing. “Excuse me.”
She walked out of earshot. “Corporal Radek.”
“I’m here down near Shadow Row. Near Kadena Air Force Base.”
“Yes, I know where it is,” Eva cut her off. The seedy area was notorious for prostitutes whispering to potential clients from decrepit buildings. “What’s going on?”
“We were tracking signs of non-human activity here, things that a human investigation team would miss. And we found something.”
“We traced the scent of blood down to another alley. Rather nasty. Needles and used condoms on the ground. The trail led us to a dumpster. We found a body in there.”
“Appears to be an American. Military. Fresh blood. A recent kill.”
Not again. “Male?”
“How was he killed?”
Radek paused. “The body isn’t intact.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re shitting me.”
“I wish I was, Staff Sergeant. I don’t have a freakin’ clue what could do this.”
“I’ll be right there.”
A sense of urgency took over. She hung up the phone and searched for a taxi. Rushing to the main road, she flagged one down.
“Where are you going, Eva?” Gunny Delacruz approached her.
She froze momentarily. He addressed her by her first name. Whatever their relationship was, it had been close enough for a first name basis in the military.
“I have to go,” she said, rushing over as a cab pulled over.
“I thought we could get a drink.” His voice lowered an octave, to a deep rich tone. “Talk about what happened.”
“Some other time.”
“You’re just going to leave?” His voice took on an icy edge. He grabbed her wrist, and his guarded expression dropped. His eyes darkened, flashing anger. “Without any explanation about what happened?”
She yanked her arm back. “Don’t touch me like that, Marcos,” she warned. A flash of surprise hit as she heard herself call him by his first name, which was quickly replaced by fury. Who the hell was he to grab her that way?
Fire burned through her warning glare as she backed toward the cab. Her fury was mirrored in his stance—he balled his hands into fists and a vein throbbed in his neck. But he didn’t pursue her. She climbed in and heard him swear in what sounded like Portuguese as she slammed the door. Her heart raced from the unexpected interaction.
How did I know his name? And what am I supposed to explain?
After telling the driver her destination, she took a deep breath to relax her muscles. It was the first time the killer had struck since she’d arrived in Okinawa over a week ago, and she had to stay sharp. Willing the cab to go faster, she leaned forward to glance at the speedometer as her leg began to twitch.
When she turned back, Marcos had disappeared.
Who the hell was he?
She’d been content to leave memories of Afghanistan clouded, since wartime deployments were not the happiest of experiences. Something jarred in her mind, unleashing flashes of what she’d lost—which included him.
Why had she forgotten them?