I promised you last week that I’d post an excerpt of the next in the Hauberk series, Deliberate Deceptions. Except I got bogged down and forgot. Then yesterday I received the “Cover Art” form from Samhain. That’s a sheet authors have to fill out to help the cover artist come up with an idea for the cover. I have to describe the hero and the heroine physically, provide a summary of the story, mention any tokens or special objects that might have meaning in the story (for instance in Lord of the Rings, the special token would be, uh, the ring?), locations the story takes place and any other covers that I see as being similar to what I’d like. Natalie Winters designed the first two covers and did a tremendous job with them — they have such a film noir quality and the red title just pops against the black and white photos.
So while I’m filling out the form, here’s a quick peek at Lauren, whom you haven’t met yet, though she was mentioned in Personal Protection. Lauren is Chad’s ex-wife, a former FBI agent who has been working for…well, read the excerpt, where you’ll meet another acquaintance from Personal Protection.
Copyright by Leah Braemel
Lauren stepped from the Brigade’s jet onto the tarmac, glad to be standing on firm earth after being in the air for almost ten hours. The smog-shrouded Washington Monument across the Potomac drew her attention, a calming beacon saluting her return. Would its people be as welcoming?
A sleek black stretch Humvee limo sat with its engine running less than thirty feet away. The driver got out, his windbreaker unbuttoned to allow easy access to the weapon he always wore. After a quick check of the area, he opened the back door, allowing the devil himself to step out.
Cooper Davis straightened his French cuffs and smoothed his perfectly pressed Armani suit before nodding to his driver. Anyone meeting him for the first time might buy his cover as an unassuming businessman, intent only on making a killing on Wall Street; she knew better. He strolled across the pavement with a confidence and casualness as if he were about to greet an old lover. Something he’d once suggested. To this day she hadn’t decided if it had been a test or a sincere suggestion.
She turned her face when he bent down to kiss her so his lips brushed her cheek. One dark eyebrow quirked up at her evasion. “Welcome back, Lauren.”
“I’m done, Cooper. I want out.” Saying the words both soothed the jumbled thoughts in her brain while setting free the butterflies in her stomach.
“I figured you’d say that.” He gestured toward the Humvee. “Let’s sit inside while we discuss your future, shall we?”
She followed him to the limo, taking a seat facing him so she could read his facial expressions. As soon as the door closed behind them, sealing them into Cooper’s bulletproof, soundproof world, he leaned forward. “There’s a problem you should know about before you start planning on retiring.”
Problem to Cooper could mean anything from a paperwork snafu to the start of the next world war. From the way every cell in her body went on alert, it was probably more the latter than the former. “I was right, wasn’t I? Someone in the Brigade was behind those attacks.”
“Yes.” He stared out the window, his eyes narrowed. “Frank Harris.”
She sucked in her breath. Of all the Brigade’s operatives, Harris was both their best marksman and their best tracker. He was also currently the most unstable.
“From what we can gather, he discovered it was you who filed the complaint. He’s declared war on you, Lauren.”
“I need to leave then. Find a bolt hole. New York. LA. San Francisco. Somewhere I can get lost in a crowd.”
Cooper nodded slowly. “It might work. But it’s also possible that Harris will try to get at you through people you care about, Lauren. What’ll you do then?”
People she cared about? She’d long been estranged from her only sister and her mother had died a decade ago. Which left… “Chad?”