Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fractured Steel Reveal

Title: Fractured Steel
Author: T.J. Loveless
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 15, 2014

Karen Barnes’s life is simple, just the way she likes it, surrounded by horses and the mountains of Laramie, Wyoming. She is well aware the longing for adventure can lead to blood and death, a hard lesson taught during her one, and only, tour in Iraq almost a decade ago.

A stranger approaches Karen about boarding a famous horse foaled in her stables, making her instincts go on high alert. She knows for a fact the stallion’s owner would never sell Five Alarm, the US Reining champion worth a hefty ten million dollars. In ten minutes the stranger confirms her worst fears, launching her into weeks of torment at the hands of her kidnappers.

Armed with a spine of steel, she steals a truck and trailer, rescuing another victim, and recovering Five Alarm, but the ordeal is far from over. The kidnapping was a cover up for espionage. Trusted contacts join the fray, and in the end, pay for their loyalty by dying for her safety. Others aren’t so trustworthy, and as the truth is brought to light, she is betrayed yet again.

Safety and freedom come with their own emotional shackles. She had the courage to fight the battle, but can she live with the aftermath of the carnage, or survive the fractures to her mind?

Born in Anchorage, I've lived ... well ... everywhere. From the Arctic Circle to a block from the beaches in Florida. I speak fluent Arkansas Hillbilly, make a mean gumbo, can sew when necessary and am a whiz at packing.

You'll generally find a Muse snuggled to my hip, the other one laying across my shoulders and Editor Kitty staring at the screen, waiting for the red ink to make an appearance. Once it does, he lays across the keyboard purring.

The family brags about the latest compromising position I've been found in, trying to figure out how to truly describe "legs all akimbo" or if falling on the couch could truly land a body in a certain position. They ignore my yelling at characters on the computer screen, and are forgiving when I accidentally write past the time for them to eat. It's one way of teaching the teenager to cook ...

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Excerpt 1
Copyright © TJ Loveless 2013

Stockholm Syndrome. Two words I hated, loathed and wanted erased. But here I sat, the therapist repeating the words over and over, telling me I had to understand their meaning in order to move forward. Stockholm Syndrome, the two words would explain everything, help me on the road to recovery.

Memories refused to hide, surfacing and causing physical reactions I wasn’t going to tell the court ordered therapist. She wouldn’t understand, and it sure wasn’t going to help.

I had to pretend, to nod and try to listen. The situation was my fault in many respects, and she could blame Stockholm all she wanted.

Fuck them. It had nothing to do with Stockholm, but everything to do with the violent, sadistic, serial killer currently sitting in prison, the new and still bright pink scars dissecting my face and trickling down my back, and a horse worth ten million dollars.

Excerpt 2
Copyright © TJ Loveless 2013

I took two steps forward, but stopped when the little bastard appeared. He wore new jeans and an unripped t-shirt with “No Fat Chicks” emblazoned across the chest. He walked into the bedroom, closing the door and locking it. He put the key into the front pocket of his Wranglers.

“I’ve been given permission. I promise not to break anything,” he grinned, and stalked me around the room.

I stopped in the middle of the room. We’d made two full circuits, but if it was one thing a person learned when training horses, it was that whoever made the feet move was the boss.

He smiled and pushed into my personal space. I wanted to move backwards, to get away from him. Whatever happened next was going to hurt, one way or another. He stood so close a deep breath would make us touch. He looked down, and for the first time, I was distinctly aware I wore no bra. I wasn’t big enough to really need one, but in this moment, the more clothing the better.

“Ah, found your spine. The more you struggle, the better it is for me.” Lightning fast, his hand was around my throat and squeezing.

I couldn’t stop my reaction. My knee rose, but he moved and I only managed to hit the meatiest part of his inner thigh. Hearing his laugh made me sweat. His fingers tightened, and I fought to breathe.

“I can smell your fear.”

Excerpt 3
Copyright © TJ Loveless 2013

Time had no meaning in those moments. My beautiful colt was hurt, inside and out, unsure of everyone and everything. He only had me, the one person he knew from the moment of his birth. And I was almost too damaged to be of any help. I let the tears fall unheeded.

I lightly ran my hand over his once powerful neck. I noticed he’d lost a few hundred pounds. Normally in the eleven hundred pound range, I guessed him at eight hundred now. Muscle was gone, leaving only a broken horse standing next to a fractured woman.

Excerpt 4
Copyright © TJ Loveless 2013

stared at the cell phone, not really seeing it. More men, or women, tomorrow, in the room, or surrounding it, anyway. More people to deal with, more worries someone would betray me.

I could feel the panic clawing its way to the top, surrounding my heart, restricting my breathing. I closed my eyes, trying to visualize Laramie in the winter, silent and beautiful, with the full moon sliding across newly fallen snow, creating dark sparkles in the night. The coyotes trying to survive, the hawks swooping silently in the air hunting, life moving forward, step by step, with or without me. One day, I would choose to join them. One day I would be strong enough to live again. I hoped.

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