Wicked Wednesday – Temptation Calls

I think I’ve mentioned that the hero and heroine from FURY CALLS first appeared in TEMPTATION CALLS back in 2005. Since then Blake and Meghan’s story has been brewing in my brain, but for today’s Wicked Wednesday I thought I’d offer you a blast from the past and take you to TEMPTATION CALLS. You may also remember that TEMPTATION CALLS introduced Ricardo, the sexy Santero who was the hero of DEVOTION CALLS.

TEMPTATION CALLS is one of my favorite books in THE CALLING vampuire novels and I hope you enjoyed it as well. For now, here’s an excerpt from the book for your Wicked Wednesday enjoyment.

Also, don’t forget I’ll be blogging at Romance Novel Television from 4 to 6 tonight. Please drop by and leave a comment for a chance to win a prize!

Chapter 1
Spanish Harlem, 2004

As lives went, both of hers had sucked. Still, life went on and on and on, and everyday things still had to be dealt with.

Samantha Turner bore the weight of the heavy bags without complaint. They were filled with groceries for the women and children at her shelter — The Artemis Shelter. She’d struggled to be able to make it a reality and had finally succeeded a few years ago.

Now she was finally doing something positive with this life. The shelter was a resting place; a halfway house where women and their children could heal and find a way out of the abusive relationships in their lives. With her help, many families had already broken the cycle of violence which had cursed Samantha’s existence.

The local Gristedes would have delivered the groceries, but after being trapped indoors all day long, Samantha wanted to go out into the night air. Savor the activity of the city that never slept. Revel in its humanity and prepare for another day of battling its cruelty.

The bags pulled at her arms, not that she minded. Just another half a block and she’d be home. Back at the shelter.

She rounded the corner onto her block and noticed the group lingering on the stoop next to the shelter — a few youths from the neighborhood and two younger children. It was nearly midnight. Too late for them and their hip hop music blaring from the boom box on the railing.

Despite the distance and the dark, Samantha was able to identify who loitered on the stoop: Juan Williams, his little brother and sister, plus an assortment of kids from Juan’s self-made posse. Mrs. Williams worked the late shift at a nearby hospital and Juan was supposed to take care of things when she was gone.

He did anything but, Samantha thought as she quickened her pace so that she could get the younger Williams children inside and in bed where their mother expected them to be. It was the kind of thing they all did for one another in the neighborhood — watching out for each other to try and improve their daily lives.

In the years since Samantha had brought the Artemis Shelter to this part of New York, life had gotten better for this block and that sense of community had slowly spread to the adjacent blocks. Funny that her little point of light came from something darker than most could begin to imagine.

Samantha was halfway down the street when a car came sharply around the corner, tires squealing it car swerved for a moment before the driver could right it. The squeal was not enough to hide the other noises Samantha heard. The lock and load sound of a weapon. The voices urging on the shooter as he stuck himself halfway out the open window of the car as it traveled toward her and the youths on the stoop.

So many in harm’s way. Too many, she thought.

Samantha dropped the bags and in the brief span of a second made a difficult decision. Accelerating beyond human speed, she grabbed the two youngest children and carried them down the stairs to the shelter’s lower level. She shoved them into a far corner of the stairwell before returning to street level to help the others.

The loud pop-pop-pop of gunfire erupted in the night. Bullets flew, striking sparks where they hit brick and stone. Splattering blood and bits of human where they connected with flesh and bone.

The teenagers scurried to get away, their bodies jerking and thrashing about as they failed to avoid the line of fire.

As Samantha reached for one youth, a bullet tore into her upper back and another lower, into her side, the impact of the bullets nearly knocking her over. She kept on moving, carrying the teenager away from the stoop and to the stairwell while the shooter continued to fire.

Then as suddenly as it began, it stopped. The car peeled away with another angry squeal of its tires. Samantha heard the congratulations and rejoicing of its occupants. Anger rose up sharply within her. She left the children and teenager in the stairwell and raced after the car, intent on retribution, the animal within wanting vengeance.