This is story I wrote a number of years ago, but for a number of reasons it never got published. It wasn’t because no one would publish it — I never got around to submitting it. It has languished on my hard drive since the manuscript was completed.
Part of the reason I hesitated to submit it anywhere (when I was still submitting to legacy publishers) was the length. The book is already sitting at 423 pages, and that’s before I add back in all the parts I really want to include. A standard editor would have rejected it on length alone.
My original editing included cutting out the romance and making this a straight suspense thriller. While it is an entertaining story all by itself, I got itchy…. I wanted the romance back in there, so now I have no length restrictions, I’m restoring the romance and making sure it is fully and completely developed.
I’ll be pruning hard as I go along, but there’s no way around it: This is a big story.
A stash of terrorists in a tiny town? No one believes her.
American diplomat Montana Dela Vega, posted to laid-back Western Australia, discovers a band of known terrorists hiding deep in the bush. Laughed at by superiors, she must find courage and her own resources to expose the ruthless zealots.
The only people who believe her wild story are Caden Rawn, the mysterious and physically intimidating man with a terrifying reputation, and a bloody history that dogs his every step; and Steve Scarborough, a local police officer with an instinct for the truth and a secret of his own.
Caden and Montana’s private investigations entwine them in tragedy and fear, and teaches them the meaning of friendship…and love. They must face the cost of truth and the courage of their convictions for Montana’s terrorists are very real and very deadly indeed—and they want Montana for themselves….
An Excerpt From: TERROR STASH
Copyright © TRACY COOPER-POSEY, 2013
All Rights Reserved.
The hand over her mouth was huge. The arm across her throat, holding her against the unyielding bole of a tree, was relentless. Just a little more pressure and she would be unable to breathe. The eyes staring from six inches away were fully black—irises and pupils both.
“How interesting,” he said. “I figured Abdul there would lead me to the money man and look who I find.”
She tried to speak around his hand.
“Shh…” he breathed. “Slow and steady, slow and steady. I know exactly how much pressure I have on your throat. You get hysterical and hyperventilate, you won’t get enough oh-two and you’ll pass out. Understand?”
His eyes were unyielding. Unforgiving.
She tried to swallow back her fear, but it was a runaway engine, pounding in her brain, her heart, her ears. She nodded her understanding.
His eyes narrowed a little. “No, you don’t understand,” he said slowly, as if she were a small child. “You’re right on the edge. If I take my hand away, if I give you back the power of speech you’re going to get pissed at me for scaring you. Your voice is going to rise and get louder and nothing moves so far and fast in this place like sound does. So, do as I say. Deep breath. In. Go on.”
She realized that his voice was a low, deep rumble, spoken close to her ear so the sound wouldn’t travel.
She took in as deep and controlled a breath as she could. She knew what he was trying to make her do. A fresh supply of oxygen and the act of slow, deep breathing was one of the fastest ways to pour endorphins into your system and endorphins were the body’s natural form of happy pills.
She took deep breaths, bringing them low into her diaphragm. Calm returned. He was right, she had been very close to the edge of all out panic. If he’d let her go, she would have screamed. She’d thought Ghenghis Bob had caught her. She had been braced to fight for her life.
The whole time she breathed, Caden Rawn watched every breath she took, measuring her, judging her.
Finally, she nodded.
He considered for a moment, then nodded, too. “Okay, then.”
But really, it wasn’t okay at all. She wanted to slap him silly for the scare—do something to indicate her fury. Yes, she wanted to scream at him. But she could neither scream nor slap. Both sounds would ricochet in here.
So she drove her hand up from her side, palm up, fingers curled back. She pistoned the ball of her hand into the soft flesh of the underside of his chin, driving her hand upwards with every pound of body weight she could muster.
She felt his body lift off its feet. His head snapped backwards and he staggered back half a step before his legs went out from under him and he sprawled in the dirt and leaves, while Montana stared at him, shocked to stillness at the effectiveness of the blow. She had never thought it would work so well.
She had to remember this moment, and consider it later.
Barely before his body hit the dirt he was back up, cat quick. She was slammed back against the tree again, her head thudding hard against the wood. His arm came swinging over his shoulder and she caught a glint of metal before it was rammed into the bark beside her temple. His knuckles on the serrated hunting knife were white.
Silence. She could hear wind in the treetops.
She made herself look him in the eye. “That was for scaring me.” She kept her voice low, just as he had, but she was back to trembling again. Mostly, it was because of how close he was standing. She could almost feel the heat of his body bathing her. Pressed up against the trunk, she had no room to move.
He was breathing hard. Very hard. Slowly, controlling every word, he said, “Do not force me to think of you as an enemy.”
“Then don’t get in my way.”
“Your voice is rising,” she said.
His eyes widened a little. Surprise. And his mouth quirked. Almost a smile.