Blogs, blogs, here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog.  Don’t you love all the fun and informative info at your fingertips (literally) with just a few strokes of the keyboard?

Here at XOXO After Dark, for instance, we authors are afforded wonderful opportunities to share info about us and about our upcoming books.

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first.  Me.  Other than stepping outside the box a few times and testing my  fortitude by riding a camel in Morocco, or zip lining in New Zealand, or hiking the Grand Canyon (yes, all the way down and all the way back up, people, and let me tell you it was an “I am Woman Hear me Roar!” event) to jumping off the equivalent of a four story cliff into the Colorado River (which was an “I am stupid, watch me die!” moment) I lead a quiet writer’s life.

If we didn’t tuck ourselves away in our offices we wouldn’t get any books written. And speaking of books … I am thrilled to tell you a little bit about my first hardcover release, The Way Home, which will be out next Tuesday, 10/29!  The Way Home is a bonus book in my One-Eyed Jacks series and if you read Killing Time featuring Mike Primetime Brown, you will recognize his brother, Ty, as the hero of The Way Home.

The Way Home contains all the action and romance you expect in my books, but in addition, packs a provocative, emotional and intriguing dual story line that, I hope will keep you as engrossed reading it as it kept me riveted to my PC when I was writing it. Every once in a while, if a writer is lucky, a story comes along that grabs you by the throat and demands to be told. The Way Home is one such story. It was a gift to me and one I’ll always cherish as I hope you will, too. Read below for a sneak peek at The Way Home!

In the meantime, happy reading everyone!

Hugs

Cindy

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PROLOGUE

Afghanistan – July

It wasn’t the memory he would have chosen – not when he couldn’t even remember his own name – but he knew that he used to have nightmares about vampires.  Hiding under his bed and in dark closets.  Swooping down on their Dracula wings, sinking their fangs into his neck and sucking out his blood.

How ironic, then, that he’d become a vampire of sorts: a creature who lived in the night, hid from the light, and sucked sustenance as though it were blood from a young Afghani woman who despised him but wouldn’t let him die.  She brought him food, water and medicine.  And opiates that she liberally laced in all three.

He watched her now through an opiate induced haze,  physically incapacitated and totally dependent on her. He knew that her name was Rabia and that she could ill afford the things she brought for him. He also knew that if he were caught while she harbored the escaped American soldier a horde of Taliban warlords were searching for, not only would he be tortured, interrogated and finally executed, so would she.

So he didn’t know why she continued to help him, but he had no option but to accept it.  Just as he had no choice but to believe what she’d told him in heavily accented English about who he was … because he didn’t remember.  He didn’t remember being an American soldier, or what had happened to him, or how he’d escaped from the Taliban and ended up here.

The panic and anguish that stalked him whenever the opiates wore off were as huge and dark as the cave where she hid him. So he gladly relinquished both to the apathy induced by the poppy. Apathy was painless. Apathy made it tolerable to know that weeks, maybe months of his life were gone. His memories … gone.

Only the vampire dreams remained of who he’d been. And only the woman kept him alive.

He studied her now as she prepared his meal in the dim light of an oil lamp, in a silence that embodied their uneasy and unnatural bond as shifting shadows danced along the curved rock wall and dust swept into the cave on a wind that never quit blowing. He knew scattered words in Pashtu but didn’t know why he knew them. She had a passing command of English but rarely chose to use it. More irony that she represented the one constant in a life that had been reduced to pain, fear and the vertigo that crippled him even more than the opiates.  And he didn’t know whether to thank her for keeping him alive, or hate her.

Moving his head slowly to avoid triggering another vertigo attack, he pulled the ragged blanket around him against the chill of the cave floor.

Because he was too weak to feed himself, he watched her eyes as she offered spoonfuls of lukewarm soup.  He couldn’t see her features beneath the dark scarf she wore over her head and wrapped around her neck to cover her face. He could only see those eyes, onyx black, winter cold and void of any emotion but weary disdain.

It had been the same thing every day for twenty-three days. He’d used a small pebble to scratch a mark on the rock wall every day since he’d regained consciousness.  She would appear wearing dark, baggy trousers beneath an encompassing scarf or burqa that covered her from head to knees completely hiding her body beneath yards of coarse, draping cotton.  The scent of the summer heat and the scorch of the sun that she brought with her were reminders that a world existed outside this cave.  A world that wasn’t dank and dark and cold.  A world that was hostile and foreign and where, she assured him, he was not safe.

For twenty-three days she had been the only soul he’d seen and she had yet to look him directly in the eye.  He wouldn’t recognize her if he saw her on the street.  Not that he would ever leave here. If the pain and the vertigo didn’t keep him flat on his back, the ankle shackle that chained him to the rock wall would. And then there was the poppy.  Who knew how deeply he’d been dragged down that rabbit hole?

Some days – the lucid ones, when he couldn’t fight the fear – he would lie here shivering and wish for death.  When pain ripped through his head, when the dizziness became so crippling it reduced him to lying rigidly still, hugging the rock floor in a desperate and futile attempt to stop the nausea, that’s when despair crushed him. And he would beg her to let him die.

Always, she refused.  She continued to risk all to make certain he stayed alive and he had no idea why.

He knew only that every time she appeared on quiet feet and condemning silence, he felt both shame and gratitude because she hadn’t forgotten him … the way he’d forgotten everything but the need to leave this place that even God had forsaken and find his way back home.

If only he knew where home was.

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Want to know more? Head over to Cindy’s author page to finish reading the sneak peek excerpt!