STEEL VICTORY comes out in less than 48 hours. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

I should be packing for Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind conference right now (where STEEL VICTORY debuts at the mass book signing on Friday night), but I’m exhausted from the gym and have a cat in my lap, so I’m not moving anytime soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy this partial scene from the beginning pages of the novel.

Victory led Asaron back around the side of the boat. All the noise came from where she’d left Mikelos. They ducked between cargo containers, dashing through the maze toward the opposite end of the boat.

“Move, and we’ll cut your line. Where’s your friend?”

When she heard the voice ahead of her, she halted Asaron with an arm across his chest. She crouched and poked her head around one of the containers, not wanting to attract attention quite yet. Three men stood at the deck railing with their backs to her. She couldn’t tell whether they were armed.

Then she heard Mikelos. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She recognized that tone of voice. Her daughter used it on her all the time when she tried to act the innocent. Now she knew where Toria got it from.

Mikelos continued, “Your captain made the arrangements for me to ferry a friend out here for him since you weren’t stopping in Limani.” Oh, she knew where he was going with this. She would smack him later, after she thanked him
for stalling so well. “Guess he didn’t want to share.”

Her cue. Straightening, Victory strolled out from between two of the metal containers wearing her best innocent look. “What seems to be the problem here, gentlemen?” She flashed them a charming smile and sauntered toward the railing.

The center sailor sneered at her, revealing few teeth. “Who’re you?”

“Just a visitor. You can check with your captain. He should still be in his bunk.” Ignoring the men, she looked over the edge of the deck down to Mikelos. “Ready to go?”

Mikelos gave a curt nod before pulling loose the rope knot tied to their little boat. When Victory swung one leg over the railing, the man of poor dental hygiene grabbed Victory’s arm. “Not so fast, girl.”

She smiled again at the man holding her arm, this time flashing a bit of fang. He yelped and jumped back. “I’m quite fast, thank you,” she said before dropping down to the boat, landing with a small rock of the vessel. “Take that as you will,
but my husband might be a bit insulted!”

Asaron appeared next to the men at the railing above her. He tossed his rucksack and both swords down to her, then pitched himself over the edge of the boat to dive headfirst into the water.

“See ya,” Victory said up to the gaping sailors. She shoved the boat from the side of the barge when Mikelos revved the engine.

One of the sailors above her drew a pistol from his belt and took aim. “Get down!” Victory dropped to the deck, and a bullet whizzed past her head.

More bullets hit the water around them. Good thing Asaron didn’t need to come up for air.

The small fishing boat drew away at top speed, such as it was. There were a few more shouts from the crew, but they weren’t being paid to keep vampires prisoner. Victory was not inclined to complain when the shots ceased. Water lapped at her fingers, and she raised her head.

“This isn’t good,” Mikelos said.

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