It won’t be long now until Vengeful Vows releases. The third in my Sins of the Flesh series, I find that I am just as nervous as I was with my first book. After all, these books are my children I’ve birth from infancy to bookhood. From thoughts in my head to words on a paper, they’ve grown. Check out the trailer here.
But not only have they grown, I’ve grown as well. I think with each book, as you look at constructive criticism and start to learn more and more about the craft, your writing changes. I remember something the Queen of Mystery, Mary Higgins Clark, said in an interview once. She mentioned that a writer’s life changes over time because of life experiences and that is infused with your writing.
Vengeful Vows is a book I recognize that helped me to grow. During the time period of writing this book, I was deliberately disobedient to God in several areas of my life. My personal life had gotten into a mess, I’d had a serious car accident, lost several close relationships, and had doubts of faith. For the first time in my life, writing was more than just storytelling — it was the gift God gave me to keep my sanity. I NEEDED to write in order to mentally survive. I escaped to this book, pouring out all my negativity, my pain, my anger, and frustration.
Enjoy this sneak peek of Vengeful Vows
Daffodil’s eyes roamed over the colonial-style house. The afternoon sun cascaded its light upon it as if presenting a gift. The roof shed the cloying layers of melted snow. The slush dribbled down the gutters, swallowed by softened earth. Melting icicles lined the overhang like an upside-down tiara, dripping water on the wet pathway that led to the door. The winter thaw unwrapped the home slowly. It teased her with glimpses of an almond-brown finish trimmed by swathes of creamy white.
She alighted from the car and gingerly stepped onto the spongy ground. The dirt swallowed the heels of her boots. Last spring’s grasses lay matted like the nap of cheap carpet. With a determined lift of her chin, she tugged her boots from the squishy grip of the earth and made her way across the lawn and onto the pavement.
Once there, Daffodil inhaled the cleansing, chilly air of the first blush of spring. Her lips curled upward and she rubbed her gloved hands together in anticipation. She patted her left pocket, reassured by the bulk there. With her shoulders thrust back, she marched up to the door.
The doorbell chimed, and she clasped her hands to wait. In varying degrees, the houses shed their winter coats. They reminded her of partially wrapped gifts. The quiet neighborhood echoed the distinct sing-song sound of melting snow and water. It didn’t matter how cold it had been the past several months. Gentle spring uncurled winter’s harsh grasp with lady-like dexterity. She intended to do the same with the owner of the house.
The wind picked up and flowed around her. It lifted goose bumps along her arms. How receptive would he be of her? Her brow creased as the concern made itself visible, but then she dismissed it with a flick at a loose dark blond curl on her forehead. No matter. The owner would do whatever she told him to do, and gladly.
A subtle movement along the corner of her eye drew her attention to the overhang. The wind brushed the threads of an intricately woven spider web. Delicate strands glistened under the waning light of the afternoon sun. A dark, grayish spider tiptoed along its silk trellis.
“We’re alike, you and I,” Daffodil whispered to the little one. “We both have webs to weave.”
The door creaked open and she returned her attention back to the matter at hand. A dark face showed itself through the thin slot.
A deep voice asked, “May I help you?”
More than you know. “Hi. Vincent Miller?”
The eye twitched and then narrowed. “Oh, don’t tell me you’re a reporter ‘cause you can—”
“I assure you I’m not a reporter. I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes.”
A long drawn-out sigh. “What can I do for you?”
“I’d rather discuss this inside. Out of the cold.” She made a point to shiver.
“Oh yeah, sorry.”
The door swung open and introduced her to Vincent Miller in the flesh.
Before her stood a towering frame of a man with coal-black skin. He had an aura of power about him. He was dressed casually in a forest green buttoned shirt with the sleeves rolled up, long arms roped with prominent veins and compact muscles stretching the smooth skin. Blunt, tapered fingers rested against the white surface of the door in stark contrast. Stonewashed blue jeans hugged his lower body, and accentuated the hard, sinewy thighs.
“Would you stop staring and get on with whatever you have to say?”
Daffodil beamed, far from embarrassed. She appreciated his directness. A sure sign she’d chosen well.
Now we spin the web.
“May I come in? I assure you I won’t keep you long.”
Dark brown eyes studied her face. Daffodil stood still under his scrutiny, unabashed by the wariness. She could tell he was a man who made decisions based on his instincts, not in a rash way.
“Fine.” He stepped back and let her enter the house.
So this is where it all happened.
When Daffodil imagined Leah Westwood, Vincent’s ex-lover, locked in his arms, she expected to see statues of nude women on abstract inspired tables and posters of sexy celebrities on the wall. The austerity made a mockery of her expectations. Neat and well organized, nothing took up space that didn’t have a function. The walls were bare of art and the room absent of mindless knickknacks that usually loitered atop various surfaces.
Daffodil fought to keep the smile from showing on her face. She could not have selected better if she had sent out a casting call.
This was going to work.
She pointed to an armchair hugging the far corner. “May I?”
Her host gave a curt nod. She wiggled her bottom into the plush seat and glanced around the room again. Possessively, she rubbed her hands along the fabric that sheathed the arm of the chair. Soon this house would be hers.
Vincent sat on the couch and folded his arms. “And you are?”
“Daffodil Simmons. I am the half-sister of Leah Westwood.”
Vincent jerked at the mention of her sister’s name, eyes startled from their focused inspection. Those beautifully-shaped hands fumbled with the edge of his shirt and then smoothed the fabric of his jeans with restless fingers. So it was like that, was it? The mention of Leah’s name disturbed his mental equilibrium. Such a response denoted emotional entanglement to an extreme degree. An Achilles’ heel she would love to exploit.
After a long sigh, he regained his composure. The steady regard of those flashing dark eyes and rigid posture showed he was on the defensive.
“Why are you here?” he snapped.
Daffodil leaned forward hands clasped together, jittery in her excitement. She could hardly keep still. Ooo wee!
“I guess I should start off by saying I’d like to ask for your hand in marriage.”
Vincent’s head jolted as if some invisible hand had yanked it back to reveal the whites of his eyes. With avid interest, she noted his discomfiture. He blinked a few times, shook his head, and then slapped his hands on his thighs.
“Okay.” Vincent stood. “You can go now.”
Daffodil gave into the urge to giggle. “Oh no, Mr. Miller. You’re going to say ‘yes’ to my proposal. You just don’t know it yet.”
Vincent headed to the door. “I don’t have time for this kind of bull. Get out.”
He ripped open the front door and a stream of warm afternoon sunlight cascaded over him. Fingers of light rippled over his masculine features. The pictures online and in the newspapers didn’t do the man justice. Daffodil recognized good genes when she saw them. Vincent Miller was crafted with making the most of his heritage. The strong cheekbones seemed to be a testament to a Native American ancestry. Full sensuous lips gave tribute to a line of African royalty. A high forehead lined with short-cropped hair and long silky eyebrows made him look almost too dramatic. Beneath the virile good looks, a latent quality of restrained dominance emanated from him, so potent a dead woman would be affected by it.
Daffodil was immune to the man’s charisma. She noted the existence of it, but was more fascinated in how she would wield this element of his personality. A susceptible woman under the age of eighty didn’t stand a chance if he really cranked up the heat. Had it been like that for Leah? Overpowered by the sex appeal oozing from the man in waves so tangible the air pulsed with it? Did men truly have that kind of ability or was it just the weakness of the feminine psyche?
Well, she was hardly a feeble female.
“There’s some of the bad boy in you, isn’t there?” Daffodil queried in a nonchalant manner.
“Are you hard of hearing? I said get out.” He pointed his finger.
Daffodil laughed again, throwing her head back in abandonment. Oooo weee! She loved this. Being in control. He would do exactly as she told him to do. Having the upper hand helped.
“Close the door, Mr. Miller, and sit down.”
Vincent slammed the door. He walked toward her, eyes flinty and lips flattened into a line. Each step bristled with hostility.
Daffodil swallowed. Oh no, he was going to touch her. She didn’t want to have him touch her.
“Okay, okay.” She stood, her arms outstretched in a placating manner, moving away before he could grab her. “I’m getting up, but don’t touch me, okay?”
“If you get out, I won’t have to.”
“You need to listen to what I’m about to tell you. After that, if you still refuse my offer of marriage, I’ll leave.”
Vincent barked out a laugh. “You can say whatever you want. I’m not marrying you.”
“You will,” she affirmed with a nod. “You will.”