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About the author:
Sterling and his wife travel extensively and live at their mountain ranch in Colorado with their Golden Retriever, Shelby.
What inspired you to write your book?
So many things, really. But the biggest inspiration is the prospect of bringing joy and entertainment to other people’s lives. The author/reader connection is incredibly intimate, and it’s thrilling to share that with so many people. Then there’s the creative process of forming stories, inventing characters and bringing it all to life through fun writing, all of which gets me so excited that I can hardly wait to get to my study every morning. I know, in my heart, that it’s truly what I’m meant to do.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Jack Lazar jolted out of his deep meditation as the high pitch of a woman’s desperate breathing cut through the humid air and pierced his ears. He swept his head around to see her darting across the sand behind him, and a flash of lightning revealed her picturesque physique. He felt unsure he truly caught her face in that instant, but the image he now possessed of her was strikingly beautiful. Her eerie silhouette rushed down the dimly lit beach and slanted toward the water as if she was frantically running for her life.
A sinking feeling seized Jack’s stomach as he recognized the danger that had descended upon the secluded spot he found in Laguna Niguel. And as if that weren’t enough, the approaching storm further escalated his take on the situation, the powerful bolts of lightning skating across the sky and the deep rumble of thunder carrying into the sounds of the surf as if they were one.
The idea was simply to stop here, find a peaceful place to escape, and contemplate his future after the disturbing events of the day. But the universe clearly had no intention of letting him off that easily. It seemed he was destined to endure even more chaos before he could finally call it a day.
The sudden appearance of the woman’s two assailants confirmed Jack’s suspicions, and the lightning flashed again to expose the men as they passed by, their drawn guns and strong determination confirming the malice of their intentions. Jack was thankful the men hadn’t seen him, and he surmised it was only because their attention was focused on the target ahead.
For a moment Jack considered heading after them, but without a weapon of his own it was a sure prescription for death. He had no choice but to witness the assault of this beautiful woman and hope to God he could help her afterwards. It was a dreadful feeling, and he could sense the ensuing rage swelling within.
Dear God, please don’t let them harm her.
The storm’s intensity grew stronger, as if echoing the calamity below, and it picked up speed as it moved to strike land, cascades of lightning now illuminating the shoreline so sufficient to grant the men an easy opportunity to strike. The larger of the two raised his revolver and fired several shots toward his prey as her feet entered the water, the blasts muffled by the thunderous offerings from above and the sound of angry waves crashing against the sturdy shore.
Without making a sound, the woman fell into the surf, first to her knees and then completely into the water. A strong wave arrived to wash her body back onto the beach, and it was obvious a clear hit had been achieved.
The assailants approached her slowly and stood over her motionless body for a few moments before the smaller of the two men started yelling and pushing on the other’s chest. Jack couldn’t make out his words, but it appeared as if shooting the woman had been a mistake.
The larger man just laughed and slapped his partner fraternally on the back. He motioned his hand as if they should leave, and they began running back toward the road.
Reacting quickly, Jack dove into the surf and hoped the darkness would help camouflage his position. He held his head just above the water to watch the men jog by, the saltwater washing over his face and stinging his eyes. And somehow the lightning took a break from its erratic bursts as the men passed.
Jack sent a silent message of appreciation to the heavens for such gracious assistance, and he began to breathe more deeply as he emerged from the water and watched the assailants’ shadowy figures jog in the distance toward the road. Within moments he could hear the faint sound of car doors slamming and an engine’s roar as their vehicle sped away. He was certain they had gone.
The woman’s body remained motionless, and Jack feared she was dead. She became gradually more visible to him through the darkness as he drew closer, the erratic bursts of lightning adding an unnerving effect to the image of her lifeless body, as if Hitchcock himself had choreographed the scene. The ominous thought of seeing or touching a dead human being sent chills up his spine as he knelt down to examine her.
The woman lay on her side, and the surf washed against her face. She was just as beautiful and exotic as Jack had envisioned her to be—sable hair, smooth olive skin, and a body adorned with the most sensual curves he had ever seen.
An immense bloodstain tainted the front of the white silk blouse she wore, and the blood continued to flow from her body into the water. Jack pressed his fingers against the artery on her neck.
Thank God she’s still alive.
The mysterious woman slowly opened her eyes. “Are they gone?”
“Yes,” Jack replied as if her state of living had been no surprise, and getting her medical care had instantly become the new priority. He ripped open the front of her blouse without hesitation to assess the damage.
The bullet had passed completely through her, as blood flowed simultaneously from both her back and abdomen. Jack removed his shirt and tied it tightly around her waist in an attempt to stop the bleeding before lifting her into his arms and resting her head between his neck and shoulder.
The lightning flashed in wild bursts as he began to carry her toward the car, the thunder so powerful that it shook the ground beneath him. And the rain finally plunged down from the sky, so strong that Jack could barely see ahead. The huge raindrops stung as they crashed against his bare arms and shoulders, and he bowed his head to protect his eyes, only to find himself staring at the woman’s exotic face. He watched the water pour from his head onto her full lips and down her neck to her chest. The sheer bra was soaking wet now, and it revealed the entirety of her round breasts and delicate, chocolate-brown nipples to him, so he couldn’t help but feel aroused. In light of her condition, the excitement overtaking his senses disturbed him, but he tried simply to concentrate on moving forward.
Jack watched the woman open her eyes again, and she seemed to study his determination, her body relaxing as if the comfort of his intentions soothed her. She forced a smile, clearly struggling over the pain.
“Thank you,” she said.
Jack gave her a consolatory smile as the strain of carrying her began to take its toll, and he made every attempt to hide his lack of breath.
“How about if I make you dinner?” Her faint words were oddly charming.
Jack laughed awkwardly. “You’ve got yourself a date.”
He was encouraged by her optimism and amazed at her ability to ignore the pain and hide what must be great fear for her life.
He struggled to pull the keys from his pocket as they reached the sleek Aston Martin Zagato, its wet silver exterior glistening under the light of a lone streetlamp. He managed to open the door while still holding her and carefully laid her drenched body in the passenger seat. He realized that he had only minutes before he would lose her, but he couldn’t resist the temptation to lean over and give her a gentle kiss—a gesture she returned instinctively.
It was not often that Jack flirted with such devastating circumstances, and he sensed his life had just reached a turning point, as if his calling from the beach to find a new direction had somehow been answered. He was unsure whether the magnitude of this change was his desire, but he was nonetheless enslaved by it, excited by it. He would clutch it with both hands and breathe it fully.
The journey through the rain felt eternal, and other vehicles seemed to intentionally block their path as Jack impatiently maneuvered around them. He looked over about halfway through the drive to discover the woman had fallen unconscious, but another quick check of her neck revealed a pulse.
Weak, but still there.
He called 9-1-1 from his cell phone and asked the dispatch attendant to inform the hospital about the critical condition of the patient who was soon to arrive. Nothing would be left to chance, he bargained. Her living was essential. It seemed inconceivable that she would die after everything he had done for her.
Jack raced through the hospital’s grounds to the emergency entrance and immediately jumped from the car to help transfer the woman’s limp body to a waiting gurney and medical team. He squeezed her hand as they moved her through the outer doors, and he could swear he felt a faint response from her. He stopped a few feet from the emergency entrance and watched the medical team wheel her away as they focused their attention on her, leaving Jack behind with his worry and bewilderment.
Again, silence and loneliness. More time to think. The present had become more complicated, the future almost inconceivable. Yet for this mysterious woman who had been suddenly thrust into his life, all Jack could do was wait and pray.