Excerpt from Dead Heat, A Romantic Thriller

The dictionary defines Dead Heat as: a race in which two or more competitors finish in a tie.

In my novel Dead Heat, Sabrina Snow and John Galloway want to make sure there is no tie, that they triumph over the villain. The clock is ticking, and there's no time for mistakes.

Dead Heat is the second book in my Outlaw Ridge, Texas, series, and it was just as much fun to write as the first book Heat Lightning.

Blurbing The Book

She lies for a living so how can he trust her?

Sabrina Snow knew she was going to get herself killed if she didn’t get help. Someone was after her, and he wasn't going to stop. She ran to the only man she trusted...the only man who had the skills to save her.

Too bad Navy SEAL John Galloway probably hated her. That didn't matter because she owed him the truth even though she'd wanted to keep the knowledge from him. But what if she were killed? John needed to know where to look. If he'd hated her before, what would he feel once he learned the depth of her deception?

Naming The Villain

For me, naming the bad guy is always harder than naming the good guys. While an author wants a book to become a huge bestseller, we don't want to use a common name that may become associated with a heinous fictional villain. We definitely don't want to cause grief for a perfectly nice real person.

In naming villains, I do what Thomas Harris did in Silence of the Lambs. I create a moniker that probably isn't held by a real person. I mean have you ever heard of a real man named Hannibal Lechter? I don't think so. I followed Harris's method in Heat Lightning, Book 1 of Outlaw Ridge, and I did it in Dead Heat also.

In Dead Heat, the villain is known by many names. I introduce him early in the book as Shaitan--The Devil--a name from Islamic myth.

He's known by whatever the most common surname is in the country in which he operates: Kuznetsky in Russia and the former Soviet bloc countries; Kowalski in Poland; Kovacs in the Czech Republic, etc. If he had a base of operations in the U.S., his name would be Smith.

Excerpt from Dead Heat

The only thing that saved Sabrina Snow was the too-sensitive car alarm on the twenty-year-old Renault Espace she’d bought when she’d arrived in France.

One minute she’d been sound asleep, dreaming about babies and blue skies. The next, the old car’s wailing alarm split the night.

Adrenalin dumped into her bloodstream, and her internal timer kicked in.

One-one thousand.

Sabrina didn’t hesitate or take time to look out the window to see what or who had set off the ultra sensitive alarm. She thrust her feet into her hiking boots, slapped the Velcro fasteners into place, and grabbed her Glock from the nightstand. Over the ululating siren, she heard men shouting—cursing in Albanian—she thought.

Two-one thousand.

Another second or two is all it would take for someone with the right explosives to breach the old farmhouse’s heavy wooden door. Her combat knife was in its Kydex sheath strapped just above her right ankle and a spare knife, along with a double-stack magazine for her Glock, was in a webbing sheath hooked to her belt.

Three-one thousand.

She snagged her thermal coat from the doorknob on her way out of the room. The basics for escape and evasion were in the coat pockets even though she had that and more in her go-bag. She shoved her arms in the coat sleeves and zipped it as she raced downstairs.

Four-one thousand.

She threw open the cellar door, leaped down the short flight of stairs, and headed for the hidden entrance to the tunnel.

Five-one thousand.

Desperation gave her strength and speed. She shoved aside the dusty pile of old carpet and furniture that hid the opening to the tunnel and crawled inside. The dank smell of earth that hadn’t been disturbed in decades created an anxiety of its own. She didn’t like tunnels or small spaces. She slid the straps of the go-bag she’d placed there—just in case—onto her back.

Six-one thousand.

Sabrina pulled the timer from beneath a pile of rags. Her hands were steady as she set it to blow the charges she’d placed three feet inside the tunnel. She knew how much lead time she needed to reach the ladder at the other end. She shoved the timer under the rags.

Seven-one thousand.

Her feet wanted to fly, but discipline forced her to replace the carefully-constructed camouflage that hid the tunnel opening. That might buy her another minute. Maybe two if the hit team wasn’t very good.

Eight-one thousand.

The muffled boom of an explosion shook the old house. Dust drifted down from the tunnel ceiling. The front door had been blown. Her internal clock automatically switched to a countdown.

Three minutes to reach the other end of the tunnel and climb out.

With the Glock in her hand—just in case—Sabrina ran flat out, or as near to flat out as she could, given the height of the tunnel wasn’t made to accommodate her five feet ten inches of height.

When the charges went off, there would be nothing left of the ramshackle building, nor the earthen tunnel that had been dug by French resistance fighters in the second World War. There wouldn’t be anything left of her either if she was still in the tunnel.

Two minutes and thirty seconds left.

In the past, she’d managed a six-minute mile when she’d been in peak condition. Not bad, considering the Russian woman who held the world record had done it in a bit more than four minutes. But she’d never aspired to breaking records—just staying alive.

Two minutes left.

Sabrina’s breathing was loud and fast. Too fast. She wished she could have tacked on an extra thirty seconds. She wasn’t in peak condition. Hadn’t been for more than two years. Even though the other end of the tunnel wasn’t quite a mile, she was cutting it close.

The house wasn’t that large, and the only room with furniture had been the bedroom. She expected the hit team to get to the basement right about now. Sooner if they were good—or reckless. If she were lucky, it would take seconds more for them to find the camouflaged opening to the tunnel.

Assuming they didn’t already know about it.

Sabrina pushed that thought to the back of her mind and focused on getting to the other end of the dark tunnel. She had to get to John. He had the skills to help save her.

One minute and thirty seconds left.

She’d walked the tunnel enough times that she didn’t need a flashlight. The last time she’d had to run like this as if her life depended on it—which it did—was the last time Shaitan had sent a hit team for her.

One minute left.

A sharp pain bit into her side. She ignored it and kept running. Gulping the musty air, she reached the ladder at the other end. She’d have to increase the intensity of her workouts if she expected to stay alive. She dropped the Glock into her coat pocket and stepped onto the bottom rung of the rusty iron ladder and ascended, two rungs at a time.

Breathless, she reached her right hand up and found the square wood frame buried in the hard packed dirt. Her fingers searched for the crude wooden latch that secured the tunnel’s cover. A splinter rewarded her fumbling fingers, but she found the six-inch long chunk of wood. She gripped the handle, turned it, and pushed upward. The wooden hatch didn’t budge.

Thirty seconds left.

No! Not after all the preparations she’d made. Refusing to believe she was trapped in the tunnel, she pushed harder. Nothing.

She removed the backpack and held it in her right hand while she steadied herself with her left on the ladder. She climbed up another rung, until she was stooped below the hatch. She clung to the cold metal rung, bowed her back, and pushed up. Pain stabbed her back where it met the unyielding wood, but she kept pushing. The hatch shifted a little.

Twenty seconds left.

Despite the cold December air, Sabrina perspired. Something was blocking the exit. Encouraged by the small bit of movement in the hatch, she stepped down, slung the backpack on, pulled the straps tight, and repeated the movement, pushing upward with all her strength. She gave it everything she had.

Ten seconds left.

The wood creaked. Frantic now, she shoved even harder, groaning with the effort.

Time's up.

The world exploded.

Reviews For Dead Heat

"...fast-paced, action-packed conflict between the good guys and the bad. ...pulls in the reader and keeps the momentum at high level. As old problems resurface, the outcome of the couple’s steamy relationship is always in question.

"Reeves keeps the reader guessing as Sabrina struggles to hide life-changing secrets from John. If you like romantic suspense laced with tight tension, sympathetic characters and a swift pace, Dead Heat will leave you fully satisfied." ~ Amazon

"For those who love body-heat, that’s delivered with some serious Fahrenheit’s, too. It’s sensuous and sexy, a blend of desire and passion balanced to perfection. If you love suspense, and you also enjoy your romantic suspense served up with a high heat level, this book won’t disappoint." ~ Amazon

"A treacherous, action-filled book with an absolutely great storyline and really cool characters, that brought the story to life.

"A book that keeps you hooked until you reached the end. ...divine, I liked it, truly a masterpiece, in my opinion, the storyline was captivating and packed full of intrigue--a must read folks." ~ NetGalley

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from the latest book in the Outlaw Ridge, Texas series.

You can find Dead Heat only at Amazon. Buy it today and have an exciting romantic thriller to read this week.

Even though Dead Heat is part of the Outlaw Ridge, Texas, series, you don't have to read the first book in the series, Heat Lightning, ($2.99 because it's a shorter novel) in order to enjoy Dead Heat.

I construct all my books so that they are standalone with no cliff hangers to spoil your reading pleasure.

Of course, I'd love it if you did grab a copy of Heat Lightning. *g* Then you'll have 2 great romantic thrillers to read this week.

Takeaway Truth

Thanks for visiting with me today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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  1. First off I would like to say superb blog!
    I had a quick question which I'd like to ask if you do
    not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.
    I've had a tough time clearing my mind in getting
    my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Many thanks!

    1. There are a few things you can do if getting started is difficult for you. Try some of these or all of them. (1)BASIC. Set an established time that you will isolate yourself and write. When that time arrives, go to wherever you will have privacy. Say aloud to yourself. I will now sit and write 250 words. (That's 1 double spaced page.) Then put your hands on the keyboard and start typing. If you can't think of what you need to write then just type, "What I am writing is an awesome story about..." Just write a few words that tell what your story is about. Write that over and over until your brain gets bored and forces you to add something to it.

      (2) BETTER. Write a basic narrative or outline about the story you want to write. Use your writing time to write the next logical part of the story.

      (3) BEST. Write a narrative or outline covering the basic plot points of a story. Set a writing quota for every day. Start at the beginning of your outline and write every day, using your outline to direct you. Do NOT stop and proofread or polish or change anything until you've reached the end of the story. Set it aside at least a week before starting at the beginning to read it. That's when you edit.

      Good luck.