Levi crossed his arms and tucked his hands in his armpits in
a stance that was clearly defensive. “With all of that shit going on, no wonder
I dreamed of the box again. I haven’t had a nightmare about that place in a
“What’s the box?” Trudy watched with growing concern as his
face tightened, jaw muscles flexed, and his eyes clouded with turbulent
“A root cellar. A small place. Standing up, you could extend
your arms out from your sides and touch the walls. It was cool and damned cold
in there at night.”
“The Missouri Ozarks. Out in the wilds. It was a school set
up on an abandoned farm property. They’d turned the farmhouse into a dormitory
and the barn into a school.” He made a scoffing sound. “Not that they provided
much of an education. Mostly, we read and memorized the Bible. There were
classes in literature, English, math, a little science and geography here and
there, but that was about it.”
“How old were you when you went there?”
“Nine. When I arrived I had just turned nine. I left when I
was almost eleven to go to a school in Wyoming.”
“Nine.” She took up her own defensive stance, hunching her
shoulders and rubbing her hands up and down her arms. Thinking of him as a
nine-year-old being carted off to a place where he was schooled in a barn made
her skin break out in gooseflesh. “I don’t know how your parents could send
their little boy away like that.”
He gave an indolent shrug that she didn’t buy for one
second. “They were trying to chase the devil out of me.”
“They put us in the box when we were bad.” One corner of his
mouth lifted fractionally. “And I was bad. Bad to the bone.”
“What do you do that was so terrible?” She couldn’t imagine
any sane reason to put a child down into a hole.
“I refused to say that my father was right and that I was a
“About your psychic abilities,” she clarified. “So, it was a
religious thing with your parents? They truly felt that your abilities were a
sign of evil . . . of the devil?”
“That’s what my father thought . . . or that’s his story and
he’s sticking to it.” A quick, half-smile flitted across his lips. “He’s an
intelligent man, so I’ve always believed that he’s mainly intimidated by my
abilities. He’s a classic narcissist. Therefore, it must be impossible for him
to think that I can do things he can’t. As for my mother?” He gazed up at the
stars and violet shadows caressed his achingly handsome face. “I don’t know.
She probably wished I’d just tell my father what he wanted to hear and do what
he said to do. That’s what she did. She went along with whatever shit he
She wanted to touch him. No, she wanted to hold him, but she
stood still as her heart constricted with pain for him. She wanted to cry, but
she knew he didn’t want her tears, so she swallowed the burning ball of emotion
in her throat. He was talking and she was grateful, but what he was saying was
difficult to hear. His upbringing had been a long nightmare from which he
couldn’t awaken – and he was just scratching the surface. That’s what bothered
her more than anything. His traumas ran deep. Soul deep.
“And the box?” she asked in a whisper. “How long did they
keep children in there?”
“An hour at first. Then hours. I graduated to all day and
then to all day and all night. The nights were the worst. It was cold in there
and black as pitch. That’s when the rats would come out.”
Trudy couldn’t stop the shudder that shook her from head to
toes. She cleared her throat. “R-rats?”
“Big mother-fuckers. Of course, I was only a kid, so they
seemed like they were the size of Volkswagens. I couldn’t see them, but I could
hear them scurrying around and I could feel them. They’d run across my feet.
One of them jumped on my shoulder and bit my neck. I screamed and screamed.
Screamed my fucking lungs out that night.” He glanced at her from the corner of
his eyes. “That’s why my voice is husky. I damaged my vocal chords. I couldn’t
talk above a whisper for a couple of months after that and my voice never fully
“I love your voice,” she said, the declaration lifting from
her heart onto her lips.
“Really?” He shook his head and sent her a baffled grin. “I
think I sound like a bad actor doing a commercial for sore throat lozenges.”
She shook her head and decided to allow her heart to keep
talking. “Your voice matches the rest of you. Sexy as hell.”
His arms slipped down his body and his shoulders lost some
of their stiffness. He held out a hand to her. “Come here, you.”
That night she awoke screaming. She could only recall pieces
of the visions that had terrified her to wakefulness. She’d seen a woman
handcuffed to a bed. Naked. A blond woman with a slim body. Being whipped with
a cane. Trudy could still feel the impression of the instrument in the palm of
her hand – or in the hand of the man who had managed to invade her head. She
couldn’t tell if the woman had liked being whipped or not. She’d moaned – but
were they moans of pleasure, pain, or both?
The man wielding the cane had taken great pleasure from it.
He’d derived intense satisfaction from inflicting pain. With one hand, he’d
struck with the cane again, striping the woman’s buttocks, and with his other
he’d massaged his thick, hard cock.
Oh, yes, yes, yes!
Scream, bitch, scream! Louder. Harder. Scream!
That’s all she could remember. She wasn’t sure if it was
something she’d dreamed or if her mind had been taken over by someone else’s
thoughts. All she knew was that she wanted Levi’s arms around her.
Although it was irrational and a nasty voice in her head
told her she was being a baby, a needy, bawling baby, she snatched up her
cellphone and called him. It was 3:45 a.m. in Atlanta and 12:45
a.m. in Seattle. The phone rang eight times before she heard a scuffling,
a muffled curse, and then his voice – his raspy, sleepy voice.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m here. What’s going on?”
“Levi.” She just wanted to say his name. For that moment, it
“At your service. You okay, Tru?”
“I had a bad dream. It’s so stupid to call and wake you up.
You’re rolling your eyes, aren’t you and thinking that I’ve lost my marbles.”
“Lost your marbles?’ He sighed, then chuckled. “Haven’t
heard that in a while. What was the dream about?”
“A man beating a woman. I woke up screaming, but I don’t
remember much about it.”
“Relax. Take some deep breaths. Drink some water or milk.
The details might come back to you. Are you sure it was a dream and not one of
“I don’t know. Maybe.” She released a huff of breath. “The
thing is . . . I miss you, you know?” She brought her knees up and hugged them.
“You’re there and busy and around people. Quintara’s with you. I’m here in this
bed that smells like you. Your fingerprints are on everything. I feel stuck.
Stuck thinking about you and what an impatient smart ass I can be and how I
should thank my lucky stars every freakin’ day that you want to be with me when
you could be giving your sexy, drop-dead gorgeousness to some pretty, blond,
busty thing who can suck the enamel off your teeth and I can’t even—.”
She drew in a breath and realized that he was laughing.
She could hear the rasp of his hand as he rubbed his
whiskered jaw and cheeks and the rustle of sheets. Resting her forehead against
her knees, she realized in the ensuing silence that she’d been talking so fast
he probably didn’t understand anything she’d said.
“I’ll be back tomorrow. We’ll talk about all of this then.
Take a couple of aspirin and go back to sleep. Okay?”
“Okay.” She winced at the smallness of her voice. She tried
again. “Okay.” Better.
“And by the way, I miss you, too.” He chuckled again.
“Jesus, Tru. Suck the enamel off my teeth? Tell you what, I’ll work on my many
issues and you work on your self-esteem problem. Is that a deal?”
“Deal.” She nodded and wished she could touch him.
“But not soon enough.” Her voice broke on the last word and
she ended the call, then rolled onto her side and let the hot tears run down
her cheeks. It was stupid to be crying, stupid to be so upset over . . . over
nothing really. Except that she had the boyfriend blues. Her phone binged and
she pressed the button to read the text.
Are you crying? You
better not be crying.
Sniffing and wiping away tears, she texted back. I’m okay.
I know you are.
Crying, that is. Think of good things. Relax. Sleep tight, baby.
She smiled. I’ll
think of you. Good night, my pretty.
Author of more than 40 novels, Deborah lives in Oklahoma. She has been a full-time writer since she graduated from the University of Tulsa. Her background as a reporter for newspapers helped her to write fast and enjoy research. After she sold her first few books, she quit newspaper work to become a freelance writer and novelist. Deborah’s first novel was published in the late 1970s and her books have been published by Jove, New American Library, Harlequin, Silhouette, and Avon. She has been inducted into the Oklahoma Authors Hall of Fame and she is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of the Author’s Guild. She was the first recipient of the Janet Dailey Award.
Through His Eyes (April, 2014) is her first romantic suspense book. It has paranormal elements and is erotic. It’s the first book in the Mind’s Eye series.
Through His Touch (September, 2014) is the second book in the Mind’s Eye series featuring psychic detectives Trudy Tucker and Levi Wolfe.
Lover of the west and the people who tried to tame it, Deborah likes to write about strong, independent women and the men who are their equals. She grew up on a diet of TV westerns which have served her well. Living in Oklahoma has also been a godsend. Since she appreciates men with devilish twinkles in their eyes, she likes to mix laughter in with the love scenes in her books.
Also widely published in non-fiction, she and writes and edits for a magazine focused on small businesses. Deborah taught fiction writing for more than 10 years at a community college. She has been a guest speaker at numerous writers’ conferences, including Romance Writers of America (RWA), Writers, Inc., and the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. She has served as a judge in numerous writing contests throughout the United States and has judged manuscripts in RWA’s Golden Heart Awards and RITA Awards. She is currently working on her next historical romance set in the wild, wonderful west.
In 2012 her books were re-issued on Amazon for Kindle Direct and have attracted tens of thousands of new fans. Her books have made the Amazon bestseller list and “Too Tough To Tame” hit the #1 historical romance spot for Kindle Readers.