Oh, Malachim heard so much in that slight hesitation. At some point in her life, those sworn to protect and serve had failed her. She didn’t trust cops. Suddenly, her vehemence about not calling the police after the mugging made sense. Through the years, he’d had clients who’d had troubled pasts and possessed an inherent dislike for anyone with a shield pinned to his or her chest or carried in a wallet. While her reply assuaged some of his questions, it didn’t answer all of them. What had occurred to instill her mistrust? Was it related to the fear of men she tried—and failed—to conceal?
“I get you might have had a negative experience with the police, sweetheart. I do. And I’m sorry about that. But you lied. Why?”
She shook her head, her curls glancing off her cheeks. “I-I,” she stuttered, “I didn’t want to tell the detective what the intruder said to me.”
He leaned over the table as fear slithered across his soul like dark clouds over a bright, full moon. “What do you mean? What did he say?”
Another pause, and the skin over her knuckles blanched.
“He said we…didn’t get to spend time together.”
He exploded from his chair. The piece of furniture teetered before rocking forward, the front legs hitting the floor with a thud. He noticed her flinch, but he could do nothing to reassure her. Not while fury raced through his veins.
He stalked from the room and entered the kitchen. He didn’t want to scare her with his rage. Because part of it was directed at Danielle. Why hadn’t she said something earlier? The home invasion, the shooting, her narrow escape… Suddenly, the robbery-gone-wrong had taken on a darker, more sinister cast.
One where she, not her belongings, had been the primary target.
She wasn’t going back to that apartment; if he had to tie her to his home until she saw reason, he would. If Pat hadn’t been there, she could’ve been…
The desire to see her, to stroke her cheek, to pull her into his arms overwhelmed him. He returned to her, a scrap of driftwood being carried back on the swell of need. He’d scanned her in the hospital waiting room, but he had to do it again. Had to convince himself she was truly all right.
Her gaze settled on him the moment he walked into the room, as if she’d been watching the entrance for him. Acknowledging he faced probable rejection, he still strode to the couch and dropped to his knees beside her. He stared into her eyes. Noted the thick, black fringe of lashes. Studied the delicate arch of her dark brows. Detected the soft gasp of air between lush, parted lips.
“Can I touch you?” he whispered.
Thanks so much for stopping by the Authors' Cafe today, Naima. I'm very excited to host you and your book, Secrets and Sins: Malachim, and I just LOVE the cover - Entangled does an awesome job of cover design! Okay, I see you've got your favorite beverage, so let's get right to the interview.
At what point in your life did you realize that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
That point would have to be in September 2008 when I dragged on my big girl panties and went to my local RWA meeting. I had attended the year before but then chickened out on going back. But at the beginning of September 2008 my father called and asked me what I was doing as far as writing. I told him I was working on a book, and he asked had I ever gone back to the chapter meetings. I tried to sidestep the question because I couldn’t admit to him I was scared. But he must’ve sensed it because he said, "The next meeting, go back." And since I also couldn’t tell him no, I did. And it was the best move I made. And it was then in a room full of published authors, unpublished authors and sitting right next to romantic suspense author Debra Webb I wanted the dream to be a reality.
Which of your characters is most like you?
I would have to say Raphael, the hero in my current WIP and the third book in the Secrets and Sins series. And not just the tattoos and piercings—which we do share. :-D But he covers a soft, sometimes insecure, heart with sarcasm and humor. He’s a skeptic but also loves hard, and is fierce with it. I only wish I had his hair…
If you were stranded on a desert island, which character from Secrets and Sins: Malachim would you want with you?
Oh yeah, definitely Malachim. He’s intelligent, resourceful, a leader, and not afraid of spiders. I can imagine the state of panic I would be in stranded on a desert island. His calm manner—able to keep his head in the midst of turmoil—would inspire confidence that yeah, even though we’re on this island without a TV, a Kindle, laptop, and trees with evil spiders inhabiting them, we’re going to be okay. And let’s face it. EYE CANDY! Hee-hee!
Being eye candy worthy sure doesn't hurt! Where do you write?
I often go to the Books-A-Million about ten minutes away from my house, buy a 20 oz coffee, get the music going, and write for five to six hours. When I don’t make it to BAM, I write at home on the living room couch.
Do you have any “rituals” you go through before you write?
Unless I’ve done two things, I can’t begin writing: Make/buy coffee and pray. I’ve found if I write without both of these the words are dry, difficult, and uninspired.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) of Secrets and Sins: Malachim to write and why?
Oooh, good question. Lemme see, lemmee see… It would have to be when Malachim was in his office after work with a bottle of Scotch and a shot of pity. Danielle, the heroine, walks in and because of the alcohol and the emotion building up inside of him he confesses things about his past he wouldn’t ordinarily admit to anyone outside of his three best friends. He’s vulnerable with her for the first time, revealing a side of himself he usually keeps locked tight behind his cool reserve. I love this part—and enjoyed writing it—because of the reasons listed above. It was a turning point in their relationship, and I loved digging deep into them as people with old hurts and issues.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, the title is the name of the hero, Malachim. Each book in the series is named after the hero: Gabriel, Malachim, Raphael, Chayot. They are four men who have been friends from birth—literally. Their mothers met through a high-risk pregnancy program at a Boston hospital and became best friends. Since they considered their sons gifts from God, they named the babies after angels. The Secrets and Sins series title? There is one huge secret that the men have kept for twenty years, but also each book deals with the danger of secrets, lies, and past sins.
Wow - I wondered about the angel name - The series sounds amazing!!! What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general?
Secrets and Sins: Malachim is about love. Romantic love. The physical expression of love. The healing power of love. Learning to love and forgive one’s self. Reclaiming one’s personal power through love. And joy and peace through love. I hope after finishing Malachim, these are the things a reader will come away with.
What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
It’s the same advice my mother gave me after I entered my first contest and didn’t come close to finaling. I mean there were about fifteen people in my category, and I think my scores ranked twelfth! Yeah, pretty bad. I was crushed because, of course, my entry was a work of art! :-D Well I cried, railed, had a pity party. Finally, a couple of days later I ‘fessed up to my mother about the contest failure. And she quietly listened while I whined and lamented my writing ability and future. When I finished she said, "Naima, it’s not the failure or disappointments that define who we are. It’s what we do in the seven days following." I got it. What she meant was I could throw a pity part of one and give up or I could cry, eat a comfort meal of Chinese food, then get back in there, get back to writing. So I had the cry, shrimp egg foo young then reread the comments and jumped back into the book. Her words help me to this day, and I’d pass along the same advice to aspiring authors.
Your mom sounds like one wise lady. Do you have a favorite author?
Oh heck yeah! I am a Nalini Singh die-hard fan! When she replied to a tweet of mine one time I had a total fan-girl moment all over Twitter-verse! I tweeted: Ms. Singh please don’t be scared but…OMG ya’ll! Nalini Singh just tweeted me!! LOL!! Yeah, I did. She tweeted a smiley face back to me instead of the link for a restraining order. Snicker. She’s awesome! I love her world-building, her characters, the amazing stories she builds, and the emotion! *gasp* She is a master of drawing emotion out of her characters and her readers. She is a master at what she does!
**Chuckle** I'll have to check out her books. What is your favorite quote?
"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see" –Mark Twain
That's one Mark Twain quote I haven't heard - I like it! What genre of books do you read for pleasure?
I love reading contemporary romance like those in the Brazen line, romantic suspense like Lilliana Hart and Rhyannon Byrd, and paranormal romance. Of course Nalini Singh, and I’ve recently discovered T.A. Grey, with whom I’m now in love with!
What’s the most amusing thing that’s ever happened to you?
The one that comes to mind is when a friend asked me to go with him to a concert he was taking his younger cousin to. The group was some boy band—I can’t remember their name right off—and he didn’t want to take her by himself. I said, sure—I mean, I didn’t have to pay for the ticket, right? That day I wore these cuuuuute pair of black boots. They were a cross between stilettos and combat boots. So adorable. Well, walking down from the balcony, AKA nose-bleed section, during intermission, my heel caught on the rug and I fell all the way down the steps. With the house lights up. In front of all these preteens and teenagers. And my friend—who’d I’d saved from teeny bopper hell—ran laughing past me. Snicker! I’ve never worn boots to a concert again!
Ouch and cringe! What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading! And watching episodes of Columbo, Grey’s Anatomy, and old black-and-white classic movies on Netflix. I just described a great day off!
If all TV shows were real, what show (all time) would you most like to live in?
Once Upon a Time! And I’d want to be Snow White! She’s the coolest Snow White EVAH! I’d like longer hair though…
I love Once Upon a Time - I think Captain Hook is hot, hot, hot - Gotta love those Irish accents!!!
Party dress or blue jeans? Blue jeans. Boot leg. Wide leg. Skinny leg. I luuuuuvs me some jeans!
Plotter or Panster? Plotter.
Print or e-Book? Ebook.
Coastal walks or extreme sports? Um, both require exercise. Next.
Cookies or cupcakes? Cupcakes! Red velvet and strawberry. Yuuuuum!
Super hero or super villain? Super hero with a teensy bit of villain in him. Batman. Green Arrow.
If I had a free afternoon . . . I’d veg out in bed with the television on and a book next to me, interspersed with a couple of long naps. Sigh. Nirvana.
Peanut Butter: Crunchy, Creamy, or I hate peanut butter and am addicted to Nutella. Crunchy!
You suddenly realize you live in a haunted house. Do you:
- Run screaming for the door.
- Bravely go to a church, load up on holy water and try to get rid of the ghost.
- Set up ghost hunting equipment to capture phenomenon.
- Call in the Ghost Adventures crew so that you can ogle the lead guy Zac’s amazingly stiff hair when you’re not ogling his….physical attributes.
- Deny you have a ghost and just let it scare the bejesus out of your visitors.
Could you tell us five random facts about yourself?
- I chew Spearmint gum like it’s crack and my name is Pookie.
- Chicago is one of my favorite bands.
- I luvs me some Dr. Phil!
- I know the dance routine to Please Don’t Go Girl by New Kids on the Block.
- Snapped is one of my favorite television shows.