In celebration of Sarah’s new release, she’s giving away 5 copies of Last Call! Just comment below to enter to win!
LAST CALL by Sarah Ballance – Romantic suspense for just 99 cents!
In a perilous game of trust, a shocking betrayal deals a dangerous hand.
An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of a few fates worse than death.
Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client threatens Nick’s life if he doesn’t keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.
Last Call | Excerpt
Rhys Clark swore and jerked her foot from the murky puddle that had just claimed one of her new running shoes. Perfect. The day was now officially perfect.
She blamed Nick Massey.
Blaming him was easy enough. She didn’t know which required more nerve on his part—leaving town or crawling back—but both events left her bitter and raw. And wet, she grumbled inwardly. With the sky spitting rain and the occasional pellet of sleet smacking her face, she should have skipped her evening jog. The street was little more than a concrete alley of shuttered businesses, and the bleak weather amplified the emptiness. But tonight, with Nick hot on her mind, running through the cold was her last ditch effort to return to her senses.
It hadn’t worked.
Another blast of icy air howled through the narrow street. If she hadn’t been standing still, she probably wouldn’t have heard the shouting that followed.
A few months ago, an altercation wouldn’t have been unusual in this part of town. But the whole area was under reconstruction. Local crime dissipated to nothing with the razing of several apartment buildings, and until now Rhys had long found her route to be a place of solace. She glanced around as the voices drew closer and more intense. Rapid footsteps smacked the wet pavement. Then the echo of a gunshot cracked the night.
Where fear left her paralyzed, instinct insisted she get out of sight. She looked around and found an unbroken expanse of concrete wall offering few options. Heart pounding, Rhys ducked into the recessed doorway of a vacant storefront and hoped the deep shadows would keep her concealed.
Terrifying seconds passed. The sound of her own suppressed breath roared in her ears.
Voices came, clearer this time. Close.
“If we screw this up…” The words, terse and hushed, were encapsulated in panic.
“Shut up,” demanded a second voice. “No one messed up. He’s as good as dead.”
“You think you’re going to sell that without a body? We didn’t get paid to lose him.”
“He took one to the gut. He won’t get far. We’ll find him.”
“He’s leaving a trail. Blood. We got the big bucks for a clean—”
A hit? Rhys shuddered, fear scaling her spine. A professional hit would have been silent—something not accomplished by the gunshot or the ensuing conversation—but in this game, experience wasn’t always a prerequisite for willingness to pull the trigger. Two years of undercover work had taught her as much.
So had a bullet.
Rhys froze, waiting for the voices to pass. But luck was not on her side. Rather than drawing away, the footsteps ceased.
“Well, well, well,” said the confident one. “Looks like our little game of hide and seek is over.”
Hope crumbled. The voice was far too close. Had they seen her?
She dared not move. Through her lashes, she saw nothing in her narrow view of the dimly lit street but dirty puddles and the occasional bit of trash plastered to wet pavement. She prayed they didn’t look her way should they walk past.
Grunts erupted nearby, followed by the sound of sneakers scuffling on concrete. Then two shots fired, and all sounds of struggle gave way to profane celebration.
In the same instant, a man fell to the sidewalk in front of Rhys. His eyes, sightless and familiar, bore into her.
She choked a gasp.
A man stepped into her line of sight, his weapon at the ready. Before she could stop herself, she locked eyes with him. Big mistake. The decision threw her into a cloud of emotional shrapnel, the past flying at her in shards. She’d been shot once before.
It hadn’t ended well.
The gunman opened his mouth and formed an ugly grin, his breath coming in visible puffs through yellowed teeth. “Looks like a double header tonight, T,” he said, never taking his gaze off Rhys.
“Whaddya mean?” came the reply. The voice . . . she blinked until the second man shifted into focus.
She knew him. From where? She couldn’t think.
She glanced to the dead man, and her vision wavered. Panic shifted her world into a screen of jarred pixels, the flashback jagged and severe.
“Rhys! Stay with me, Rhys. Do you hear me? Rhys!”
Blood. So much blood.
“Nick.” She touched his face, feeling stubble beneath her fingertips. Then the weight of her arm was too much; as gravity won he slipped away. The world twisted into a sickening spiral until all that was left was his voice, the desperation in his tone bringing warmth to the darkness.
Motion jarred her to the present.
The gunman gestured. “Our witness here is about to have an unfortunate accident.” He raised the weapon, aiming for the kill.
It was a short view down the barrel at point blank range. She expected that.
What she didn’t anticipate was the speed with which he pulled the trigger.
Or how quickly the pain hit.
Thanks so much for hosting me today!
You’re so welcome, Sarah. 🙂
- Please, share a little bit about yourself.
I am a perpetually frazzled homeschooling mom of six kids ages 2-14. My husband and I have been married pretty much forever (almost 16 years … since I was 19 and he 23) and we live on the mid-Atlantic coast where we play in the water as much as possible—preferably on a boat. He works a “real job” to escape the insanity that is our home (okay, mostly for the paycheck), but very nicely takes over the chaos each evening so I can write, which is a strange turn in itself. I never wanted to be an author, but ended up one anyway after writing my first book in six months and seeing it published in June 2010. The rest has been one crazy ride.
- Tell us 3 things that top your bucket list.
I traveled extensively as a kid but we haven’t taken many family trips, so most of my list involves travel. We’re surprising the kids with a 9-day road trip this fall so they can literally see the country, which is something I experienced over 20 years ago and have yet to forget. The family trip we’re taking tops my list, and also in my top three is an amazing vacation (anywhere will do) with just me and the hubby. Rounding out my list is to build our new house, which should happen within the next year. I can’t even imagine the joy of going from one bathroom (yes, really) to six. (Yes. Really!)
- If we could see your book shelves or your tbr pile, what would it tell us about you?
That I LOVE romantic suspense. My book shelf is surprisingly sparse. I have a handful of old favorites and a small collection of autographed books, but those are all tucked away in safe places. What you would see is a staggering number of Harlequin Intrigues (category romantic suspense). Back when I had time to read, those were my favorite bed time stories. I’d finish one every night!
- What genre (s) do you write?
Most commonly romantic suspense. I have one paranormal (ghost story) out and one coming this fall, and perhaps my biggest switch is also expected this fall when my historical romance is due to release. I never thought I could write historical, but I am absolutely loving it!
- Do you prefer to write in the morning, afternoon or night?
My schedule varies, but right now the best time is night. My husband takes over after dinner so I don’t have to worry about anything but writing, and it’s working well for me. But at one time I worked best in the morning, LOL, so it really depends.
- In 5 words please describe your book.
Temptation, Betrayal, Twists, Second Chances
- Describe your hero through your heroine’s eyes…and yes, you can quote her.
He’s stubborn, deeply loyal, and sometimes a little too principled for her taste. He’s so worried about what he’s done wrong to her in the past he won’t see the future for what it could be, and that drives her nuts. (She must not be a fan of tortured heroes, lol.)
- What’s the best part of the writing process for you?
The accomplishment. Between the husband and the six kids and the homeschooling, the dishes are never finished. The laundry is always in a pile somewhere. There’s always school work that needs to be done. My stories, I finish and I send them off and I’ve FINISHED SOMETHING. Something that won’t immediately be undone. Yay! (A close second to this answer is seeing a cover, as it’s the visual representation of said accomplishment, LOL.)
- Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A little of both. I guess you could call me a very flexible plotter. I really like to know where the story is headed—and my writing is much better when I do—but I love it when characters take over and move the story in a new direction. That’s a great feeling and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
- What surprised you the most about becoming a published author?
It’s so much more than just writing the book. I never expected such an amazing community of people or that so much is left to do after the writing ends. Juggling promo for one book and the deadline for another has been a unique challenge in itself, lol!
- Would you like to share a hint as to what your current WIP is?
I’m working on a historical romance set during colonial America. I never, ever saw this one coming. It was an absolute whim I voiced to my editor, who mentioned it to another editor. Within about two days I was putting my current project on hold (with my editor’s blessing) to make this historical happen on a tight deadline, and now I’m over halfway finished with the story and it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m really excited to show it off this fall!
LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.
About Sarah Ballance
Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.
She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on her website.