To view it, click here. Burning Alive was a book that pulled me in from the beginning. For that, I definitely give it points. I liked the storyline about Sentinels and their war against the Senestryn, a race of demons. The origins of the Sentinels are fascinating to me.
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Chapter 1 June 27, Olathe, KS The man who was going to stand by and watch while Helen burned to death liked his coffee black. Helen looked up from her menu and, across the little diner, she saw him sitting there, not twenty feet away.
He was the man of her dreams-or more accurately, of her visions. Technically it was just one vision. Over and over. She was going up in flames while he watched. Smiling at her. Pick your poison. Her age-hunched shoulders barely cleared the table. Lexi was a petite twenty-something with a killer body and a brain to match.
What she was doing waiting tables in Olathe, Kansas, living in her car, was a total mystery to Helen-one Lexi refused to solve no matter how many times Helen asked. Lexi leaned down until her short, white-blond spikes threatened to poke Miss Mabel in the eye. He left early when I started asking questions about it. Smart man. What can I get you today? Her hands trembled, making the words blur. She was already on the verge of panic.
Helen wanted to scream at Lexi to throw the pot of scalding coffee into his lap and run away. Instead, she fought her rising panic for a chance to learn something about him in the hope of escaping the vision.
She sank lower in her seat and tried to pretend that everything was fine, which she did with flying colors. Helen had a lot of practice at pretending everything was fine. Against her better judgment, she eased the menu aside so she could take a quick peek.
It was Vision Man. In the flesh. He listened to what one of the men sitting across from him was saying while he sipped his coffee. Strands of hair, maybe? She did not want him to notice her staring. He had thick brown hair that was just getting long enough to show off a bit of curl. And that was the only thing about him that looked soft. He had high, almost sharp cheekbones with deep hollows beneath. His mouth was pressed into a hard, flat line as he listened to his friend, his expression grim, almost angry.
The muscles in his jaw bunched as if he was grinding his teeth, and Helen had the distinct impression that he was in pain. Lots of pain. It served him right for watching her die. She knew it like she knew the sun would set in a few minutes. There was nothing fake or distorted about her vision. Tried and failed. And now she knew that her time was nearly up. The man in her vision was this man, not an older version of him. Helen was going to die soon.
Maybe tonight. Grief and fear swelled up in her chest and she fought them down. Focused on her breathing and relaxing each little muscle starting at her fingertips. All she had to do was face it and it would go away. Fifty thousand dollars and many years later, she was still just as deluded, but at least she could keep the fear at bay.
Breathing and relaxing was the only way she knew to control the panic. The only way to keep herself from screaming in terror. Burning alive. What a fucking gruesome fate.
It was too soon. There was still so much work left to be done. So many people who needed her help. She glanced over her shoulder to where Helen kept trying not to look. Vision Man and two others sat drinking coffee and eating pie as though they had all the time in the world. Breathe in.
Breathe out. You never eat red meat. Lexi should have been a bartender or an interrogator instead of a waitress, the way she was able to get a woman to spill her guts. Not that the men were hard to spot, seeing as how they were the only other customers in the diner tonight at nearly nine-well after the dinner rush. Helen felt a frantic bubble of fear rise up inside her.
Stop looking! What if he noticed them looking? What if he walked over here right now and looked at her with that half smile on his face-the one he wore when he watched her die? The old woman gave a frustrated sigh. Are they stalkers? Should I call the police? You need a man, Helen. Helen had to get Miss Mabel to stop before Vision Man saw her. Maybe if Helen got out of here unnoticed, there would still be time before she died.
Even if it was only a few more days, or even hours, Helen wanted every one of them. Miss Mabel swallowed the lie.
She saw it in their eyes every time she showed up at their front doors and every time she left. For some of those people, she was all they had and that was enough for her. It had to be. Vision Man was looking right at her. Every time he looked at her, some of the grinding pressure inside him eased. The fact that she was trying not to get noticed only added to his curiosity. Thomas swiveled his head around, leaning so he could see past Zach.
He shrugged one massive shoulder. Besides, nothing important ever got by Zach. Which was good, considering their mission. This suburban Kansas town was crawling with demons. Or at least it would be once the sun set. Drake checked his watch. Eight thirty-two.
Nine minutes to sunset. Then Logan would show up and they all could get back to work. That left him eight minutes to figure out who this woman was and why she was hiding from him. Drake got up and went to do just that. The waitress stepped in his path as if she could actually stop him. How cute. He doubted there was whole five feet of her unless he included those ridiculous blond spikes sticking out from her head.
My friends could use a refill, though. She was just a little scrap of a woman-too fragile for any of the really fun stuff. The shy brunette on the other hand…she had potential. She was all soft curves and glowing warmth. Her light brown hair fell forward over her shoulders in twin braids, drawing his eye right to her breasts. As if he needed any help finding those. She filled out her tank top and then some, which he dutifully noticed.
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Butcher, who now writes as Anna Argent, has written more than thirty titles since launching her career in She has three award-winning series, including the paranormal romance series The Sentinel Wars, the action-romance series The Edge, and the romantic suspense Delta Force Trilogy. Her alter ego Anna Argent also writes several series with a fresh and interesting spin on paranormal romance The Lost Shards, The Taken and The Stone Men series as well as a contemporary romance series set in a small town in the Ozarks. As a former engineer and current nerd, she frequently uses charts, graphs and tables to aid her in the mechanics of story design, world building and to keep track of all those colorful Bestselling author Shannon K.