He found her six feet under and unearthed a passion beyond their wildest dreams.
Buried six feet deep is not what Private Investigator Charlene Madison, had expected when she agreed to meet an informant at New Orleans' most famous cemetery. Neither was encountering the devil himself when Devin Leduc rescues her, only to imprison her in his arms. She can't explain her attraction to him, especially once he reveals his secret.
After centuries of darkness, Devin has found his light. Charlene makes his body burn with desire, along with his temper when her penchant for justice and her stubborn nature lead her straight into danger.
Together they will unmask a killer and discover a love so fulfilling, nothing, not even death, will quench the flames of passion.
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April 10, 2006
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Excerpt from Six Feet Under by Mackenzie McKade
Charlee woke with a gasp, her fingers clawing at her throat. Air...she needed air. She sat up abruptly. Her mouth gaped wide, her eyes growing enormous. Chest heavy, she choked as she tried to inhale.
She desperately pulled another breath and then another. Shallow, hungry swallows that refused to penetrate her frozen lungs. The results were an uncontrollable coughing fit and wrenching panic that gurgled in the pit of her stomach.
Where was she? Charlee's head snapped up, frantically scouring the room. A strange bedroom...not a coffin... The realization should have brought comfort. Still her heart raced. Sweat beaded her forehead.
Each time she grasped for control, it slipped through her fingers like running water--impossible to hold.
She had never been afraid of the dark, but she needed light. The radiance coming from the fireplace was not enough. As if she willed it, the room instantly bathed in light, not harsh and bright, but a soft glow.
When the large room began to spin and the walls moved, logically, she knew it was impossible. Terrified, she jumped from the bed and made for the center of the room, then stood trembling.
"What's happening to me?" She heard the words leave her mouth. But the scared, insecure voice was all wrong, not her own.
"Shhh, petite guerrier. It is nothing more than a panic-attack," came the warm, soothing voice that had spoken once before in her time of need. "Pace your breathing. Inhale slowly, deeply. Your heart is beating too fast."
Charlee spun around in a circle. "Who are you? Where are you?" She staggered, feeling faint, the lack of oxygen taking its toll. She was going to be sick. She bent at the waist and prayed for some semblance of control.
"First, your breathing, then we talk."
Her head bobbed up, eyes agape. "You're a figment of my imagination!" she screeched. In one frantic leap, she lunged for the door, twisting and pulling at the knob. Gut wrenching sobs tore from the back of her throat.
Locked! She was a prisoner. She had traded a coffin for a bedroom, elegant in its furnishings, but she was still confined. Helplessness surged through her, taking her under as if she were drowning in a pool of nothingness.
"Charlene! Desist!" The clear, sharp command, given by a being used to instant obedience, thundered through her mind. She stilled and obeyed, not understanding why.
Bewildered, she shivered as a cool breeze brushed her spine. She could feel his presence, sense his frustration, as she readied herself to confront him--the devil.
But was he? He had rescued her, spoken comforting words.
When warm, invisible fingers stroked her cheek, she gasped, distracted from her mental struggle. The feather-soft touch trailed a path down her neck and paused at the throbbing vein in her throat. Hunger--desire--unbridled need flashed in her mind. As quickly as the emotions appeared, they vanished, and the light sensation continued, urging her compliance.
Charlee felt the compulsion to obey and stumbled back toward the bed. "Stop!" she screamed as her legs voluntarily did his bidding.
"Then do as you are told," the voice snapped, patience gone. "I will not allow you to harm yourself. Now, dammit, Charlene, breathe! I am too far away from the house to come to you."
Her breath wheezed in her lungs as she sucked in air.
Charlee flinched when he firmly said, "Slower...deeper."
Now the disembodied voice was making her mad. Nevertheless, she complied with slow, deep inhales followed by long exhales. They repeated the process several times until her breathing became normal and her pulse gradually leveled out.
His presence was all around her, within her, as if he controlled her breathing, steady and even, matching their heartbeats. An intimate sensation that made her tremble with awareness.
"Good." His approval hummed in her head. "Now, ma cherie, a bath awaits you in the adjoining bathroom. Millie has placed one of my shirts on the sink for you to wear. When you are through with your ministrations, I shall join you and we will dine."
Holding on to her sensibilities by a mere strand, Charlee thought to refuse. A sharp retort stood perched on her tongue. Unsure of the situation, she decided it might be wiser to play along with the disembodied voice that promised to add a body to its existence.
Again, that irritating, all-knowing chuckle filled her head.
"Oh, shut up, you--you...ghost!" she spat. No response. Good. The damn being was gone.
Ghost? Yeah, sure, she didn't believe in ghosts. She also didn't believe in chance meetings, like the man who just happened to be strolling through a cemetery after midnight and graciously rescued a damsel in distress, buried six feet under.
And what was up with the controlling mind games he insisted on playing with her?
She was a logical woman. There was a valid explanation for him traipsing through her head. She'd read about individuals who came into psychic powers after a near-death experience.
"Being buried alive is as close to death as one could get without biting the big one," she rationalized. "Maybe there's more to this near-death thing than what meets the eye."
Deep, full-body laughter permeated her head.
Hands on hips, she growled, "Eavesdropping is rude. Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"
"She did the best she could. Millie has taken over the daunting task since I left home." His boyish response was issued lightheartedly.
Charlee snorted. "She's failing, too." Again, she felt his touch gentle against her face. "Stop doing that!" She fought the stirring emotion that surfaced and swatted the air. How could she be attracted to a voice, a fleeting touch that wasn't real?
"I'm very real, little one. Flesh and blood." His throaty growl hinted of danger and seduction.