The Coin Series Box Set
by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra
Genre: Romantic Thriller
THE COIN (Book One) - A coin found, a terrible secret, and a psychopath who will stop at nothing to keep that secret safe.
When Gabriela Martinez finds a French coin on one of her outings, she never thought the possession of it could get her killed. Only Richard Harrison, the intelligence operative sent to protect her, can save her from this madman, who will do everything to silence Gabriela. And when the psychological games to terrorize Gabriela escalate, Richard must find a solution, or it may be too late for both their lives and their love.
Set in the exotic French Riviera, The Coin is a story of hatred, betrayal, love and duty--terrible and painful choices that, nonetheless, bring about personal triumph.
THE BOOK OF HOURS (Book 2) - For Gabriela Martinez, psychopaths do hit twice.
Four years ago, when Gabriela Martinez almost lost her life to a sociopath's twisted vision, she never thought she'd be hunted again.
After catching a glimpse of Gabriela's new work, The Book of Hours, Arnold Wickeham has been like a man possessed. Now, he will do anything to claim it, and no one, especially not Gabriela, will stand in his way.
Now that her life is being threatened once more, Richard Harrison will risk everything, not only to protect her, but especially to get her back in his life. However, the stakes are higher this time around and there is much more to lose. Together, Gabriela and Richard must find a way to stay one step ahead of the danger, if not, Gabriela's life, but especially their future together, may very well go up in flames.
Set in California and in London, The Book of Hours is a story about greed, dangerous obsession, family duty, and, especially deserved second chances.
"The Coin is a suspenseful, sexy, romantic thriller...a page-turner -- Kirkus Reviews"
"Dare I say that The Book of Hours may have been better than The Coin? Along with the action, suspense, romance, and murder attempts, who wouldn't enjoy this book? - Books, Reviews, Links, and a Little Extra"
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Gabriela tried to keep up, sensing his mounting tension. What was happening that he wasn’t telling her? Nervously, she looked about her. She then searched Richard’s face, saw the tension there, and didn’t question his tight grip, or his hurried pace again.
Maurice stopped, his knowing grin stretching his face like putty.
“You better swipe that grin off your face, mon ami.” Richard spoke loud enough for Maurice to hear, his own lips curled into a self-deprecating smile. He extended his hand for the keys. “Where is—”
The air suddenly howled, ripped apart by a blast that surged forward like a living force, dazzling in its fury. The ground heaved, dislodging its contents, while dust rose in increasing waves like a tsunami. In a split second, the impact of the explosion tossed Gabriela forward as if invisible hands had slammed a sack full of bricks against her back. She rammed into Maurice, his grin wiped clean by a look of stunned disbelief. The force of the shock wave knocked them both off balance and onto the flagstones, with Richard catapulted through the air beside them with the ease of a finger knocking dominos over.
Richard hit the ground with enough of a wallop to knock the breath out of his lungs, but instinct and training took over within seconds. Cursing in all the languages he knew, he rolled on top of Gabriela, shielding her body with his own as fireballs and car fragments began to rain on them like in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, nicking and tearing at flesh. Behind them, fire ignited explosions, explosions created more chaos. The intense heat sizzled skin, clothes and hair, even made metal sweat.
Before more debris could pelt them, Richard and Maurice each grabbed Gabriela by an arm and quickly disappeared behind the protective glass of the building, now cracked like crushed ice by the shock waves from the blast. Screams and curses filled the air outside, blending with the stampeding noises of humans searching for cover inside. Completing the chaotic symphony was the sound of grinding metal as cars crashed into one another, while smoke belched from the raging inferno outside in the parking lot.
Maurice grabbed an agent as he scurried by and barked out orders. He shoved the man away to do his bidding and shouted at the top of his voice. “Pascal! Attends-moi!”
“I’m taking her out of this,” Richard shouted over the din. “Meet you in your office.”
Maurice nodded curtly. Richard turned and shouldered his way through the living mass swarming the lobby. He pushed and shoved, slowly opening a gap until they reached the elevators, all the while Gabriela burrowed herself deeper into Richard’s body.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes,” she whispered, but a shudder wracked her.
Richard framed her face with his hands, quickly scanning it, taking note that fortunately it wasn’t bruised too badly. The elevator doors opened and Richard shoved people aside as he propelled Gabriela in. One quick look at her pale face had shown him she needed to sit quickly before she fainted.
The passage from lobby, to elevator, to third floor office took on surreal proportions to Gabriela. Sensory messages existed only in a muted reality, with Richard her only focal point, her anchor. She barely noticed his zigzagging her through the chaos of people, yet paradoxically was keenly aware of his frantic heartbeat, the steely strength of his arms wrapped around her, protecting her. She felt his warmth amid the cold that had taken possession of every nerve in her body. Minutes later, when he tried to deposit her on a chair, she resisted, refusing to break contact. Her hold was so fierce Richard was forced to bend over until the seat stopped her descent. And even after she recognized the hard surface beneath her, she didn’t let go.
Richard carefully disengaged her arms. “Sweetheart, I have to assess any damage.” His voice was soft, husky, as if he were experiencing difficulty with it.
Gabriela finally let go. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry and her body couldn’t stop shaking. Seconds ago, this building had felt pleasantly cool. Now, it felt like an icebox. Her throat constricted and she tried to hold back tears. She never thought she could feel this frightened.
“Are you—” Her voice came out as a croak. She swallowed. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he said, but didn’t look up from his gentle examination of her. If he did, he was afraid she would read the horror in his eyes, the anger, and his vulnerability. He had been prepared for anything—but this? Richard concentrated on cataloging her injuries. This had been too damn close.
Gabriela sensed that, despite his words, all was not well with him. Richard’s hands were shaking slightly. His tight discipline seemed to be fraying like a spider’s web against buffeting winds. She had once scoffed at the idea of Richard ever losing control, but now she was aware he was human, not a superhero of comic strip proportions. He could be hurt, and had been, trying to protect her. The back of his shirt sported burnt patches where hot metal had struck him as he’d shielded her body after the blast.
He pried her hands open and studied her battered palms. A shudder shook him. “God, Gabriela.” His voice sounded hoarse. “You could’ve been killed out there.” His eyes connected with hers. They were violently dark, in stark contrast with his ashen face. “If anything had happened to you—” He stared at her lovely eyes and knew he couldn’t have borne it had she died. “I don’t think I could have lived with myself.”
He cupped her face gently, his thumbs roving softly across her cheeks, savoring her softness, her warmth, her life. Gabriela closed her eyes, avoiding the raw pain she read in his, her heart thumping outrageously at each caress. “I—” She lifted her eyelids and held his look for a moment, a deep flush heating her face. “Ditto. To you, I mean.”
Her simple confession destroyed the final barrier that had caged him away from her. His thumbs shifted to her lips, felt the slight tremors there. With a hunger so fierce it practically drowned him, he brought her face to his and kissed her, softly at first, wanting to taste her, to absorb her tremors. When she opened her lips to him in welcome, he dived in, drinking deeply, longingly, wanting to fuse with her.
It was heaven.
It was hell.
Gabriela had never heard her name whispered with such longing, such heat. It snapped her back to reality. She pushed him gently away, hiding her face in shame and shocked at her own response. “No. No more. I should never . . . we can never—” She pressed her palms against her cheeks. They were burning. “This should not have happened.”
“But it did.” He tried lifting her face. “Listen—”
“No.” She got up abruptly. She knew what Richard wanted to say, but she couldn’t allow it. Things that were said could never be taken back. She concentrated on the chaos of agents rushing back and forth outside Maurice’s office. “Please, Richard, let it be for now. Let’s concentrate on bringing this man to justice.”
Richard rose from his crouched position. He knew he shouldn’t press, but what the hell, he wanted her, needed her. He stepped forward.
“You’d better look at this,” Maurice said, rushing in and brandishing a small piece of paper like a sword. He extended it to Richard.
Richard scanned the contents. There wasn’t much, just a single word: Boom! “Did anyone see the son of a bitch?”
“Yes. The security guard at the entrance gate signed for it an hour before the explosion. Pascal is reviewing the surveillance tapes now.”
An hour. While Gabriela was practicing her shooting. “Where was the blast?”
“At the northeast section of wall in the compound.” Maurice speared his hair with such force that the cigarette on his lips wobbled. “Near enough to be felt, but far enough to cause only minimal damage.”
Richard began to pace. He wished he had the bastard’s neck in his hands. “This guy is good at his fucking games.”
Gabriela’s eyes rounded with incredulity. “You call what just happened a game?”
“That bomb had very little blasting power. It was also set off before we even got near the car.”
“He’s right, Madame,” Maurice said, grinding his cigarette into an ashtray. “It was a warning, perhaps a delaying tactic.”
“What I can’t figure out is why,” Richard answered.
SHORT PARAGRAPH WITH RICHARD AND GABRIELA
“Jesus Christ!” she said, horrified. Richard’s arms were two steel bands imprisoning her against him. She twisted her head to look at him. “Is it always like this?” she asked, shocked.
He avoided her eyes, trying desperately to control the strong reaction her proximity was creating. “Yes,” he said, brusquely releasing her. “Now that the recoil won’t take you by surprise, try it alone.” He took a couple of steps back.
Gabriela raised her hands again, following step by step what he had told her. She slowly pulled the trigger. As she felt the gun fire, she instinctively closed her eyes and averted her face.
“Damn it!” he snapped. “Never take your eyes away from your target unless you want to get killed.”
Gabriela saw red. She rounded on him, her eyes turning into a molten gold of heat and anger. “And how the hell am I supposed to react, damn it! Like I’m sniper material? For your information, Mr. Harrison, the only goddamn dangerous things I’ve ever handled have been kitchen knives and India ink. I’ve never held a damn gun in my hand. I hate guns. Have hated them since one of my uncles joined Castro’s regime and made them part of his wardrobe. It makes me sick to have to pull the trigger, to know I might have to injure or kill someone with it. So back off! What the hell do you want from me?”
They stared at each other until Richard’s eyes began crinkling, his features softening into a smile.
“Don’t you dare laugh, Richard Harrison,” she spat out, doubly furious. “It’s not damn funny.”
“But it is, my dear Gabriela Martinez.” He stepped close to her. “You look like an avenging goddess. The only thing you’re missing is Zeus’s thunderbolt to strike me dead. Or would you prefer your rolling pin?”
She glared at him, but the mirth in his eyes was contagious, and she couldn’t stay angry. She burst out in nervous laughter, shaking her head. “I could strangle you,” she told him truthfully.
“Punching is much better. Here.” He pointed to a spot on his arm. “Fire away.”
Her short story collection, The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories, is an imaginative ride through various genres. One section in particular, “Soul Songs”, delves into the gut-wrenching experience of exile with Ms. Alonso-Sierra’s fictionalized Cuban Diaspora stories, based on her own experience of exile.
The author’s short story, “Retribution Served”, is featured in the anthology Book Dreams: Volume 1, and has been well received by readers.
Ms. Alonso-Sierra’s writing career began circa age thirteen with a very juvenile science fiction short story, but the writing bug hit, and she has been writing, in one capacity or another, ever since. She has worked as a professional dancer, singer, journalist, and literature teacher in both the university and middle school levels (and not necessarily in that order) and holds a Masters in English literature. She loves to hear from readers and, when not writing, roams around to discover new places to set her novels.
She is currently working on her fourth book, a Detective Nick Larson novel, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and her dog, Amber.
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