I have chosen this particular excerpt from The Hero’s Companion in order to show all the genre boundaries that ‘Tallent & Lowery’, as a team, cross over. From the romantic aspect, how they feel about each other which has been building since Book 1; to the emotional suspense, giving the reader just a glimpse of what they’re now taking on; to the adventure, which is hinted at in this excerpt as to the enormity of what lies ahead—the novel is a true puzzle.
I believe that’s been the power of Tallent & Lowery with fans. This duo combines the action, suspense, banter, wit, and intelligence people latch on to; and they rely so heavily on each other that the reader is drawn to the characters. Since 13, the beginning of the series, Leah and Gareth have both evolved so much that what began as an adventurous puzzle has now turned into an exciting, yet complicated life. And, in the end, the puzzle is a whole lot of fun to solve while standing by their side. Enjoy!
All Leah could remember was the harsh voice coming through the telephone erasing her serenity, informing her that her father had been taken. All she could hear playing over and over again in her head was, Merry Christmas, Princess. You’d better come home soon or the only thing you’ll find at the bottom of the sea is your father’s dead body.
Leah dropped her head in her hands as tears of frustration and fear ran down her cold cheeks. She had no idea what she and Gareth would be walking into when they pulled up in front of her childhood home. Her father was everything to her, and Leah could not even fathom what happened to him. He was so kind and had so many friends—who on Earth would possibly want to hurt a man like that?
She tried to calm her ragged breathing and turned to stare at the love of her life. Except for a jaw that was clamped tight, Gareth’s face was expressionless. Leah knew he was feeling the pain and agony that was washing through her soul. After all, they were a part of each other. They’d stood before both Heaven and Hell together and then, Leah laughed to herself; the relationship had really gotten interesting.
She felt the smile creep across her face when she focused on his handsome profile. She thanked Jesus for everything that Gareth Lowery was; the soft, blond hair; the brilliant green eyes that seemed to stare into her soul knowing what she needed before she could put her wishes into words; the strong hands that held her in his grip, no matter what monster may be running directly at him to claim his soul; his charm, humor—there was just so much to love that Leah had a hard time cataloging all the qualities that Gareth possessed.
As if he could feel her intense study, Gareth turned his face and smiled at her. Leaning over, he kissed Leah on the lips; his cold hand squeezed her own trying his best to warm her with his love. “Everything’s going to be okay, you know.”
“Always the optimist,” she said with a smile. “I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry you got into this.”
Sitting back against the seat, Gareth’s eyes filled with confusion. “There is no place I’d rather be. Besides, if you remember correctly, you saved my sister. You saved her . . . friend.” Stuttering over the final word, he stared out the window.
Leah snorted, “They’re married now, Gareth. I think you finally have to accept the fact that Emmanuel is your sister’s husband.”
When the large, ‘manly-man’ winced at the dreaded ‘H’ word, Leah almost burst into laughter.
He shook his head, erasing the idea that his baby sister, who would always be a preteen at the most in her big brother’s eyes, was actually a woman now. “What I was I saying?” Closing his eyes, he muttered, “Oh, yeah . . . you also saved me, Leah Tallent . . . years ago. And, together, we will most certainly figure all of this out and save your father.”
Leah threw her head back against the seat and let loose a frustrated sigh, “But, save him from what? I don’t get any of this, Gareth. My father is just a boring businessman.”
He shrugged. “To be successful in business you usually make enemies over time.”
Leah shook her head at the idea. “At the worst, he’s just a hard boss. But he’s always been fair. Everyone loves the guy. I swear to you. Every person who I’ve ever met since childhood praises him up and down. This just doesn’t make any sense!”
Gareth remained silent.
“I’m sorry,” she said, reaching out for him.
“Don’t ever be sorry,” Gareth replied, taking her into his arms. “We’ll figure all this out when we get to your parent’s house, I promise you. I’m sure this is nothing more than a case of . . . mistaken identity, or something just as silly.”
“Exactly,” Leah said. “That’s what it is. Someone’s just got the wrong guy.”
Gareth leaned forward and tapped the window between him and the driver. “Can you go any faster?”
Leah barely registered the almost imperceptible nod, but the large car immediately accelerating down the two-lane blacktop was definitely a sign that she was speeding toward the answers she desperately needed.
It was so dark in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. There were no stars, no moon—only the all-consuming blackness met her gaze. Leah took a deep breath, fighting the fear that was raging inside her soul. “It’ll be just fine. We’ll figure everything out once we get there,” she whispered to any entity that was listening and then allowed her normal calm, controlled persona to take over.
The Head Librarian of Research at the New York Public Library took her rightful place, basically shoving the scared little girl out of the way. The card catalogue in Leah’s brain sprang to life, as she searched for any information buried in there that could help her understand.
Frustration weighed like an anvil on her chest when she came up with nothing. There were no images from the past that would lead her to believe someone she’d once met was now holding the power to end her father’s life.
As her brain continued to swirl like a tornado causing havoc, all Leah could hear was that perky stewardess back on the plane announcing the fact that Tallent and Lowery were, indeed, beginning their descent.
Although what they were descending into was anyone’s guess.
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Thank you so much for having me on today! Happy Holidays to both you and your fans!!