The men of Phoenix-alpha superheroes all the way
First of all, huge thanks to Delilah for hosting me today. She has been my guide and inspiration since the very early days of my writing journey when I was privileged to be part of her critique group. Her insight and guidance has been invaluable to me and I never could have done it without her.
And now about my superheroes.
When I set out to write The Phoenix Agency series—oh, wait! I didn’t set out to write a series at all. I had a request from my publisher to write one book about an alpha hero and a heroine with a psychic ability. That’s how Jungle Inferno was born. Delta Force Team Leader Mark Halloran had been captured by a terrorist cell in Peru, most of his team killed due to a deliberate leak from a corrupt official. When Faith Wilding, my heroine, couldn’t get anyone to help her, she was desperate until she managed to find the shadowy Phoenix Agency.
Created as a smaller version of Blackwater, it was made up of four former military who were determined to right wrongs and accept missions too hazardous or politically dangerous for normal channels. Each one represented a different branch of the military—Force Recon Marines, Air Force (and trained with Britain’s crack SAS), SEALs, Special Ops—well, you get the idea.
Who knew my readers would fall in love with these men and want a story for each of them? But if you define a superhero, that really fits them so I can see their appeal. These men have all the qualifications: a strong moral code, extraordinary powers and abilities (these men have defied death and survived), the ability to successfully complete missions that defeat most ordinary men.
And the name of their agency is symbolic of who and what they are. Named for the mythical bird that obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor, it is comprised of men who rose from the ashes of dangerous military careers where death followed every footstep to continue as private citizens to protect the United States and its citizens.
At the end of Jungle Inferno the four original men asked Mark Halloran, who was leaving the military, to join them. In subsequent books they took on terrorists in Iraq, soulless criminals who would steal United States technology, and one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels. At no time did they ever think to refuse a mission because it was too dangerous. They were needed and they accepted the missions, especially those that hit too close to home.
They shared one other quality that really makes a superhero super, an alpha male alpha—compassion, the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others.
After four very successful books, the story everyone has been asking for, that of SEAL Troy Arsenault, released July 5. In this book they all need to be superheroes, not just Troy, because the woman in his charges faces extreme danger from many sources, including a villain more evil than they’ve faced in a long time.
But rest easy. The men of Phoenix are more than equal to the challenge.
Lauren Cahill lives as quietly as she can, protecting her ability as a psychic healer. But danger brings Troy Arsenault into her life—along with scorching sex and intense emotions. Resisting him isn’t even a question, in or out of the bedroom. He protects her from the evil stalking her even as he teaches her what erotic sex is all about. When she’s kidnapped, his world is turned upside down and he employs all the resources of The Phoenix Agency to rescue her. He won’t rest until she’s back safely in his life—and in his bed for the rest of their lives.
When the doorbell rang, she was gripped by a sudden attack of nerves, her palms sweating for no reason. She wiped them on her jeans and looked through the peephole. What she saw was an identification folder with a photo ID and Troy Arsenault, Phoenix Agency, in black capital letters, along with the Phoenix logo.
“It’s me,” he called through the door. “Maybe you’d better let me in before your friends out here decide to join me.”
Friends? What friends?
She cracked the door a little, and her heart sank when she realized some of the reporters and photographers had wandered back closer to the house, apparently hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Or to get a quick shot at her before the cops chased them away. At least they were staying off of her lawn. A cruiser would be driving by again before too long and they’d get chased away. She swallowed hard against the sudden rise of panic.
I won’t give in to it. Everything’s going to be fine. They’ll go away, and I can have my life back.
Summer slid off the safety chain and opened the door just enough for Troy to slip through. When she closed it, she hooked the chain again and turned the deadbolt. Then she turned to the man in her foyer.
She was prepared to be polite, let him do his thing and send him on his way. But when she looked at the man standing there, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and all her breath was trapped in her lungs. Faith had told her Troy Arsenault was a former SEAL and as far as Summer was concerned, he could have been the poster boy for recruiting. He was as tall as Mark, with a lean runner’s body and deeply tanned skin. His light brown hair was just a tad long, curling at the neck of his shirt, the kind of hair a woman wanted to run her fingers through.
But it was his face that was the most arresting. Ruggedly handsome, like Mark, high cheekbones were slashes on either side of his nose and eyes the color of melted chocolate studied her from beneath unexpectedly dark eyebrows and lashes.
Her reaction to him was hot and totally unexpected and she made a deliberate effort to tamp it down. For one thing, he was only here to make sure she was safe. For another, her history with men was so unpleasant that she’d decided to swear off them completely. The last thing she needed was to have her ruthlessly controlled hormones decide to take a walk on the wild side. How terribly inconvenient that those hormones chose this particular moment to start galloping through her system again. Maybe she should have insisted harder to Faith that she didn’t need anyone.
“Looks like you’re pretty popular with the folks out there.” His mouth curved in a smile but his tone was dead serious. When she didn’t comment he asked, “You okay?”
Summer gave herself a mental shake. What was going on with her? She had a problem here and this man had kindly agreed to come check it out as a favor to her friends. This was business, not pleasure. She’d hoped for someone at least appealing to look at but Troy Arsenault had danger written all over him.
“Sorry.” She didn’t know if her hands trembled because of the mob outside or the nearness of this man. She shoved them into the pockets of her jeans. “Thank you for coming over here, although I don’t think it was really necessary.”
“From what I saw outside, this may be a little more serious than you think.” He held out his hand. “Troy Arsenault. But you already know that, right? Nice to meet you, Summer.”
“Same goes. And the idiots outside will probably go away the next time a police car comes by.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “Yeah? Doesn’t look like it to me.”
She suddenly found herself tongue-tied. What happened next? “Um, would you like some coffee? I made a fresh pot.”
“Thanks. That would be nice.”
She led the way into her kitchen and motioned for him to have a seat at the table. Figuring the first rush of phone calls would have subsided by now, she picked up the receiver from the counter and replaced it in the cradle. Her hand hovered over it a moment as she waited to see if it rang. When it didn’t, she breathed a sigh of relief and turned to occupy herself taking down mugs and filling them. As she poured the coffee, she tried to focus on the situation and not the man. Troy Arsenault had an electric magnetism about him that made the air sizzle and scrambled her brain. And that was the last thing she needed right now.
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