I’m sorry I’m late.
I have a good excuse and, no, the dog didn’t eat my blog. :) I was up late last night, revising some end chapters on Storm Warning, SSI Book 4, in an attempt to shoot it to my crit buddies who are waiting to tear into it — in a constructive way, of course. :) May I just say, I love my crit buddies. <3
So, to apologize for being late, here is the blurb and a short, unedited, uncritiqued, and very rough taste of the beginning of Storm Warning.
Former helicopter pilot DJ Poe is a woman used to working in a man’s world. So, the opportunity to become SSI’s first female operative is in her comfort zone. She just didn’t expect to feel an instant attraction for her boss’s brother-in-law. Intimate relationships with men had never ranked high on her bucket list.
Stuart “Tweeter” Walsh knew he’d like DJ because she had saved one of his brothers’ life in Afghanistan and had been unofficially adopted into the Walsh clan. But when he saw the tall, leggy, blonde goddess he fell instantly in love. Now, all he had to do is convince the man-shy beauty to take a chance on him.
Take one alpha-male geek add in one skittish female warrioress—throw them into close proximity and you have the perfect conditions for storm warnings ahead.
Excerpt (unedited, uncritiqued):
2 a.m., January 3rd, Williamson, West Virginia
DJ Poe sat in a Jeep Cherokee and focused on the four-story Williamson Memorial Hospital, the only acute-care facility in Mingo County.
Somewhere in that building, her mother could be dying. “Could be” being the operative term—because the whole situation smelled like an elaborate trap.
Her mother’s safety and health were the only reasons DJ would come back to one of the most morally corrupt places in the world—and DJ’s own personal hell on Earth. Since she’d served several tours in Afghanistan as an Army helicopter pilot, she recognized Hell when she saw it.
“She’s not here, DJ.” The husky baritone of Andy Walsh came clearly over the Motorola headset she wore under her wool watch cap.
DJ stiffened in her seat, then slumped. “Not totally surprised.” She let out a sigh of disgust. “Who did you find?”
“Sending image now.”
DJ looked at her smart phone. While the situation wasn’t funny, her lips twitched at the sight of Andy’s brother Devin turning a woman’s head toward the camera.
Donna Barstow—Red Bone’s resident slut.
Donna had done anything for money ten years ago, and it looked as if the skunk hadn’t changed her scent.
“What did the bitch tell you,” DJ asked, “before you gagged her.”
“She knows nothing.” Dev’s low growl was filled with distaste. “She was shocked—just shocked, mind you—that we thought Nancy Poe would be in this bed.” He huffed. “Of course, the medical chart just inside the door says ‘Nancy Poe,’ and the hospital computer system we hacked into gives Room 420 as Nancy Poe’s private room.”
“What do you want us to do, DJ?” Andy asked.
“Leave an appropriate eff-you-note. By the time they get it, we’ll be gone.” DJ pulled her Army issue M9A1 Beretta pistol and double-checked the magazine. The routine maneuver served to calm her nerves. The only better routine would be doing a pre-flight check on a Black Hawk, the airframe to which she’d been assigned after finishing flight school.
“We going to Red Bone?” Andy asked.
“Yeah. We’re going to get my momma out of that god-forsaken hell hole.”
Red Bone was where she’d been born, raised, and lived for the first eighteen years of her life. It was a mining town south of Williamson, on U.S. 52. The godforsaken bump in the road had become a place to loathe as soon as she’d developed breasts. It had been her mother who’d helped DJ escape from her pa’s—and his boss Ed Varney’s—plans for her the night she graduated high school.
“Sounds like fun,” Dev said. “See you in a few.”
“Jeep’ll be running.”
DJ exited the rear passenger side and then hopped into the driver’s seat to start the vehicle. She turned the defrosters on high and got out of the Jeep to clear off the accumulated snow.
Andy and Dev Walsh had become closer to her than her blood kin—with the exception of her mother. She’d only known the two Marines for about six months. They’d met when Dev had asked a room full of Army helicopter pilots for a volunteer to fly a risky rescue mission to pick up a unit of Marine Special Forces led by his brother Andy. DJ had offered because she was the best pilot for the job. The risky mission had been a success.
That one small act, an act she would’ve done for anyone, had the Walsh family adopting her as one of their own. They’d even gotten her a job with the private security firm, Security Specialists International, owned by Ren Maddox, the husband of the Walshes only daughter, Keely. DJ would be SSI’s first female operative and helicopter pilot. With a job waiting for her, she left the Army after ten years. She’d arrived in the States and stayed with the Walshes at Camp Lejeune while she finalized her plans to get her mother away from her father, once and for all.
When the emergency text message stating her mother was dying had arrived from her Red Bone source of information, she’d been frantic.
Andy and Dev’s mother Molly had noticed DJ’s distress, pried the information out of DJ—and then called a family meeting.
DJ had given the Walshes the Cliff’s Notes version about her family situation. The only thing she hadn’t told them was exactly why she’d left ten years ago and had never gone back until now.
The Walsh twins, Loren and Paul, had had to leave on assignments for SSI, but Andy and Dev still had time remaining on their leave from their Special Forces’ teams. They’d insisted on coming. If DJ needed backup, they’d provide. Their unqualified support had filled a place in her heart that had been empty for far too long.
A low whistle floated on the wind, alerting her to the brothers’ approach. She whistled back, then hopped into the driver’s seat and unlocked all the doors. The two men piled in, and she pulled smoothly away as they shut the doors and buckled up.
The guys weren’t chatty, and most days that was just fine with her, but she needed to know what else had happened inside the hospital.
She looked sideways at Dev, the elder of the two. “Donna sure looked scared. What did y’all say to her?”
Before Dev could open his mouth, Andy laughed. “Ole Dev told her that if she made a single peep before morning that he knew where she lived, and he’d come back and personally give her a face lift with a dull knife.”
“Face lift?” DJ didn’t look away from the road. The mountain road was tricky on dry days, but on snowy days, it was downright treacherous. One wrong move and they’d slide off the icy pavement into the Tug River.
Dev snorted. “That’s what she said she was in the hospital for.”
“Nothing’s changed with that bitch,” she spat out.
The two men hummed in a way she’d quickly come to recognize meant they wanted her to share—but only if she wanted to. Their patient silence filled the confines of the Jeep until she couldn’t stand it any longer.
DJ grimaced. “Donna was—and probably still is—the town slut of Red Bone. She spread her legs for most of Red Bone’s and the surrounding area’s male population over the age of sixteen including my pa and my two brothers. She’s quite the femme fatale.”
DJ could still remember the time her mother had put her foot down about pa “visiting” Donna. Her pa had beat her mother, beat DJ when she tried to stop him, and then still went to see the fat-assed bitch. His regular nights had been Tuesday and Saturday. On Saturdays, he’d shared Donna with his boss Ed Varney in a threesome.
Everyone in Red Bone knew about her pa’s philandering. Her mother had tried to shelter DJ from the salacious knowledge, but there were always people who liked to gossip. Bless their hearts.
“Not seeing that. Not my type.” Dev looked over the seat at his brother. “Yours, Andy?”
“Only if I was blind, deaf, dumb, criminally stupid—and so crippled I couldn’t run the other way.”
DJ’s lips twisted upwards. “Thanks, guys. I needed a good laugh. I always thought she looked too … too…”
“Tarted up? Cheap? Skanky?” Dev suggested.
“Rode hard and put away wet,” Andy muttered. “She smelled like it, too.”
“Eeuw, thanks for putting that image in my brain.” DJ shook her head as the brothers chuckled. “I bet Donna had sex in the hospital bed. She told me once … well, never mind. I’d never take sex advice from the likes of her. My momma raised me better.”
Worry for her mother had her choking up on the steering wheel until her fingers cramped. She realized what she was doing and deliberately loosened her grip. Now was not the time to have an accident because she was distracted.
But she couldn’t shake loose the worries from her mind as easily. Was her mother okay? Had pa hidden her somewhere DJ and the guys wouldn’t be able to find her? Who had discovered DJ’s plan to get her mother out of Red Bone?
The plan had been in place since the day DJ had left Red Bone. Several times during her stint in the Army, she’d sent money so her mother could leave Red Bone and travel to Ft. Rucker in Alabama where her unit was based. But her pa had always tracked his wife down en route and taken her back home.
DJ had then shifted to an alternate plan which entailed keeping an eye on her mother and sending her money through an intermediary—Mrs. Binkley, DJ’s high school English teacher. Her pa was afraid of Mrs. Binkley. Hell, half of Mingo County was afraid of the old woman.
Once DJ had received her official discharge, “Operation: Rescue Nancy Poe” became DJ’s top priority. She’d just finalized her plan to sneak her mother out of Red Bone when she received the alarming text from Mrs. Binkley that had made this emergency trip necessary.
Had Mrs. Binkley sold them out? Or, had her mother let something slip to someone who owed her pa and Ed Varney a favor? Either way, the whole situation was now officially a goat rope.
“Stop fretting,” Dev said. “We’ll get your momma out. You’ll take her to Idaho. End of story. No one will get to either of you there.”
“Yeah, Sanctuary is so far off the beaten path,” Andy added. “Even most Idahoans don’t know it exists.”
“Thanks, guys. I’m so glad you’re here. I…”
“Jesus H. Christ, DJ! Where in the fuck all would we be?” Dev asked. “You’re family now.”
Andy slapped the back of her head rest. “Get over the gratitude crap. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for you.”
DJ blinked the wetness from her eyes. Someone must’ve been looking out for her the day Dev needed a pilot to rescue his brother’s unit.
“DJ…” Dev’s tone of voice was now all business. “There were three armed men waiting to take you. One of them had a badge—a sheriff’s badge. It’s time you tell us the whole story about why you left home ten years ago.” He paused, then added, “It was more than your father being an abusive son of a bitch, right?”
She avoided Dev’s question and asked, “What did you do to them? Will they come after you?”
“They’re alive, but not real happy. And they don’t dare come after us. What they were doing was illegal. We’ll talk about your welcome home committee later,” Andy said. “I even have pictures to show you—and to turn over to the Feds when we report the attempted kidnapping. But first, tell us what happened all those years ago. We need the whole story if we’re to help you and your mom.”
If she’d faced her fears, come home, and taken care of business, her father and the Varneys would be serving time for all their crimes—and her mother wouldn’t be in danger now.
“Okay…” She took two gasping breaths and the snowy road blurred.
Crying? God, Dahlia Jane, man up, the Army taught you better than this.
Copyright, 2015, Monette Michaels.
Hope you liked the small taste of Storm Warning. I’m working really hard to get this out to all my SSI fans as soon as possible, but I will only release once I am 100% happy with the final result. Tweeter and DJ’s love story and adventures deserve to be told right.
Hugs– Monette, 4/23/2015