One of my series—Black Eagle Ops—has a former SEAL as its commander. Zane Quinlan’s ranch in the Hill Country of Texas is the team’s headquarters. In former books, ZQ was a bit of a matchmaker for his former servicemen and women who came to Black Eagle Ranch. Most brought along their snarly attitudes and PTSD. Some their new limbs. All packed their enduring patriotic spirits.
I took a chance writing these books in three point-of-views: the heroine’s, the hero’s, and ZQ’s. Soon I started getting emails from readers. “When would ZQ get his romance and his mother, known as Junebug, the grandchildren she wanted so badly?”
ZQ’s story would have to be special. He’d been married to the military, retired and returned to the ranch when he learned his dad had cancer, and continued running the spread as his former team slowly trickled in for a quiet place to heal.
Desiree Holt was gathering authors for her next twelve Omega Team release for Kindle Worlds. I asked if I could bring my Black Eagle Ops men along. She agreed.
Running boots sounded behind him. “ZQ! Wait up.”
Dammit! Can’t I have a few effingg minutes to myself to process?
JJ grabbed his other hand and took his pulse. “Are you feeling okay? You’re so pale? Athena yelled for me, said you stumbled around and seemed disoriented. That’s not like you. Pulse is rapid. Skin clammy.” He passed ZQ a bottle of water. “Drink.” He glanced around and pointed to the park across the street. “Let’s grab a bench.”
He shook his head and walked on. “Nah. I’m good. Just need some fresh air.”
JJ matched him stride for stride. “You know, ZQ, you can’t bullshit an old bullshitter. Do you know how many times I’ve told people I was fine when I was a heartbeat away from ripping things apart? I’m getting a strong vibe you’re hanging on by a thread. What’s wrong?” JJ grabbed his commander’s elbow and marched him across the street to the quiet park.
“I’ve just been hit with some unexpected news and need a break from everyone to think.” Maybe JJ would take the hint and go away.
“Good thing I’m not everyone, ZQ. I have secrets only you know. So I’m willing to listen to yours and keep them to myself. That’s the kind of brothers we are, man. Salt and pepper.”
“Not in the mood for sharing. Not yet.” Why would Rose name her kid after the name I used with her? Is her child mine? He did some quick math calculations. “Did you hear me? Go back to Grey’s place.”
“Not happening. You need someone to talk to. What made you go pale? Athena said you scared the crap outta her. I get the feeling it takes a lot to rattle that woman.”
What the hell. He and JJ had talked about a lot of stuff during the time he’d been at the ranch. After gulping a long drink of water, he leaned back on the bench and took a deep breath. “I’m a sexual Dominant.”
“Yeah, the team’s already figured that much out.”
“My enjoyment of a little kink is none of the team’s business. Once I was assigned to SEAL Team Five, based out of Coronado, I joined a BDSM club there. I mostly did scenes, always keeping my eye out for a favorite. You know, someone whose kink matched mine.” ZQ smiled and hitched a shoulder.
“Then one night, I met Rose. We meshed like ice cream and chocolate syrup. Because of my rank and level of security I held, I’d bastardized my last name. Everyone at the club knew me simply as Quinn. Looks like Rose did the same with her last name.”
JJ placed his elbows on his spread thighs and hung his head. “Don’t tell me. Ivy Rosemoor is your Rose? Hell, man, are you gonna be able to keep your mind focused on the mission?”
“I’ll have to to bring her back.” He tipped the bottle to his mouth and guzzled some more.
“Let me check your pulse again.” JJ pressed two fingers against ZQ’s neck. “It’s not as rapid. What broke you two up?”
“She knew I was a SEAL. I’d told her that much, but not that I was a team commander. You know how that shit works, the higher I rose in rank, the more confidential information I was privy to. I didn’t want to leave my security clearance open or vulnerable. Initially she told me she was a college student, but I thought she was a little old for that.” He shrugged. “I just figured we both had details we needed to keep private.
“Later she told me she was a law student, preparing to take her bar exams. She told me in confidence. Some people worry about being blackmailed because of their sexual lifestyle. Don’t know if it’s ever happenes, but—”
ZQ glanced away and exhaled a long breath. “Everything was great between us. Then orders came for Team Five to go to Afghanistan to take out a group of Taliban hiding in the mountains of Hindu Kush. I had a separate phone I used only for Rose. I gave her one for me. This kept our relationship totally separate from our public lives. We liked being in our own private cocoon.
“I texted her that my job was taking me away for a while and I didn’t know when I’d be back. I told her to always remember how much she meant to me. Then I texted her after our arrival and told her we were in the back half-acre of hell, setting up camp. I asked her if she missed me and to send me a selfie.”
ZQ stretched his long legs and took a deep breath. “Eager for her reply, I put the phone on a pile of rocks near our command tent where we had intermittent wireless Internet. I turned and saw Two Packs needed help digging a hole for the latrine.” He closed his eyes hoping to block out the memory. A futile exercise. ZQ had run to help because having a shitter was a necessity. A volley of gunfire had gone off. He dove into the hole and his buddy’s lifeless body had fallen on top of him.
“We used to tell Two Packs his smoking would kill him,” JJ spoke with reverence. “Instead it was a group of Taliban snipers.”
ZQ shook off the memory of lifting his man’s body out of the way so he could return fire. It was a tense ten minutes that seemed short in one way and eternal in another. He and two of his men had received minor wounds.
“Yeah, the bastards shot up my phone, too. The trouble with speed dial is you never memorize the person’s phone number. My connection to Rose was gone.”
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Great excerpt, Vonnie! I love the way you described ZQ's level of discomfort, both physical and emotional, and the friendship between the two (big, tough alpha guys) is touching. I just got a copy for my Kindle and can't wait to read it!
Another winner, Vonnie! Congrats on your latest!
Lots to reveal in the excerpt...the life of a REAL action hero with kink of the secretive kind. What an intricate relationship he had with Rose...and now, will have. Lots of teasers in here, Von. Nice work! I met D. Holt years ago at a conference and she was boldly leading the erotic movement. Neat that you're working with her!
Good luck with that, Vonnie--sounds very fast-paced and exciting.
Good hook, Vonnie. How is he going to find Rose?
I'm happy you enjoyed their friendship. My son's best friend, also a Mike, is in Special Forces, going on 25 years now. When Liz gave birth to their second son, things went wrong and she slipped into a coma. Who did the frightened new daddy call? My Mike, who was a single dad by then. "I need you, buddy. I might lose Liz." Give me fifteen minutes to pack things for Ryan and we're on our way to Camp Polk. Mike got emergency leave from his job and spent a week with the other Mike, helping him deal with his little boy Ryan's age while he stayed with Liz. I draw a lot on my sons' friendships to establish BFF of the male variety.
Thanks, Jannine. I love writing strong, gritty men with soft hearts.
Rolynn, this was an easy story to write. All I had to do was include an Omega Team member and I chose the man and woman who started the team. My guys, two who were featured in earlier books, blended right in. Thanks for the compliments. They mean a lot.
Thanks Andrea, I love fast-paced action. I always have to go back and add in the emotion, the introspection because I feel it slows down the story.
Rose is held captive in Cartagena, Columbia. These men have access to equipment our government uses since Black Eagle Ops is a deep sector of the CIA. I email a college friend of Mike's whose husband is in Special Forces. "Could you ask Mike if this or that could happen?" He gives me more info than I need, so I can write with authority. When we see each other at a picnic, he pulls me in for a hug and calls me Erotic Moma. Then the stories start with Mike holding court. "Then this woman emails Liz and asks what I know about mind control and I can't tell her I'm teaching the same damn thing to classes of soldiers."
As always, Vonnie Davis' Seal Team stories are packed with strong character development, great plots, in depth emotions, and no small amount of romance. A terrific read.
Vonnie, I love your SEAL team stories. I wondered when ZQ would get his. Woman, I mean. LOL Looking forward to reading this one. Best wishes!
Thanks, Betsy. I have a grandson who deals with PTSD after his time in Afghanistan. He's doing better, but there are times he does some unwise things. He continues with his counseling, which makes me happy.
I hope you enjoy the read, Diane. I've put off JJ and Ashley's romance because she'd suffered so much sexual abuse. I felt she'd need to slowly heal before she was ready for JJ. It will be a delicate, yet difficult story to write.
That's really cool, Vonnie, how you base your male relationships on your sons' with their friends. (I hope Liz pulled through okay!) I base a lot of my males' behaviors on my sons and husband (and the many men I've worked with over the years), but I don't see too much of how they handle their friendships.
Yes, Liz is fine. Running marathons. They're stationed in Taiwan now, which is Mike's country of expertise. He can speak, cook, behave and adapt to anything Taiwanese. Most career special Forces are given a country to learn their culture and language. But he's been in the Middle East more because of his height. Dressed as a Bedouin, you can't recognize him.
Good, good stuff, Vonnie. It’s no wonder your stories ring so realistic. Can’t wait to read this one. And my most heartfelt gratitude to those who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.
OMG, wonderful excerpt!!! The cover is fabulous too! Sounds like a great read.
WOW! Great book cover!!!!!!
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