Protector Agent Josh Slater has spent years working for the secret government-sponsored agency known as OPAQUE. All the while hoping to find the man who paid his father to bring down a plane killing the then head of OPAQUE. Now, Josh’s new assignment brings him back face-to-face with the one woman he ever deserted. His life would have been easier letting Mackenzie continue to hate him for leaving, but she’s been targeted as leverage and he’ll do anything to insure her survival. Even face her anguish over his family’s shame.
Mackenzie Baudin has been over Josh Slater for years, so the idea of her uncle sending him to be her protector meant only a slight hiccup in her steel resolve emotions. But her uncle’s promise that within the next twenty-four hours she would know the complete truth about her life hit her like the plane crash ten years ago. The day her mother and father were killed.
“What’s going on?” Josh asked his boss.
“OPAQUE intercepted Coercion Ten’s Target List again last night. My name’s still there. So’s yours.”
“Sounds about right.” Most every OPAQUE agent had their name on the enemy’s list. If not, then Josh figured you needed to work a little harder at pissing them off.
“They’ve added a new column. Titled it—Leverage. There’s nothing in that column next to yours. Next to mine is one name.” Drake speed dialed his phone again. “Mackenzie Baudin.”
Josh’s chest tightened as if a belt had been notched three sizes too small. Not only was Macki an ex-cop, wealthy hotel owner and the boss’s niece, she was also the only woman Josh had never shook from his system. The idea she was a target in the underbelly game of life and death slapped him upside the head like a brick.
The two men shared a glance, then looked away. He’d controlled his breathing. Controlled his expression. But he’d felt the flare of his nostrils. Coercion Ten had gone too far this time. There’d already been too many deaths in Macki’s family.
“Do you think it’s real?” Josh asked.
“All the signs point that direction. I’ve been trying to reach Mackenzie all day.” The corner of Drake’s right eye twitched. “All I get is her damn voice mail.”
“She’s probably just busy. You know, running a high class hotel isn’t all glamour and glitz.” Hearing the words come out of his own mouth didn’t make Josh feel any better.
Drake shot him an evil-eye look. “Don’t give me that bull. You and I both know this is damn serious.”
Josh had to agree. When someone was targeted by Coercion Ten, every hour, every minute, every second counted. He nodded.
“They’ll try to break me and OPAQUE by targeting her.” Drake paused. “We can’t let that happen.”
“You can count on me. What’s my assignment?”
His boss’s expression blanked, the look he always got when he was torn on which way to turn. Torn between going with his gut or over thinking the situation. Josh knew the look. Not only from Drake, but from himself as well.
Squaring his shoulders, Drake rose to his feet. “Bottom line, I need you to go to Riverfalls, Illinois and protect Mackenzie.”
“Get this straight, old man. There’s no way in hell I’m going back to my hometown.” For years Josh had accepted every assignment. Every duty. Every dirty job out there. All for OPAQUE. All to pay back the debt he felt he owed. But the old man had stepped over the line this time. “You don’t know what you’re asking me to do, sir.”
Writing romantic suspense, contemporary romance or any type of book, means I’m going to spend a lot of time in one place with my fingers to the keyboard. My place happens to be in my office, and not just a plain office either. Since I’m more of a water (lake, ocean, river, stream, pond, etc.) person, I’ve decorated with that in mind. Everything from the wall hanging that talks about the beach, to flip-flop covered material on the throw pillows, to a painted wine glass that says “What happens at the lake, stays at the lake”, the beachy feel makes my writing world a bit happier.
The other thing I like about my office are the two windows across the room from my desk. They are at just the right location for those moments when my mind needs a break from what I’m writing. Whether looking outside at the sunny day, the falling snow or the blowing leaves, having the scenery just a glance away makes everything flow much better. You may find it hard to believe, but I can be watching what’s happening outside and type large chunks of a scene without ever looking at the computer screen. That’s when I truly feel in my writing zone.
Now for any of you who’ve decided to try your hand at writing, here are a few things to remember no matter if you write in an office, at the kitchen table, on a laptop desk in your easy chair, or a million other places. Writing is hard work that requires dedication and commitment and being able to ask for help. There are a lot of other authors willing to answer your questions, critique groups where you can learn your craft, and workshops to give you answers for questions you didn’t even know you should ask.
So, don’t quit after the first week. Don’t quit after the first month. Take a break, walk around, look outside, put something meaningful to you within sight of your space, and then sit back down at the keyboard. Don’t quit…instead, find your writing zone.
Award-winning author Claudia Shelton could write her name before the first day of school, but now she writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance, all with sexy alpha heroes and women strong enough to love them. She also presents workshops on everything from character development to networking to the ins-and-outs of being a new author. Claudia’s debut novel, Risk of a Lifetime, released to 5-star reviews, reached Amazon’s Best Sellers Romance Series Top 100 and was named one of eBooks Galore top reads for 2014. She is also a two-time Daphne Du Maurier (Unpublished) finalist for excellence in mystery. Her new book, Slater’s Leverage, will be available November 2015. Shelton is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), MORWA (Missouri RWA), Sisters in Crime, St. Louis Writers Guild, Missouri Writers’ Guild, and Saturday Writers.