Soon, I will be revealing (and hopefully releasing!) my newest novel, Welcome to the Family, the first book in the Family Devlyn series. I've been working on this book for a while, and am so pleased with the way it ended up. The characters are amazing to work with, and book two is already lining up quite well.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY is published by The Wild Rose Press, to whom I am immensely indebted.
Kidnapping, murder, extortion - it's just another Thanksgiving to the Devlyn family
Raised in a dysfunctional family, Cassandra Devlyn Ferguson has tried to leave the past behind and carve out a new life with her husband, former Black Ops specialist, Sean Ferguson. Her family’s shady business dealings never involved her, and she intends to keep it that way.Sean wants nothing more than to be a devoted, loving husband. But his new job sends him to the front lines at some of the world’s most dangerous spots. For years he’s blamed his Irish wanderlust for the risks, but the truth is – he enjoys the rush of adrenaline danger brings. When the Devlyn family’s mistakes come looking for Cassie, it’s up to Sean to bring her home safely. The one positive? Cassie knows all about her family’s true nature and is willing to walk away from everything to stay with him. The negative? Someone wants them dead and will stop at nothing to keep all the skeletons in the closet.
Thanksgiving, 6:00 a.m. - London
The phone rang, its incessant chirp interrupting Sean Ferguson’s restless sleep. Opening one bleary eye, he managed to focus on the bedside clock. Six a.m. The cheerful red numbers blazed into his brain, as the phone ceased its happy trill, unaware of the king-sized hangover Sean was discovering, courtesy of a night spent drinking through heavy denial. The cell sounded off again. Someone wanted him urgently enough to risk breaking his number one rule: never call twice. Leave a friggin’ voice mail like the rest of the world.
Angrily he stabbed at the answer button. “This had better be important,” he hissed into the phone. His head pounded with a heartbeat of its own and his mouth tasted like a sewer had backed up into it. Swallowing hard he focused on the voice wafting out of the speaker.
“Trust me, I wouldn’t bother you unless I had no other option. And a Good Morning to you too, asshole,” a familiar voice answered immediately. “Cassie is missing, kidnapped last night in Atlanta. The family wants to use your team to bring her home with as little attention as possible.”
Sean rolled onto his back as his bloodshot red eyes attempted to focus on the ceiling. His heart pounded with fear, which he tried to calm with controlled breathing. “Details, Kevin, I need details.”
Kevin Devlyn, his former military training showing in the precise clipped tone with which he recited what was known, laid down the kidnapping as the police had determined, “Midnight in Atlanta. Cassie was headed home from an event at the Artmore Hotel near Midtown. Witnesses saw her enter the Arts Center train station to catch a MARTA train home. She never made it to ya’ll’s apartment near Georgia Tech. The security system hasn’t been disarmed since Wednesday afternoon when Cassie arrived from the lab. Security video from the building’s lobby shows her leave at seven, dressed to go out. Since then, silence, other than what the security cameras at the MARTA station caught. The film is at the police station. They haven’t released anything to us, but everyone’s certain it was a kidnapping. They left a fracking wall-sized ransom note, we do know that. Whoever did it, they’re pros.”
“Send me everything,” Sean demanded. “Book the corporate jet from Heathrow to Atlanta and I’ll have my firm make sure a car is waiting. We should arrive to the house by lunch your time.”
“Thanks for this. You know I wouldn’t have asked if it wasn’t Cassie.” Kevin’s words sounded earnest, but Sean learned a long time ago that the truth and Kevin Devlyn were not always acquainted with one another.
“No problem mate, just keep me in the loop while I’m in the air. I hate landing to bad news.” Sean clicked off and jumped out of bed, only to be blinded as his hangover caught up with him at last. Grimacing, he stomped to the kitchen, opened the small refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of water. This wasn’t at all the way he planned to spend the American holiday. Hiding out in London, where Thanksgiving was a quaint celebration, it didn’t bother him too much to be alone. To know Cassie was taken from a night out in Atlanta smacked pain deep inside his gut. She’d been at home. Their home. And he hadn’t known.
But now, she was kidnapped and her family wanted him to get her back. Pretty damn funny considering the big bucks they’d offered him a year ago to sign the damn divorce papers and go away. As if money was ever his motivator. He and Cassie made a deal and Sean always honored his side, even when it seemed his lovely bride went out of her way to avoid him. That was neither here or there. It wasn’t his fault the rest of the world had a problem with their marriage arrangements.
Shaking off the cobwebs, he ran through his mental checklist – passports, briefcase or overnight case? Better take the beige duffle; it had the full med kit. Flying international meant no guns, but they could run out to the Glock offices and see what they had new and untraceable. Of course, he could also run by the condo/office downtown that comprised the American headquarters of Ferguson/Callahan Security, Ltd. The gun room there was fully stocked with many of his personal favorites.
After running through the shower, Sean grabbed his satellite phone and pressed speed dial two, the letter ‘C’. One ring and the call went straight to voice mail. Her voice, that sensual alto with the genteel, debutant, Southern Belle accent reached out to snare him again more than four thousand miles away. “This is Dr. Cassandra Devlyn Ferguson. I’m away from my phone right now, or busy in the lab. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message and I’ll return your call soon. If this is Sean, Tá mo chroí istigh ionat.”
My heart is within yours, their favorite way of saying goodbye.
Even now, thinking about those blissful wintery days spent at his loft apartment in Shannon brought a grin to his lips. Watching the rain outside turn to snow, drinking whiskey, making love and trying to teach her Gaelic, the memories were priceless. Her southern accent somehow managed to make the rough Irish tongue sound sexy. He leaned his forehead against the window overlooking Hyde Park, swearing revenge on whatever idiot thought kidnapping the wife of an international mercenary was a good idea.
His next call was to his business associate in Atlanta. Joseph Callahan grew up in the city’s West End section, in those fading days of glory between when the neighborhood was a desirable place to live, and the decay which seemed to pervade so much of that area now. After graduating magna cum laude from Morehouse College, a tour of duty in Iraq left Callahan with talents that didn’t exactly translate well to civilian life: munitions expert, explosives, sniper. Sean met Joe one night at a bar in Miami. Each had been hired through a mutual friend to guard the same big wheel. The night ended with the two partnering up. Sean provided the clients. Joe hired the muscle and ran operations from their Atlanta downtown office/penthouse while finishing his law degree at Emory University.
Callahan answered the call at once. “Sean, I’ve had a very interesting phone call from your brother-in-law. Am I to assume you also had the same interesting discussion?”
“Indeed, my brother, indeed.” Sean grimaced. “What time does the jet leave for the States?”
“An hour and a half.” Joe’s voice was efficient, determined. “The driver will be there for you in twenty minutes. Anything you need other than a passport, we have on this end, so don’t worry about traveling light.”
“Excellent. What about weapons? Will it be possible to bring my case along?” Sean finished throwing socks, underwear and jeans into an overnight duffle bag. He opened one inside pocket to pull out a locked titanium ring box. It was there, just where it always traveled. He replaced it gingerly. Their wedding rings, which he had possession of, were always in his duffle when they were on a down slide. Cassie was notorious for losing things.
“I’ve managed to stockpile some of your favorites, boss. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Reservations at the Ritz as usual?” Joe always thought one step ahead. Sean liked that. It increased the odds both of them would stay alive.
“I suppose, I’m not sure where the trail will lead us but the Ritz is always a good place to start. See you soon, brother!” Sean clicked off and finished dressing.
Within two hours, he was winging his way over the Atlantic. Repeated calls to Cassie’s phone still went straight to voice mail but at seven am, Atlanta time, Sean left a message at last.
“This is Ferguson. You have our attention. I don’t know why you took her, and as long as she isn’t harmed I don’t care. But you injure one hair on her head, and you will never be able to run far enough away from me.”
Sitting on the Devlyn jet, Sean closed his eyes and tried to get a nap before landing. He’d no idea what type of shit he was walking into, both from the kidnappers as well as the cesspool of idiots that passed for his wife’s family. He groaned to himself as he drifted off to sleep, frustrated with his in-laws, and wondering what was coming next. If he’d only known what he was getting into that first night they met. He could still picture that Memorial Day seven years ago, when he’d met Kevin Devlyn while consulting on a communication project with the Navy. At the annual officer’s barbecue and dance at the Pensacola Air station, feeling very left out and a little homesick for his native Ireland, Sean spotted a beautiful girl talking with the base commander. She must have felt him staring, because as he gaped at her, she lifted her head and stared right back.
The instant their eyes locked, a zing ran up Sean’s spine and straight to his heart. She was breathtakingly beautiful. Medium height, with long black hair and deep, cornflower blue eyes, almond shaped and intelligent, she met his frank stare with a touch of humor in her expression. In that instant, the hardened soldier melted. Making his way across the commander’s back yard, Sean grabbed an extra glass of white wine.
He approached Cassie as she turned to leave. “I’ve heard ‘Wine brings great pleasure, and all pleasure is good.’ Or so sayeth Samuel Johnson. So, take your pleasure, my lovely lady.”
Taking the proffered glass, she tried so hard to keep a straight face. “Is that an Irish accent I detect? Because I must confess, it sounds like blarney of the highest sort. Thank you so much Mr. …?”
“Ferguson. The name’s Sean Ferguson.” He took her right hand and brought it up to his lips. “It is indeed a pleasure to meet you, Miss Devlyn.” His skin tingled where they were connected.
She cocked her head to one side. “How did you know who I am?”
With a straight face, Sean looked her in the eyes. “For one thing, my dear Miss Devlyn, I know your brother, Kevin. He’s informed me on more than one occasion that his sister is the most beautiful creature on earth. Who else would that be, except you?”
Her peals of laughter told him he had a chance. They spent the rest of the evening talking. When the sun rose the next day and found them standing beside her car in the parking lot still together, both admitted it was more than coincidence. They spent the entire day testing this new dynamic and by the next morning they vowed to never be apart.
It was her smile; he’d decided long ago. When she smiled, he saw a future with a wife and beautiful dark haired children riding fat ponies across the Irish countryside, the same way he and his sisters had done. Those lives didn’t always exist in his line of work. At that time in his life, Sean was Special Forces, a trained mercenary sent traveling wherever he was needed to manage mayhem and chaos. When the project in Florida was through, Sean took a leave of absence from his post to explore this new life with Cassie.
Sounds great, right! I think everyone will love this story. Set in contemporary Atlanta and Seattle areas, I will be running a contest when this one releases.