Thursday, February 13, 2020

Awesome Excerpt Thursday - The Prophet and the Snow Angel - Editor's Choice!

Blurb - Two Turtle Doves must save the throne of the most powerful church in the world before a terrorist act destroys it and all hope for Christmas.
When Navy Seal Team leader Charlie Stein is paired with Operations Analyst Aria Lockett, he is annoyed. Having the burden of an Analyst on a field mission is not a headache he wants to endure.

Operations Analyst Aria Lockett has been tracking The White Guard Terrorist cell for years. When they finally get a strong lead on an upcoming attack, she is ready to put an end to their terrorist reign once and for all.

With an imminent attack scheduled for Christmas Day in Rome, the pair must work together to thwart the threat. The unease between them quickly turns to trust and unexpected desire. When the terror cell is alerted to their plan, can they remain focused and save Christmas, or will their growing feelings cloud their judgment and destroy the path of hope?
~

She slept in his arms — something Stein hadn’t experienced in a long time. Having a wanted body against his, he found it unexpectantly soothing. Stein admitted only to himself he didn’t see the heated encounter coming. Yes, Aria Lockett is a beautiful, brilliant, dedicated, bad ass. However, she also seemed walled, guarded, and complicated. He avoided complicated. His life was complicated enough. He didn’t need any drama or distractions. He’d seen enough of his teammates try to hold on to relationships and crash and burn. It was ugly.
Shifting as not to wake her, Stein rolled out of bed and took a shower. He walked into the room, wrapped in a towel. He noticed Aria on her back, staring at the ceiling. Stein wasn’t sure what to do. Did he get back in bed? Did he get dressed? Did he offer to get coffee? What?

“That was doctor Angell, they are getting close.”

“That’s great news.”

“Yeah. But doesn’t solve our problem,” Aria rose from the bed walking past Stein to the bathroom. “I’m’ going to get cleaned up.”

He watched her close the door, and Stein processed the transition. The bathroom door opened, and she stepped out. “Can you do me a favor and start some coffee?”

“Sure.” He stated as he put a shirt on.

* * * *

Aria appeared from the bedroom dressed and ready. Her hair twisted into a ponytail. She immediately went to the couch and her computer.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”.
“Where did you find out about The White Guard? Before now, I’ve never heard of them.”

Her expression fell a little. She scratched the back of her head. She met his eyes and walked over to the coffee bar pouring herself a cup of coffee.  She took a sip and turned facing him leaning against the bar.

“A few years ago, I was in Pennsylvania visiting my family. It was my youngest niece’s confirmation. The whole family was there and I, of course, was late. I had just flown in from an assignment in Vienna, and well you know how it goes. When I finally arrived at the church, it was already gone. There were no survivors,” her focus on the carpet, he guessed reliving the memory in her mind. “Someone had wrapped the retaining columns with C4 to ensure there was no escape. Feds got a letter a day later claiming responsibility.”

“What did it say?”

“It had the address and name of the church, and then the words White Guard typed out. No prints, no demands. That was it,” an emotion in her voice he didn’t recognize.recognize “That church, my niece’s church was the eighth church in which The White Guard claimed responsibility. Since then, there have been three more. All different, all unique explosive methods, dates, locations. There is no discernible pattern. Nothing to link any of them except the letters. So, I took a leave and asked for reassignment to an analyst desk.”

“To find them.”

“To stop them.”

“Aria—”

“This is the closest we have ever gotten to any real proof they exist. Up until yesterday, all the information has been a rumor, theory, and stupid luck. Nothing I can prove or prosecute.”

“What do you have so far?” Stein asked.

“Nothing concrete.”

“No, I mean, what do you have? Fuck what you can prosecute, what do you know?”

Aria walked to the couch, pulling out a rolled piece of paper. She unrolled it as she spoke. “I have identified six separate cells.”

“Based on what?”

“Chatter, message boards, rumor, whispers, again nothing concrete. The only concrete facts I have are the locations and the victims—” her eyes focused, and Stein knew something was happening.

“Aria, what are you thinking?”

“I told you yesterday eight years ago, the focus of the Guard moved from religion in general to a focus on the Catholic Church. What if it isn’t random?”

“You just said—” Stein started not following her train of thought.

“What if it is about the victims? What if these are murders?”

“The bombings targeted certain people, and the other victims are just collateral damage.”


“We need the victim list for every church bombing in the past eight years.”

                                              * * * *


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