Since so many of you are asking about Charlie's story, here is an excerpt. Remember, this manuscript is unedited and subject to change. My editor, Goddess of the Corned, has yet to whip me into shape on this.
Blind Fire, Ghost Unit
No publish date yet.
They both grabbed a couple bags from the back of the truck and headed in. Charlie shouldered the door open and held it for Sam. Smiling to herself at the polite act and marking it down as something he’d do for any woman, Sam entered to be confronted by a huge German shepherd sitting in middle of the entry with his head cocked to one side.
Sam immediately put down her bags and sank to her knees in front of him. “Hi there, big guy,” she murmured as the massive dog greeted her with a lick to her face and lazy tail wag. They’d met several times before, so Sam had no fear of the doggie smile she received as she sank her fingers into the fur along his shoulders and let him sniff her. Apollo glanced up at Charlie as he stepped around them now carrying the bags Sam had set down too, but made no move to follow into the kitchen.
Charlie raised a brow at the dog and then chuckled. Apollo was a male. Apparently he understood the value of attention from a woman. By the time Charlie came back for the next load of groceries Sam had one of Apollo’s front paws in her hand and was gently inspecting the lacerations. Apollo, the hound, was nuzzling her cheek looking for sympathy. He was getting it too, the quiet exclamations of, “Oh, you poor baby. Such a brave boy,” were all punctuated with her rubbing her cheek into his muzzle as she looked at his paws.
Charlie snorted as he walked by so Apollo would know what he thought of all the sucking up. Apollo glanced at him again and put his head back down to Sam’s ear, giving a little whimper as Sam picked up the other paw. That did it big time. There was more dog-adoration from Sam as Apollo let his ears hang down limply and gave her the big-eyed look with his head lowered.
Charlie almost gawked in amazement. He’d never seen that pitiful look on the high energy animal that was so damn fearless he’d probably kill himself trying to complete his tasks when they were on the job.
To be picked for this type of work, a puppy needed to be intelligent, want to work and have the drive to do it. They are the dogs who’d be difficult for most families because they are so active and intelligent, when they get bored they find ways to amuse themselves. Often not a good thing, the dog will always find something to do. Like investigating what the people put in couch cushions to make it just right for K-9 naps. Course, after the investigation the cushions are in shreds and the dog is banned from the house. Well, in most houses.
Stepping around them again Charlie glared at Apollo who wouldn’t even look at him this time. Now he was on his side with Sam investigating his chest and abdomen for injuries. It equaled a very nice tummy rub and Apollo was not about to give it up.
“He’s faking ya know.” Charlie informed Sam as he came back through for the last load of groceries. “He’s been looked at by the best vet in the business before we came home.”
“I can see he’s had some good work done.” Sam acknowledged, “but he’s just so cute.”
“Cute. Did you hear that, ya big faker?” Charlie directed his derision toward Apollo as he paused to regard them. “You are a hound, Apollo. She’s my woman and don’t you forget it.”
Apollo looked up at Charlie from the doggie bliss position of having his belly scratched and gave a low woof, then turned his attention to Sam and whined pitifully again. It worked like a charm. Sam bent over him and crooned into his face while she rubbed his belly.
“Awww, don’t listen to him sweetie, you are cute and such a good boy.”
Apollo licked her cheek and closed his eyes, dismissing Charlie. Charlie snorted again and went for the last load of groceries.
His house was originally a small fifties-style bungalow built on one of South Central Florida’s many lakes. Since it was in the central part of the state, the lake had remained undeveloped save for a few little houses along it. Charlie suspected that was about to change and he’d managed to buy property on both sides of his at very reasonable rates. He needed a lot of room to work with a K-9 partner, and a lot of privacy to do the other things he did.
Returning with the last of the groceries he stepped around them again and headed back into the kitchen. When he bought the place it had been a neglected rental so the renovations required were extensive. That naturally led him to make the additions he wanted.
Now the kitchen would have made June Clever proud. He hadn’t wanted to change the natural beauty of the era so he’d had the entire place restored to fifties perfection. Though the appliances looked original, they were state of the art in function. The front room, entry and kitchen had been subtly expanded, but it was the back of the house that had changed dramatically.
He’d enlarged the Florida room over-looking the lake and added a large deck off it. There was enough of a slope down to the lake that, with the additions, he had a natural space under the deck where he could pull the truck and work on things without worrying about aerial surveillance. Not that he really expected any, but hell, didn’t hurt to be prepared. He’d also added a master bedroom and bath big enough to be comfortable for a man his size, making the original his office.
“You done coddling the faker in there?” He called through the door while he started putting away the groceries.
“Hey, he’s a hero too,” Samantha defended herself as she stood and grinned down at Apollo who was now sitting beside her waging his tail. She headed into the kitchen and over to the sink to wash her hands, doing a surgical scrub up to her elbows as Charlie put groceries away. Finished she turned to Charlie. “Your turn. Let me see those injuries.”
“I come after the dog?” Charlie shot back at her as he closed the fridge. “How am I supposed to maintain alpha status with that pecking order?” He balled up the empty grocery bags and jammed them in the pantry, “We better straighten that sh... ah, explain it to Apollo.
“This is what I’m talkin’ about,” Charlie murmured as he walked right into her using his body to press her back against the counter. His arms came around Samantha to pull her upper body flush against his as he grinned into her surprised face.
“This is for the dog?” Sam questioned around a smile.
“Yeah. He needs a firm understanding of who’s in line for attention from you,” Charlie confirmed as his mouth lowered to hers. The kiss was a soft touch that nuzzled as they both chuckled.
“Charlie,” Samantha whispered into his mouth. “Apollo isn't paying attention. You can stop.”
“Samantha,” Charlie whispered back as his lips drifted down her cheek to explore her neck. “I don’t give a damn about the dog right now.” The luscious female pressed up against him took his breath away. She was sunshine and moonbeams captured in human form. The woman a rough commando like him watched from a distance.