Good news! I have finally started writing Eleanor D’Angelo’s love story. If you aren’t sure who she is, you need to read my Alpha Phoenix series. Eleanor is the last remaining unwed D’Angelo sibling. And this fall she gets her very own fated mate.

This one has been a long time coming. Thanks to everyone who gave me a nudge. Eleanor has now completed her surgical residency, earning a promotion and a new posting in California. Her fated mate is a werewolf with some issues and a ton of secrets.

This story will be the start of a new phoenix series, so I am on the hunt for a new series name. It needs to be hot but not overt. And it must tell readers at a glance that they are about to read steamy, paranormal romantic suspense with a happy ending.

This is the moment when I should whip out a link to a survey. But I would rather have your unprompted ideas. When I have a list, I can ask for votes.

Please, please leave your suggestions in the comments. Also your times for the jigsaw. Or anything else you want to tell me.

Here is a little taste of Eleanor and Rory’s story. Working title: PHOENIX AFIRE.

Fairfield, CA

Maj. Eleanor D’Angelo~

“I don’t see any need for you to get involved in a search for a thief,” Ford Humboldt’s voice was cool and crisp. That sharp undercurrent of distaste in his voice suggested that she was a fool. Or that Rory Packard was one.

Eleanor D’Angelo’s eyes sought those of the wolf. Rory’s mouth twisted faintly, and his broad shoulders bulged. But his silence said it all. He didn’t believe this was a situation you could explain to someone who didn’t instinctively grasp the concept of loyalty.

Eleanor tried anyway. “I’m Cressida’s friend.” She turned her palms upward. “Her sister is missing. Cressida’s deployed. Someone has to look for Tammy.”

“That’s what the police are for,” Ford bit out. “There is no need for you to play hero, Eleanor. You are a doctor, not a detective. What’s Laidlaw to you anyway?”

Eleanor supposed Ford meant that Capt. Cressida Laidlaw not been born into an established military family. As both Eleanor and Ford had. Eleanor had grown up on Air Force bases. Had attended the prestigious Air Force Academy. Enjoyed the perks of her illustrious name.

Eleanor’s father was a five star general. Two of her brothers were colonels. Her sister was a major, as she was by virtue of completing her specialization in orthopedic medicine. The D’Angelo family medals were as legendary as their exploits. She basked in a lot of reflected glory.

Cressida Laidlaw had attended college as an Air Cadet. She was earning promotion on her own merits. She and Eleanor had become friends because they lived across the hall from each other. But in Eleanor’s book, a friend was a friend was a friend.

“The police aren’t searching the foothills,” Eleanor pointed out. “They think Tammy has headed to the city. If she’s lost in the hills, she could be lying hurt in a ravine.” She was going hunting, whatever Ford Humboldt said. But it was obvious that her decision had cost her his good opinion. No loss, as it turned out.

“It’s not just the money.” Rory had decided to do some explaining after all. “She took two of my dogs. I want them back.”

Tammy Laidlaw had disappeared four days earlier. According to Rory, right after he had figured out that someone was draining the bank account where donations to his service dog operation were accumulating. The obvious suspect was his administrative assistant. So it wasn’t exactly a surprise to find her missing. The oddity was that she had vanished with two of the rescue dogs he was in the process of training.

Ford was incredulous. “Don’t you get them from a shelter?”

Rory looked down his nose at Ford. There was quite a way to look. Packard was tall and his nose was long. Humboldt bristled. Eleanor knew she should intervene. The men were squaring up like junkyard dogs preparing to go for each other’s throats. Ford was assuming that because Rory had never risen above captain, he would defer to Maj. Humboldt. She wasn’t convinced that would make the remotest difference to the wolf.

Rory had the lean muscular build of a guy who worked out regularly and did hard physical labor every day. His feral amber eyes looked out from beneath dark brows. His square jaw was already showing signs of needing another shave. When was the moon going to be full anyway? Werewolves always had bad hair days around then.

Ford Humboldt was no kind of a shifter. He was merely one intact male reacting to being challenged by another. He was six inches shorter than Packard, a little shorter than Eleanor, in point of fact. He was fit. He kept himself in shape. But in a straight-up fight, she’d back Packard every time. He had served in the elite and dangerous Air Force Combat Control. He might be retired, but he wasn’t the play-nice type.

Not that she was going to let it come to a brawl. Cressida’s one-bedroom apartment was no venue for a fight. Packard had already sucked all the oxygen out of the stale air. Eleanor had opened the windows when she came to water the plants, but even so the place felt close. And now the air reeked of testosterone.

Besides, this was her decision. She pushed a little persuasion into her voice. No point in being a phoenix if you didn’t use your talents. “I’m off until Monday at 0700 hours. We’ll see what we can turn up in Short Mesa over the weekend. You have tracking dogs, Rory?”

Rory’s hackles stood down. “Sure.” His deep voice was easy. But he kept those hard eyes on Humboldt. “Mixed breed. Just like me. Just like Sprocket and Jujube. And Tammy and Cressida.” His voice was as hard as his eyes. Resolute. The voice of the man-in-charge. The pissed off man-in-charge. Whatever he was to Cressida, he had taken Ford’s aspersions personally.

Eleanor felt cold fingers on her neck. Whenever her father or her brothers used a voice like that, sensible people trembled. Ford’s brown eyes narrowed. He felt an undercurrent of disrespect or threat, but he was too dumb to roll over. Book smarts but no brains, as any of her brothers would say.

“Sprocket and jujube?” sneered Ford. Under his crisp uniform jacket, his shoulders tensed.

Belatedly Eleanor grasped that Ford was relying on that uniform and his oak leaves to protect him from violence, even as he goaded Rory. She glanced at the wolf and shook her head a fraction of an inch. “I’ll get changed and we can set out for Short Mesa.” She was practically singing.

Ford tried again. “You’re a surgeon, Eleanor. Wouldn’t it be better to arrange official Search and Rescue? They know what they’re doing.”

As if she wasn’t as well trained as any S&R volunteer. If Tammy had taken two dogs into the foothills, Eleanor had a better chance than anyone in a helicopter of locating her. She could fly lower than any aircraft. Particularly if she took lesser phoenix. In lesser she was about the size of a red tailed hawk. In greater, she was as large as a small plane.

Between Rory’s nose and her preternatural eyesight, they would find Cressida’s sister. Alive or dead. “Let me put some water on these plants. You might as well go home, Ford. I’ll meet you in the lobby, Rory.”

Rory thrust himself away from the wall where he had been leaning. “I’ll wait for you downstairs.” He was gone before she could comment.

Some of the tension in the air evaporated. Ford’s handsome face fell into concerned lines. She felt him decide to manipulate her. She sighed inwardly. She had had such high hopes for this relationship. On paper, Maj. Humboldt was everything she was looking for in a man.

Tall enough so she didn’t tower over him. A gal who stood six-one in her sock feet often found herself looking down on guys. Soft spoken. Willing to listen. Respectful of her identity and opinions. Well Rory had just exploded that fantasy, revealing Ford to be just another one in a long line of brownnoses who wanted to tie themselves to the D’Angelo coattails.

“The son of a bitch wants you,” seethed Ford.

“I don’t poach other women’s men,” she said through her teeth.

This is material not previously published. ©Isadora Montrose, 2019

Comment below to give me your opinion of this excerpt!

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