Thank you for stopping by That’s What I’m Talking About for today’s Mistletoe Madness spot. For a line up of all of the authors featured here and at The Book Nympho, and to enter the overall event giveaway for a free book (two chances to win!), please click on the image above or go to the kickoff post on November 26, 2014.
Today’s Mistletoe Madness author is…
Book: Her Lone Wolf
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Jen! When you asked if I’d like to take part in the holiday-themed event, I jumped at the chance. This fun, little story is part of a trio of stories called An X-OPS Christmas. You can find the other two stories, Clayne Goes Christmas Shopping and Clayne and Danica’s First Christmas on my website at http://paigetylertheauthor.com/BooksXOPSChristmas.html
Hope you’ll check them out! And hope everyone loves The X-OPS Christmas Party!
An X-OPS Christmas Short Story – The X-OPS Christmas Party
Copyright © Paige Tyler, 2014
A lot of things had changed since Danica Beckett worked for the super-secret Department of Covert Ops, including the annual office Christmas party. Thanks to Kendra Carlsen, the DCO’s resident behavioral scientist-slash-training officer, they’d always had one, but back when Danica was there it used to be held in one of the big conference rooms. Now, it was in the compound’s even bigger cafeteria. Danica smiled as she took in the colorful lights and beautifully decorated tree. Kendra would have made a fantastic event planner. Maybe she’d missed her calling.
“Hey! I didn’t know you were here already.”
Danica turned to see a smiling Kendra coming toward her, two cups of egg nog in her hands. She handed one to Danica, then looked around.
“He’s helping Tanner out with something,” Danica said. “He called a few minutes ago and said he was on his way.”
Danica would have rather waited for her fiancé, wolf shifter Clayne Buchanan, but he’d insisted she go ahead and that he’d meet her there. Clayne hadn’t said what he was helping Tanner Howland with, but she suspected it was something about helping the lion hybrid control his inner beast. Although considering Clayne was still learning to control his, she wasn’t sure he’d be the best teacher.
She sipped her egg nog and covertly looked around the room.
“If you’re looking for Dick, he’s not here,” Kendra said.
How the heck had Kendra known she was looking for him? Because Deputy Director Dick Coleman would rather run her over with a bus than see her at an official DCO function, even if she didn’t technically work for the organization anymore. She didn’t care for Dick, either, so there was no love lost there. And while she wouldn’t back down from a confrontation with him, she avoided it whenever she could.
“Come on,” Kendra said. “I’ll introduce you to whoever you don’t already know.”
As it turned out, Danica knew almost everyone from when she worked there two years ago. The only newcomer was the Russian doctor Zarina Sokolov.
Feline shifter Ivy Donovan and her husband-slash-partner Landon came over to join them a few minutes later. Danica still couldn’t believe how good the two were at pretending they weren’t a married couple when they were at work. But they were damn good at hiding their feelings for each other. Danica wasn’t sure if she and Clayne could have pulled it off.
John Loughlin, the director of the DCO, came over to say hello to Danica as well. She still owed her former boss big for getting her and Clayne back together. John claimed sending Clayne to help her catch the shifter serial killer who had terrorized Sacramento was just happenstance, but she didn’t buy it. John knew about everything that went on in his organization.
That only made her more worried that maybe John really was behind all of the shadowy crap going on at the DCO since she’d left…like those new hybrids that were popping up all over the place.
“You remember Trevor Maxwell and Lucy Kwan, right?” Kendra asked as she led Danica over to the two shifters.
Danica remembered Trevor, the coyote shifter who ran a counter-espionage team for the DCO along with two other ex-military guys. She never remembered him hanging out with the feline shifter, though. It seemed obvious they were a couple. She could tell by the way they kept looking at each other out of the corner of their eyes when they thought no one was looking. They made a cute couple, and since they weren’t “partners” on the job, Danica guessed they didn’t have to worry about getting around the DCO’s no-fraternization policy.
When she mentioned it to Kendra after the two shifters had left, the training officer laughed.
“Trevor and Lucy? They’re not a couple,” she said. “That would be like dogs and cats sleeping together.”
“I don’t know about that,” Danica agreed. “There’s a definite vibe between them.”
Kendra’s gaze settled on the two shifters again. Trevor and Lucy were on the far side of the cafeteria sipping eggnog and chatting, all the while keeping a very respectable distance between them.
“You really think they’re seeing each other?” Kendra asked.
Danica shrugged. “I’m not sure if they are, but I know they want to. None of my business either way.”
Kendra nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe I’ll run them through my compatibility program and see what it comes up with.”
“What compatibility program?” Danica asked.
Kendra grinned. “The one that said you and Clayne were absolutely perfect for each other…two years ago.”
Danica groaned. “Don’t remind me how stupid I’ve been. I feel bad enough.”
“You and Clayne are back together now. That’s the important thing.”
Kendra was right, of course. But Danica still felt like crying every time she thought of how she’d been forced to leave Clayne…and all the time they’d wasted.
“Crap,” Kendra muttered. “Dick’s here and he’s headed our way.”
Danica’s hand tightened on her cup. She should have known he’d show his ugly face.
“Kendra.” The deputy director gave Kendra a nod before looking at Danica. “Agent Beckett. You’ve got nerve, don’t you? Showing up at a DCO function.”
Danica gave him a frosty smile. Since she and Clayne had destroyed the evidence the jackass had been holding over their heads for so long, there was no reason to play nice anymore.
Dick didn’t smile back. In fact, he looked like he wanted to wrap his hands around her neck and choke the life from her. But that wasn’t going to happen. Because Dick was smart enough to know that Clayne would kill him in return.
They were at an impasse, which was just fine with Danica.
“Why wouldn’t I be here?” she asked. “My fiancé works for the DCO. Besides, I’m a part-time employee.”
“For now,” Dick said, then turned and walked away.
“Jerk,” Kendra said when he was out of earshot. “I made sure not to send him an email about the party. I don’t know who told him.”
Danica waved her hand. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not afraid of him.”
“Well, I am.” Kendra gave her a pointed look. “And you should be, too. Dick might know he can’t touch you or Clayne directly, but that won’t keep him from finding another way to hurt you.”
Danica knew that, too, but she wasn’t going to live in fear of the man. If he, or someone he sent, came after them, she and Clayne would deal with it…as a team.
Kendra sighed. “Sorry. I wanted you to come here and have a good time, not have to deal with Dick and his crap.”
Danica shook her head. “Forget about it. I am having a good time. It would take a lot more than a toad like Dick to get me out of the Christmas spirit.”
Kendra smiled. “Good, because there are a few more people I want to introduce you to.”
Danica was all set to follow wherever Kendra led, but the training officer suddenly stopped.
“Declan just came in,” she said. “Can you hang tight a second? I need to talk to him.”
Danica laughed at the way Kendra’s blue eyes lit up at the sight of the big bear shifter Declan MacBride. “Go ahead. I’m going to get some more eggnog.”
But when Danica turned to head for the buffet table, she found her handsome fiancé standing there, two cups of eggnog already in his hands. He always could read her mind.
She ignored the drinks and moved into Clayne’s arms instead, standing up on tiptoe to kiss him, not caring who saw. That was the best part of being an FBI agent who only worked for the DCO when it suited John. She didn’t have to follow all the stupid DCO rules about partners not fraternizing.
Clayne grinned down at her. “Sorry I took so long to get here.”
“No problem. Kendra was introducing me to all the new people in the DCO.” Danica took one of the cups from him. “What were you and Tanner up to?”
“I was helping him do some Christmas shopping.”
She stared at him over the rim of the cup. “Christmas shopping? Are you serious?”
Clayne shrugged and took a swig of eggnog. “Yeah. You don’t have to look so surprised.” His mouth quirked. “You should have seen me on Black Friday. I rocked it.”
Rocked it? Okay, who was this guy and where was the real Clayne?
“So, that’s where you were when I went into the office that morning?” she asked.
He grinned, looking like the cat that licked the cream. Then again, maybe the Big Bad Wolf would be more appropriate.
“Uh-huh.” Clayne’s eyes flared gold as he pulled her close and kissed her again. “And I can’t wait to see your face when you open what I bought you.”
Danica couldn’t wait, either.
Don’t forget to check out the other two stories in the X-OPS Christmas Trio at http://paigetylertheauthor.com/BooksXOPSChristmas.html
Read Clayne and Danica’s action-packed story in HER LONE WOLF (X-OPS 2), RT Reviews Award Nominee for Best Paranormal Romantic-Suspense!
Leaving him was impossible…
It took everything she had for FBI Special Agent Danica Beckett to walk away from the man she loved. But if she wants to save his life, she has to keep her distance. Now, with a killer on the loose and the stakes higher than ever before, the Department of Covert Ops is forcing these former lovers into an uneasy alliance…whether they like it or not.
Seeing her again is even worse…
The last thing Clayne Buchanan wants is to be shackled to the woman who broke his heart. She gets under his skin in a way no one ever has and makes him want things he has no right to anymore. All he has to do is suffer through this case and he can be free of her for good. But when Clayne finds out why Danica left in the first place, everything he’s tried to bury comes roaring back-and there’s no way this wolf shifter is going to let her get away this time.
And don’t forget to check out the other books in the X-OPS Series!
HER PERFECT MATE (X-OPS 1)
HER SECRET AGENT (Free X-OPS Novella)
HER WILD HERO (X-OPS 3)
Enter the World of X-OPS!
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/XOPSSeriesbyPaigeTylerAuthor
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Now, head over the THE BOOK NYMPHO to see today’s feature with Jill Myles/Jessica Clare.