About the Book
Some things are worth more than they appear. Aeron Lorelei finds herself thrust back undercover once more. This time it’s to secure the freedom and safety of three generations of one family. Frei, Renee, and Aeron have to pull off their most difficult challenge yet. Infiltrating Frei’s hostile past means maintaining a cover, protecting the POIs, and revealing the truth before it’s concealed for good. Only then do they have a shot at ensuring the POI’s freedom. All Aeron has to do is help save a family, stay true to her cover identity, wrestle the feelings of everyone around her, and wipe a family history from file . . . In other words, business as usual. True gold lies within noble hearts.
“Action/Thriller/Mystery with supernatural thrown in and the slowest burning romance ever written, these books really are a delightful Pandora’s box of joy. The characters, their interactions, the very writing just oozes love, laughter and affection, and despite bloody special agent combat and child trafficking horrors, they make you smile with the warmth they imbue.” — Velvet Lounger, Lesbian Reading Room
What makes your heart beat?
My heart was full of restless energy ’cause I’d been through a lot since I was sixteen. I weren’t like a lot of folks: I’d been locked up in a mental institution for a crime I didn’t commit; got released—over a decade later—Returned to my hometown and got targeted by somebody real mean who hurt young girls and got everybody thinking it was me. It took me hurtling up a mountain to prove I was innocent . . . and when I thought that’d earned me some peace and quiet, I was emotionally blackmailed into joining the Criminal Investigations Group—CIG.
It didn’t stop there. I’d nearly frozen away in boot camp, been snowed in a Colorado town with a military grade lunatic and a commander who was out-to-lunch upstairs—Still weren’t sure how I got through that one. Then, I’d been part of a team who brought down a slave academy in Texas—We’d rescued every child, but Jäger, another creep, lured out one of the children, Jessie, which saw us hurrying halfway across the States to get to her . . . and her mom. It was hard to process it all, especially as we were gonna head back into the slavery network to try and make sure Jessie, her mom, and her grandparents all stayed free.
Yeah, I’d run from tornados, avalanches, clung by the fingertips from cliffs and buildings; I’d been shot at, chased, driven to the point of collapse, half-drowned, half-crazy, and somehow scrabbled through. It had been some journey so far but folks close to my heart filled it with the strength to keep me dusting myself off.
Felt good to say that. Back in Serenity Hills—the institution I got locked in—I thought I had no one but, wow, had that changed. I needed a chart just to keep track of them.
First there was my family: My half-sisters; my mom and dad, who were the ex-head of CIG, now mayor of my hometown, and police chief respectively; Aunt Bess, also ex-CIG, and I was pretty sure might have been in charge too—Guessed it was a Lorelei tradition—who I’d just found out about. She was just like me, six foot and then some but she didn’t have the bulk I did. Maybe she had been built like Samson a while ago but now she was supposed to be a respectable retired lady . . . made me chuckle just thinking ’bout that; and Nan—How’d I explain her in a nut stash? She was a whole load of love, heckling, and angel in a whispering breeze. She’d sweep on in from Etherspace to guide, chastise, and save my butt. When I’d been alone, she’d reached out and reminded me I was loved.
Some friends were a whole lot like family too. The current head of CIG, General Ursula Frei, was someone I loved as much as if she had the Lorelei name. She was so cool it gave me goosebumps. An ex-slave, now a general and mom of mini-Frei . . . Jessie. She had some sneaky skills and inner strength more steely than her mood. Sure, she had an impenetrable outer shell but inside, she was all hero.
And then there was my co-crazy person—a woman who confused the molasses out of me, shut me out, let me back in, rescued me, believed in me and then confounded me all over again: Commander Renee Black. She was my boss and an incredible woman who had more stubbornness than Mrs. Squirrel on a nut stash but she did something special to my heart. When it had been frozen with loneliness, she’d reached in and given me warmth; when I’d been locked up in mind, body, and spirit, she’d baby stepped me to freedom, and she’d needed every bit of that stubborn-headed heart of hers to help shake me from my shackles and get me moving again.
And me? Well, I’m a little bit different. Some people saw Aeron Lorelei—the ex-con, or Agent Lorelei—the CIG protection officer, or even Alex Riley—my cover when I’d been at the slave academy. They all saw sides but not many knew what lay at my core.
I was an empath: I saw the past and present of the folks around me; I read their moods, felt their feelings and, sometimes, when they asked, I could displace their ailments.
So maybe that’s why my heart was restless. I’d been through a lot of different things at twenty seven, but mentally and emotionally, I felt a lot younger. I was institutionalized and being a protection officer with CIG weren’t getting easier.
Nan talked to me a lot about it being a process. That I just needed to figure out what made my heart soar and what to let go but Frei was counting on me to be clear, to operate like an elite agent, only I weren’t sure I could. I wanted to support her but since I’d got my burdens back in full, it was harder to control them.
That restless feeling kept nagging at me and, the more I shoved it away, the more it poked at me—an energy that prickled at me to be free. My heart seemed to know more than I did but, when faced with everybody else’s feelings and under pressure to be that calm, controlled agent at Frei’s side, how would I know, really know, if it was my heart speaking or somebody else’s?