Phoenix Rising is book 16 in the Reed Security Series and it is suggested they be read in order.
The men and women of Reed Security are back, but after all the turmoil of the past year, how do they adapt and move forward. For some, it’s easy, but others, the past year is only the beginning of what they will have to deal with. Some of them were shot and almost died. Morgan and Chance were taken and tortured in their own respects and now must deal with the after affects. Payton was torn from her mother and spent a year and a half without her. The wives lost their jobs and many had to run from their families and friends to keep them safe. But one thing remained the same through all of this, they are each others’ family and will do anything to help each other through. They are Reed Security, and they will rise from the ashes.
Targeted Age Group:: 25-45
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book was inspired by the Reed Security series, but also from an interview I did with a veteran about PTSD. When I spoke with him, I felt it was really important for readers to understand what military personnel deal with during active duty and when they return home. His story was so powerful that I really felt it needed to be shared.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
This series is a spin-off of my first series, For The Love Of A Good Woman. We first read about this security company during the second book, Cole. By the fifth book, the series really came to life. After I finished that series, I started the Reed Security series. Each of the characters build off one another and their stories continue through each book. Phoenix Rising is mostly about Chance and Morgan, but is about the whole company rising from the ashes after a year of turmoil.
“Oh my God,” I groaned as I sat down on my bed. Cap had been serious when he said he moved my beds and pillows into the panic room, and I had never been so grateful to that man. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the softness of the mattress and the clean smell since I hadn’t used these beds before. But the longer I laid there, the more I thought about that damn dirt floor that I had slept on for a long year.
The smell of dirt replaced the clean smell of my hypoallergenic pillows and the softness of the bed was replaced with the feeling of bugs crawling over my body. The blanket felt scratchy against my skin to the point that I started to wiggle to get the feel off me.
“Everything okay over there?” Morgan asked. I opened my eyes and sat up, trying to appear completely normal.
“Fine, just breaking in the new bed.”
“I can think of better ways to do that than wiggling around.” She wiggled her eyes suggestively but then Payton walked in the room, halting our conversation.
“I think I’ll go take a shower. I feel gross after the drive.”
I wasn’t fooling her. She knew that my obsession with showers was growing by the day. There was rarely a day that I took less than six showers. Every time, I rubbed my skin clean until I felt like I would be scraping the bone.
“Sure, I’m going to get Payton settled into her room and then unpack.”
I nodded and headed for the bathroom. I couldn’t get my clothes off fast enough, and under the water. I glanced at the clothes strewn on the floor and was tempted to just throw them away. Even the washer didn’t feel like it would get them clean enough.
I picked up the washcloth and poured on the soap. As I looked down at my hands, I could see every slight dirt mark and every crevice that could hold even the smallest amount of dirt, and started scrubbing. The bathroom was completely steamed up when Morgan stepped into the shower and wrapped her arms around me.
“Vanessa is with Kayla, so she said she would keep an eye on Payton.” She took the washcloth from my hands and anger thrummed through me.
“I don’t need a fucking babysitter,” I said as I slammed the handle down on the water. She snatched my hand and pulled it to her.
“Hey, I didn’t say that you did.” She turned the water back on and filled the washcloth with soap again. “There’s nothing wrong with me wanting to be here to support you. Do you think that I don’t understand?”
“I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on in your head. We haven’t shared enough for me to know what happened.”
She nodded and turned my palm over, slowly washing the pads of my fingers. “The first week I was at Wes’s house, he kept me in a cellar. There was only a bucket for me to pee in and a small window for light. That first night was terrifying and the worst I thought it would ever be.”
I looked up into her eyes, but she didn’t show me what she was feeling. She was completely numb right now.
“When a woman finally came down with dinner, I begged her to help me escape. I told her that I had been kidnapped and I was trying to get back to my daughter, but she just kept ignoring me. Wes came down the stairs and he shot her right in front of me.” I grabbed her chin gently and lifted her head so I could look into her eyes that were swimming with tears. “He killed her because I tried to get her to help me.”
“He killed her because he was a monster.”
She shook her head slightly and continued cleaning my hand. “He left her there for almost a week. The smell…I couldn’t eat or sleep, and when the rats came…” She took a deep, shuddering breath and wiped at her face. “What I’m trying to say is that I understand. I can’t sit on the floor because I slept there for a week with blood all around me. When we were in Colorado, one of the kids spilled a drink and the way it spread across the floor, it was like I was back in that cell. I just stood there staring, trying not to puke. Cara had to lead me out of the room. I guess she recognized the look on my face.”
I didn’t respond and she didn’t say anything else the rest of my shower. She cleaned my entire body thoroughly, knowing that I needed to feel like the dirt was gone. I wrapped my arms around her and held her close to me after we were done. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have a woman like her, someone that understood me so well and didn’t judge me for it. She was my angel.
But even my angel wouldn’t be able to save me, and deep down, I knew that things were going to get worse before they got better. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself yet. In my head, I was strong and I could pull myself out of this funk. I just had to put on a good face in front of people. Demons would always be around. I knew that from when I was in the SEALs. But it was how you dealt with all that pain and horror after that determined the course of your life. I had learned to bottle it all up once before and I could do it again.
So, that’s what I did. I ignored the images when they entered my head. I forced them from my mind and smiled along with everyone else. I sat and had dinner with Raegan’s parents and enjoyed the home cooked meal. Everything appeared fine. That night, I did the same thing I did every night. I fucked Morgan and pretended to fall asleep with her. I held her in my arms as long as I could, until the demons broke through my mind.
The whip cracked against my skin.
I closed my eyes and fought the pain.
The heat pressed in on me from all sides, suffocating me until I felt like I would pass out.
I forced myself to take a deep breath and fight the onslaught of panic.
The dark night loomed above me. The deadened sound of the night was a reminder of how alone I was and the fact that I would never see anyone I loved again. I would die in this hole, staring at a dark sky.
I sat on the edge of the bed, head in my hands as I tried to stop the images flashing before me. The nightmares were terrible. Some nights I was fine, but most nights I only managed a few hours of sleep. I scrubbed at my face and tried to shake the feel of sweat and dirt off, but it wasn’t working. Suffocation wrapped around my chest until I had to get up and head into the bathroom so I didn’t wake up Morgan when I started freaking the fuck out.
I slid down the wall, my arms gripping my body to control the shivers racing through me, and hung my head between my knees as I tried to draw a full breath. The heat from that damn coffin I had been stuck in was overwhelming. Logically, I knew that I wasn’t in it, but my head wasn’t exactly on board with what my body was feeling. Tremors wracked my body and spots filled my vision. As much as I tried, I couldn’t pull myself out of whatever the hell this was. I felt myself slipping down to the floor and I curled in a ball, praying that the heat, sweat, and fear would be over soon.
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