USA Today Bestselling Author
When one door closes …
second chances open another …
Ethan was lost after a major accident abruptly shifted him from a military life to a civilian one, from working with dogs to odd jobs … In that time, he’d spent months healing from his physical injuries. When he connects with Badger and the rest of his Titanium Corp. group of former SEALs, Badger offers Ethan an opportunity he can’t refuse. A chance to do the work he used to do … with a twist.
Cinnamon works from home as a project manager plus is heavily involved in global dog rescues—dogs of all kinds. When Ethan walks into the next door’s vet’s office with an injured shepherd in his arms, she sees another lost soul—just like the canine ones she helps.
Ethan knows he’s about to take a dangerous step, but he’s on the job, and no one—on the job or not—hurts animals while he’s around. This poor shepherd has taken enough abuse, and Ethan fears she is only the tip of a nightmare he’s determined to uncover. But he knows she’s going to lead him in the right direction.
He has his sights set on saving one dog in particular, Sentry: K9 File 01.
Now that the SEALs of Steel series has ended we see the Badger’s new company Titanium Corp. take on a different kind of project. At the request of their former Commander they are going to look for and check on some military K9’s that had left the system and fell through the cracks.
When asking who, Ethan’s name came to the forefront as he had been a K9 handler and trainer. They just had to convince him to do it.
Where he’s sent to look is Levi’s territory, so we get to see a few of the Legendary Security guys. Gunner is a friend of Ethan’s as well and has a place for him to rent while he’s looking for the first dog on the list, Sentry.
As he’s searching he finds not Sentry but a female German Shepherd. She’s hostile and growling as he approaches. She’s severely injured and losing blood and as he lowers himself to the ground he hears someone stop behind him. Stone is behind him and he has an anesthetic to administer to the dog so they can get her the help she needs.
Ethan sort of meets Cinnamon at the Clinic while Louise is doing her best to save the dog. She brings him coffee and tries to have a conversation with him, but he’s more than a little preoccupied. One of the injuries the dog has is from bullets.
But something about Ethan just strikes Cinnamon as someone who needs a friend and she leaves a note with her phone number on it under his windshield.
Instead of calling, Ethan shows up at her place instead.
This is a favorite scene.
Several hours later, the dogs crazily barking had startled her out of her reverie. As the dogs reached the front door, they both fell silent and sat just inside the door, tails wagging. She studied them. Looking through the nearby window at the shadow outside the door, she knew who it was. Hesitatingly, wondering why the hell she was even thinking of doing this, she left the chain on the door and opened it the little bit the chain allowed. “Hello?”
He stared at her, his chin dropping and his eyebrows rising.
She looked at him nonplussed. That she was correct about him being behind her door wasn’t necessarily good. Still, she’d left that note because she wanted to see him. But the note didn’t have her address on it. “How did you know where I live?”
She shook her head. “No, they wouldn’t have shared that personal information.”
He pulled out his phone and showed her a page he had been on. It was her license plate with her address.
“Now that makes sense,” she said on a sigh. “Not too many people know how to pull up an address off a license plate.”
“Let’s just say, I know some people,” he said smoothly.
“Levi? Stone? Flynn?”
“But you don’t work for them?” She bit her lower lip, as she tried to figure out what to do about this. “Then why lie to me?”
“Most women would be uncomfortable with this method, so I thought saying the clinic told me would be easier.”
She had given him her name and number in her note, but he hadn’t followed up on that by calling. He’d taken a different route.
“I’m making you uncomfortable,” he said in that low voice. “I’ll leave.” He turned to walk back down the front steps.
Immediately she took off the chain and pulled open the door, still not leaving her house. “Wait.”
On the bottom step he turned and looked at her. “You shouldn’t have opened the door to a stranger.”
She raised both hands. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before too.”
He looked at her steadily. “You can call Stone, if you know him.”
She grabbed her phone and called Levi’s compound. “Hey, Ice. Is Stone there?”
Ice laughed and said, “I think he just came in. Hang on.”
Within minutes Stone’s heavy, deep voice came into her ear, “What’s up, Cinn?”
“Do you know Ethan?”
Stone sucked in breath on the other end, and he answered cautiously, “If you mean the Ethan who picked up the shepherd this morning, yes, I know him. We have friends in common.”
“What friends?” she demanded.
“They’re in the next state over,” he said slowly. “Another group of friends of ours. Ethan’s okay. He’s been through a lot though.”
“But you can vouch for him?” “I can vouch he’s honorable, and he’s damaged, and that shepherd was very important to him.”
“Well, those three things I could figure out myself,” she said in exasperation. “But thanks.” She hung up the phone, pocketed it, knowing, if anything happened to her, Stone would know who was responsible. She threw the door open wide for him to enter. “Come on in.”
The dogs happily exited the house, greeting him as a long-lost friend.
He stood on the porch for a long moment, petting the animals. “Stone knows me but not well.”
She nodded. “He said as much. He also said you’re honorable but damaged.”
Ethan lifted a pant leg and showed her what appeared to be a prosthetic limb.
She nodded. “That explains the gait.”
“You went down the stairs stiffly,” she answered, walking toward her kitchen. “I’ll put on coffee. Do you want a cup?”
He leaned against the entranceway to the kitchen, a safe distance away, as if giving her space. “Thank you. I’d appreciate it.”
She silently put on a small pot, then felt awkward as she searched for a topic of conversation. “What’s the state of the shepherd?”
“She’s doing much better.”
“Is she awake from the anesthesia yet?”
He gave her a glimmer of a smile and shook his head. “But she’s resting easier. More at peace.”
She thought about that and nodded. “I guess that’s fair. Sometimes animals don’t rest, even when they are under anesthesia, do they? It’s more of a forced rest. But, if she’s looking better, that’s good.”
He sat at the kitchen table, choosing the chair closest to him.
She said, “Or we can sit outside on the deck.”
He stood again in a smooth motion and waited. Always silent, mostly still. She poured coffee in two cups, leading the way to the large veranda that ran along the back of her house. The dogs raced out into the backyard. A ball sat beside one of the patio chairs. With the coffee cups still in her hand, she kicked the ball across the yard. Both dogs tumbled after it. She placed the coffee cups on the patio table and took a seat. The dogs came back with the ball, eager for more. She grinned to see Burglar had won.
“You have a three-legged basset hound?”
She nodded. “Got him from Anna. His name is Burglar. He was trying to steal something from a butcher shop when the door closed on his leg, one with automatic locks, and it wouldn’t open again. He lost circulation, and the leg had to be removed.” Out of the corner of her eye, she watched a smile whisper across his face. “You really like animals, don’t you?”
He nodded. “They’re simple, straightforward, honest, clear-cut. They don’t play sneaky mind games.”
“Unlike humans, you mean?”
Again he nodded. He reached down, and Burglar dropped the ball into his hand. Ethan tossed it high and long into the yard. Both dogs raced after it. “What’s the Lab’s name?”
“Midnight,” she said. “She was another foster dog of Anna’s. She’s way too friendly with everybody, so, the minute she escapes a fenced-in yard, she’s gone looking for the next person who will give her attention.”
“Do you have a securely fenced yard?” he asked, his gaze looking around the property.
“Several of them,” she admitted. “I have a lot of dog runs here. Depending on what animals we’re moving, if I have to get involved personally. I have ten acres here.”
Appreciation lit his gaze. “I really like that idea. I’m not much for town living.”
“Neither am I,” she said. “Stone said something about you having mutual friends in another state.”
He gave her a crooked smile. “That’s true. In New Mexico— Santa Fe. Badger was in one of my units way back. And I served with Stone. But not the same unit. That was a few years ago.”
“That explains the look to you,” she said. “You and Stone both have that hard edge that says life hasn’t been easy.”
“Is life meant to be easy?” he asked with interest.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “But I sure wouldn’t mind if it was.” He just smiled and didn’t say anything.
Dale Mayer. Ethan (Kindle Locations 333-392). Valley Publishing Ltd..
The ensuing conversation lead to clues where to look for Sentry and also leads to more than what Ethan was expecting.
I love all animals and this is a fast-paced, action-packed story with plenty of intrigue, suspense, laughter and tears combined with slow build romance and a HEA for the dogs.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this great new series.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.