Personal Target, An Elite Ops Novel
By: Kay Thomas
Releasing July 29th, 2014
AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments. If you have a problem no one else can handle, they can help.
A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him—or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend … a woman from Nick’s past.
One minute Jennifer Grayson is house-sitting and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now, as they race for their lives, passion for each other reignites and old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?
Nick took Jennifer’s hand firmly in his as they walked in silence along the road up to the entrance of the hotel.
She was happy not to talk, particularly as anger still radiated off Nick like the heat rising off the black asphalt. No one was out front, save one security guard smoking a cigarette. Nick nodded to him as they walked inside.
The sliding glass doors led them to an air-conditioned oasis that looked very different from what Jennifer had seen on the dusty street outside. Cool white marble floors, crystal chandeliers, an indoor fountain, and leather couches decorated the lobby. A crowd of businessmen speaking multiple languages stood in line at the front desk.
Nick kept hold of her hand and bypassed them all, walking through more sliding doors and past a massive swimming pool, then down a series of steps leading to the hotel grounds beside the river. His eyes were flat and emotionless. His long strides ate up the path before them. Once beyond the pool he picked up his pace and moved so fast she was out of breath, but he didn’t seem to notice or care.
The hotel grounds were massive and spotted with bungalows that spread out from the main building along a paving stone path that wound steadily closer to the water. Jennifer thought it would have been a lovely place to sit and gaze over the landscaping, but Nick didn’t appear the least bit interested in the view as he led her to the cottage furthest from the pool and closest to the river. He still wasn’t speaking when they climbed the steps onto the porch that ran perpendicular to the water. The bungalow itself was situated sideways beside the river. Without a word, he opened the door and steered her inside.
The living room was small with a leather sofa, a massive window facing the water, and a kitchenette tucked in the corner. Doors on either side of the main living area led to what she assumed were two bedrooms and baths. Nick took her into the room on the right and didn’t let go of her hand until he’d shut the door and flipped the thumb latch.
Mosquito netting hung from the ceiling but was drawn back to the headboard of a king-size bed. A fan mounted on the wall lazily stirred the air. He slung her backpack and handbag off his shoulder, setting them on the long dresser with a decided thwack.
His not talking was starting to make her a little nervous, but even more than that was his lack of eye contact. She stood in the center of the room trying to catch her breath. Bryan had said he wouldn’t be back for a while. It was shaping up to be a long, uncomfortable evening.
Nick turned his back to her after unloading her bags. He didn’t appear to be ready to talk yet. She should be relieved, right?
This was crazy. She had to say something. It was past time for one of them to be speaking. But where to start?
Thank him for saving her? Apologize for running away? As much as she hated to admit it, running away was exactly what she’d done in Dallas. Apologizing was the obvious place to start.
She took a breath, and the words came out in a rush. “Nick, I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have left without talking to you. Thank you for what you did today. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t—”
She broke off as he turned to her. His gaze held her captive, even though his eyes were no longer filled with smoldering fire. Instead, his expression was awash in misery.
“Dammit, Jenny. Do you have any idea how much you scared me?”
Copyright © 2014 by Kay Thomas. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Ten Things You Might Not Know
About Kay Thomas
What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing?
The more you write, the more addictive it becomes. If I had know this beforehand I might have taken up, oh, I don’t know—marathon walking or scrapbooking instead. I can’t imagine not writing today, but part of that is because I’ve been doing it for so long.
I’ve heard people talk about characters that just won’t leave them alone, and I never understood that whole concept until writing the Elite Ops series. Hard Target & Personal Target were both addictive writing experiences for me. I loved the characters, the locations, the adventure, the growth arcs, and the relationships.
While neither of these books wrote themselves, the stories came much easier than others I’ve written in the past. For the first time I could hear the characters talking in my head and they wouldn’t let me rest, till I wrote down what they were saying. Currently, I’m working on Book 3 in the Elite Ops series and I’m happy to say that I’m having a similar experience with “hearing” those characters’ voices.
What do you like to do in your “spare” time?
Free time?? Hmm… I’m not sure I’m familiar with this concept?
Joking aside. My ideal “free day” would include: making pancakes, (well okay, eating the ones my husband makes since I don’t cook much) sitting around with my family and having breakfast together, watching an old movie or renting a new one, playing a game of dominos (we have ongoing tournaments at our house), and of course, reading a good book in front of the fire, or lying in the hammock.
Do you have a particular writing regimen?
I hesitate to call what I do a regimen. It doesn’t feel quite that structured…but during the summer and on holidays I write early in the morning while everyone is asleep at my house. During the school year, I write after my son goes off to school. I’m more productive on story in the mornings. I use the afternoons for email, publicity, etc. Or that’s my goal. In an attempt to manage my time better I read a great book a few years ago called “Never Answer Email in the Morning”. I got some great tips, but ultimately I’m not sure the lesson took.
Do you outline an entire book before writing it?
Sadly, no, though I could spare myself much grief and gnashing of teeth if I did. I’m a “pantser” who is trying to become more of a plotter in the interest of saving myself time and aggravation (ie – not writing myself into corners). I usually have an idea of a story before I start a project, but I generally have to just sit down and start typing before the bulk of the plot comes. There’s a magic for me about my fingers hitting the keyboard. I can’t “talk it out” in terms of plotting. I have to “write it out.” That’s where my stream-of-consciousness-writing comes in.
I use a storyboard with sticky notes to keep my thoughts in order. It’s not terribly organized looking to anyone but me.
Still, I can keep the pace hopping, even when I don’t know exactly where I’m headed. That’s why I’m working hard at becoming a bit more plotting-oriented before I start, so I don’t write myself into that corner I was speaking of earlier! But the challenge for me is keeping the story fresh if I’ve plotted it too much beforehand. For me, if I plot the storyline too thoroughly before I write it, that joy of the discovery isn’t there as I type, and it comes across as flat on the page…not new. So it’s a balance for me to plot enough to have a destination, but keep the reins loose enough to go wherever I need in order to still enjoy the ride.
Is there one book you find yourself reading over and over?
Black Ice by Anne Stuart.
I adore her entire Ice series, and no one writes a bad boy hero like Anne Stuart.
How do you do your research? Do you travel or do it online?
These days I do most of it online. In writing my second book, Bulletproof Texas, I had a terrifying experience when I insisted on learning how to rock climb myself because my character was going to climb in the book. The equipment at the rock climbing gym malfunctioned, and I fell about 12 feet—flat on my back—in front of my husband and child. That scared them both worse than it scared me. For the record, my agent had begged me not to do this. I’ve now learned my lesson and do any “extreme research” online only!
Personal Target—Book 2 in the Elite Ops series takes place in a remote location in Mexico where drug cartels are quite active. Another part of the story is also set in Africa. Neither of these two locations are on my bucket list of places I have to see before I die. But online I’ve made a wonderful discovery. You can find English speaking expat bloggers in pretty much any place you’d like to set a story, along with YouTube videos that can “take you” almost anywhere.
What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up on your dreams. When those rejections come (and they will…it happens to everyone) send out another query or request immediately. Then go have that chocolate bar, glass of wine, long hot bath, or all of the above to soothe the hurt feelings. I’ve always thought that I got published initially because I was too stubborn to give up.
What’s next for you? Can you tell us a little about it.
I’m working on Book 3 of the Elite Ops series and I’m having a great time with it. I don’t have a title yet. It’s Bryan Fisher’s (Hollywood’s) story. I’m just getting started, but I’m very excited about how things are shaping up for him. Elite Ops 3 will be out late next spring.
What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done in your personal life?
My husband asked me to marry him six weeks after our first date, and I said yes. Twenty-six years later, I’m still saying yes.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring only three things, what would you bring and why?
Sunscreen, my kindle (with a solar battery) and my husband. J I realize my husband isn’t a “thing”, but I sure wouldn’t want to be on a desert island without him. Besides being very resourceful, he’s pretty fun…and he moves fast.
Kay Thomas didn’t grow up burning to be a writer. She wasn’t even much of a reader until fourth grade. That’s when her sister readThe Black Stallion aloud to her. For hours Kay was enthralled—shipwrecked and riding an untamed horse across desert sand. Then tragedy struck. Her sister lost her voice. But Kay couldn’t wait to hear what happened in the story—so she picked up that book, finished reading it herself, and went in search of more adventures at the local library.
Today Kay lives in Dallas with her husband, two children, and a shockingly spoiled Boston terrier. Her award-winning novels have been published internationally.
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