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Authors: Corrina Lawson

Tags: #Childhood autism;autism;SAR;Carol Corps;therapy dogs;Navy;SEAL;superheroes;mystery;second chances;Marine

Phoenix Inheritance

BOOK: Phoenix Inheritance
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To save their son, they might have to sacrifice their love—and their lives.

Phoenix Institute, Book 4

Ex-Navy SEAL Daz Montoya and rescue dog handler Renee Black have made a career out of saving people. But when their whirlwind affair resulted in pregnancy, Daz's verbal fumble tore their budding relationship apart.

It's been a tough eight years for Renee, raising Charlie alone with his autism-fueled impulsiveness, but she's managed—until now. When she has to chase him to the edge of a cliff in a snowstorm, seeing the face of their rescuer is just the rotten cherry on top of an already rough day.

In the close confines of a snowbound cabin, Renee and Daz rediscover the heat still simmering between them. But while Renee welcomes Daz's renewed determination to help Charlie however he can, she's reluctant to trust him with her heart.

With the Phoenix Institute's help, Renee and Daz discover their son's gift for animal telepathy is real. And that to save him from old enemies that would kill to control him, they must join forces—and risk losing everything they've ever loved.

Warning: This novel contains explicit reunion sex and characters used to mixing a little danger in with their romance.

Phoenix Inheritance

Corrina Lawson

Dedication

This is for all the kids like Charlie and all the parents like Renee and Daz, trying to do the absolute best they can in a world that often doesn't get it.

And in memory of Jacob the Ghost Cat, who liked people, but at a distance, and loved being fed and housed and playing with the other cats.

Chapter One

Daz Montoya's lungs burned with the need for air. The fifty pounds of dead weight in his backpack pushed down on his shoulders and his belly scraped the bottom of the pool. He kicked several times, short, sharp strokes designed to close the distance to his goal: the far wall.

The tiles loomed closer but somehow still out of reach. Spots appeared before his eyes. Air bubbled out of his mouth.

He would not abort.

All his life, he'd been the best. The best trained, the best prepared, the best at leading his men. But now he was in over his head, involved in a war with immortals, firestarters, telepaths and God knew what else. He had to level up or he'd just become cannon fodder. Disposable. Or, worse, a point of weakness that enemies would use to get at those he was supposed to protect.

Daz's vision narrowed. Chlorine stung his eyes.

Level up, dammit.
He reached out with his leading hand, flailing for the wall. One more kick. One more stroke. His fingertips scraped the tiles.

There.
He let his feet drift to the bottom of the pool, ready for the final thrust that should send him to the surface, even with the weight strapped to his back.

The water surrounding him vanished.
Fuck.

He instinctively gasped in air and used the wall to keep his balance. The backpack straps dug hard into his shoulders. He blinked and looked around.

A wall of water rose over the pool's surface, held back by an unseen hand.

“Alec!” Dammit, he'd been going to make it. “Why the hell are you interfering with my training?”

Alec Farley, wearing his customary T-shirt and jeans, floated down into the empty space where the water had been. Though it probably took considerable effort to hold back the water with his telekinetic ability, Alec showed little sign of the mental strain.

Alec's power was what Daz had to measure up to to be of use to anyone. Alec's home, the Phoenix Institute, existed to teach those gifted with psychic abilities, especially children, to use their powers responsibly. That was Alec's job. He did it well.

Daz's job was keeping the Institute safe, so it could operate as planned. And, lately, he'd been doing a freakin' lousy job.

“Showoff,” Daz said.

Though it looked like Alec was floating in midair, what he was really doing was pushing against the floor with his telekinesis to give the appearance of floating.

“I just figured this was the quickest way to talk to you.” Alec landed next to him at the bottom of the pool.

“You figured you'd have fun while interfering with my training.” Alec had no shame at all about his abilities. He thought they were cool.

Daz usually did too. But not right now, not when it reminded him of how weak he was. He rolled his shoulder, resisting the urge to touch the half-healed handprint burned into his skin, a souvenir of his failure on the last mission.

“I wasn't trying to interfere with your training. I just wanted to talk to you.” Alec kept one hand up, to guide his TK in keeping the water in check. “What the hell are you doing down here without a spotter? You said never to do that, that it was too dangerous.”

“That's because we always had to take your power into account when training you. We never knew how you'd react.” Of course, Alec was right. No one should train like this without a spotter.

Daz grabbed the bottom rung of the pool ladder and heaved himself up and out. He dropped the weighted backpack, and it hit the floor tiles with a clink. Leveling up practice was obviously over for the day but he was going to do it again, spotter or no spotter. He touched the handprint on his shoulder. He'd needed rescuing. Unacceptable.

Alec levitated topside and landed near Daz. The water, released from Alec's TK hold, splashed back into the pool.

“Why are you risking yourself like this? Why are you pushing yourself so hard?” Alec asked.

Daz grabbed a towel and dried off his hair and torso, wondering if Alec would understand. Due to his isolated upbringing—very little contact with the outside world—Alec was incredibly mature in some ways but completely innocent in others.

“Firefly, sometimes I need to do stuff, okay?” Daz said.

“This was suicidal,” Alec said.

“I was just about to surface and I'd made my goal. I know what I'm doing.”

“You sure?”

“I'm sure.” One advantage of having been Alec's trainer was that Daz could still lie to him and get away with it.

“Beth says you're overcompensating for what happened in Germany.”

“If I wanted an opinion about my state of mind from your telepathic girlfriend, I'd ask.” Daz ditched the swim trunks, finished drying off, and dressed in the sweatpants and T-shirt he'd left on one of the benches.

He picked up his phone to check messages, ignoring Alec. He'd pulled out all the stops to track the whereabouts of Gregori Rasputin, the Mad Monk, and his cultish followers, who had scattered after their defeat in Germany. He checked obsessively every day on the progress of the search. It was only a matter of time before they came after the Institute to finish what they'd started. Until the threat Rasputin posed was eliminated, everything they wanted to accomplish at the Institute was in jeopardy.

There was a message from Philip Drake. There was only one reason the enigmatic and dangerous Drake would contact him. He had a lead.

Found something, but from a year before the events in Germany. A fake ID was used by a man to enter the country through Newark Airport. ID tracks to one of Rasputin's cult. Working on tracing his movements via the company network but nothing so far. Will alert you if that changes.

“Fuck,” Daz said.

“Fuck what?” Alec said.

“Rasputin's people have been over here for at least a year, maybe longer, probably watching the Institute, given how obsessed they are with you. And I never suspected.” It was no solace that Drake, a former black-ops CIA agent who tended to know everything, obviously hadn't suspected either.

“That's not your fault,” Alec said.

“It's absolutely my fault. This is my job.”

Alec reached out a hand. Daz brushed it away.

“Okay, if you want to say it's your fault, fine. But you can't keep beating yourself up like this. You almost drowned in that pool just now.”

“I was fine.” Daz dried off his hair and tossed the towel aside. “This is my thing, not yours.”

“I don't accept that.”

Daz shrugged. “You're a good friend, Alec, but some things people just have to work through on their own, okay?”

“I guess. But all this overcompensation seems strange from the guy who took me out a few times,” Alec said.

“I had tranquilizers to take you out,” Daz said. “And you weren't expecting trouble from me.”

“Is that why you ordered all that new equipment? The shipment of flash-crash grenades? The new tranq gun? And that friggin' soundwave horn?”

“The rules of the game have changed. I need an edge. F-Team needs an edge. “

He couldn't physically match up to Alec and the other psychics. No normal human could. So artificial enhancement it was. Once Daz was satisfied with his progress, he'd drill his team as well in the new weapons. They were the Institute's elite protectors. They had to be the best, even against superhuman threats.

“Look, if you're warning me, consider the message received, okay?”

“Right.” Alec cleared his throat.

An emergency tone sounded from the phone in Daz's hand. Daz fought a flinch. That was all he needed, show his nerves in front of Alec. Yeah, that would prove he wasn't edgy.

“I've never heard that tone before,” Alec said.

“It's an emergency alert from the national weather service.”

“A tornado? A hurricane?” Alec sounded eager. Alec was always eager to experience something new.

Daz read the warning. “Snowstorm. A big one.”

“In October?” Alec asked.

“I know. It's freakish. The weather alert says there are only hours before the storm hits.” Daz sat down and laced up his boots, relieved to have a change of subject. “This is going to cause a lot of trouble. The trees still have leaves on them. The weight of the snow will bring a lot of them down, even if we only get a few inches.”

“I've never been out in a big snowstorm.” Alec grinned.

That was pure Alec. His insatiable curiosity about the rest of the world, now that he was free to go where he wanted, when he wanted, was never-ending. It wasn't Alec's fault that he didn't realize how dangerous a bad storm could be.

That also was Daz's role at the Phoenix Institute. He was the one who brought Alec back to reality.

“Don't sound psyched, Firefly. If it's as bad as this report says, people are going to get hurt. Traffic will snarl. Homes and businesses will lose power, perhaps for days. We have back-up power here but others won't be so lucky.”

Other people.
Shit.
Renee and Charlie's house was on the top of a mountain in central Jersey and surrounded by woods. If the warning held true, they could be hit bad. His son Charlie already hated storms. He'd be so scared. And Renee…well…he owed it to Renee to be there. There was no end to the debt he owed his son's mother.

Daz snapped to his feet. “I gotta go.”

“What? Where?”

“I've got some people to check on before the storm hits.” He checked the weather on his phone again. Only an hour before the storm made landfall. He didn't have much time.

Daz jogged through the locker room and up the steps to the ground floor of the Institute. Alec kept pace with him.

“Which people? And can I come?” Alec asked.

“My son and his mother.”

“I'd like to meet them.”

“Another time.”

Renee knew Daz did bodyguard and mercenary work. She knew nothing about psychic abilities or the Phoenix Institute. And Daz wasn't sure how she'd react if he told her, never mind how she'd react if she met Alec and he demonstrated his firestarting.

“Why can't I meet them now?” Alec asked.

“Because you're needed here. Mind if I take one of the company vans?” The vans were kept loaded with emergency supplies that would definitely come in handy during a storm.

“Sure, no problem.” Alec ducked into one of the offices on the first floor, came back with a set of keys, and tossed them to Daz.

Alec kept pace with him as Daz walked through lobby and out the front door. The air already smelled heavy and wet with the impending storm.

“Are you sure I can't come?” Alec asked.

Alec practically gave off sparks in his eagerness. To him, this was a learning experience, a chance to use his powers on something new. Though Daz had never had psychic abilities, he remembered that feeling of wanting to take on the world.

Back when he was Alec's age, he always thought he'd win. Under his coat, his shoulder burn itched.

“If we're about to get hit bad, your place is here with the Institute, Firefly. You're in charge; you'll need to make sure all is in working order and to check up on the area around here. You might come in useful in clearing roads and raising downed power lines, you know.”

Alec brightened. “That's true. But be careful, Daz.”

“I'm the one who taught you to be careful, remember?”

Daz started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot. He gunned the engine as he headed through the gate.

BOOK: Phoenix Inheritance
6.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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