What’s a superheroine to do when her super soldier ex turns up alive after more than fifteen years?
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Title: Butterfly Ops
Author: Jen Doyle
Series: Butterfly Ops
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy with Romantic Elements
Release Date: Sept 24, 2018
Length: 120,000 words
What’s a superheroine to do when her super soldier ex turns up alive after more than fifteen years?
Lyndsey doesn’t have much time to walk down memory lane before she and Ian find themselves thrown together to investigate the mysterious deaths of ten young men in the Canadian wilderness. How do such seemingly normal, healthy men’s hearts just…stop?
With the hint of an evil spirit in the wind–and a whole lot of butterflies–there’s no telling what Lyndsey and Ian are dealing with, including their own extensive baggage. Though seventeen years is a lot of life to live, there’s one thing they can’t deny: their attraction is as intense as ever. But is it just a spark that will burn itself out, or is it true love bringing them back together? When the force they’re hunting turns its sights on them, the leap of faith required far exceeds either of their powers. But worrying about their future might be premature because one wrong move and they might not make it out alive.
In Book One of the Butterfly Ops trilogy, Lyndsey and Ian reconnect fifteen years after seeing each other for what each thought was the last time. That the spark is still there is undeniable—but is it enough to get past the secrets and lies that tore them apart the first time around? With old tensions rearing their heads as new challenges arise, what at first seems to be a sure path back to trust and happiness is rockier than it seems.
Note: this is Book One in a serial trilogy. Book Two will be released in Spring 2019; Book Three will be released in early Summer 2019. Books should be read in order.
What she should have been thinking about was spending three weeks in the woods with the next generation of the Army teams that had spent almost a year trying to kill her. Possibly even with some of the very same men, if Matt’s presence were any indication. That realization had used up all of five seconds of her mental energy, however. Army teams = men with guns who might still think of her as the enemy = she was going to have to watch her back even more so than in normal circumstances. Noted. Moving on.
What she couldn’t get her mind off of, however, was Ian. Spending three weeks with Ian. Even if he wasn’t going to actually be out in the woods with her, she’d seen enough about how Matt had operated to know they’d be connected, possibly even around the clock for that whole time.
Oh, God, she thought, sitting back in her seat. What if they really did end up on this job together for who knew how long? She had no idea how she’d manage to accomplish anything. It was all she could do right now not to openly stare. And it certainly wasn’t helping that—what was her name, Julianna?—was being totally flirty with Ian while talking about weapons, no less. If there was anything Lyndsey knew about Army guys, it was that they liked their toys.
Not fair, Lyndsey thought, fighting the urge to glare. She couldn’t exactly get all WWE and jump on the table and be like, Weapons? You think you’re getting to him because you know the difference between a Glock and a, um, not-a-Glock? Well, check this out. My body is a weapon. If he’d stuck around he would’ve gotten to benefit from that fully. What he did see, though, he totally liked. So top that Miss Desk Job.
Unfortunately, a somewhat irritated “Hmph” did slip out.
Conversation stopped as heads turned her way. “Lyndsey?” Matt said, eyebrows all bunched up into a frown. “Did you want to add something?”
Feeling her cheeks grow alarmingly warm, Lyndsey looked down at the table in front of her. “No,” she mumbled. “Sorry. Go on.”
Of course, in all the years since the night they’d broken up, Lyndsey had realized it went a lot further than him just trying to get her to leave; he’d probably had a much better sense of what was to come after he did. Asking Lyndsey to come with him had been Ian’s last resort, what he’d fallen back on when she’d refused to back down. But remembering that about him—understanding how deeply he’d wanted to protect Lyndsey that night, it wasn’t too hard to guess what the last fight with his wife was about. “You wanted her to stay home. You didn’t want her on that flight.”
“I wanted her to be the one who didn’t die,” he snapped. Then, clearly aware of how defensive he sounded, his voice grew quiet. “It was one of those things you say in the heat of it all, just to make someone mad.” He paused before adding, “But I was too damn proud to give in. Biggest mistake I ever made in my life. Thought I couldn’t top the one I made with you. It turns out I was wrong.”
When he looked up there were tears in his eyes. His hand was right there, resting next to hers. How could she not reach out to him? She couldn’t help it any longer. “Ian…”
She supposed it wasn’t a shock that he pulled his hand back. The only real surprise was that he didn’t walk away— and that he actually kept talking.
“It took a few months for it to fully hit. I totally lost it at Jack’s first birthday party. It was the first time they let Matt leave the hospital. Saw him in that wheelchair and whammo.” The detachment was back; there was even a touch of the self-deprecating thing Ian was so good at. “Handed Jack over to my mom and barely made it upstairs. It wasn’t pretty. Mom’s been here ever since. My dad retired two years later and came east. There you have it.” He spread his hands open wide. “No more secrets.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Lyndsey said quietly. “I’m so sorry.”
He picked up his beer bottle and tossed it across the deck, sinking it perfectly into the trashcan. There was the sound of the glass shattering. “Yeah. So… Eight and a half years. The first few were hell. It’s gotten better.”
“Thus all the women in your life,” Lyndsey said, surprising herself with the words she’d just spoken out loud.
Now why would she go and say that? There was nothing but bad there.
He raised his eyebrows in a ‘Really?’ kind of way. Part amused, part irritated, Ian answered, “I’ve got plenty of women in my life.”
“Your kids, your mom, Matt’s wife. Seems you’re missing a biggie.”
And, no, she had absolutely nothing invested in the response to that.
“You, too?” He seemed to be looking around for something else to throw. “I don’t need anyone else trying to fix me up. I’m perfectly—”
“Happy,” she finished for him. “Yeah. That’s what I tell them, too. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.” If she had to be perfectly honest.
There was a pause before he said, “So why aren’t you?” He folded his arms in front of his chest, the smile on his face saying, Dare ‘ya. “Happy, I mean.”
She hesitated. Hadn’t quite expected him to throw it right back at her. He’d never been one for asking questions; everyone who knew him knew that.
“Thinking about changing the subject?” he said, his smile broadening. “Unh-uh. Your turn.”
Talk about busted. Darn it. She shrugged. “I’ve been in love three times. I know what it feels like. I don’t want to settle.”
“Three times, huh?” Though his arms stayed folded, he turned so he was leaning sideways against the wall, facing her. “You’ve got me beat by one.”
She got caught up for a minute, lost in his eyes, thinking about how much she wanted to kiss him.
Stop thinking about kissing him.
It wasn’t her usual practice to jump on someone the moment he entered her vicinity, even if he happened to be in the small club of men she’d had an actual relationship with—a real, honest-to-goodness relationship. Not the marking time one like she’d been in with Steve for the past several months.
But her body was busy making the point that it never had the chance to properly say good-bye. Never had that one last tender kiss, one last caress. Not even a run-of-the-mill hug.
The nearness of him now did nothing to ease the ache. Really—all she wanted was good-bye. The fact that she was at a point in her life where the whole second chance thing had better odds? She wasn’t going to entertain the thought. Couldn’t. No siree.
She made herself blink and look away. “I should probably tell you I’m sorry for asking, but…” Well… “I’m not.”
He grinned. “You know? It actually feels good to talk about her. I don’t much, not to an adult at least.”
Lyndsey realized she was fidgeting—running her hands down her thighs towards her knees, letting her feet kick against the wall. Very deliberately, she rested her hands alongside of her, flat on the ledge. “You talk to your kids about her? You don’t avoid answering their questions?”
He shook his head. “I swore to myself the night Abby died that I’d never hold anything back from my kids. And these days I pretty much say what’s on my mind no matter how dumb it sounds. Learned that lesson the hard way.”
Good policy, she thought, especially because it opened him up to the question: “So what’s on your mind right now?” she asked quietly. Breathlessly.
He looked at her and then, cheeks reddening, quickly turned away.
“Set myself up for that one, didn’t I?” Ian said it almost under his breath, as though he were laughing at himself. Placing his hands on the ledge, he looked past the buildings to the river. “I’m thinking it was really nice to talk to you about Abby. That it’s been too long since I’ve done that.” He hesitated and then bowed his head, adding softly, “And that it seems like a total betrayal of her memory, but all I want to do right now is kiss you.” He turned back to her. “It’s all I’ve wanted to do since the moment I saw you.”
Not wanting to wait another second, Lyndsey put her hands on his face and drew him to her. After a moment’s hesitation, his hands were on her waist, on her hips, and his mouth opened. It didn’t take long for his tongue to find all the old, familiar places.
Who was she kidding? Forget good-bye. Hello. Good. Freaking. Lord.
A big believer in happily ever afters, Jen Doyle decided it was high time she started creating some. CALLING IT, her four-book baseball/contemporary romance/romantic comedy series, has been winning awards since its inception, the most recent being the 2017 Best Banter Contest for Calling It and a nomination for the 2017 Harlequin Hero of the Year for Called Out. She also wrote the acclaimed HANSONS OF ST. HELENA series of novellas in the St. Helena Vineyard Kindle World. Butterfly Ops: Book One is the first installment of the BUTTERFLY OPS trilogy, an epic love story and her first in the paranormal realm.
Jen has an M.S. in Library and Information Science and, in addition to her work as a librarian, has worked as a conference and events planner as well as an administrator in both preschool and higher education environments (although some might say that there is very little difference between the two; Jen has no comment regarding whether she is one of the “some”). She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and is represented by Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.