Today we have the blog tour stop for Survival Instinct by Janie Crouch. For the first week, all proceeds will be donated to cystic fibrosis research in honor of Tia Troopers. Check it out and grab your copy today!
About Survival Instinct:
The voices in her head have decided to kill her.
Most people joke about hearing voices in their heads. For Chloe Jeffries, they’re real. And as the creative force behind one of the most popular shows on television, she has used the constant flood of voices in her mind to her advantage: fuel for entertainment.
But now one of the voices has decided it wants Chloe all for itself.
Ex-Special Forces soldier Shane Westman just wants to make it back to Wyoming to begin to heal from the horrors of war. The last thing he needs, even as a favor for a good friend, is to take on bodyguard duty of a flighty television writer. But once he does, he realizes there are threats at play he doesn’t understand. And the woman who has somehow begun to thaw his frozen heart is in desperate danger from a menace they can’t see, but is always close.
The voice that will never allow Chloe to escape alive.
100% of proceeds until July 16 goes to Cystic Fibrosis charities – with a special $0.99 price. Help us stomp CF! Plus, buy Survival Instinct before July 16 and get a free ebook by Janie not available anywhere else! More details here: http://www.janiecrouch.com/si-pp-0717
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“Remember that time you were about to be beheaded in an unofficial Iraqi prison and I led the team that saved your life?” The voice mentioned the situation so cheerfully it was like he was talking about a long ago frat party or prom date.
Shane Westman groaned, shifting the phone more securely between his cheek and shoulder as he used both hands to carry a packing box across the room to the door. He swallowed a chuckle because laughing now would only spell disaster for the cause of resisting whatever favor his friend and ex-Special Forces teammate, Zac Mackay, was calling in.
“I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number,” Shane said. “I’m just a pizza delivery guy. Never been in an Iraqi prison, of either the official or unofficial kind.”
Zac didn’t even try to hide his own laugh. “It’s understandable that you might not remember. You’d been beaten to almost within an inch of your life and I had to nearly carry your sorry ass all the way back to the neutral zone. I even heard they did some sort of mind—control testing on prisoners to make them think they work at Pizza House for the rest of their lives.”
“Did you want pepperoni or olives on your pizza?”
Zac’s bark of laughter made Shane smile. “How’s the packing of your grandmother’s stuff going?”
“Hard. You know how it is. Some of the stuff in this house seems like it’s been sitting in its exact position since before the Revolutionary War. Getting rid of it feels like a crime.” Boxing up the memories of the woman who’d raised him, his Grammi, was much harder than Shane had thought it would be. He’d spent the entire day yesterday just going through her closet.
For someone who had spent the last twelve years unflinchingly fighting some of the most dangerous enemy combatants in the world, it was surprising how difficult boxing away one small woman’s clothing had been.
“Have you decided to sell the house? Rent it out?”
“I haven’t made any decisions yet. It’s completely paid off, so it’s no hardship. This has always been my home.” He might be moving to Cheyenne, Wyoming, in a couple weeks to begin his civilian career at Linear Tactical with Zac and some of his other former-Army brothers, but Black Mountain, North Carolina, would always be his home. “I just wish I’d returned sooner. Gotten home last Christmas like I told her I would.” Before his Grammi had died of a sudden heart attack.
“That tough old bird knew you loved her. That’s the most important thing.”
“Yeah, I guess.” He hoped she’d known. He’d always tried to tell her, but for the last few years he’d been around less and less. “So, Mackay, you only bring up busting me out of the Iraqi prison—which I would’ve gotten out of just fine by myself, by the way—when you want to ask a favor.”
They both knew Shane wouldn’t have gotten out of that prison without Zac and the team’s help, as well as that Zac didn’t have to lord the rescue over Shane to get him to help with whatever Zac needed. If it was in Shane’s power, he’d do it. Just like Zac would do the same for him.
“Yeeeahh.” Zac dragged out the word in the most annoying way possible. “Linear Tactical has a job for you.”
Zac had formed a company with three of their other Special Forces buddies once they’d gotten out of the service. Linear Tactical trained others in tactical awareness, small—arms safety, wilderness survival, and self-defense. People from all over the country traveled to their compound in Cheyenne. People who wanted to learn from the best.
“This can’t wait until I get out there in two weeks? I know you miss me, Zac, but I want to enjoy not being snowed in for as long as possible.”
It was only September, but the Wyoming winters were damn long.
“You know, for someone with the nickname Avalanche, you sure don’t like cold weather.”
Shane began loading up another box, knickknacks of Grammi’s he wouldn’t be able to keep if he wanted to fit anything else in the house. “Yeah, well, I didn’t get the name because of my snowboarding ability.”
He’d gotten it because of his ability to completely shut down his emotions. To pull ice around him, distancing himself from a situation in order to obtain the best tactical advantage, regardless of the horrors going on around it. A saving grace many times when he’d been a soldier, people dying all around him. When he’d been forced to make decisions as team leader that cost others their lives. He’d frozen his emotions out to get the job done.
Unfortunately, now he couldn’t seem to thaw.
“Job’s not out here,” Zac continued. “As a matter of fact, it’s right in your backyard.”
“Yep. It’s a side job.”
They both knew that type of job for Linear Tactical tended to be much more dangerous than the work they did in Wyoming. Their home base was for training and teaching about weapons and situational awareness. Their “side jobs” tended to involve the actual weapons and situations. Kidnap and ransom assistance, bodyguarding, even guns-for-hire if the situation was right.
“I’ve been out of the field for more than six months, Zac. I may not be in peak shape.”
Zac’s eye-roll was evident even over the phone. “Whatever. I’ll take you in not-quite-peak over most people at their very best. Plus, this is a pretty low risk job, which can help ease you back in to American civilian life, and it’ll get you on our payroll.”
“I’m already on it.”
“Whatever. Get you more on our payroll.”
Shane stacked another box. “Fine. What is it?”
“There’s a television show, Day’s End, that does all its primary shooting near you in North Carolina. They’re having trouble with some sort of stalker. Most of the stars have their own bodyguards, but the studio is looking for someone good—and discreet—to send and help coordinate the security teams. To look around, see if they can figure out who the stalker is.”
“I’m not a detective, Zac, nor an investigator.”
“Yes, but you are more observant than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Shane wiped a hand over his eyes. “That wasn’t enough to keep my whole team from getting killed.”
Zac didn’t even stop for a breath. “You were cleared of that. You made the best decision you could with the intel you had. Everyone agreed.”
Shane didn’t respond. Being cleared didn’t bring back the dead.
“Avalanche, listen. I need someone I know personally. Linear Tactical got the call because the show’s creator is Adrienne Jeffries’ sister. She helped us out last year with that kidnapping case that would’ve gone to hell in a handbasket without her.”
“The Bloodhound lady.”
Zac chuckled. “She still doesn’t like to be called that, but yep. Adrienne was concerned about her sister so she made sure the studio contacted Linear Tactical to get the security support the show needs.”
Shane rubbed his eyes. He didn’t want to do this. Didn’t want to be in charge of someone else’s life again. “Send one of the other guys, Zac. I’m not the right person for this. I agreed to work for you because I thought I would be doing training. Teaching civilians how to defend themselves or handle their Glock.”
“You’ll have plenty of time for that. Trust me, a year from now you’ll be begging me to send you back out in the field for some action.” Zac’s voice got serious. “I need someone I can trust one hundred percent. What Adrienne did for us with that kidnapping case? I can’t do anything but give her someone I trust completely to help with her sister. We need the best.”
“That’s not me, Zac.”
“Just give it a couple weeks. If you still feel like you can’t handle it, then I’ll find someone else. I know you’ve been on your little stroll for the past six months, but I have zero concerns that you’ve let yourself slip in either fitness or mental acuity.”
Shane rolled his eyes. His “little stroll” as Zac put it, had been a demanding hike through the Alps, one Shane had taken because he’d needed to be away from everything and everyone while he’d tried to come to grips with losing his team. And while Zac was right—the time had made him stronger and more focused—it sure as hell hadn’t brought him many answers.
Shane was going to argue more, but stopped. What was the point? It wasn’t like he was going to say no. When a brother asked you to do something, you did it. “Fine. Give me the details.”
“The show is Day’s End. It’s about all these different paranormal creatures that attempt to stay alive while being hunted by a sort of human mafia.”
“Yeah, it’s been shooting around here for three years.” The wilderness of western North Carolina had provided a beautiful backdrop for the show. “My grandmother mentioned it, but I’ve never watched it.”
“It’s one of the most popular shows on television, so you should probably check it out. Chloe Jeffries is the creative force behind the whole thing. It’s her baby. She leads all the writing and some of the directing too. She’s supposed to be this amazing, ingenious visionary.”
Great. Creative tended to mean flighty in Shane’s experience. Unaware of what was going on around them. “How long do they need someone?”
“Two weeks tops. Threat assessment and coordination of security. See what you can spot and make any changes you need to. You might have to do a little people—watching for a few days, but those needing watching include Alexandra Adams. She plays the lead role, Tia Day.”
Shane might not know the show, but everyone knew of Alexandra Adams. The show had catapulted her straight into the role of America’s sweetheart.
“Yeah, I know who Alexandra Adams is.” Not that it mattered. This was about loyalty to Zac and the others, not about who he’d be guarding. “I’ll do it, Mackay.”
“I knew no red-blooded male could resist the thought of being near Alexandra Adams.”
Shane rolled his eyes. “Two weeks. If they still need someone after that, it’s more than just threat assessment, it’s long term containment. That’s not what I’m in for.”
Going in and assessing the holes in the security would be bad enough. Shane definitely wasn’t interested in holding someone’s life in his hands again.
Been there. Done that. Failed miserably.
Being a soldier was the only thing Shane knew how to do. He was glad to join his friends at Linear Tactical, but he wanted to teach, not be back out in the field. He was out of that game. And he particularly didn’t want to be guarding people involved with some crazy zombie, vampires, and faeries show.
“Got it. Two weeks tops.” Zac turned serious. A rarity. “Thank you, Shane.”
“Don’t thank me yet. You know I don’t tend to play well with others.”
Zac laughed. “If you’re not nice, they’ll just dress you up like one of the zombies and put you on camera. Wouldn’t take much makeup the way you scowl. I’ll let you go finish clearing out your Grammi’s house. Your house now. Shane, thank you. I promise not to bring up your near-beheading for at least another four months.”
Shane smiled. “Mackay, do you remember that time I carried you six miles over my shoulder in the Afghanistan mountains when you fainted?”
“Fainted?” Zac let out a blistering string of curses. “I was shot in the damn head.”
“You were grazed and faking the whole thing because you were too lazy to walk. I’m convinced of it.” Shane couldn’t stop the grin spreading across his face.
“Damn it, Westman, go protect some movie stars before I fly out there and kick your ass myself. You obviously had your brain tampered with while you were in that Iraqi prison.”
“You want extra cheese on your pizza?”
About Janie Crouch:
Winner of the Golden Quill Award for Best Romantic Suspense, and a finalist in multiple other Romance literary awards, including the coveted RITA Award by the Romance Writers of America, Janie Crouch loves to read – almost exclusively romance – and has been doing so since middle school. She cut her teeth on Harlequin (Mills & Boon) Romances when she lived in Wales, UK as a preteen, then moved on to a passion for romantic suspense as an adult.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and four children to Germany (due to her husband’s job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys traveling, long-distance running, movie-watching, knitting and adventure (obstacle) racing. Janie completed an Ironman Triathlon in 2014 and is prepping for another one in 2017.
Her favorite quote: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller.
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