Saturday, April 7, 2012

Her Highland Champion

When I started writing romantic suspense stories, my heroes were CIA, former military, cops, and detectives. In my last full-length manuscripts, the heroes (and a couple of the heroines) were bounty hunters. I did research for each of these characters to get details right. But there’s always this worry in the back of my mind that I’m going to get something wrong. So when I started planning my stories for Decadent Publishing’s Honor Guard Series, I decided to create my own business. And soon, the International Protective Network came to life.

The International Protective Network is a world-wide organization of bodyguards. When other legal agencies can’t guarantee a person’s safety, the IPN can get the job done. The headquarters are located in Edinburgh, Scotland. The business was started by a Scottish couple, Russell and Mary MacLeod, whose youngest daughter testified against a criminal even after she was threatened. The police couldn’t protect her and the criminal’s friends eventually found and killed her. Russell and Mary and their remaining children opened the IPN soon after.    
The IPN protects everyone from foreign dignitaries, to politicians, to Hollywood celebrities and even ordinary folks who can’t get help anywhere else. They operate officially within the law, as true bodyguards, but they also have a more clandestine branch for more difficult and dangerous jobs. The men and women hired by the IPN come from all walks of life. Malcolm, the hero in my 1st Honor Guard story, Her Highland Champion, was an abused child who happened to be living in Edinburgh when his best friend joined IPN. The friend later recruited the hero. There are heroes who work with politicians and those who work the jungles of Asia. There are heroines too. In what I hope will be my second Honor Guard story, the heroine is an American computer genius. She was recruited to work as a senior technical analyst and works out of the IPN’s Edinburgh office. She is a whiz with a computer (SOOO unlike me!) and must use her mind to solve the story’s main conflict.  
Creating my own organization makes writing both easier and harder. It’s easier because I can make things happen the way they need to within the story and not worry about realism of an already existing organization. However, it’s more difficult because I must think of every aspect of a business, not just the kick-butt angle, but the location, the owners, the company’s history, the emblem/badge, etc. But I’m really excited to have the opportunity to “start” my own agency, to connect my characters even though they operate all over the world. I hope you’ll join me (and the IPN agents) on the adventure!

A Decadent Honor Guard story….
Heather Winchester leads a charming life. With good friends, a beautiful flat in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and a promising future once she finishes her Ph.D, she is finally pursuing her own dreams instead of catering to everyone else’s…except she doesn’t remember any of it.
Malcolm Fraser has returned to his Highland village to forget his failings as a professional bodyguard. Believing he could just lose himself in the mundane activities of running his bed & breakfast, he finds a woman’s lifeless body by the loch instead….
Captivated by Heather as she regains her memory, Malcolm is thrown into the line of duty. As danger comes knocking on their door, will he be strong enough to love her and keep her safe? 

She turned to the bedside. A man stood there dressed in dark green sweats, with both hands clenched around the silver bedside bar. He was handsome, with light eyes, dark hair cropped close to his head, and a firm jaw. It was his hands, though. They drew her attention. Clean skin, defined knuckles, large fingers. Hands rough from a hard day’s physical labor, and yet, she imagined, gentle enough to caress the afternoon’s sufferings away.
“It’s good to see you awake.” He smiled. “You gave us all quite a fright.”
Okay, the Scottish accent drew her attention, too. At once, it both melted away some of her fears and sparked a whirlwind of questions.
“Where am I?” Her throat scratched like sandpaper.
“St. Catherine’s Hospital.”
She swallowed hard. “Where is that?”
“Fort William.” He reached for something on the table by her bed and brought back a plastic cup with a straw. “Here.”
“Thank you.” The warm water coated her sore vocal cords. She handed the cup back to him.
Wait a minute. Fort William? The only Fort William she knew was in Scotland. “I don’t understand. How did I get here?” Ignoring the aches in her body, she pressed both palms to the sheets on each side of her and pushed herself up. The blanket fell away from her chest and a new chill surrounded her. “What’s going on?”
Her arms shook, and she collapsed back to the bed.
“Relax.” The man set his palm on her shoulder, as if to keep her flat against the mattress. The heat of his fingers seeped through her hospital gown and into her skin. “I found you unconscious on the beach in Glenhalish. I called for an ambulance, and they brought you here.”
“I was in Glenhalish?”
“Aye, on a three day tour of the Highlands. Do you not remember being there?”
“No.” She squinted and studied him. No memories surfaced. “Do I know you?”
He shook his head. “Only from the beach. I’m Malcolm Fraser.”
She opened her mouth and then closed it again. Her gaze drifted to her lap as tears burned in the corners of her eyes. Panic swelled in her chest and into her throat.
“What is it, lass?” he asked with such tenderness.
“Can you tell me my name?”



VS Morgan said...

I read Her Highland Champion this morning. Great story, Lexi! I really like how you created your own organization - it was done so well I actually questioned if it was a real org or not.


Alexa said...

Wow, what a compliment! Thanks so much!

Jessica Subject said...

That is a wonderful excerpt! I wish you the very best with your new release. :)

Alexa said...

Thanks, Jessica! I'm already having fun with the release. Now if I could just focus on actual writing so I can get more books out....