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It’s quite common for the layman (and the media) to refer to all Special Operations Forces as “Special Forces.” However, there is only one real Special Forces, and that’s the United States Army Special Forces, sometimes referred to as the “Green Berets.” The other elite military groups are more properly referred to as “Special Operations Forces,” or “Special Ops.” It may interest you to know that many Special Forces soldiers don’t like the nickname Green Beret. The first Special Forces unit in the Army was formed on 11 June 1952, when the 10th Special Forces Group was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The primary mission of the Army Special Forces is to teach in the middle of combat missions. They go right into combat situations with military members of friendly developing nations and teach them technical fighting and military skills, as well as helping them resolve human rights issues during combat operations.

However, like all Special Operations Groups, that’s not all they do. That’s just what they do best. When not teaching foreign military groups how to sneak up on the enemy and kill them without dying themselves, Army Special Forces have four other missions that they do very well: unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism. Unconventional warfare means they are capable of conducting military and paramilitary actions behind enemy lines. Such actions could include sabotage or helping convince rebel leaders to fight on our side.

Rick Latrobe, one of the five original partners in The Phoenix Agency, spent twelve years in Army Special Forces, training that stood him in good stead when he found himself in a situation that became increasingly dangerous. Could an incredible woman and a dog with Psi abilities keep him safe and help him catch the bad guys?


Kelly Monroe was shocked when her dog, Xena, a Caucasian Ovcharka seemed to bond at once with Rick Latrobe, a partner in the high profile Phoenix Agency. Ovcharkas are known for linking with only their owners. But Xena is picking up Rick’s wave length, very much aware when an attempt is made on Rick’s life and sensing all kinds of danger signals related to Rick’s current project: ferrying a shipment of arms to a private security cadre in Iraq. Rick is nearly killed when the shipment is stolen by terrorists who are hot on his trail. Only Kelly and Xena—coached by members of The Lotus Circle to expand the psychic link between the three of them—can keep him safe. As Rick scrambles to learn who’s behind the whole mess, the relationship he and Kelly have deepens. But Xena is the real star, not only signaling when danger is at hand but “sniffing” out the killers.


Kelly did her best to control her shock at Xena’s actions. The dog never, never ever, did this with anyone but her. Kelly knew how the dog felt. She had an uncontrollable urge to throw herself at Rick Latrobe’s feet too. Why didn’t her grandfather tell her all these men were so good looking?

She looked at the dog and frowned.

“Xena? What’s going on here, girl?”

“Maybe I do better with animals than I do with people,” Rick joked. “She’s magnificent, by the way.”

“Thank you.” She snapped her fingers once. “Xena. Truck. Now.” For emphasis, she opened the passenger door and gestured emphatically.

The dog looked up at Rick, then at Kelly and almost reluctantly stood up and began to amble toward the truck. As she passed Kelly she shifted her weight and nudged her owner with her massive hind quarters. Kelly pitched forward toward Rick, saved from falling only by six foot two of hard muscular body and a pair of strong arms catching her. She found herself pressed against his chest and when she looked up he was grinning at her. Ohmigod! His face was etched with heavy lines of fatigue but his penetrating electric blue eyes danced with mischief.

“Nothing to spice up the day like having a beautiful woman fall into your arms.” He winked at her.

For a moment she was tempted to wrap her arms around him and press herself even closer. Her nipples hardened instantly and every pulse in her body woke up. Then reality hit, heat flamed her cheeks and she pushed herself away.

“I am so sorry. I don’t know what’s come over that dog.” She turned her head toward Xena who was sitting beside her now. Kelly could have sworn the dog was grinning.

Please. Don’t apologize.” He grinned again and a dimple winked at the corner of his mouth. “The pleasure was all mine.”

Kelly labored to maintain some semblance of dignity. Looking into Xena’s eyes, she was sure she could hear the dog thinking, “You need a man and this one’s A plus. It’s my job to help it along.”

She wiped a hand over her face. Impossible. She and Xena got into each other’s minds but this was beyond ridiculous. She snapped her fingers and pointed. “Xena. Truck. Now.”

She swore the dog sighed as she lifted herself, then obediently jumped into the cab and took her place on the passenger seat.

“I apologize again,” she told Rick, then turned to Mike who couldn’t quite keep the smile off his face or the laughter out of his eyes. “And you too. Mike. I think it’s time I got out of here.”

Harry took off his cap and scratched his head. “That’s the damnedest thing. That dog won’t even come to me but she sure took a shine to you, Rick.” He slapped his cap back on and gave his granddaughter a hug. “Well, honey, I guess you gotta get going and I know these guys have to head for their office. Mike, the SUV’s all gassed up. Take it easy on Rick. He looks like he’s been run over a few times.”

“I feel like it too,” Rick told him. He turned those sizzling blue eyes on Kelly again and she had to clench her fists to keep from jumping into his arms again. “Do you live around here?”

She shook her head. “In Maine. Tip edge of the states. I was visiting a friend in Key West and stopped to see Granddad on the way home.”

“Maine?” He and Mike exchanged a look. “Well, you drive carefully. Maybe we’ll see you again. You never know.”

When Kelly cranked the engine and headed toward the gate, waving out the open window, she could see Rick in her rearview mirror, watching her until she left the compound.

“Well, Xena, you picked a winner.” She ruffled the dog’s ears. “Too bad we live so far apart. That’s one male specimen I might even break my ‘no date’ rule for.”

She’d taken herself out of the social circle after too many abortive tries at a relationship with men who didn’t play well with strong women. They were either intimidated or challenged. Somehow she didn’t think Rick Latrobe would be either.

But training guard and security dogs was more than a full-time job and one that left little or no time for relationships. Her business was thriving. That’s what she needed to focus on.