Author Showcase – CJ Matthew (Survival Reboot: The Paladin Group, Book 2)

Survival is still her #1 mission

Sara Gallagher escaped the memories of a painfully shy childhood and her hopeless crush on the boy next door by joining the USAF where Senior Airman Gallagher excelled as a SERE- Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape instructor. But when a training accident leaves Sara scarred and deaf in one ear, she returns home to join the Paladin Group.

Chris Braxton was Peachwood’s golden boy, a rookie major league pitcher, until a drunk driver shattered his shoulder and his dreams. Now entrepreneur Chris’ upscale sporting goods company is negotiating a nationwide expansion. Enroute to a crucial meeting, he overhears the details of a planned felony. When Chris and his family are threatened, he turns to the Paladin Group.

 

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Chapter 1

 

“Stay quiet,” Sara Gallagher whispered across the bedroom to her wide-eyed young client. “Slide under the bed.” In the dim light, she watched the teen roll silently off the far side of the mattress and disappear from sight. Good girl. There was another faint sound outside. Sara crept to the edge of the French door. Drawing her weapon, she pressed her back to the wall. And waited. By climbing onto the condo’s second-story balcony, the stalker was trespassing. Let’s go for B&E. Sara angled her head to the left, straining to hear. The wood casing of the lock creaked. Bingo. Gripping her weapon with both hands, Sara kept the barrel pointed to the ceiling. Heart thundering, she inhaled slow, controlled breaths as the frame cracked, glass shattered. What remained of the door slowly swung open. A booted foot crunched in the glass on the bedroom floor. There we have it—breaking and entering. Sara adjusted her stance. From neck to toes, the intruder was encased in black leather. A black knitted ski mask concealed his head. In one gloved hand, he gripped a metal rod.

Shit. The stalker came armed. Sara curled a finger over the trigger of her Browning. The rest of the intruder’s burly profile eased into the room. “Drop the weapon. Hands up,” Sara shouted. Pivoting, she aimed for his chest. “Drop it now. I will shoot.” The stalker spun around. And took a wild swing with the large crowbar. Sara leapt back. The instant the metal rod cleared her, she yelled, “Stop.” “Bitch…” He growled. “I’ll…” He loomed over her. Gripping the crowbar with both hands, he reared back for another swing. Sara aimed and fired. The 9mm slug tore through the black leather and into the stalker’s shoulder. He let out a wailing scream and dropped the crowbar. It clattered to the hardwood as he staggered back. Grabbing for his bleeding shoulder, the intruder tripped over his own feet. Landed hard on his butt. “Down flat,” Sara snarled. Her fear drained. She was damned angry. Much as the jerk deserved it, she hated shooting anyone. “On your back.” She kicked the crowbar across the floor. “Do it. Or the next bullet goes down your throat.” Eyeing his uninjured legs, she kept a safe distance from his boots. With a mighty groan, the stalker eased back until he was prone. “Police,” a deep voice shouted from the front area of the condo. “Back bedroom,” Sara answered. “I’m armed. Stalker is down and wounded. Needs an EMT.” She raised both her hands. As two uniformed police appeared, she remained frozen in place. Bad idea to be armed and in motion when law enforcement arrived on scene.  

“Stay put,” the taller policeman instructed. Then to his partner, “Secure her weapon. And that crowbar.” He radioed for medics. Then he turned to Sara. “What happened here?” “I’m Sara Gallagher, the PI who reported the break-in,” Sara explained, surrendering her Browning. “I’m working with Detective Morgan…” “The detective’s right behind us.” “Excellent. My client is not armed. Ms. Stewart is under the bed.” On cue, the teen peeked over the edge of the duvet. Scrambling to her feet, she took one look at the stalker, the blood, and burst into hysterical tears. “It’s okay,” Sara reassured the sobbing college student. “It’s all over.” The room filled with new arrivals. Another uniformed officer entered from the hall, followed by two EMTs. Her client cried harder. And louder. Sara stepped back to give the paramedics more space, then breathed a silent sigh when the Denver detective assigned to Ms. Stewart’s case appeared. After a quick scan of the room, he met her gaze. “Sergeant Gallagher. You okay?” Shit. The police officer sealing her weapon in an evidence bag and one of the medics looked up at the mention of her former military rank. “I’m fine, Detective. But Miss Stewart—” “This is the guy?” Morgan asked. “Your stalker?” “Yes, I’m certain,” she said with a curt nod. “He climbed to the balcony. Pried open the French door. When he stepped inside, I ordered him to stop. He took a swing at me with the crowbar. After another warning, he kept coming. I had to shoot him.” “Good work, Gallagher.” The detective moved closer to question one of the paramedics working on the stalker. “You’re transporting him?” “Yeah. He’s stable. Going to Denver Hospital Main Campus.” Glancing up, Morgan finally became aware of the distraught teen. “Want a paramedic to look at Miss Stewart?” “Good idea,” Sara said. “Thanks.” The handsome medic managed to quiet the hysterical young woman. But when he suggested Sara’s client go the ER, she intervened. Moving around the bed, she held Lori gently by the elbows and pierced the young woman with a steely look. “Tell the truth,” she whispered. “Are you physically hurt anywhere?” Lori Stewart hiccupped. “No.” “You’ve been very strong, did everything right tonight. Are you positive you need to go to the hospital?” “Maybe not.” Lori shook her head. “That’s a brave woman.” Sara handed her a tissue. “Now blow your nose.” Her spoiled young client had grown up quite a bit over the past week. “Can I talk to Daddy?” “Absolutely. We’ll call now. You can tell him it’s all over. And I’ll tell him what a fantastic job you did.” Sara retrieved her phone and handed it to Lori. “Remember— we still need to go to the station with Detective Morgan, give our statements. He’ll be the one to tell us when you’ll be allowed to go home.”

Lori spoke to her father as the room began to clear. Detective Morgan was on a call of his own when Lori looked up. “Ms. Gallagher? Daddy wants to thank you. And…can we drop you back in Atlanta? The Lear will be here in a couple hours.” Lori handed over the phone. “Well done, Sara,” Mr. Stewart said, his deep voice booming through the cell. Her client’s hard-boiled executive parent was obviously relieved and pleased with the outcome. “I’ll wait to read your version in the final report. Meanwhile, thank you. As if saving my daughter’s life wasn’t enough, it seems you’ve managed to crack that layer of selfish disdain she learned from her aunt.” Sara gave a silent nod. “Lori’s a smart, capable young woman.” The personal danger had helped bring out the young woman’s naturally cooperative nature. “Your example was the best thing for her. I’ll have my people handle the condo and your rental car. May I offer you a lift to Atlanta?” “I’d appreciate a ride home. Can I confirm after I check in with Paladin Group?” “Just call from the police station when you two are finished. I’ll arrange for a car to pick you up there. The corporate jet will be waiting at Denver airport.” “Thank you, sir.” As she disconnected the call, Sara glanced up. Lori had her duffel open on the bed and was tossing clothes into it. “Ms. Gallagher…Sara, could I have a minute?” Detective Morgan asked.

She gave him a nod, and he turned to Lori. “When you’re ready to go, we’ll be in the next room.” He led the way into the second bedroom. Now what? Crossing her arms, Sara faced the detective. He leaned his hip against the dresser. “You were right all along about the stalker.” “Am I going to have trouble with the shooting?” “I’ll have someone from the prosecutor’s office sit in on tonight’s interview. But from where I stand, it looks clear cut.” “Mr. Stewart offered me a lift home on his corporate jet. Will I be free to go?” “Umm, yes. What’s the rush?” He frowned. “I was hoping we could…have dinner tomorrow night?” Sara tried to ignore the familiar tension in her stomach. Why was this handsome man interested in her? Why did he want to take her out? She turned and pulled her suitcase from the closet. As she transferred carefully folded sweaters to her bag, he straightened and stepped closer. Couldn’t they keep things professional? “You’re an amazing woman. I want to get to know you better,” Morgan said.

 

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ALSO AVAILABLE!

 

Still risking their lives…The Paladin Group.

Ginger Odom has sworn to become self-reliant…Until she is arrested in a small town and framed for the murder of a police officer. Seems everyone in the community wants her behind bars, regardless of the truth, so her aunt enlists the help of the Paladin Group. A team of wounded former military men and women, now civilian lawyers and investigators, they rescue people in serious trouble.

Hale Peters is determined to ignore his knee injury…The former Air Force Pararescueman, wounded during a rocket attack on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, accepts his first reboot for Paladin. His mission—keep Ginger safe until he can prove her innocence—becomes a bigger challenge than expected when he and Ginger clash over who’s in charge.

The Devil Dogs just want to help…The group of older veterans steps up to assist, but when Ginger’s life is threatened by the real killer, Hale and Ginger need to work together if they hope to stay alive.

 

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CJ MATTHEW grew up in an Air Force family living all over the US and around the world. It proved to be the perfect experience for gathering ideas and material for future books. And for meeting real life heroes and heroines in uniforms and flight-suits. She spent her high school and university years in California, which inspired her love of marine life, and the Pacific Ocean.

As a young girl, she loved books and reading. Arriving at each new duty station, the Colonel’s eldest daughter’s first priority was to locate the base library and befriend the librarians.

As an adult, CJ divided her time between the joys of raising a son and a daughter and a career in medical sales, marketing, and medical practice management. Then in 2007, CJ began her romance novel writing career. Fascinated with vampires and shapeshifters, her first stories form a unique dolphin shapeshifter series based in Santa Barbara, California. According to CJ, a huge attraction to writing paranormal romance is the ability to do serious world-building and to set your own rules. CJ spent the next several years honing her craft, acquiring a literary agent, and continuing to write while the agent pitched the dolphins to NY publishers.

In spring of 2015, CJ gave up on New York. From August to October she self-published the first three of the Dolphin Shore Shifter series. In 2016 she released two additional dolphin books and debuted her romantic suspense series: Paladin Group. The Paladin books are set in a small southern town, and star wounded air force veterans, men and women warriors turned civilian lawyers and investigators determined to continue their rescue work.

In October of 2016, CJ is introducing A Major Seduction, book 1 of the Colonel’s Daughters contemporary romance quintet.

A member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), and Kiss of Death, CJ lives and writes near a lake in the woods northeast of Atlanta. When she isn’t writing or reading romances, CJ spends time with her two grown children, their spouses, a brilliant grandson and a feisty cat named Max.

Schedule permitting, CJ loves to travel, to discover new favorite places as well as meeting new reader/friends in both the US and around the world. Her books have sold in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the UK.

Max flatly refuses to travel.

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