Saturday, November 4, 2017

Inside Phoenix by Roni O'Connell {Promo and Excerpt}

Happy Release Day:
About The Book:
A standalone, full length paranormal thriller filled with steamy wolf shifter romance.
Phoenix Reynolds, former high fashion model in denial of her wolf heritage, owns a coffeehouse in a tiny mountain town. Daughter of billionaire resort mogul parents who abandoned her to the whims of the fashion world at only fifteen.
Ian Brody, NFL wide receiver and alpha wolf shifter, arrives in town to investigate the murders of college-aged pups.
Together they make a combustible pair. He wants her and recognizes her as his life mate. She is an adamant virgin, refusing the sex that will trigger her shift.
When she becomes prey how will he protect her?
How can she love and submit to the dominant alpha but remain herself?
When tragedy strikes, Phoenix Reynolds abandons her high fashion modeling career to open Brown Burro Coffee in a tiny mountain town.
NFL wide receiver and wolf alpha, Ian Brody, comes to town to investigate the killings of college-aged shifters but finds his soulmate in Phoenix.
Will Phoenix embrace her inner wolf and become Ian’s mate or remain a virgin in denial of her heritage?
Or will the killer find her first?
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For the first time since I moved here, under the pretext of this coaching job, I’m feeling upbeat.
Phoenix, huh? The girl’s yellow-green eyes turned hostile when I asked her if she wanted a
boyfriend.
Her wolf lay dormant in her. Her scent is a spicy mix of forest flowers and musk. She’s never
shifted—a virgin. If she had, she’d know not to challenge me. A challenged alpha has an almost
irresistible urge to conquer, kill, or dominate. I wanted to turn her around, bite the soft skin on
the back of her neck, slam my dick into her wetness, and watch her burst into the she-wolf she
denies. Fortunately, my control is better than most, even when a female smells that delectable.
Her neon yellow t-shirt said Suck It Up, Buttercup. It was baggy, but she wasn’t wearing a bra
this long-legged bitch tempts me. Females present no challenge. They are one of many perks
afforded to NFL players and alpha wolves. A month ago, I broke up with Melissa Garland. She
was craving the attention and commitment of a mate, but I wasn’t going to give her that. She’s a
member of my dad’s pack, but not the one for me. When Mel started talking mating and pups, I
knew it was time for her to go. She was fun, in bed and out, but I don’t do relationships, which
she knew. I treat women well, human or Lykos, and enjoy their company when I’m not in
training, but I know what I want and what it takes to achieve my goals. Football is my destiny,
but my pack obligations supersede everything. Lives depend on me. Money still rolls in from
sponsors paying for my endorsements, my name and face on their athletic gear, but they’ll go
away damn fast if I don’t get back on the field. My knee injury is my cover story, but wolves
heal quickly. The fact is that I’m here searching for whoever is murdering Lykos in this region.
Plus, the local alpha and his mate have not been heard from in months.
My younger brother, Ryder, is researching online for the clues and facts of each death. I finish
my walk and enter my condo, chosen for its proximity to the college and because it’s a new
build. I enjoy the marble, clean lines, open floor plan, and the complex is too expensive to be
filled with noisy students. In three hours I have to be at work, so maybe I can catch some sleep
now. As I doze off, I dream of the night of my injury. It’s the perfect throw. The ball spirals over
the head of Travis Jackson and I leap, catching it. I spin and take off, past the first down, headed
to the 40-yard line when I’m slammed by 320 pounds of mass. Curtis Elroy, an Arcos bear,
moving faster than you’d dream a huge man could move, slams into my knees. Excruciating pain
radiates through my leg as my right knee grinds to the side and I’m pinned to the ground. Curtis
and three of his teammates ensuring I stay down. I yell in agony. No way I’m getting up on this
fucker. My teammates crowd around and help me to my good leg as the head trainer and team
doctor arrive. They wrap my leg in an air splint. The fans applaud as, supported on both sides, I
hobble off the field. I wave to the crowd, but this is not good. Any professional athlete knows
when it’s serious and when it’s not. The doctor examines and palpates my knee, confirming what
I already know. I’m off to the hospital for x-rays and an MRI. I carefully peel off my yellow
pants and white jersey trimmed in yellow with its number 13, a number I busted my ass for six
years to obtain. The news is bad. A tibial plateau fracture with a crushed kneecap, sidelining me
for the rest of the season. I’ll heal quickly once I shift, but to maintain my human fa├žade, I’ve got
to be benched for as long as a human player.

My cell phone beeps and I jerk awake. I check it and see two texts from my ex, Melissa. She
won’t take no for an answer. Still calling, texting, and sending me emails. She even invited my
mom out to lunch and got her all excited about the prospect of grandbabies. It took me an hour to
convince Mom she was being played. Mom is an omega, so she wants everybody to be happy.
Omegas are the most submissive and social of the pack members. The pleasers of the pack, and
the most willing to see the best in everyone. Don’t get me wrong, though. If anyone were to
threaten any of the pack, she’s lethal in her wolf form. I delete all the messages, enjoy a steamy
shower, then dress for work. This coaching gig is fun for now, but I’m returning to pro football
as soon as I exterminate the wolf killer. I’ve known my destiny since I was fifteen. I fill a
thermos with coffee, grab my windbreaker, and head out to my Escalade.
Out on the field, I focus on the young men in front of me. The offense makes some good plays,
but at the same time, they made some major mistakes. Illegal formation penalties aren’t anything
I want to see. The former coach said they have a long way to go, but I have tangible
evidence of what needs to be fixed and can work with this team. The young quarterback and one
of my newest pack members, Zeke Phillips, steps up today. It’s still early, but the kid has real
talent. He’s the type of guy who really thinks and the others respect and listen to
him. There are a few spectators watching in the stands, and the cheerleaders practice at the far
end of the field.
At noon, I send the team off to the showers, then I meet with the other coaches to review
practice. The Offensive and Defensive Coordinators have been here over ten years, so I’d be
stupid not to listen to them. The Running Backs and Special Teams Coordinator is new, but he
has a solid resume. The meeting is productive and we’re ready for our first game when camp
finishes. When I leave, I see some cheerleaders hanging around and my brother grinning,
chatting up a couple of them. Ryder is a computer wizard, a smart kid, and my beta, second-in-
command to my small pack. He’s already started his own computer business and repairs
computers for the university while still a sophomore. He’s a couple inches shorter and leaner
than I am, but we have the same blue eyes. Ryder isn’t a football player. He’s a runner and loves
to rock climb. He lived in the dorms until I bought my place, then he moved into the extra
bedroom to get away from the idiots on his floor.
“Hey, Ian,” he calls out. “Come meet your fans.” The girls, wearing sports bras and short shorts,
giggle and look me up and down. The blond speaks first. “Hi, Coach. I’m Tiffany. This is Lena,
and this is Hayley.” Two blonds and a brunette. All too young for me. “We’re big fans. I’ve
followed your career and it’s so exciting to have you coach here.” She bats her lashes and
wiggles in excitement. Her breasts bounce, and Ryder grins and wiggles his eyebrows behind
her.
“It’s nice to meet you, ladies,” I say, yearning to escape. “We were hoping you and your brother
could go to lunch with us,” the brunette named Lena says. “We’re trying out some new cheers
this year and thought we could see what you think.” “I think that’s outside my area of expertise,”
I reply coolly. “But thanks anyway. I’m sure we’ll be seeing you at practice.” “Oh,” she says and
pouts. “Maybe we can show you when we’re on the field tomorrow.” “Yeah, Ian. We could
watch them practice their new cheers tomorrow.” Ryder grins widely. He’s as horny as any

adolescent pup. “I’m pretty busy right now, but it’s a possibility.” I hold in a laugh and push my
brother on the shoulder to get him moving. “Nice to meet you. Come on, Ryder.”
“I can’t believe you walked away from that,” he exclaims when we’re out of earshot. “Those
girls are hot.” “I’ve got an hour for lunch, and then I’m off to physical therapy and hitting
the gym. Don’t you have class this afternoon?” “Yeah, but not until two, and it’s Stats. An easy
A. We could’ve had lunch with those babes.” “Hey, you were talking to them first, bro. You had
your chance. I’m not interested.” “What good is it to have a famous older brother if I don’t get in
on some of the action?” “Get your own action, pup. If you want in on mine, meet me at the gym
at four.”
When we enter the student cafe, I remember drinking Phoenix’s coffee. “I met this girl this
morning. Weird name. Phoenix. She owns the Brown Burro Coffee on Fifth and Main.” We
move through the line and order. Ryder orders a burger and fries, and I stick to grilled chicken
breasts, a baked potato, and salad. Ryder smirks. “I thought you weren’t interested in banging
any girls.” “I’m not. Not cheerleaders anyway. So, you know Phoenix?” “Everybody knows
Phoenix. Even you.” “What? I’ve never met her before. Believe me, I’d remember.” “Think dark
hair and bikinis. Underwear commercials. That girl was a supermodel, worldwide.” Now I
remember. Sports Illustrated and the girl in the string bikini, looking like she ate men for
breakfast. The water making her tiny triangle top cling to her small breasts. Those long legs.
“Fuck me. That’s her?”
“Yeah. She’s gorgeous, huh? But you won’t get in her pants. She doesn’t date. Trust me on this.
Every guy I know has tried.” I chew and think. “Why is she running a coffeehouse? She had to
make a fortune modeling.” With her looks and body, she could still be in that profession. No
woman has ever shut me down like she did. “I have no idea and I wouldn’t ask. She’s the
original ball-buster, and I’d like to keep my balls.” “Pussy.” I laugh at him, then ask about his
classes. “They’re pretty easy. Design and Analysis of Algorithms is cool, and Compiler
Construction and System Concepts are okay.” “Kid, it’s like you speak a foreign language.” I’m
proud of him. Ryder is damn smart, and I know for a fact he can hack into any damn
system he sets his mind to.
“How does the team look?” Ryder picks out the sliced onion and gulps down his rare burger.
“Good. Zeke Phillips is the new quarterback. He’s really a mature player for only nineteen.”
“Solid guy too and good addition to the pack. You know, he was in my English class my junior
year of high school. Graduated a year behind me at Fieldstone Prep.” “They have a rigorous
football team. That explains his mental and physical fitness. Let’s go. I’ve got physical therapy
in fifteen minutes.” I have to go through the motions of recovery and it’s boring as hell. “Okay.
Maybe I’ll drop by practice tomorrow morning.” “Don’t bullshit me, little bro. You want to
check out those cheerleaders, not the football practice.” Ryder laughs as we part ways. I just
have time to go home and change into workout clothes. My cell phone beeps and I answer
without looking at who is calling, which is a mistake. “Hi there, stranger,” Melissa says. Fuck.
“Mel, I’m on my way out.” I keep it polite. “You can’t keep putting me off. I want to see you.
You promised.” “You know damn well that was before.” Before she got clingy. Before I got sick
of her. Before she became a stalker. Before we broke up. “You said we’d stay friends.” “Look,
Melissa, I’m late for my physical therapy. And there is no use you coming all the way here

again. You’ve seen my new place. I’ve got to go. Bye.” And I click off, shaking my head.
Melissa doesn’t want to be my friend. She wants to be a wife with a ring the size of a chicken
egg to flash at the country club. She wants to get fucked by an NFL player, and become the
spouse of the alpha. And even if I do take a mate, she won’t be the one. I fold my frame into my
Escalade and hit the accelerator, raising the volume on the radio. Physical therapy is slow. I’m
doing weight-bearing exercises now but have to pace myself as a human would recover. At 5
p.m., I head for the university gym for my real workout. Ryder sits on my back as I side plank.
“Get off, you little prick.” “I’m not much smaller than you, big bro.” He’s right. I outweigh him
by about thirty pounds and am two inches taller, but he stays fit. Ryder laughs and hops off me.
“I’m going to hit the rock climbing wall. Will you belay for me?” “Let me work with the free
weights first. You spot me and I’ll belay you.” “Deal.”
Ryder spots me as I lift the free weights, then work on my bench presses of 30 reps of 200
pounds. I need to maintain my strength, but I’m not going for a personal record. Sweating now, I
grab my towel and wipe my face and neck. “Good job.” Ryder nods approvingly. “My turn.”
He gets his harness on. As his anchor, I ask, “On belay?” Ryder chalks his hands. “Yes. Give me
a little more slack.”
I watch his climb and, damn, the kid moves like a mountain goat, steadily climbing with never a
wrong hand or foot placement. In my periphery, I glimpse glossy red hair under the bright gym
lights. Phoenix is here with another girl, both carrying rolled yoga mats. I refocus on my brother
as he rings the bell at the top of the wall. The sound attracts both girls’ attention, and I see the
exact moment Phoenix recognizes me. Those yellow-green eyes burn holes through me, enticing
me to confront her. There is something about this hostile girl that makes me want to tease her to
see those exaggerated reactions. If she is capable of this amount of antagonism, I speculate she
has matching amounts of untapped passion. Phoenix turns her back to us, whispering to the
shorter girl as they walk to the exercise bikes.
Ryder reaches the bottom of the wall and unbuckles his harness. “I’m going to free climb.”
“You’re a wolf, not a mountain goat. One mistake free climbing and you’re dead. It’s not worth
the risk,” I caution. “It’s a rush. And who are you to talk? Football players get concussions
all the time.” “Yeah, but they don’t usually kill you. A fall from a cliff and you’re instant road
kill. Stick with a belayer. Don’t let your ego get you killed. How about we try out the exercise
bikes?” Ryder shoots me a look of shock. “Bikes? Why?” I nod toward where the two girls chat
on their bikes, empty bikes on either side of them, yoga mats on the floor.
“Sure.” My brother’s eyes glint. “I was beginning to wonder if you’d sworn off women after
Melissa.”
We walk over and I nudge Ryder away from Phoenix and toward the other girl. He shoves me
back with a growl, but gets my message. Pale, flawless skin, no makeup at all, and those fierce
eyes that attract me like no bitch ever has. Damn if I don’t want to know her secrets and what
makes her so pissed off. It’s almost unheard of for a female to remain unshifted after her teen
years. Phoenix wears a navy sports bra and bright pink and navy form-fitting pants that hug her
slender hips and legs. I sit on the bike and adjust the seat height to limit the bend in my
supposedly injured knee. Ryder immediately engages the other girl in conversation.

“Hello again.” Phoenix glances my way, then puts in her earbuds and turns on the MP3 player. I
laugh and speak louder. “The gym is only for students and faculty, so I guess you’re a student?”
Heads turn at my loud voice. Phoenix pulls out an earbud. “Most people would see that I’m
listening to my music.” “I’m not most people.” I know I sound cocky, but I don’t care. I am
arrogant, and smart, and an asshole to those who cross me. And I am always in control, as an
alpha must be. My smile is amiable.
“True. You are more annoying than most people. A lot like a blister or paper cut.”
“So, are you a student?” She lets out an exasperated sigh. “I take a business class. Just
because I didn’t graduate high school doesn’t make me stupid,” she says in a snarly tone.
“I never thought for a second you were stupid. I was merely surprised to see you here. Why do
you give me such a hard time? I only want to get to know you.” “You don’t need to know me.
I’m a private person. I spent years in the public eye, and I no longer owe that to anybody.” “I can
understand valuing your privacy, but I’m new in the area and I’d like to be your friend.”
Those long legs pump up and down. The look she gives me calls bullshit on my motives. “No.
You want in my pants.” “Maybe I’m interested in both. Being your friend and fucking you.” She
snorts. “Merde.” “What’s that?” “It’s French.” “You speak French?” “I lived in Paris and
modeled there a lot. I pick up languages quickly. Who is that talking to my sister?” Those
fabulous eyes narrow with a hint of unleashed violence. I anticipate seeing those eyes blinded by
passion when we have sex.
“My brother, Ryder. He’s a student here. A sophomore.” “My little sister is seventeen. Tell him
to back off.” “That’s up to her, isn’t it? Ryder’s a good guy. Smart, polite, doesn’t fart or pick his
nose in public.” “I don’t care. Keep him away from my sister.” “Look, he’s only twenty and he
was raised to respect girls.” “Unlike you?” “What makes you think that? Haven’t I been nice to
you? I make conversation, eat your scones, drink your coffee. I’m likable.” My face reflects
mock shock and hurt, but my lips tip up as I suppress a grin. People are predictable, and I’m the
master of manipulation and used to getting what I want. People say they’re lucky or whine that
they’re not, but I don’t believe in luck. I decide my own fate. As a teen, it drove me crazy when
people talked down to me, acting as if I were stupid and unworthy merely because I was young.
Only my father treated me as an equal, respecting my intelligence and my commitment to my
goals. I aced all my advanced placement classes in high school, but teachers still thought
their abilities superseded mine. So, I learned to play their games and win. The edges of
Phoenix’s gorgeous mouth lift. “My sister is taking a year off before college to figure out what
she wants. She’s young and graduated early. She doesn’t need distractions.” We both look over
at our siblings, chatting and laughing easily together.
“Looks to me like she enjoys the distraction. Give the kid a chance. While you’re at it, you could
try giving me one, too. I’d still like to take you out to dinner.” Before Phoenix can reply, her
sister calls to us. “Phoenix, I’ve invited Ryder and his brother over for taco night on Friday.
That’s okay, right?” Her pretty face glows with excitement. The girl looks so happy and hopeful;
Phoenix can’t help but agree. She tosses me a glare. “Sure, you can invite anyone you like.”
Under breath, she says to me, “You’re busy.” “We’d love to come,” I state calmly. “I love
Mexican food.”
Phoenix turns off her machine abruptly and grabs her water bottle.

About the Author:
Roni O’Connell lives with her husband and two dogs high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
She finds inspiration in the forest, wildlife, and lakes around her home.
A former English teacher, Roni enjoys the company of young adults, their spirited opinions, great enthusiasm, and outrageous humor.
When Roni isn’t writing novels, you can find her hiking in the forest or contemplating the wonders of nature.
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