The Panther and the Dove
On September 11, 2001, then 27-year-old Melisande Stratton watches in horror as the second plane hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center live on television—where her lover and her parents had gone without her that morning. At home with an unexpected case of the stomach flu, Mel witnesses her life, her heart, and her reasons for living explode right before her eyes in a shower of flame, concrete, and steel. She flees back to her native Florida several months later and, for years afterward, shuts herself away from everyone and everything in an effort to forget her debilitating pain.
Thirty-one years ago, then 20-year-old Eliot Vandenberg loses her One when an armed robber murders her lover in cold blood during a bank robbery the week before Eliot's college graduation. After months of therapy, Eliot joins the Florida Strategic Response Team, a non-military control force that assists Florida law enforcement in managing situations dealing with hostage rescue, civil unrest, high-risk warrants, and suicidal subjects. After years of being alone, however, Eliot—code name "Panther"— finally decides there has to be another One out there for her somewhere, and she vows to herself she isn't going to rest until she finds her.
When Melisande and Eliot meet, the gentle femme Wiccan and the hard butch enforcement strategist seem to have little in common, even though their similar experiences with personal tragedy quickly draw them together. When they unexpectedly become lovers almost immediately, they both find a hope for the future neither of them has felt for many years, a future bright with the possibility of that long-elusive happily-ever-after.
Until Melisande learns the details behind what Eliot REALLY does at FSRT, that is. When Eliot comes home after helping to end an urgent crisis and relates the events behind the murder of two police officers by a man avoiding a domestic battery search warrant, Mel is frozen to the core to see a cold, hard professional in the place of her tender, passionate lover.
With pain in her heart, she breaks up with Eliot, knowing her pacifist Wiccan beliefs and Eliot's hard-core enforcement career will always be at odds with each other. But Eliot is determined to fight for her peaceful Dove and prove to Melisande that she is Eliot's long-awaited One. No matter what it takes, no matter what she has to do, Eliot Vandenberg will make sure Melisande Stratton understands that she is HERS.
Even if Eliot has to give up everything else in her life that matters to her in order to keep her.
Trigger Warning: The beginning of this book deals with the events of 9/11 as they unfolded in New York City on that fateful day.
The Dance, Book Two