Friday, March 15, 2019

Character Spotlight with Author Susan Hayes

Please give a warm welcome to Sgt. Dante Strak from Operation Cobalt by Susan Hayes today as we sit down and see what makes him tick.

Q: So tell us about yourself. What got you in the crosshairs for your author?

A: Hey there. Thanks for the invite.
What got me sent to meet my doom – Uh… I mean find the love of my life? My working theory is that my author likes to meddle in the lives of innocent men. We’re just living our lives, doing the best we can, and then along comes Susan and BOOM, everything changes. Not that I’m complaining too much. I mean, she did find me a hell of a woman. But me and the rest of the guys think she needs a new hobby or a pet or something.

My author is persistent, too. When I ignored her first attempt to put me and Tyra together, she upped the ante and made it impossible for me to walk away a second time. I mean that literally, too. She had me under a force field, stuck in a damned med-bed. I’d be plotting my revenge, but as it turned out, she was right. Tyra and I were supposed to be together.

Q: What was it that drew you to your mate?

A: Tyra is one of the best people I’ve ever met. Self-sacrificing, determined to do good in the galaxy no matter what it might cost her. The thing is, she has no sense of self-preservation. Zip. Zilch. None. It’s crazy. She needs someone to take care of her and protect that cute ass of hers. I decided I was the man for the job.

Q: A little naughty fun, where was the wildest place you seduced your partner(s)?

A: Once I got out of that damned med-bed, I took Tyra on our first date. Options were limited because we were on a military vessel at the time, so I took her to the gunner’s pit, which is basically a clear bubble on the bottom of the ship. Made for a really nice view during dinner, which was served on the command console. I thought the flashing console lights added to the ambiance. Dinner was cold by the time we got to it, though, because I decided I wanted dessert first. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that part of the ship had a locking door.

Q: Boxers, briefs or Commando on a man?

A: Commando. Our uniforms are a snug fit as it is, and no one wants to be distracted by his boxers bunching in the middle of a fight.

Q: If your partner wants to seduce you, what's one sure fire trick they can do to seduce you?

A: I love it when she tries to tell me what to do. It’s sexy as hell. Especially when she uses my full name. By the time she gets to my last name, all bets are off, and so are her clothes.

Q: What is the one place on your partner's body that you know will drive them wild-in and out of bed?

A: Tyra turns to goo when I kiss the nape of her neck. I try to do that as often as I can. I like her gooey.

Q: What was one of the most embarrassing things your author did to you in Operation Cobalt?

A: She had me taken captive. Me. I’m a seven-foot tall, part-alien soldier who used to fight in cage matches for a living, and I wind up tied to a damned chair. Talk about humiliating. Oh, and there was that whole “had me trapped in a med-bed so I couldn’t move” thing, too, but I mentioned that already. I might be holding a grudge. I’ll get over it once she moves on to meddling in the lives of my teammates. I’m planning on eating an entire bowl of popcorn while I watch that happen.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A:  Yeah. If you like books with action, intrigue, and hot se–
(a boy appears) Hey, Dante. You done yet? You promised we could have hamburgers after this, and I’m starving!
Dante: Nearly done, kid. Oh, yeah. This is Nico. He’s in the story, too.
Nico: Hi everyone. Dante’s gotta go now. It’s burger time.
Dante: Apparently, my time is up. Anyway, if you like books with suspense, a bit of a body count, some epic fighting—
Nico: —And burgers!
Dante: Yeah, and lizard burgers, you should pick up a copy of Operation Cobalt. Or start at the beginning of the series and pick up book one, Operation Phoenix.

Thank you Dante for joining us on 'Meet the Character' day here at Dawn’s Reading Nook Blog. You can find all of Susan Hayes’ books at

Operation Cobalt
Nova Force Series, Book 2
Science Fiction/Futuristic Romance
All buy links HERE

He’s looking for a fight. She’s looking for a hero.
Sergeant Dante Strak hasn’t always fought for the right side. Now that he’s part of Nova Force, he has a chance to make up for the mistakes of his past. After years of fighting, Dante believes he’s ready for anything the universe can throw at him…until a sexy, stubborn doctor crashes into his life and changes everything.
Dr. Tyra Li is on Bellex 3 to help combat the arrival of cobalt, a new designer drug that turned half the population into addicts almost overnight. When a brazen attack turns her mission of mercy into a fight for survival, a split-second decision leads to unexpected consequences, and a chance at a future she never imagined.

Chapter One

“It’s the only thing that makes sense.” Dr. Tyra Li could see her teammates weren’t in agreement. They were all crowded into the space they’d designated the meeting room, because it was the largest one they had. It wasn’t big enough, though. It was standing room only, all of them leaning against the grimy walls as they talked through their current challenge.
Barry Carver, the second-most senior doctor on the team, shook his grey head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see the correlation. The medic who made the initial report wasn’t specific enough for anyone to make the leap you’re making, Dr. Li. Just because two drugs cause violent outbursts and psychosis doesn’t mean they’re made from similar compounds.”
“We need more than second-hand descriptions of the effects, we have to get our hands on an actual sample of this drug,” Dr. Oran Castille chimed in from his corner. It was a common refrain from him, one they were all tired of hearing.
Tanis Vinos, the team’s systems tech, shot an irritated look at Oran. “Why don’t you trot down to the local pharma den and pick us up some, then? Oh, wait, we tried that. There’s not a trace of the fraxxing stuff anywhere.”
Frustration was making everyone short tempered. How could a street drug hit so hard and then disappear completely? “I know this has been a uniquely challenging assignment, but we’ll get there in the end.” Tyra looked around the room at the men and women who made up her team. They’d all joined Boundless to make a difference, to help people in crisis no matter the risk. Standing idly by wasn’t in their nature.
Jessica scoffed. “There’s no challenge here at all. Bellex 3 is hardly paradise, but the population is relatively healthy.”
Riku hummed in quiet disagreement. “There may not be a drug problem, but these people still need us.” He gestured out the dirt-encrusted window to gray, dismal world beyond the glass. “We’re the only qualified medical personnel in this entire district! Bellex Corporation should be ashamed of themselves. These are people, not animals. But they’re treated like livestock, or worse. Makes me glad cloning has been outlawed. Can you imagine what the corporations would do if they could manufacture their workers the way they did the cyborgs?”
“They’d love to create another slave workforce with no rights at all,” Tanis said. “Though that’s damned close to what’s going on here. Have you seen the tattoos? Cute little triangle symbol on their necks? They might as well be the barcodes they slapped on the poor cyborgs. Anyone with that tattoo has been chipped by Bellex so they can be scanned and tracked. It’s horrible.”
“We’re not here to judge, Tanis,” Barry said with a hint of reproval.
“Attitudes like that are how the corporations got away with abusing the cyborgs for so long. No one wanted to interfere. They were just vat-grown machines, so what was the harm? Only they weren’t machines at all, and they suffered all sorts of atrocities because no one wanted to stick their neck out. The corporations have proven they can’t be trusted with tech like that. Clones. Cybernetic implants. Nantech. They’ve abused it all.”
Barry stiffened. “We’re here to help the people, not get involved in local issues. That’s a key part of Boundless’ mission statement. If we start interfering…”
Tyra cleared her throat. “I’m sure we’re all aware of our mission statement, Dr. Carver, but I understand Tanis’ concerns, as well. No one wants a repeat of what happened to the cyborgs. While we can’t interfere, we can certainly document what we’re seeing.”
Both Tanis and Barry nodded in silent agreement.
“And while were, here, we can help these people as much as we can.” She reminded them. “After all, while we’re helping them, we’re giving ourselves the best chance of finding some trace of cobalt. The blood samples we’ve taken from our patients have made it clear something is going on here. Most of our patients are sex trade workers, pharma peddlers, and street kids. The fact that none of them show any sign of the drug is one of the main reasons I believe it’s not being used recreationally. That’s the most vulnerable population. If they aren’t using it, then it has to be the workers.”
“I want to support you, Dr. Li, but once again, you’re using a lack of evidence as proof of your theories.” Barry said.
Dr. Carver was steadfast and unflappable in a crisis, but he always needed a mountain of proof before he accepted any diagnosis or theory. It made him a valuable member of the team, but right now, she was frustrated no one else saw the patterns she did. It was as clear as fraxxing crystal to her. “If I’m right, then the only way to get proof is to test the factory workers.”
“Our agreement with Bellex doesn’t allow…”  Barry started.
She cut him off with an angry slash of her hand. “I know. I know. But if I’m right, they might very well be in on this. You’ve seen the workers. The way they behave. Hyper- focused, frenetic, pushing themselves to the point of breakdown without slowing. That’s not normal.”
Everyone else remained silent.
“Alright, you’re not buying my theory. Let’s hear yours.” She leaned against the wall and waited.
Jessica cleared her throat. “What if the original overdoses weren’t from a drug like crimson. What if it was crimson, or at least a bad copy of it? Someone local tried to replicate it, but they got it wrong. The overdoses and deaths brought too much attention, so they closed shop and bailed. They’ll probably try again with a new batch in a new district. We could stay here, help out the locals, and wait to see if the problem starts again elsewhere on the planet.”
Several others nodded, and Tyra grudgingly accepted that they weren’t going to see things her way. “Anyone else got a theory they’d like to put forward? Some angle we haven’t thought of?”
No one spoke. She let the silence continue for a few minutes, then pushed off the wall she was leaning against and moved to the middle of the room “If that’s everything, then let’s call this meeting and get back to work. We’ll revisit this discussion on a few days.”
There wasn’t much said as they filed out. Riku gave her a brief nod and a smile as he left, and Tanis bumped shoulders with her as she passed by. Once they were gone, Tyra sighed and looked out the window at the grim, colorless world outside.
There was something going on here, and she was going to prove it, one way or another. Until then, there was work to do.

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