Home > Protecting Dani

Protecting Dani
Author: Lila Ferrari

Dear Readers,


Welcome to the Special Forces: Operation Alpha Fan-Fiction world!


If you are new to this amazing world, in a nutshell the author wrote a story using one or more of my characters in it. Sometimes that character has a major role in the story, and other times they are only mentioned briefly. This is perfectly legal and allowable because they are going through Aces Press to publish the story.

This book is entirely the work of the author who wrote it. While I might have assisted with brainstorming and other ideas about which of my characters to use, I didn’t have any part in the process or writing or editing the story.

I’m proud and excited that so many authors loved my characters enough that they wanted to write them into their own story. Thank you for supporting them, and me!




Susan Stoker






Protecting Dani

A huge thank you to Susan Stoker for allowing me to write in her world. My first foray into Susan’s world was reading Protecting Caroline. That series is still my favorite, although I love all her other series and characters. I have included John “Tex” Keegan in my story.

I hope you enjoy this book.




For Ray,









After the devastating death of her husband, Dani Ward and her seven-year-old son, Jack, move to Haywood Lake, Florida, for a fresh start on life. She’s escaping not only painful memories but threats to her fragile peace.


Ryker Barlow drifted across the country searching for peace after the untimely death of his wife and best friend. He is introduced to the Brotherhood Alliance, a group of ex-military and Special Forces personnel who provide protection for the most vulnerable. His buddy from the Green Berets thought Ryker might find the peace he is seeking by saving lives instead of taking them.


A chance encounter introduces Ryker to Dani, his reclusive neighbor, and that changes everything.


Trouble follows Dani to her new home—trouble that could mean her running again or her death. Neither is acceptable to Ryker. But he is troubled by his own demons.


Can Dani trust the grumpy neighbor with secrets of his own? Can they work together to find out why someone is targeting her? Will Ryker be able to open his heart to Dani before evil catches up to her?






“All set.” The twentysomething tow truck operator rubbed the grease from his hands and looked over at Dani. He shook his head. “Third time this month you’ve had a flat. You might want to get that tire replaced.”

Dani Ward had the strangest urge to reach out and brush the crumbs from his sparse beard but stopped before she embarrassed herself. The beard reminded her of husband’s first attempt at growing one.

She sighed and nodded. “I will. Thanks for coming.”

The man got in his truck and drove off. The tire wasn’t losing air. Someone was letting it out. Just another tactic to scare her. Deep in her bones, Dani felt it was working.

Dani glanced at the horizon. The sky was deep gray with angry storm clouds. She hoped the storm would hold off until they started their trip.

There was little time to relax. She loaded the last of her belongings into the new-to-her Honda CR-V and gazed at the Cape Cod-style home she and her husband, Mason, bought just after they married. The house that they could hardly afford and housed their happy little family until a short time ago now looked abandoned.

But the memories it held! It’s where they brought their son, Jack, home from the hospital. The house had more bedrooms than they needed, but they hoped to have a large family. That dream was gone, but she had Jack, and he was all she needed right now.

They painted the house a sunny yellow, a color that always made her happy when she drove down the driveway. Every morning, she and Mason had their morning coffee on the wide front porch. They’d listen to the birds sing, watch the occasional deer nibbling on grass and discuss their day. The rocking chairs that sat there were gone—sold. She wouldn’t be needing them when she moved. In fact, there wasn’t anything in the house she needed. There would be no moving truck with the furniture and knickknacks she and Mason had picked out together.

In the front garden, the orange and yellow roses were beginning to blossom. Mason had surprised her with her favorite David Austin roses just after they moved in and planted them for her.

Their fruity fragrance brought back so many happy memories and firsts—the first house she ever owned, the first night making love in their new home, first Christmas, their son’s first baby steps, and the champagne toast at midnight when Mason got his dream job. Now the house was sold, the good times gone. Only memories remained.

Jack came scampering out of the house, holding a stuffed bear. For a moment Dani stared at him and her heart ached. He looked so much like Mason when he was a child. The reddish-brown hair and the big grin were all Mason. The bigger-than-life personality, again, all Mason. She was the introvert in the family.

“Ready to go, Jack?”

He nodded.

She closed the back gate to the car and brushed her hands together. “Are you excited?”

Her seven-year-old son looked up at her with big blue eyes, the color of a spring sky.

“Mommy, are we going to Disney?”

“No, love, not right away.” She smiled and patted his head. “First, we have to get to Haywood Lake and settle into our new house.”

Jack’s eyes clouded with disappointment.

“Haywood Lake is in Florida, so we can go swimming all year.”

“Yay!” He flung his arms upward and jumped. “I love swimming. Can I get a floaty?”

“Oh, sweetheart, we’ll see. I would miss you if you floated away.”

He scrunched his little face, just like Mason used to do. It brought a tear to her eye.

Mason had been dead for eight months. His passing hurt less each day. Dani missed her husband and best friend.

Lucky for her that as a yoga instructor, she could work anywhere. There was no family she would miss here in New York or anywhere, for that matter. Some friends, maybe. Mason’s family lived in Chicago, and he had been estranged from them since college. She’d definitely miss the Hudson Valley and its history, the unique small towns, its wineries, the food scene, and the outdoors.

It helped that Dani craved warm weather, palm trees, and the beach. She was tired of long, cold winters and wet springs, and there was the house she inherited from her grandmother that was furnished and waiting for them. She hoped it would be a new beginning, a place to make more happy memories.

She swung the car door open. “Hop in, Jack.”

Jack got into the back seat, buckled himself into his booster seat, and Dani handed him his stuffed bear, Skippy.

The bear was the first stuffed animal Mason had given his son, telling him it was special, and Jack treasured it. Skippy’s light brown fur had seen better days. She didn’t have the heart to tell Jack that haircuts on stuffed animals never grew back. One ear was half off, Skippy’s pink heart a little stained, and his black nose unraveled a while ago, but it didn’t matter to Jack. He loved the bear.

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