GenTech Rebellion Series Backstory
Sometime between the interminable wars in the Middle East and 9/11, the United States moved forward breeding a race of super humans. Clandestine labs formed, armed with eager scientists whoâd always yearned to manipulate human DNA. At first the clones looked promising, growing to fighting size in as little as a dozen years, but V1 had design flaws.
Seven years ago, a rogue group turned on their creators, blew up the lab, and hit all the other breeding farms, freeing whomever they could find. In the intervening time, theyâve retreated to hidden compounds and created a society run by men. Women are kept on a tight leash because the men fear if they discover their innate power, theyâd launch their own rebellion.
Genre: Military Romance with a Science Fiction Edge
The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally shatters.
After years as a black ops CIA agent, nothing surprises Roy Kincaid, yet his current assignment is close to a bust. How could his targetârenegade genetic freaksâdrop off the radar as if they never existed? Burnt out and discouraged, he hunches over a meal in a backwater diner when a half-frozen woman with the look of an abused runaway staggers through the door. On his feet in an instant, Roy kicks himself. His first instinct is to help her, make certain she stays long enough for the bluish cast to leave her lips. His second is to finish his meal and leave. The world is full of broken women. Itâs not his job to fix them, but he canât take his eyes off her.
Gloryâs telepathic ability blares a harsh warning. Roy hunts those like her, but damn if he didnât buy her dinner. Maybe she can fool him, just for tonight. Add a dry motel room to the meal. If she plays it very cool, heâll never find out sheâs on the run from the same group heâs targeted for death.
Enhanced genetics only go so far. A roadblock and her face on a Most Wanted flyer shatter her fragile truce with Roy. If her Handlers find her, theyâll kill her. If Roy finds out what she is, sheâll be worse than dead.
Excerpt Winning Glory:
â¦âDessert, hon?â The waitress sidled back over to him, and Roy realized he was her only customer.
âSure. What do you have?â
She rattled off a series of pies and cakes. He chose apple pie with a scoop of ice cream, and she left with his dinner plate. Roy slumped against the chair. He had to keep going. No choice. Not really. A good nightâs sleep, coupled with the first adequate meal heâd had in a couple days might make a big difference in his attitude. At least he hoped they would.
Heâd just begun on the pie, which had a surprisingly flaky crust, when a rush of cold air yanked his attention toward the door. A tall woman walked in. Long, dark hair caked with snow swirled around her, and she held her body tightly as if she were really cold. Roy glanced at her feet and was shocked to see a pair of tennis shoes with holes in them. Good God, had she been outside with such inadequate footwear? Didnât she understand she could freeze to death? Even his stout boots didnât do much to divert the cold.
Keeping her gaze downcast, she made her way to the counter and sat.
âCoffee, hon?â The waitress asked.
âHow much is it?â the woman inquired.
âOh.â The womanâs shoulders drooped, and she swiveled the stool around, getting ready to go back out into the storm.
âNo, you donât.â The waitressâs voice sharpened. âIâll stand you a coffee. You look about done in.â
The womanâs even features melted into what looked like relief before she turned back to face the counter. âThank you. Thatâs really kind and I appreciate it. My wallet was stolen, andââ
âNever you mind.â The waitress patted the womanâs shoulder. âBet youâre hungry too.â She poured hot coffee into a mug and handed it to the woman, who drew the steaming liquid to her lips.
âMaybe a little,â the woman ventured. She clasped the cup with fingers white from cold.
By now, Roy knew he was staring, but he couldnât make himself turn away. There was something waiflike and alluring about the tall woman with long, black hair. Snow dripped off her, creating puddles around her stool. All she wore against the winter weather was a thick, gray sweater and worn jeans. No scarf. No gloves. No hat. He was close to certain her wallet hadnât been stolen. She looked more like an abuse victim on the run to him. Maybe he could help her get to her intended destination, if it wasnât too far out of his way.
He pushed his chair back and made his way to the counter. âSayââ he began, but she started and drew away as if she expected him to hit her.
I was right. Abuse victim for sure.
âIâm not going to hurt you.â He kept his voice low, soothing. âOrder whatever you want, and Iâll pay for it.â
She kept her gaze on her hands clutching the coffee cup. âI canât let you do that, sir. Iâm all right. Truly I am.â
Without waiting for an invitation, he took the stool next to hers and called to the waitress. âBring her the same meal I just had.â
âYou got it, hon,â rang from the direction of the kitchen.
âYou are not all right,â Roy said. âYouâre thin as a rail, and you were shivering when you came in here. In fact, you still are. Iâll bet your shoes are wet clear through.â When she didnât respond, he ploughed on. âLet me help you.â
She shook her head. âDonât want your kind of help. It always comes with strings.â
He pushed a little with his enhanced mental ability to get her to look at him. If she did, maybe sheâd see truth in his eyes. A shudder ran down her thin frame, but she dragged her gaze upward reluctantly. Roy felt bad for forcing her, but he didnât have time to soothe her wounded places, which he suspected ran deep.
Eyes a shade of green heâd never seen inspected him. Long, thick lashes framed those eyes, and they were set in a face with high cheekbones, a high forehead, and black eyebrows winging a track over porcelain skin.
âWho are you?â The words tore from him. He hadnât meant to say them. She was nervous as a feral cat as it was.
She shook her head sadly. âNo one. Iâm no one. Youâll forget all about me when you leave here.â
Something shifted in his mind, but he fought it. Before he could determine if something real had just happened or if he were imagining things, the waitress showed up with the womanâs dinner.
âHere you go, hon. Hope mediumâs okay for that steak?â
âFine, thank you.â Before the words were out, the woman picked up the fork and knife and shoveled food into her mouth.
Roy congratulated himself on a good call. Even though sheâd been reluctant to admit it, she really was starving. He had no idea what sheâd do tomorrow or the next day, but it wasnât his problem. While she ate, he observed her from the corner of his eyes. In addition to being hungry and underdressed, she looked young. Maybe twenty. Heâd be surprised if she were much more than that.
He shook a mental finger at himself. The country was full of abused women running from the men who used them as punching bags before they raped them. It was one part of law enforcement work heâd never understood: why the women kept going back for more.
âThere are safe houses for girls like you,â he said, and couldâve kicked himself. What the hell was wrong with his mouth tonight? He couldnât seem to keep words on the other side of it.
She stopped chewing long enough to glance at him. âWhatâs a safe house?â
âA place where women like you can go so whoeverâs after you canât get to you.â
âWhat makes you think someoneâs after me?â Color splotched across her white cheeks.
Roy took a deep breath. âI was a cop for a long time.â
Her entire body tightened, and he wondered if heâd been wrong about why she was out in the storm. âYou said was.â She swiped a paper napkin over her lips. âAre you still?â
âNo. Not anymore.â
She took another bite, clearly thinking about what heâd said. âThese people you think are after me. Could they still find me in a safe house?â
He wanted to lie to her, but didnât. âSure. Anyone can find anybody with the Internet and all, but the people who run the safe houses wonât let anyone who might hurt you inside.â
She drew her arched brows together and drank some coffee. âIâd have to go outside sometime. Work. Earn my way.â
He nodded. Those things were all true. He scratched his head and pushed too-long hair out of his eyes. âSometimes, when a man is really persistent, there are ways of setting you up with a different identity in a different part of the country.â
Interest lit her features, and she cut up the last of her steak. âWhere would I go to have that happen?â
âIâm not sure, but we could check with local agencies in the morning.â
A blank expression washed over her face, as if someone had shut out a light. She shot him a look she might have given yesterdayâs overripe trash. âMorning, huh? Youâre just like all the rest of them, mister. Means Iâd have to spend the night with you.â
Roy winced. He hadnât been thinking. Of course sheâd make that connection. âNo.â He shook his head emphatically. âIâd buy you your own room for the night. You can clean up, get some sleep, and weâll regroup in the morning after breakfast.â
She narrowed her eyes, and he felt himself drawn into their depths. âMy own room with a locked door?â
He nodded solemnly, willing her to believe him. If he could just do one decent deed, it would make up for the last two weeks of beating his head into a brick wall. Maybe it would give him enough juice to keep hunting for the scientists who were a bunch of Houdini fuckers.
âMmph.â She started on her potato, taking large bites. In between them, she said. âIâm trying to figure out your angle. If Iâve worked my way around to believing you wonât hurt me by the time Iâm done eating, Iâll accept your offer.â
It was the best he was likely to get. Roy stood. âFair enough. Iâm going to finish my pie.â It was sitting in a pool of melted ice cream, but he didnât mind. âIf youâd care to accept my help, just stop by my table on your way out. If you walk past, I give you my word I wonât bother you.â
âDeal.â She said around a mouthful of food. Swallowing, she twisted to look at him.
It felt as if she were staring straight through him, but Roy held his ground even after he identified a zing of power withdrawing from his mind. What the hell was she, anyway? When she returned to her dinner, he retreated to his pie, thoughts racing a mile a minute. What the fuck was he doing? If he were smart, heâd forget his offer, throw enough money on the table to cover both meals, and run like hell for his car.
There was something about the woman, though, an appeal that drew him, snared him, and wouldnât leave him be. He ate mindlessly, not tasting the pie. He knew the feel of freak mind control. Was that it? Had he inadvertently stumbled onto one of them?
Impossible. Theyâre never by themselves, and whatever she examined me with didnât feel quite right.
Plus, she didnât resemble the ones heâd killed before. They had dark hair, but animal eyes. Amber, not green like hers. Of course theyâd been men, but simple genetics argued theyâd all look much the same if they came out of the same petri dishes.
Were there other augmented humans beyond those he already knew about? The thought fascinated and chilled him at the same time.
He scraped his fork over the plate and realized it was empty. Slugging back long-since-cold coffee, he dug for his wallet and extracted what he was certain would cover dinner, laying bills on the table and placing his empty mug atop them.
The woman looked almost done with her meal. What would she do?
What would he do if she walked by him and out the door? Would he be able to keep his promise and not go after her?â¦
Dream Shadow Press
Genre: Military romance
with a Science Fiction edge
We have to trust to fight side by side, but loveâs so unexpectedâand so irresistible âit trumps everything.
Honor takes a huge chance and flees her compound one wintry night. A genetically altered woman, she has no memories from before her kin staged a rebellion seven years before. Because of her enhanced physiology, she finds a home working for the CIA alongside four other women just like her. There are still plenty of rules, but theyâre different, and sheâs figuring out how to blend in.
Milton Reins burns through women and marriages. After the third one implodes, he swears off hunting for a replacement. Running the CIA is a more than fulltime job. Thereâs no time for anything else in his life, which is fine until Honor comes along. Training in the gym throws their bodies together and makes him remember the feel of a woman in his arms. Milton aches for her, but sheâs a freakâthe CIA term for test tube humans designed by scientists.
Honor wants Milton with every bone in her body, but itâs a terrible idea, especially after she delves into his head and sees his ambivalence toward her kind. Need drives them together, but their differences create roadblocks every step of the way. Fueled by anger and fear, she shuts him out. So what if the sex was great, sheâs done.
Or is she?
Excerpt Honor Bound:
â¦âHow about this?â Honor finished her drink and twirled the glass between her hands. âThe other women and I are on top of things. Weâll make sure nothingâ¦unexpected happens.â
âWhat if I pull rank and order Charity to stay here?â he demanded, not liking her answer.
Honor shook her head. âThatâd be a bad idea.â After a pause, she added hastily, âSir. With all due respect.â
Milton chortled. âYouâre learning. Why is it a bad idea?â
Honor closed her teeth over her lower lip. âLike all of us, sheâs finding her way. Figuring out where she fits in here. Even though we lived in the western United States, we may as well have been in Bangladesh for all the differences between living here and where we were after the rebellion.â
âYou still havenât told me why itâs a bad idea.â
âShe needs to trust you. If you ride herd on her, treat her like the Nameless Ones treated us, she never will, and thisâ¦problem of hers will just get worse.â
Desperation flared, a glowing nimbus she nipped quickly, but heâd been paying close attention, plus heâd been inside her mind. Milton pushed forward with a combination of intuition and his augmented ability. âYouâre worried it will get worse anyway.â
Her gaze skittered away. âYes. No. Possibly. These things are hard to predict. Please.â She leaned forward this time and placed a hand over his where it lay atop his leg. âLet us handle it our way. I give you my word weâll ask for help before it gets out of control.â
Her touch was warm, electric. Before he could stop himself, he set his other hand over hers, and turned the bottom hand upward, capturing her flesh between his. His mouth was suddenly dry, and his groin tightened with a rush of sexual energy so intense it stole his breath.
Words became a struggle, but he forced them out anyway. âDoesnât sound very smart to me. Is there any chance sheâll switch allegiance?â
Honorâs eyes widened. âOh hell, no. You mean fight for the Nameless Ones?â When Milton nodded, she was even more emphatic. âNo. Thatâd never happen. She hates them just as much as we do.â
It was the main thing that had worried him: that heâd been playing host to a double agentâagain. Some of the tension drained out of him, and he rubbed his fingers over Honorâs where they lay clasped between his.
âI really should go, sir.â She tried to pull her hand back, but he didnât let go.
âDo you always do what you should?â
Honor looked away. âNot a fair question, sir.â
âStop calling me that!â
âBut you are my commanding officer.â Honor kept her voice soft, but the meaning in her words slapped Milton squarely across his forehead.
He released her hand. âSorry.â He spoke stiffly. âI forgot myself. Youâre free to go.â
The sadness heâd sensed earlier was back in spades. It flowed from her in slow, tired waves. He pushed, surprised when she let him inside her mind. Not far, but enough for him to view the loneliness sheâd lived with all her life. Her only safety zone had been the dozen women in her dorm at the compound, and seven of them were dead. No wonder she needed to do everything possible to protect Charity.
Milton got to his feet and offered her a hand. She took it and stood too. âThanks for helping me understand you a little,â he said.
âYouâre welcome. Sometimes that way is easier than talking. Thank you for not insisting Charity stay here.â
âSheâs important to you,â he said. âI didnât fully appreciate how much you depend on each other until you allowed me into your thoughts.â
Milton didnât know if he moved toward her, she toward him, or both of them simultaneously, but Honor ended up in his arms. He tightened his hold, enjoying the feel of her sleekly muscled body against his. She matched his six-foot height and fit perfectly in his arms. His cock hardened against her belly, and her eyes widened in surprise.
âOf course youâd be a virgin,â he murmured, stroking his hands down her back.
âWe were off-limits to the Nameless Ones, but we talked about sex among ourselves.â
Arousal flashed deep inside him. Even though he knew he shouldnât, he asked, âWhat did you talk about?â He cupped his hands around her high, firm buttocks and snugged her against his erection.
Desire apparently trumped discomfort, and she pushed against him. âMen. We talked about how penises get hard, and how one might feel inside us.â She licked her lips, and heat flickered in her eyes. âSometimes weâd touch ourselves and mind link, so we could feel each other come.â
Heâd never considered that possible use for his enhanced senses. The feedback loop from feeling what his partner felt right along with his own arousal intrigued him and made him hotter than hell. Honor pressed closer against him and kneaded his back.
Milton traced her full lower lip with his thumb. âHas anyone told you what a devilishly attractive woman you are?â
She shook her head.
He couldnât resist the siren call of those lips. Milton angled his head and closed his mouth over hers. He kept the kiss tentative in case he wasnât reading her signals right, but she ran her tongue over his mouth, tasting him. He licked, nibbled, sucked, and she kissed him back with growing fervor as her body radiated need. Her nipples hardened where they pressed into his chest, and she rubbed against his ridiculously erect cock.
About the time she pushed her tongue into his mouth, and he sparred with it, loving the taste of her, common sense intruded. He pulled back, his breath coming unevenly. He wanted to strip her clothes off, unwrap her, worship the amazing body heâd scuffled with in the gym, but tonight wasnât the time. Not before a major offensive, and not with her in a direct line of command, with him functioning as her team leader. The women ended up his responsibility to remove Glory from reporting to Roy, but here was the same problem all over again.
Reluctantly, he placed his hands on either side of her head. âHonor, we canât do this.â
âI know itâs wrong, but Iâve never been kissed before, and Iâ¦â She looked away. ââ¦didnât want it to end. Iâm sorry, sir. Iâll do a better job ofââ
âGoddammit, Honor. Youâre not listening.â Frustration vied with desire and feeling like a shit for letting the situation get out of hand in the first place.
âYes I am. You said what we did was wrong.â
âNo, I didnât, but the timingâs bad.â He paused a beat. âAnd you work for me, which meansââ
âI know exactly what it means. I may have been sequestered in that compound, but Iâm far from stupid.â She wrenched away from him and stumbled toward the door.
She spun to face him. âThis was a mistake.â Hurt carved furrows around her eyes. âIâm used to being by myself. Taking care of myself. Donât worry. I wonât be a burden on you.â
âThatâs not what Iââ
She turned and fled out the door. Milton considered going after her, but recognized it was a bad idea. The attraction between them was so strong, thereâd be no way to have a rational conversation.
Until theyâd shared an orgasm or twoâ¦
Dream Shadow Press
Genre: Military Romance
with a Science Fiction edge
What does it take to move past a lifetime of hating?
Charityâs luck never ran strong because her original configuration was unstable. Her handlers designed experiments to fix the problem, but only made it worse.
Sick to death of living under their thumb, she jumps at a chance to escape her compound. Sheâs no sooner settled in as a CIA special operativeâa role where she can put her augmented mind and body to useâwhen her wobbly genetics escalate.
Tonyâs a freakâa genetically altered human waging war against the government. He snaps up an offer of amnesty, walking away from his role as a genetic researcher to work for the CIA. When Charity collapses in a severe seizure, he labors to save her life, but nothingâs working. In a last ditch effort, he joins his mind to hers and discovers he wants her more than heâs ever wanted anything. Only problem is she hates every single male freak for how they treated women in the compounds.
Charity recovers from her medical crisis, but all she can think about is Tony. Furious, determined to never let anyone like him near her, she blocks him from her mind, but he seeps back in anyway. Loving someone like Tony is a huge risk, a gamble that could throw her already precarious genes into a tailspin.
Knowing all that, why the hell is she considering it?
Excerpt Claiming Charity:
â¦Tony dialed his night vision up another notch and paced Frank as they ran hard around Langleyâs perimeter. After being cooped up for hours in a plane, both men needed to burn off some steam. As Tony ran, scenes from his computer-like brain flashed before him.
After his petri dish birth on one of the breeding farms set up by the U.S. government, heâd been groomed from adolescence to work as a genetic researcher. None of them attended school; their knowledge was downloaded directly from huge mainframes operated by government scientists. He lived a comfortable life at his breeding farm near Portland, Oregon, but it blew up in his face seven years ago. He was twenty-two then and knee-deep in research to perfect those like him. Each successive strain was a bit better than the last, but problems still cropped up.
Heâd been close to a major breakthroughâat least he thought he was, but it couldâve been a dead end like so much of his researchâwhen a cadre of renegade freaks, genetically engineered humans just like him, staged a rebellion. They hadnât cared for the decision to scrap the earlier prototypes, so they blew up every breeding farm they could find. After that, they created hidden compounds, like the one in Keyser, West Virginia where Tony ended up.
He hadnât bought into the violence, but there wasnât a hell of a lot of choice once it began. Normal humans shot them on sight after the rebellion, so he went along with the program and moved his genetic research to his assigned compound. He didnât have nearly the access to materials heâd had prior to the rebellion, but at least he was still alive.
âYouâre pretty quiet, buddy,â Frank observed.
âSorry. I was thinking.â
The other man snorted. âAlways dangerous. About what? Did you come up with something we missed on those hard drives Milton swiped from our headquarters?â
âNah. Wish it were that straightforward.â
Frank slugged him in the arm. âWatch that esoteric stuff. Our programmingâs not designed for it.â
âMaybe not, but do you ever wonder what will become of us?â
âThe probability of that line of thought producing something of value isââ
âNot what I asked,â Tony snapped. âWeâve thrown in our lot with normal humans, V0 as it were. We canât undo it.â
âSo? You and I discussed this before we showed ourselves and requested amnesty. We couldâve remained hidden. They would have found Charity without our help, and then theyâd have left. We didnât take that route. Are you having second thoughts?â
âNot really. We didnât fit in with the other Nameless Onesâexcept it was a ridiculous moniker, since we had names, we just didnât tell them to the women.â Tony slowed when they came to a perimeter fence and turned to face the other man. Because of the physical strength built into his genetics, he wasnât even slightly winded.
Frank stopped and tossed his hood back. Shaggy black hair fell to his shoulders, and he examined Tony through his amber, animal-like eyes with vertical slit pupils. All the men looked very much the same due to shared genetics. Tall, rangy, muscled. Both of them wore regulation issue CIA field gear they hadn't changed out of yet.
âWhat arenât you saying?â Frank asked.
âNot sure. Except Iâm feeling like a man without a country. We didnât fit in there, but we donât fit in here, either. They donât trust us. I saw it in Miltonâs eyes that night you and I saved Charityâs life.â
Frank grimaced. âShit, bro. Weâre machines. Weâre not supposed to have feelings. Who cares if they trust us, so long as they continue to offer us a place to work and live? When did you fall off the wagon?â
Tony weighed the advisability of confiding in Frank, but if not him, then whom?
âTalk, or Iâm going back to my apartment. Iâm fine when weâre moving, but Iâm getting cold. Canât be much more than fifteen degrees out here. In fact,â Frank sent a short blurt of power outward, âitâs eighteen point three Fahrenheit, but thereâs a five knot wind, which brings the ambient temperature toââ
âNever mind that. I know itâs cold without a weather report. I have a problem that runs deeper than the humans not trusting us. They made a commitment to us, same as we did to them. The odds of them welching on the dealâso long as we donât fuck them overâis under twelve percent.â
Frank furled his brows. âOkay. So you have a problem. Is it something we could hash out inside where itâs warm?â
âI think better when Iâm cold.â
âFine.â Frank gestured with a gloved hand. âWhatever it is, get it out, so we can chase down something to eat and find our beds.â
Tony unclenched his jaw. It was either spit it out or shut up. Running probabilities about Frankâs reaction wouldnât alter his choices. He squared his shoulders and began to talk. âI spent a long timeâhoursâlinked to Charity when she was so compromised. I was the one who sent my energy into her.â
âI havenât forgotten. So?â
âI developed a fondness for her during that time.â Very unmachine-like feelings tightened Tonyâs gut.
Frankâs eyes widened. âOh ho! You want to fuck her. Iâm not seeing where thatâs a problem. The women were off limits to us at the compounds, but the CIA doesnât have those kind of rules.â
The unmachine-like feelings intensified, and Tony felt his face grow warm. âYeah, I want her that way, but itâs more than that. I like her. Sheâs a bitch, sure, but sheâs fresh and funny and spunky. We drummed the spirit out of so many of the women, but not her.â
âHave you talked with her about any of this?â
Tony shook his head. âNo.â
âWhy not? Seems to me thatâd be the logical place to start.â
A snort blew past Tonyâs lips. âYeah, huh? Problem is I got a pretty good look inside her head. She hates us.â
Frank drew back. âWhy? She never even met us before she and her group attacked our compound.â
Tony shook his head again. âIt runs deeper than that. She hates all of us menâfor how we treated her and the other women. Even if that werenât there, it mustâve been appalling for her when she discovered the V4s slaughtered the females in our compound. Her team planned to rescue them. The V4s figured it out and beat them to the punch.â
âYeah, but none of that was personalââ Frank began.
âTry telling her that. Iâm sure it felt goddamned personal. Christ! The womenâs bodies werenât even cold when Charity stumbled onto them.â
âIâm not sure Charity found them, but the women who did certainly told her about it.â Frank jerked his chin in the general direction of their apartment building. âLetâs get moving.â When Tony fell into step with him, he went on. âSeems to me youâve really only got two choices. One. You suck it up and keep quiet. We werenât exactly designed to have mates. All our babies were created in test tubesâeven after the breeding farms.â
âThat was because we were afraid the women would pick our brains during sex, discover how powerful they were, and demand equality.â
âIt doesnât matter why,â Frank replied. âEven though I was a minority, I never believed it wouldâve been the end of the world if the women discovered their innate power, but they didnât. Regardless, over time, we got away from intercourse as a primary source of procreation.â
âWeâre getting off course. Whatâs my second option?â
âSit down and talk to her. Tell her how you feel.â
Tony rolled the probabilities of how that would go through his brain. âLess than an eighteen percent chance sheâd be open to it,â he muttered.
Frank didnât respond, and they ran the rest of the way to their building in silence. Once they were inside, Tony said, âThanks.â
âFor what? I didnât help much. See you tomorrow at zero seven hundred.â Frank turned down the hallway that led to his apartment.
Tony climbed a flight of stairs to his quarters and let himself in. If getting something going with Charity was such a crapshoot, why couldnât he let go of the idea?
When the answer came, he didnât like it much. Heâd broken protocol to save her, blending his energy with hers in an intimate pattern that wasnât in any of the manuals. Apparently sheâd gotten under his skin during the process, and now he was stuck. When he wasnât busy, she was all he thought about.
He stripped out of his heavy field coat and tossed it over a chair. The rest of his clothes ended up in a heap on the floor. Everything could stand a tour through the washing machine, but not tonight. He headed for the bathroom and a shower with his cock standing out like a shipâs prow. He was hard almost all the time now, despite jacking off two or three times a day. Hard because he wanted her.
He pulled the shower curtain aside. Once he got the water going, he stepped over the high rim of the tub. Even though he tried not to, his hands found their way to his engorged flesh, and somewhere between the soap and hot water, he made himself come with visions of what he thought Charityâs perfect, naked body would look like plastered behind his eyesâ¦
Dream Shadow Press
Genre: Military Romance
with a Science Fiction edge
Trust is fragile. Hard to come by and easily broken.
Hopeâs had her eye on Charlie for a long time, for all the good itâs done her. Heâs not even aware of her existenceâother than as a fellow agent working Black Ops for the CIA. Her friends, Glory, Honor, and Charity, found men to love, so Hope knows itâs possible. But the odds arenât in her favor. Not in a world of normal humans where sheâs a genetically modified aberration. Hell, even she refers to her kind as freaks. What man in his right mind would want one of those in his bed?
Charlie swore off women after his last marriage went down in drama-tipped flames fifteen years ago. His first mistress is danger. He fell in love with the adrenaline rush when he signed on as a Navy Seal right out of college, and he never got over the thrill of pitting himself against the impossible.
Hope caught his eye the night she escaped her compound, but years of ignoring anything resembling a feeling made it easy to ignore the attractionâuntil theyâre paired on a mission. Her intelligence and resourcefulness impress the hell out of him, but her half-naked body, exposed after an animal attack, forces him to face feelings he was certain heâd buried for good.
Excerpt Loving Hope:
Hope blinked dirt out of her eyes and stifled a groan. She didnât want to risk an energy flare looking for the others. Doing anything other than keeping her resources muffled was an enormous risk.
She took a mouthful of water from the canteen hanging off her field belt and swished it around her mouth. Time had passed since a blast hit her helicopter, knocking it out of the air. Maybe as much as an hour. Things happened fast after the bird was hit, and her team leader, Charlie McClaren, folded her hand around the ripcord on her parachute.
Heâd all but pushed her out the open chopper door with exhortations to, âWatch out for the rotor, goddammit.â
A few other choice instructions were lost in the slipstream as she plummeted from the dying aircraft, her pounding heart stenciling fear from her head to her toes.
What was supposed to be a simple out-and-back mission had turned into something much more complex, never mind much more dangerous. Sheâd been expecting Charlie or Frank to materialize ever since she cut herself out of the tree her chute got tangled in, but neither man showed up.
She didnât understand why. They couldnât have landed very far away after the crashâassuming they made it out of the chopper intact. Too rattled by her first actual parachute jump, sheâd neglected to watch for the other chutes, which wouldâve told her the location of her teammates.
Were they dead? Or tripped up by the old growth forest?
Sheâd been careful chopping her way out of a particularly tall tree. Her caution ate up well over half an hour while she freed herself from where she swung thirty feet above the ground. She picked splinters out of her hands as she considered what to do next.
According to the GPS in her augmented brain, she was in a wooded corridor in north central Maine. She, Charlie, and Frank had been on a routine mission to pick up Cortexiphan, an experimental drug banned by the FDA, from a freak compound near Bangor. Not that theyâd expected the freaksâa renegade group of genetically modified humans who wanted to take down the U.S. governmentâto just hand over the drug, but military planes had annihilated the settlement. No one expected it would be difficult to waltz in and locate the chemical.
Hope shook her head. Underestimating her people was always a mistake. The genetically modified were smarter, stronger, faster, and more capable of pivoting in response to adverse conditions than normal humans ever dreamed of being.
She sheltered in a thick grove of some sort of deciduous tree and leaned against one of them. Could she risk her communicator? Would telepathy be safer? Hope grimaced. Freaks had to be behind the attack on her chopper, which meant nothing was safe. Who else would shoot down a CIA chopper over U.S. soil?
She bit hard on her lower lip. She understood freaksâhow they thought, what made them tickâbecause she was one. Sheâd escaped the compounds, though, and left that life behind.
âWhat do I do now?â
She started at the sound of her voice, not realizing sheâd spoken aloud until she heard the words. A quick glance at the sky told her she didnât have much daylight left to work with. Not that it mattered. She could always dial in her night vision, but it held a particular energy signature.
The flash of warmth in Charlieâs hazel eyes as heâd covered her hand with his, instructing her how to yank the ripcord, filled her mind. She liked him. A lot. But he barely knew she existed beyond her working under him. Sheâd made a few pathetic attempts at flirting, but heâd ignored her. Maybe her shy smiles were so subtle he hadnât interpreted them the way she hoped, but that probably wasnât it. She was a freak. He was a normal human, and a goddamned good-looking one at that. He could have his pick of women. No reason on earth to look twice at her.
Much like the genetically altered men sheâd spent her life with, Charlie was tall and rangy, with dark hair and hazel eyes. He was addicted to danger the same as all CIA operatives. When twin fires burned in the backs of his eyes, it was all she could do not to throw herself into his arms and beg him to take her.
In front of everyone.
She tossed her head, muffling a snort. She knew next to nothing about men, sex, or love. Her entire primer on all things human was derived from hours of television and the Internet. Her other source of information came from pumping Honor, Glory, and Charity, three of her closest friends, about their relationships with CIA agents theyâd hooked up with.
A branch crackled behind her. Hope lunged for her sidearm, thought better of it, and focused her mental kinetics. She didnât loose anythingânot yet. Power ran through her in high voltage jolts. Holding it in abeyance wasnât easy, but she needed to know what she faced. The minute she targeted someone, her ability would glow like a beacon, alerting any genetically modified human in the area to both her presence and precise location.
âHope! Iâve been hunting for you ever since the chopper crashed.â
Frank limped from behind a bush. He was well over six feet tall with heavy slabs of muscle providing superior physical abilities. Genetically modified like her, his shaggy dark hair brushed his shoulders, and his amber animal-like eyes with vertical slit pupils came close to radiating joy. Given Frankâs taciturn ways, that said a lot.
She siphoned off the lethal force dancing through her body an electron at a time. âFuck!â She trotted to his side. âI almost killed you.â
A crooked grin lent him a boyish appearance. âI felt the energy build. Figured I needed to say something.â
Hope took a closer look. A wicked looking gash ran from below Frankâs right eye to his cheekbone, and his hands were abraded and bleeding. She ran a hand down his body, scanning for injuries.
Before she was done, he batted it away. âI twisted my ankle when I landed in a bramble thicket. Itâs how I got so banged upâfighting my way out of thorns as long as my thumb. Iâve instituted a healing program. Should be better than new in a few hours.â Breath hissed from between his teeth. âShit! After my last impromptu exit from a chopper, I promised myself Iâd practice parachuting, but somehow I never freed up the time.â
âYeah, well, Iâve never even come close to doing anything like jumping out of a helicopter. Didnât like it much. Any idea where Charlie is?â
Frank shook his head. âI was hoping heâd be with you.â
âWe may not have had all that fancy commando training, but I never wouldâve guessed how easy it is to lose someone between an auto-rotating helicopter and the ground.â
âWe have to locate him.â Frank narrowed his eyes, or he might have winced, she couldnât tell. âYou havenât expended any power, or Iâd have found you sooner. Charlie certainly hasnât used any.â
âItâs not safe. Charlie mustâve figured that out.â She crossed her arms under her breasts. âFreaks did this, huh?â
He cocked his head to one side. âWho else? Iâm surprised you asked. Their signature is all over it.â
Hope shrugged, feeling uncomfortable for missing something obvious. âMaybe it is. Once the chopper started going nuts, I kind of stopped thinking.â
He looked at her then. Really looked and ran his own scan of her systems before she could move out of range.
âIâm all right.â She took a few steps away. âIf I werenât, Iâd have told you.â
âNeeded to check for myself,â he said gruffly. âWe have more latitude with two of usâbut only if weâre able to tap into all of our abilities.â
âWhatâs that supposed to mean?â She frowned, still not feeling a hundred percent.
His face settled into the patronizing lines she associated with Nameless Ones, genetically modified men whoâd made her life hell when they lived in compounds. All of themâmen and women alikeâwere products of genetic research originally hatched up by the U.S. government. Appalled by how they were treated, they staged a rebellion, and blew up the breeding farms. While women had been an integral part of the rebellion, theyâd been relegated to second-class citizenry after a few years of living in hidden compounds. Their abilities were superior to the menâs, and the men had been frightened of losing the upper handâ
âIt means we need to risk exposure to find Charlie. We canât leave without him.â Frankâs words broke into her thoughts, and she shelved her foray into the past.
Hope set her jaw in determination and moved back to Frankâs side, so she could join her mental energy with his more easily. âReady.â
âBefore we do something thatâs certain to compromise us, have you looked for him?â
Dream Shadow Press
Genre: Military Romance
with a Science Fiction edge
The bigger the secret and the longer itâs been hidden, the harder it is to reveal.
Faith fled her compound one wintry night with four other genetically modified women. Glory, Honor, Charity, and Hope have all found men who adore them. Faith is happy for her sisters, but itâs lonely on her own. A man piqued her interest, but she ran the probabilities, and the odds of him ever being interested in her are thin. Tough and forbidding, Reginald was a field surgeon in the Middle East. He eats and breathes medicine. Besides, heâs married to the CIA. No wives in his past. Faith hacked into the personnel database to check.
Reginald Thomas agreed to run the CIAâs infirmary after a bullet nailed him in Afghanistan. Heâs one of a handful of scientists who produced the original batches of genetically modified humans, and heâs laid low since their rebellion. The catastrophe rankles, but he hasnât given up finding a fix for their genome problems.
A permanent bachelor for a host of feeble reasons, heâs substituted immersion in medicine and science for a personal life. Easier that way. And a whole lot cleaner.
The status quo might be sterile, but at least itâs trouble free. When Faith catches his eye, he fights his attraction to her, but itâs a losing battle. Loving her fulfills him, and he canât walk away. What will happen if she discovers he helped create those like her? In a radical departure from his normal forthright manner, he buries that fact deep. If she never finds out, it canât ever come back to bite him.
Excerpt Keeping Faith:
Faith walked slowly across the CIAâs extensive grounds. Sheâd just seen Hope and Charlie off at the terminal building next to the airstrip. Theyâd looked deliriously happy, and Faith was grateful Charlieâs near miss with death hadnât left lasting problems. She stuffed her hands into her pockets, wishing sheâd brought gloves. For once it wasnât raining, but it was almost dark, and the wind had a bite to it.
Milton Reins, head of the CIA, had been there to wish Hope and Charlie well too. Heâd also been chockful of instructions about the Gulfstream business class jet until Charlie reminded his boss he was qualified to fly it.
Not quite ready to return to her apartment building and all the new women whoâd been assigned housing there, Faith wandered aimlessly. Glory, Honor, Charity, and Hopeâwomen who were like sisters to herâhad hooked up with men they loved dearly. It seemed like an impossible fantasy come true.
A few months back, theyâd lived at a compound in Washington State, sharing a dormitory with seven more genetically modified women just like them. Gloryâs bravery freed the five of them whoâd been willing to trust her, and Faith blessed the CIA every single day for taking a chance on them as agents.
More women had joined their ranks during a raid theyâd just completed in Maine. Twenty to be precise. It made her heart glad the women had been able to lay their reservations aside and take a chance on a new life. One where theyâd be treated like human beings rather than slaves.
She really should hustle back to the apartment building and see if any of them wanted to go to dinner. Faith remembered her first days on the sprawling CIA campus. How lost and overwhelmed sheâd felt. It had helped that Glory was already there. The least she could do was pass on the goodwill to the new gals.
âFaith. Hold up.â
She glanced over her shoulder at the sound of Frankâs voice, but kept walking. Frank was genetically modified too, but heâd been one of the Nameless Ones, men whoâd made the womenâs lives holy hell in the compounds. He was also a genetic researcher. Her friend Charity had fallen in love with Tony, the scientist Frank defected with, but Faith didnât harbor fond feelings for any of the genetically modified men.
During the seven years the CIA had hunted those like her, theyâd labeled them freaks. The tag stuck, and she still thought of men like Frank as freaks, but not necessarily her or the women.
Howâs that for hypocrisy? She smothered a snorting laugh.
âWhatâs so funny?â Frank caught up with her.
Faith shrugged. âI was thinking about how the CIA calls us freaks, and Iâm good when it means you. Less good when it means me.â
âDoesnât matter what they call us,â Frank countered. âThey took us in. Gave us homes and work. They didnât have to. Howâd Charlie look? Iâd meant to check him over one last time before he left, but didnât get there in time.â
âLike the old Charlie. None the worse for wear. Dr. Thomas was there. Iâm pretty sure he had some of the same concerns you do, but Milton told him to go back to his infirmary.â
Frank hooted laughter. âBet that didnât go over very well.â
âNo. It didnât. The doc stayed until Charlie and Hope headed out onto the tarmac.â Faith narrowed her eyes. âYouâve gotten to know him pretty well, huh?â
âIn a manner of speaking, yeah. After Tony and I pulled a rabbit out of a black hole and saved Charlie, the guy decided we werenât just a bunch of uninformed quacks pretending we knew something about physiology.â
âYouâre mixing your metaphors.â
âSo?â Frank angled his unusual amber eyes with their vertical slit pupils her way. Like all the genetically modified men, he was tall and broad-shouldered with a rangy build. Unevenly cut jet-black hair hung to his shoulders.
âSo, nothing. Just pointing it out. Um, did you want something? I really should get back to the apartment building. We have all those new women, andââ
âYeah I did,â he interrupted in true Nameless One fashion.
Faith shook off irritation. âWhatever it is, hurry up.â
He tucked a hand beneath her elbow in a distressingly familiar gesture. âHow about joining me in the cafeteria for dinner? Tony and I got done early tonight, and heâs spending the evening with Charity.â
Faith jerked away from his touch. âThe new women are my first responsibility,â she said stiffly, wishing Frank would take the hint and leave. If he were human, he mightâve, but subtlety and picking up on social cues werenât part of how any of them had been programmed.
âBring âem along.â He grinned rakishly. âYou may not like me, but one of them might.â
Faith stopped walking and stared at him. âWhat the hell, Frank? Any woman in a storm?â
âNow whoâs mixing metaphors?â He looked down his nose at her.
Faith felt her face heat. âIâll be in the dining hall in half an hour or so. If you want to sit with us, thatâs fineâso long as none of the women object. Theyâre much fresher from a compound than me, so they may well run screaming from the room if you get too close.â
Frank closed a hand around one wrist, effectively trapping her. âGet real, Faith. I wasnât in your compound, but it wasnât as if we flogged the women. You make it sound as if we were the devil incarnate.â
âTo us, you were. You rationed everything from food to blankets to when we had to show up to have our eggs harvested.â She angled her head to one side. âThe men in my compound ate what they wanted. They werenât half-starved like us. I bet they had more than one blanket. And they had private rooms; they werenât stuffed twelve to a dorm like we wereââ
âYou can stop now.â Frank held up his other hand. âIâm sorry. I felt bad I didnât do more at the time, and I still do, but you living in the past and hanging onto hostility and bitterness isnât wise.â
âWhy not?â she demanded. âWhatâs the phrase? He who forgets history is doomed to repeat it.â
âGeorge Santayana said that, but youâre living in a different world now. The odds are better than seventy percent the CIA will effectively quell the rebellion sometime in the next six months. V4 has proven unstable. God only knows how many freaks were made with that configuration, but theyâll implode, which will further thin their ranks.â
âFascinating,â she muttered, âbut I need to get moving.â
Frank released her wrist. âIâd like to get to know you better, Faith, but I wonât be heavy-handed about it. Give it some thought, and let me know.â
She took a step backward. âWhat about wanting to give the women a thrill by having dinner with them?â
âEh, I just said that to see if youâd react. Be jealous or something.â He actually looked mildly uncomfortable when he twisted his mouth into a frown. âYou werenât, and Iâm crushed, but Iâll get over it.â
Without waiting for a response from her, he spun and took off at a quick lope.
Faith ran hard the other way, heading for her apartment building. Her thoughts were a roiling mess. Charity may have managed to square hooking up with a nameless one, but Faith didnât have it in her to overlook their years of horrific treatment. The women may not have been beaten, but theyâd endured every other type of abuse.
Intimacy was forbidden in the compounds. The reason Glory had run away was because a Nameless One tried to rape her. Sheâd used her kinetics to kill him, been scared half to death, and gone out a window in the thick of winter with only a worn pair of tennis shoes and a threadbare sweater. It was hard enough in Washington, but by the time sheâd hitchhiked halfway across the country to Minnesota, the cold had almost killed her.
Frank was a hunk of a man. All the Nameless Ones were, but Faith couldnât see herself letting her guard down long enough to allow him inside her hopes and dreams, let alone sleeping with him. The thought of physical intimacy with someone like him made her vaguely ill.
She reached her building and tipped her chin so the retinal scanner could trip the lock and let her in. She was capable of employing kinetics to spring any lock, but so long as she was here, sheâd do things the CIA way. After she nodded to the security guard patrolling the lobby, she pulled open a stairwell door and headed for the third floor.
Faith employed telepathy as she hastened up the stairs to see which women might be interested in joining her for dinner in the cafeteria. By the time she got to her floor, seven of the new recruits waited for her, milling about in the hallway. Faith recognized three of them since they were part of a group assigned specifically to her for weapons and martial arts practice.
A thought struck Faith. âI never asked, and we mostly communicate via telepathy when we train, but did you ever swap out your identification numbers from the compounds for names?â
A woman from Faithâs group squared her shoulders. Like all the genetically modified women, she had long, thick dark hair and clear green eyes. The women had sleekly muscled bodies, and were both tall and strong. âSome of us did,â she replied.
Faith smiled grimly. âThat was one of the concessions we insisted on in my compound. We got sick of numbers, so we named ourselves and refused to respond when Nameless Ones called us by our numbers. Tell you what. Before weâre done eating tonight, at least the seven of you will have picked names.â
âSounds like a plan,â another of the women said.
âTell us about Hope and Charlie.â Another pressed forward and clasped her hands together. âIt seems like such a fairytale romance. Everything went well? Theyâre off on a honeymoon?â
âWell, theyâre not exactly married, so honeymoon isnât the correct word,â Faith replied. âBut I watched their plane take off, and they did look happy.â
A collective ahhhhh surged through the group, and seven pairs of green eyes shone with delight for one of their kind whoâd found happiness.
Faith could relate, and it made her both sad and angry. Up until sheâd fled the compound, the thought of falling in love was just a fantasy. Something that happened in movies she watched on the Internet, but nothing that would ever happen to her. Frankâs invitationâand his obvious interestânagged at the back of her mind.
No. Iâd rather be dead than hook up with a Nameless One. Charity may have, but Iâm not her.
âDinner?â Faith urged to quell her churning thoughts and trotted back down the stairway. If they got there after eight, the steam tables would be closed. Snacks were always available, but they werenât as satisfying as a hot meal.
The women trailed after her, chatting among themselves. They sounded carefree, another emotion that had eluded them in the compounds where theyâd had to watch their backs every single minute.
âWhat do you think about goddess warrior names?â One of the women joined Faith.
âIt doesnât matter what I think,â Faith offered. âA name is important. It symbolizes who you are. Humans donât get to pick their own names, but some of the research Iâve read indicates that people grow into their given namesâfor good or for ill.â
âSo I should pick a name where I have an affinity for the woman, right?â
About the Author:
Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Annâs writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasnât very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.
Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didnât take long before that first story found its way into print and theyâve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Annâs passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.
In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. Theyâve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.
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