The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally shatters.
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 who’d 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, they’ve 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, they’d launch their own rebellion.
Being a genetically altered human without a name grew old, so Glory named herself. Surrounded by a maze of unpleasant alternatives, she makes a bold choice and ends up a fugitive in the midst of a Minnesota winter. Once she’s on the run, she discovers how unprepared she is for life outside her protected compound.
CIA agent, Roy Kincaid, devoted his career to hunting super humans who staged a rebellion seven years before. He’s not making much headway, so he goes deep undercover. One blustery night, a striking woman staggers into the café where he’s catching a late meal. Part waif, part runway model, the half-frozen woman arrows straight into his heart.
Glory’s flat out of alternatives, but death in the storm might be preferable to telling the tall stranger looming over her anything. Sensing Roy is dangerous, she pushes into his head seeking clues and discovers he hunts those like her. Maybe she can fool him, just for tonight. Get a hot meal and dry motel room out of the deal. If she’s lucky, he’ll never find out she’s on the run from the same group he’s targeted for death.
The thing she didn’t count on was falling in love.
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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 they’re different, and she’s 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. There’s 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 she’s a freak—the CIA term for test tube humans designed by scientists.
Honor wants Milton with every bone in her body, but it’s 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, she’s done.
Or is she?
…“How about this?” Honor finished her drink and twirled the glass between her hands. “The other women and I are on top of things. We’ll make sure nothing…unexpected happens.”
“What if I pull rank and order Charity to stay here?” he demanded, not liking her answer.
Honor shook her head. “That’d be a bad idea.” After a pause, she added hastily, “Sir. With all due respect.”
Milton chortled. “You’re learning. Why is it a bad idea?”
Honor closed her teeth over her lower lip. “Like all of us, she’s 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.”
“You still haven’t told me why it’s a bad idea.”
“She needs to trust you. If you ride herd on her, treat her like the Nameless Ones treated us, she never will, and this…problem of hers will just get worse.”
Desperation flared, a glowing nimbus she nipped quickly, but he’d been paying close attention, plus he’d been inside her mind. Milton pushed forward with a combination of intuition and his augmented ability. “You’re worried it will get worse anyway.”
Her gaze skittered away. “Yes. No. Possibly. These things are hard to predict. Please.” She leaned forward this time and placed a hand over his where it lay atop his leg. “Let us handle it our way. I give you my word we’ll ask for help before it gets out of control.”
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. “Doesn’t sound very smart to me. Is there any chance she’ll switch allegiance?”
Honor’s eyes widened. “Oh hell, no. You mean fight for the Nameless Ones?” When Milton nodded, she was even more emphatic. “No. That’d never happen. She hates them just as much as we do.”
It was the main thing that had worried him: that he’d been playing host to a double agent—again. Some of the tension drained out of him, and he rubbed his fingers over Honor’s where they lay clasped between his.
“I really should go, sir.” She tried to pull her hand back, but he didn’t let go.
“Do you always do what you should?”
Honor looked away. “Not a fair question, sir.”
“Stop calling me that!”
“But you are my commanding officer.” Honor kept her voice soft, but the meaning in her words slapped Milton squarely across his forehead.
He released her hand. “Sorry.” He spoke stiffly. “I forgot myself. You’re free to go.”
The sadness he’d 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 she’d 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. “Thanks for helping me understand you a little,” he said.
“You’re welcome. Sometimes that way is easier than talking. Thank you for not insisting Charity stay here.”
“She’s important to you,” he said. “I didn’t fully appreciate how much you depend on each other until you allowed me into your thoughts.”
Milton didn’t 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.
“Of course you’d be a virgin,” he murmured, stroking his hands down her back.
“We were off-limits to the Nameless Ones, but we talked about sex among ourselves.”
Arousal flashed deep inside him. Even though he knew he shouldn’t, he asked, “What did you talk about?” He cupped his hands around her high, firm buttocks and snugged her against his erection.
Desire apparently trumped discomfort, and she pushed against him. “Men. We talked about how penises get hard, and how one might feel inside us.” She licked her lips, and heat flickered in her eyes. “Sometimes we’d touch ourselves and mind link, so we could feel each other come.”
He’d 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. “Has anyone told you what a devilishly attractive woman you are?”
She shook her head.
He couldn’t 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 wasn’t 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 he’d scuffled with in the gym, but tonight wasn’t 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. “Honor, we can’t do this.”
“I know it’s wrong, but I’ve never been kissed before, and I…” She looked away. “…didn’t want it to end. I’m sorry, sir. I’ll do a better job of—”
“Goddammit, Honor. You’re not listening.” Frustration vied with desire and feeling like a shit for letting the situation get out of hand in the first place.
“Yes I am. You said what we did was wrong.”
“No, I didn’t, but the timing’s bad.” He paused a beat. “And you work for me, which means—”
“I know exactly what it means. I may have been sequestered in that compound, but I’m far from stupid.” She wrenched away from him and stumbled toward the door.
She spun to face him. “This was a mistake.” Hurt carved furrows around her eyes. “I’m used to being by myself. Taking care of myself. Don’t worry. I won’t be a burden on you.”
“That’s not what I—”
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, there’d be no way to have a rational conversation.
Until they’d shared an orgasm or two…
Charity’s 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. She’s no sooner settled in as a CIA special operative—a role where she can put her augmented mind and body to use—when her wobbly genetics escalate.
Tony’s a freak—a 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 nothing’s working. In a last ditch effort, he joins his mind to hers and discovers he wants her more than he’s 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?
Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s 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. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.
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