Series: The DIRE Agency #6
Published by Author on July 31st 2015
Genres: Science Fiction Romance
Agent N6: Dylan McCallCredentials:Third generation MarineMongolian prison survivorEnhancement:NanoroboticsThird generation Marine Dylan McCall has only one goal in mind: revenge. Armed with a new, scientific enhancement, he won’t rest until he destroys Cyrus Matheson’s plans.Geneticist Teague Hamilton wants nothing more than a healthy baby of her own. Raised in a girls’ home, she knows Cyrus’s genetic engineering technology is her only chance at gaining the family she wants.Dylan can’t get enough of D.I.R.E.’s confident, sexy-as-hell geneticist, even though his gut tells him she’s hiding something. He won’t rest until he tames her and brings her deception to light.When Cyrus draws Teague out of D.I.R.E.’s protective custody and takes her to the past, she uncovers lies that prove she’s never controlled her own destiny, while Dylan travels back in time to save her before it's too late.Can Dylan rescue Teague in time, or will he lose the woman he loves forever?
Teague Hamilton lowered her hand as the Samoan driver edged the boat close to shore. Yellow tape stamped with the words “Do Not Cross” stretched from a retaining wall, across a bent wrought-iron gate, to a brick wall on the opposite side. A dark-haired man wearing sunglasses and shorts signaled the driver to turn around and leave.
No, no, no, no, no. I can’t go back.
She held two fingers to her Bluetooth. “They’re telling us to turn around, Amy.”
“See, it’s a sign, T. Just forget about that job offer and come back to the lab.”
Her former co-worker and best friend Amy Garland had worked at Dr. Capri’s lab almost as long as Teague, and never waivered from her routine.
“So I can stare at test tubes all day and make up stories about the patients behind them?” Teague stifled the urge to sigh. “I’m done with that.”
Sniffing, Amy adopted a brittle tone. “I thought we had fun.”
They did – until now. Learning she had multiple sclerosis had changed Teague’s perspective on life.
“I have to go, Amy. I’ll call you later.” She disconnected and said to the driver, “Stay. I need to find out what happened.”
He gave her a brief nod. “As you wish.”
Cutting the engine, he scanned the beach. Small waves lapped against the boat hull as it settled to a stop parallel to shore. Lifting the hem of her ivory pencil skirt, Teague took the driver’s hand and stretched a leg over the side. She tugged down her coral, button-up blouse and marched toward the man, her heels sinking into the soft sand.
He held out his hands to block her. “I’m sorry, ma’am. You’re not allowed on the island.”
She did not come all this way to be turned around. Her future depended on this job.
Digging inside the large tote on her shoulder, she pulled out the employment contract signed by Cyrus Matheson, Esquire. She handed it to him.
“This contract says not only am I allowed on the island, I live here.”
The decision to leave Sacramento and live off the coast of Hawaii was a no-brainer. Add the opportunity to work with fully funded, genetic-enhancement research and she’d had her bags packed before the ink dried on the contract.
“One moment.” Tapping a finger to his ear, the man turned and spoke in a low voice.
The eight men lining the beach at regular intervals held themselves at military ease, their eyes scanning the open water and partly cloudy skies. Two standing near the boat studied her with keen interest.
A whir of helicopters sounded in the distance. In unison, they looked up at the sky. The man that greeted them glanced over his shoulder.
His low voice carried in rushed tones. “We have incoming. Two bogies, ten o’clock.”
Her heart pounded against her ribs in wild beats. Excitement and danger were things she only read about in books or saw in the movies. They did not happen to dull, laboratory hermits.
Two, dark helicopters approached. The hum of their rotors grew louder by the second, disrupting the early morning quiet.
The man clutched her arm from behind. “Come with me.” His urgent tone betrayed his calm demeanor.
Pulling her toward the gates, he rushed up the incline.
“What about my suitcases?” She glanced back at the boat.
A sharp ping pounded against the boat’s hull, then another. Her driver jolted, then fell overboard into the shallow water. A bullet hole pierced the side of his bald head.
“Oh, my god…”
“Run,” the man said in a raised voice, as he dragged her toward the entrance. “Stay low.”
Losing her shoes, she crouched low and ran up the beach. Helicopter blades droned in the overhead sky, rousing the sand into tornado-like fury. Gunfire peppered the beach behind them, groans and return fire piercing the air like a violent hailstorm.
Her escort arched his back, before dropping to the sand.
Oh, my god. Oh, my god…
She ran for a hole in the fence bars, near the retaining wall. Her lungs heaved for breath, her legs shaking.
God help me. What’s going on? She’d wanted to escape the lab, but this was more than she’d bargained for…
A blond man dropped from the sky in front of her, gun pointed at her chest. She stopped short, her heart continuing on in staccato beats. His handsome face held no evil or warmth, just matter-of-fact business.
Her body shook with mild tremors.
“Dr. Hamilton, come with me.” He held out a hand.
“I don’t think so…”
Two shots rang out. A red-haired man hurried past, the smell of suntan lotion splashing over her. The blond dropped to the sand, blood at his temple.
“Stay here, against the wall.” His face a blur, the man shoved her through the hole in the gate.
Ducking between the retaining wall and the fence, Teague peeked through the bars. The man wore nothing more than athletic shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt, yet he charged into the gunfire as if he wore a suit of armor.
He fired to his left, hitting a man between the eyes. Whipping to his right, he grabbed the barrel of an assailant’s gun and dismantled it in one, quick sweep, the pieces falling to the sand. He slammed the butt of his gun against another’s temple. Dropping to the ground, the man shook his head as if to clear it. The redhead launched two rounds against his forehead.
Okay Teague, you have to get out of here.
Somehow, she had to get to the boat. She had no idea who these men were, or what was going on. She didn’t know if any of them worked for Cyrus, or if they were the authorities. The only thing she did know was that they used real bullets.
Picking up the gun pieces, the redhead assembled it and jumped onto the boat’s bow, a gun in each hand. He shot down at the men on beach, picking off attackers with deft precision, gunshots zinging past him without notice.
Emptying both chambers, he threw down the guns and leaped off the boat. He rushed toward a fistfight and jumped on an assailant’s back, twisting his neck. The man fell to the sand.
He grabbed the dead man’s sidearm and fired at the main rotor on one of the helicopters. The chopper went into a wild tailspin, reeling and whirling, before diving sideways into the ocean. Water gushed high in the air, dousing the beach, fire mushrooming in its wake. Flames danced on the water’s surface amongst the wreckage.
Something cold and hard butted against the back of her head. She stiffened before straightening her back.
Hands in the air, she rose to her feet with slow movements, her face toward the beach. She didn’t want to see her attacker, didn’t want to give death a face other than the one in her mind’s eye since childhood.
“What do you want from me?” she said.
He nudged her head. “Mr. Matheson wants me to take you in.”
“Mr. Matheson?” Her new boss? “I thought he lived here.”
“He’s been evicted.” Like a cheetah after its prey, the redhead sprang from the top of the retaining wall, stretching over her head like an athlete over a hurdle.
Sailing through the air, he landed on top of the man and dragged him to the ground. They struggled amongst the grass and rubble, fists flying, before her champion clamped a hand around the attacker’s gun. With stiff, shaking hands, they wrestled with the weapon. The redhead snapped back his arm and dismantled it in two, giving the attacker a shot at his profile. The redhead’s face whipped to the side, but he didn’t slow. With continual fists to the jaw, he rendered the attacker unconscious, the man falling limp in the grass.
Breathing hard, he turned to her, his blue-green eyes glittering with adrenalin. They dominated his face, swirling in shades of teal and aqua, reminding her of the mood ring her mother gave her as a child. Red stubble dotted his upper lip and square, cleft chin, subtle cheekbones complementing his small, angular nose. His nearness sent a shock of awareness through her heated body, kicking her already-pounding heart into overdrive.
Gorgeous seemed too clichéd for this man’s appeal. Too inadequate. From a geneticist’s perspective, Teague decided God had perfected the genetic code with this one.
He gave her huddled form a quick once-over. “Agent Dylan McCall. Can you stand?”
Pushing up her foggy glasses, she gave him an uncertain nod, her eyes straying to the unconscious man lying a foot away. “Yes.”
Girl? She hadn’t been called anything but Doctor or Teague in a long time. She hadn’t really felt like a girl since she lost her parents as a child.
Then again, she’d never been held at gunpoint.
Still, something in his deep voice spoke of command, of a confidence she sorely lacked at the moment. It rang of the unspoken knowledge that he had everything under control and would take care of her.
Holding out a hand, Dylan helped her to her feet, his big, rough palm unyielding around hers. Heat sizzled up her arm and rushed through her body, awakening every hibernating erogenous zone in her DNA.
Steering her away from the unconscious man, he escorted her through the rock-filled undergrowth. A concrete sidewalk led to blue doors at the face of a crumbled mansion.
He spoke into an armband strapped to his left forearm. “Mitchell…”
“McCall. What’s going on?”
His tall, lean frame exuded energy as he rushed her up the walk. “Two agents down. We have a person of interest.”
She snatched her hand from his grasp. He made her sound like some kind of suspect. Of what, she wasn’t sure.
Mitchell’s voice carried over the band. “Who is he?”
Dylan gave her another perusal, this one slower, more… pronounced. She refrained from fanning herself.
“He is a she, Mitchell.” His direct gaze sent a shiver down her spine. “Who are you?”
Feeling small in her bare feet, she straightened to her full height before yanking down the hem of her blouse. “Dr. Teague Hamilton. I’m supposed to start work here today.”
“Bring her in.” Mitchell barked the order without hesitation.
Bring her in where? She looked at the mansion. If she went with Agent McCall, at least she’d get some questions answered. If she fought him, she had a feeling she’d end up going with him, anyway.
She had to try.
Whipping around, she took two steps before Dylan snatched her wrist. He yanked her against the hard wall of his chest. She sucked in a breath as tingling budded in her chest and filtered throughout her body.
Loathing swam in his narrow eyes, his grip on her wrist vice-like. “My pleasure,” he said. “Out.”
Adjusting the tote bag on her shoulder, she said, “I’m not going anywhere until I know what the hell is going on.”
“You’re about to find out.”
He led her over the front door threshold and stopped short. A massive, crystal chandelier lay in glistening splinters on the foyer floor, a jagged hole in the ceiling above it. Conversation carried in the distance.
“What happened?” she said.
“More of what you saw on the beach.” Glancing at her polished peach toes, he said, “I should make you walk.”
She had made it through life on her own up to this point. She’d be damned if she’d accept his hostile assistance now.
“I’ll go back to the beach and get my shoes.” Turning around, she took a step, before he swiveled her back to face him.
He lifted her into his arms. She gasped, his close proximity stealing her breath.
“What are you doing?”
His strong arms cradled her against him. Her fingers speared the red curls brushing the neckband of his t-shirt, the scent of sweat filling her nose.
“Put me down.” She pushed away from him.
Gleaming white teeth shone through a false smile, laugh lines bracketing his gorgeous mouth. “Okay.”
He dropped her legs. Her feet slipped to the jagged shards of glass. Wincing at the slight sting, she clung to his neck and curled up her legs.
“That’s what I thought.” He gave her a deadpan stare.
Forget it. She’d walk through the cut glass rather than give him the satisfaction.
Settling her feet on the spiky surface, she took a deep breath and let it out. If she could get around him, she could make a break for the beach.
She glanced up at him. He cocked an eyebrow.
Dammit, she would do this. Gritting her teeth, she turned away and took a step.
Scooping her into his arms, he marched across the floor, glass crunching beneath his rubber soles.
She shoved against his chest. “You’re crazy if you think I’m going anywhere with you.”
Reaching a door off the back hallway, he opened it and lowered her to the cool concrete of a cavernous stairwell. “You don’t have a choice.” With a gentle shove, he motioned for her to precede him.
She wouldn’t budge. “I told you, I’m not going anywhere until I get some answers.”
He lowered his face within inches of hers, his minty breath washing over her heated cheek. Dammit, why couldn’t she breathe?
“Yes, you are,” he said.
She gritted her teeth. “No, I’m-“
Bending low, he pushed a shoulder into her middle and tossed her over his shoulder. She gasped, nearly swallowing her tongue. His large, warm hand cupped her upper thigh, sending sparks of arousal straight to her core.
Holy smokes. Now is not the time to get turned on, Teague.
“Put me down.” She pounded a fist against his back.
“I plan to… in a minute.”
Taking the stairs two at a time, he raced down three floors as she bounced against his muscular back. Yanking open a door, he rushed into a hallway filled with fragments of sheetrock, plaster and other debris. Men and women stopped to stare, some laughing, others slapping him on his free shoulder.
She was a world-renowned doctor of genetics, for cripes sake. Her education and position as one of the leading scientists in genetic engineering warranted more respect than a sack of flour on this Neanderthal’s back.
Walking into a room, he lowered her to the floor. People packed up test tubes, vials and other samples into liquid nitrogen tanks and biohazard containers, others throwing medical supplies into boxes. A musty smell of alcohol and sheetrock dominated the wrecked laboratory, the taste of bile rising in her throat.
Teague stared at the obvious, her heart heavy. Was this Cyrus Matheson’s genetic engineering lab? The place where she’d thrown all of her life’s dreams, her future – into this pile of rubble and debris?
How would she ever correct her genetic code and overcome her family’s medical history without his resources? Without them, she had no hope of ever conceiving a healthy baby of her own.
The agency Dylan worked for had the technology. She had no choice but to go with him.
He pulled a pair of handcuffs from a bag. She held out her wrists in invitation.
His eyes narrowed. “You’re not going to fight me?”
Shaking her head, she said, “No. I realize that will only prolong my release.”
Latching one cuff around her wrist, he hooked the other around his own.
Her mouth dropped open. No. She already felt too on-edge in his company. Dylan McCall was far too potent, too appealing to be locked beside him for any length of time.
Tugging on the cuff, she tried to squeeze her hand through the hole. “Is this really necessary?”
Stepping close, he towered over her, his body heat fogging her glasses. She took a deep breath and let it out.
“Yes. I don’t have time to chase after you.”
But, what if I let you catch me? “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“That’s a matter of opinion, Doctor, and frankly, yours doesn’t count.”
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