Blurb - Play the part, bide your time, and wait for the opportune moment to strike.
Katie Murdock can’t decide if she is blessed or cursed. Saved as a child by the Murdock family and raised as one of them, she’s grown up privileged. But the Murdocks aren’t a good family. Fifteen years ago they released a flu virus that killed over half the world’s population. When her adoptive father makes plans to release a new virus, Katie knows she has to stop them, but playing a double agent is never easy.
Ethan Malloy failed his mission to kill Katie Murdock. Captured behind enemy lines and tortured, he is turned over to the dreaded cyborg program. But his memories aren’t erased. Katie Murdock sends him a coded message asking him to pretend he’s a mindless drone and later shows up with her father proclaiming Ethan to be her new cyborg bodyguard. Alone with Katie once again he must choose to either complete his mission or trust the daughter of one of the most dangerous men in the world.
Ethan stared at the computer screen. It had been three hours since he’d sent his message and he hadn’t heard back. A year ago, his father and he had messaged every night. Was the lack of response because his father had stopped checking, or because he didn’t believe it was really Ethan? A SAT phone was with his supplies. He could call the base, but he wasn’t supposed to be able to speak. Part of him still thought it was a dream. Any minute he’d wake up in his bed back at Katie’s condo. No, he couldn’t call. It would be a dead giveaway that something was different about him. If his father suspected he’d been compromised he wouldn’t come and would most definitely kill him and Katie on sight. He sighed and brushed a hand over his face.
He turned his attention to the bed where Katie slept. She was rolled in the blankets, sleeping soundly. His tee and sweats were much too large for her, but it was a turn on to see her in them. Her brown hair splayed over the pillow and her breathing came in soft even breaths.
She was beautiful. He thanked God everyday that he’d failed his mission. If he’d succeeded in killing her it not only would’ve done more damage to the rebellion’s cause, but he’d never know what it was like to have a woman take his breath away. Katie did that every day. Her inner strength and kindness had taken him by surprise. She was so unlike the stories he’d heard that it had made him question the rebellion’s cause for a moment. Then Francis Murdock would do something to snap him back to reality.
Metal scraping over metal drew him from his thoughts. Someone was in the warehouse. Katie must’ve heard it too. Her eyes flew open and she jolted into a sitting position.
Ethan raced across the room and sat on the bed next to her. He put his fingers on her lips. “Shhh, they won’t find us.”
Her wide eyes met his. She gulped and blew out a breath against his hand. Her body trembled and he pulled her into his chest. Her arm curved around his waist and she buried her face into his shoulder.
“It’s going to be okay,” he whispered while smoothing a hand through her hair.
She nodded and mumbled something he couldn’t understand.
The footsteps thudded above them. She tensed when they grew closer. Footfalls clanged on the metal floor thudding loudly until they stopped right outside the wall that hid the private room. Her nails dug into his flesh as her grip tightened on him. He continued to comb her hair with his fingers, hoping it calmed her, even if just a little.
He didn’t know how long the search lasted but Katie let out a long breath and sagged against him when the footsteps quieted.
“It’s good they’ve searched this block already. We can head to the subway tunnels in the morning,” Ethan said. The good thing about being close to Murdock was they both knew how he operated. Once they cleared an area, they wouldn’t check it again.
“To West Virginia then?” she asked, still clinging to him.
“I haven’t heard back from my father.”
“It’s still our best bet. We’re going to need all the manpower we can get,” she said.
She was right. He just worried that his father wouldn’t believe they were who they said they were. His father hadn’t kept the group alive as long as he had by trusting. Even if they didn’t know what happened to him, they could guess. His father knew that he was leaving to complete his mission, and when he’d never responded back, he knew his father had most likely assumed the worst.
He’d thought about contacting his father through one of Katie’s computers or one at Murdock Pharm, but Katie had warned him that her father monitored all incoming and outgoing emails. All her secret work was done in a cloud network that she’d somehow built, but it allowed her to access her information anywhere, and they’d both agreed they couldn’t risk the security of her network to send an email that may or may not get read.
“Tell me about your father?” Katie asked. “Is he a good man?”
Ethan smiled and continued to stroke her hair. “Yeah. When I was a kid he used to coach my baseball team. We’d go out on the weekends to see the Reds play, and we’d toss the ball together in the back yard for hours. The other kids treated me different because of my handicap, but he used to say that things always happen for a reason and that we have to embrace it. I think his words came back to haunt him. I wasn’t supposed to go on the mission. It was suppose to be someone else, but the group voted for me after I volunteered for the simple fact that if I were to be caught, I’d never be able to talk while being tortured.”
He sighed and closed his eyes as he recalled his last moments with his dad. “The day I left he hugged me tight and told me he loved me and that I needed to come back. I promised him I would. At least I’ll finally get to keep my word.”
Katie nodded and pulled away. “He does sound like a good man. I’m glad I’ll get to meet him.”
Tears shone in her eyes and she looked away. Her head rested on his shoulder again and he feared that if he didn’t say anything she would eventually pull away. “What about your parents…your real parents. What were they like?” He’d met the Murdocks, but what was her real family like.
Katie pursed her lips. “They owned a bakery. On the weekends Lara, Jack, and I would go in and help out…and eat our weight in junk.” She laughed out loud. More tears trickled down her cheeks. “Jack and Lara both played soccer and I was in gymnastics. We were busy but we were happy. After the Flu…after I found out what monsters the Murdocks really were, I used to picture them in my mind before going to bed. I talked to them like they could actually talk back, and I’d ask them what I needed to do? Then one night I couldn’t remember what they looked like. Over time their images faded so much I couldn’t recall them anymore. So I kept on doing what I thought would make them proud.”
She closed her eyes. Her bottom lip trembled but no more tears fell.
“I’m sure they would be proud of you, Katie. You’ve grown into an amazing woman.”
Her eyes opened slowly and they shone as she met his gaze. “I’d like to hope so.”
His eyes darted to her lips. She was so close. Her breath whispered over his mouth and he wanted nothing more than to kiss away her pain. He inched forward, causing her to inhale. Her gaze met his and she nodded slightly to give him permission.
Ethan closed the distance. Her lips were soft and parted to let his tongue in. Her hands went to his shirt where they fisted in the fabric.
He’d had sex before, but he’d never made love. Katie was special. The one, if that sentiment still existed. He deepened the kiss. She arched into him, pushing her chest against his.
He let his fingers tangle in her hair as he guided her back onto the bed, pulling the covers over both of them. She ran her hands up and down his dress shirt while peering up at him. Emotions flickered in her eyes, ones he couldn’t even begin to guess at. He wondered if she realized that her face was usually a stony mask, making her hard to read.
Katie didn’t have many reasons to smile, and that was something he wanted to fix.
He pushed a stray lock of hair out of her face and placed a chaste kiss to her lips. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”
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Bethany Shaw is the author of the following series: Werewolf Wars, Hunted, Times Journey, Wayward Wolves, Rainier Pack, and the standalone stories: The Best Mistake, Rescued by the Bear, and Claiming His Mate.