Doctor Ilsa Blaine
Abilities: Designs programmable bioware, enhanced understanding of brain chemistry
Mission: Research, analyze and troubleshoot the team’s active microchips
On the cutting edge of neuroscience, Ilsa is developing microchips that can be inserted into the brain and deliver information. The applications are endless, but her current goal is just to get dogs to return to their owners should they ‘become lost.’ When her college roommate turns up asking for lunch, she’s hardly prepared for the chaos that ensues or the revelation her chip changed the world and the lives of five heroes from the future. And now they need her help…
Codename: The Viper
Abilities: toxins, poisons and assassination, he can kill with a touch
Mission: Protect Ilsa Blaine
One of five desperate men sent back in time to save the future, Garrett volunteers to be the doctor’s guinea pig as she studies their neuro-chips. It’s not his first time being a lab rat. In close quarters, the unthinkable happens, an attraction that could kill Ilsa. Drawn together by science, and on the fast track to destiny, Ilsa must prove to Garrett he isn’t toxic to everything and save his team from their chips before they can end them…
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. An alliance with Halo has given their leader a taste of hope. For these five lonely soldiers, the single emotion may prove their most dangerous threat.
Read an excerpt:
Everything was happening too fast. One moment Rory was dropping in to take her to lunch and, the next, Director Chambers’ goons wanted to detain her. Ilsa dragged her heels as Rory all but shoved her up the stairs. "We can't go this way. It leads to the roof." And to the private labs in sections eight through ten. Not only could they not get into those labs, they stood a real risk of being shot on sight.
But her friend was implacable. "Up, Ilsa. Just keep climbing." Below them, doors slammed and booted feet hit the stairs. For a dizzying moment, all Ilsa could imagine were the jackboots of Nazis marching, the images overlaying the surreal moment. She twisted to argue as a security guard lunged around the corner.
"Rory!" Fear ripped through her gut. The guard was huge, his expression a fierce mask and his arms, easily as big as her thighs, tried to lock around her sorority sister. The black-haired beauty, with her seeming delicate fragility, stunned her by latching her hands onto the railing and literally flying over it, legs wrapping the bigger man and spinning him. He slammed into the wall and Rory delivered three sharp jabs, two to his eyes and a third to the bulging vein in his neck.
He dropped and Rory snagged ahold of her arm and pushed her again. "Let's go. We've got more incoming."
"What are you?" Adrenaline surged through her system, and she tried to drag to a stop. Her mind couldn't process everything happening at once. Rory spun away from her and she managed to look back as two more men flew down the stairs. It wasn't possible. Rory never stopped moving. She barely looked at them and flew up, body twisting, fists jabbing, feet striking, and her opponents went down like dominoes. The smart skirt she wore was torn in strips, flapping around her legs like three banners.
Blackish bruises discolored her calves and two of her toes were purpling. "You broke something."
"Don't make me tell you to keep moving again." Something cold infused that warning and Ilsa fled upwards, obeying her friend. Four more flights then they raced past heavy metal barriers on a stairwell remarkably different from every other floor—at Section Ten, Rory hesitated. Ilsa's chest burned as she wheezed for air. Her idea of a workout was a brisk walk at lunch and hours spent on her feet in her lab. Her quadriceps burned and she was fairly certain she'd strained something in her ass.
Something crashed against the metal door and Ilsa flattened herself against the wall. Rory spun in a half-circle and stared at the door. A furred face appeared in the tempered glass window—a face that wasn’t remotely human. A roar of fury pounded against Ilsa’s ears and she shoved her hand against her mouth to keep the scream at bay. Keen intelligence shimmered in the creature's eyes and hate surged in it as the beast ignored Rory and glared at Ilsa.
"What the fuck are you?" Rory’s murmured question, so obviously not directed at her, kickstarted Ilsa's brain from fear to analysis.
"Section Ten—this is the no man's land. We need to get out of here." R.E.X. Labs experimented in any number of weaponized options, from super soldiers to super technology. But not all of their experiments were successful and some were downright dangerous. Section Ten required clearance on the highest levels—despite the Director's one time offer to bring her aboard these elite projects, Ilsa had refused.
She was a pacifist at heart. She preferred working with animals.
The creature roared again. "Rory, we need to go." Ice slithered along her spine. Bile burned her throat.
"Yeah, we're going." By mutual consent, they jogged up the last twenty-eight steps, the beast's roars following them to an impenetrable looking steel door, crisscrossed by sensors.
"We can't get out this way." Ilsa sagged against the wall. She could barely catch her breath. Every shallow pant lanced more flame into her already oxygen-starved lungs. Fingers against her wrist, she shuddered at the rapid-fire speed of her pulse. One hundred and fifty beats per minute was too fast. She needed to slow it down. The heart murmur she'd been diagnosed with as a child pinched with every squeeze.
"Back up a step." Rory pulled her away from the door and pushed her against the other wall. "Head down."
Wild fear raced through her, and she ducked obediently. Ozone scorched the air and metal ground on metal. The sound ripped through the silence, halting even the mad pounding of boots and the creature's roars below. Sunlight blinded her as Rory tugged her back into motion. A figure, bigger than the insane guard below, stared at them through the now melted door. Melted.
A heavy portion of steel flowed like slag, hardening into a shapeless blob against the frame. Jerking her gaze up, she stared into the most potently beautiful green eyes she'd ever seen. They shimmered in the too bright light—as though suffused from the inside out. Her breath clogged in her throat and her heart felt like it had paused mid-beat, only to thump again with more brutal force."Give the doctor to me. The captain wants you off the roof." He extended a leather-clad arm, his fingers stretched expectantly. She would never want to meet this man in a dark alley—or anywhere there wasn't a lot of light for that matter. Beyond the exquisite beauty of his eyes was a raw tension in his face, both fierce and frightening. Her insides went liquid with the most curious sensation, but a slam from below drove any analysis away. Maybe her mind had snapped under the pressure, but she trusted this man and she took the hand he offered.
Cool leather gloved fingers fisted around hers and tugged her forward. She let him guide her through the opening, Rory flattening a hand against her back—whether to offer comfort or to make sure she didn't flee, she couldn't really say. Outside, Ilsa blinked at the sunshine. The roof seemed so ordinary after the mad exodus up the stairs. The two hustled her toward the southwest corner. The rolling landscape of the R.E.X. complex swam up toward her and she dug in her heels.
"No, no…no, I can't—what are we doing?" Panic jacked up her spine, but her escort didn't release her. He didn't even drag her. Instead, he wrapped a steel banded arm around her and pulled her right up to his chest. Oh my God. He's so big. She was a tall woman, taller than Rory and most of her sorority sisters. Five foot ten was nothing to sneeze at and was why she preferred flats to heels. But she barely reached this guy's chin.
She beat a hand against his chest as he continued to fast-walk toward the edge—were they going to kill her?
"Shh." Brilliant green eyes clashed with hers and her heart hiccupped. "You're not going to fall." The warm scent of patchouli and sandalwood tickled her nose and she sucked in a deep breath, filling her lungs with his underlying masculine wildness. A sharp sting pricked her neck, then euphoria surged up, blotting out the fear, and her muscles sagged with relief. The pounding of her heart stopped bruising her ribs.
"What did you do?" Rory's agitation barely scored against the bliss enveloping her mind. It would be all right. Everything would be fine. She opened her mouth to tell her sorority sister just that. But they weren't paying any attention to her. Over Green Eyes’ shoulder, she stared at the men racing toward them. Rory would kick their asses, didn't they know that? But instead of engaging them, they just blew back, one at a time—slamming into the roof as though punched by invisible fists.
Green Eyes climbed up onto the ledge and she turned to look over her shoulder. The ground raced up to meet them. She waited bemusedly for the pain, but it didn't come. Green Eyes landed on his feet—like a cat—and the smooth motion gave way to a jagged race as he ran. Amazingly enough, the R.E.X. facility retreated over his shoulder.
Did he fly? Ten stories from the roof to the ground. Ten stories and they weren’t a splattered pile of goo. Where was Rory?
"She's fine. Stop." The whisky warm breath tickled her ear. She was wrapped completely around the giant of a man and beating on him. Her fists released obediently and her bloody palms swam into view. She'd clenched her hands so hard, crescent moon shaped cuts had formed against the skin. "We're clear. Halo, out?"
Clear of what? She wanted to ask the questions but, no sooner did they form, they drifted away on a peaceful haze. A door opened and Green Eyes set her down on something soft. She rolled onto her side, cheek tucked against a raspy blanket. It didn't smell as sweet as he did and she tried to protest, but her eyelids drooped.
She couldn't wait to analyze this dream when she woke up.
About Heather Long:
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
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