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First pages

Chapter One

 

Shadows surrounded Glory. The darkness provided some shielding, but she wanted more—lots more. Too bad invisibility wasn’t an option. Her heartbeat thudded against her eardrums. Sweat formed a banner across her forehead and dripped into her eyes. They stung, and she cursed her human genetic base. When she’d been designed, why the hell hadn’t they deep-sixed the annoying things, like sweat and fear?

“Get moving!” Her Handler’s voice pounded through her head, projected telepathically.

She started. In the midst of her ambivalence, she’d forgotten about the Handlers—also called Nameless Ones—lurking just outside her work area. This was her first real assignment, and they didn’t trust her by herself. She blew out a wry breath. They’d probably never trust her, but she was useful.

A low growl followed the Handler’s terse words. She scowled as the noise scraped across her preternaturally sharp senses. Glory wanted to balk, make a break for freedom, but it’d be pointless. They’d be on her so fast, she’d be lucky to buy herself an hour.

She gazed straight ahead, assessing her objective. The large office building in downtown Seattle’s business district wasn’t as deserted as she’d hoped. Lights shone from about a quarter of its windows. If she were fortunate, her target would be unoccupied, but she knew what to say if it wasn’t.

No, I know what to do… Talking wasn’t exactly on the table.

She sucked in a ragged breath, blew it out, and did it again. Her hair was pulled into a bun, its weight heavy on her neck, but at least it wouldn’t come loose and obscure her vision if she had to move quickly.

The growl came again, and she shot forward, trying to walk as if she had every right to be on Pine Street at eleven at night. Unfamiliar high heels lent her an awkward rolling gait, and she pulled her skirt a little higher, so she could adjust her stride. When she’d complained about the black wool business suit and heels, she’d been told she had to look the part if she ran into anyone. She’d have practiced walking in the unfamiliar shoes, but the entire outfit had materialized—dropped in her dorm by a Handler—half an hour before she left her compound.

She fumbled a key card from her suit pocket with damp fingers and swiped it through a reader next to huge, double glass doors that opened onto a lavishly furnished lobby. Pink, white, and purple orchids, plush leather furniture, and glistening gray marble floors felt overwhelming after her Spartan existence. After a pause that felt far too long, the scanner’s red lights shifted to green, and the door’s locking mechanism snicked softly.

Glory darted forward and felt a rush of air as the door swooshed shut behind her. She’d have to use the card to get out too, so she glanced sidelong to identify the reader’s location on the lobby side. For long moments, she didn’t see a thing, and her already rapid heart rate escalated, making her dizzy.

Doesn’t matter. Head for the elevators. I can turn and look better from there.

A creaky grating stopped her cold, until an older, dark-skinned man dressed in a navy blue uniform came into view. He pushed a wheeled bucket with a mop sticking out of it. “Evening, ma’am.” He dipped his chin toward her. “Late to be working, isn’t it?”

She nodded. “I, uh, I forgot something I needed.”

He nodded back. “Always something, eh?” His smile displayed several missing teeth; grizzled gray hair lay flat against his head.

Because she was too keyed up to talk, and finding words was hard, she trotted toward the elevator, nearly twisting an ankle in the process from her sleek, black pumps. She still had the electronic card in hand. The Nameless Ones had done a reconnaissance and funneled needed data into her processing unit. It was how she knew she’d need the key card to call the elevator after hours—and everything else about this assignment.

She swiped the card and pushed the up button. Somewhere above her, machinery whirred. She wanted to look back at the front door, but self-preservation and not attracting attention trumped everything.

The housekeeper whistled as he drew his mop across the shiny flooring. She listened, trying to make out the tune, but it wasn’t familiar. The elevator doors opened and she stepped inside, turning as she did to catch a glimpse of the electronic scanner that had to be near the front door.

Breath rattled from her constricted lungs. There it was. About a foot to the right of the door, which was why she hadn’t noticed it before. Excellent. Her egress—assuming she made it that far—would be smooth, rather than awkward. It’d look suspicious if she had no idea how to exit the building. Floors whooshed past and she got out on the fourteenth. Squaring her shoulders, she took advantage of her almost six foot height to project the illusion she belonged here, in the center of corporate America.

This building in the heart of Seattle was as close to the Silicon Valley as the Northwest got. Every major hard and software manufacturer had offices here, but she was only focused on one of them—Dynamic Solutions. DS was deeply involved in government contracting for classified genetic research. The Handlers had told her that much, but nothing further, and she’d known better than to ask.

Her heels beat a staccato on green-veined, creamy marble as she made her way to the end of the hall. She traded the key card still clutched in her sweaty hand for a different one, swiped it, and slipped on transparent latex gloves before letting herself into a mercifully dark suite of offices.

Get what I came for and leave, ran through her mind like a mantra. The cleanup person had seen her, but he wouldn’t be a problem, not so long as everything else went smoothly. Her heart still beat too fast, and she was sweating despite the cool November evening and the sixty degree temperature in the building, but so far so good.

The office layout was exactly what she’d seen in schematics. She strode purposively toward a corner office. The door was shut and she twisted the knob.

It didn’t turn.

Goddammit! Locked. What do I do now? A perverse part of her felt thrilled the Nameless Ones’ intel had flaws. She hated them so much, any evidence of their weakness meant maybe she could escape someday.

Her practical side intruded, and she looked for a keyhole in the door. Picking locks was easy; it wouldn’t slow her down much. When she didn’t find one, she hunted for an electronic device and groaned when she saw a retinal scanner. She could defeat it, but she needed permission to break protocol, plus she didn’t want to kick off the building’s alarm system if there was a way around it.

“There’s a retinal scanner,” she sent telepathically to her Handlers.

“Break the lock.”

“But that will set off alarms,” she protested. Her thin, silk blouse stuck to her and she pulled it away from her breasts, hoping to dry her damp skin.

“Give us credit for something,” the voice snarled. “We disabled them. Hurry. We don’t have all night.” After a pause, he added, “Speed is your friend.”

Glory stared at the door. She could open the lock with her mind. It wouldn’t be hard. Had the Nameless One lied to her about the alarms? They certainly weren’t beyond that, but if she couldn’t believe them, it made every shred of intel supporting this mission suspect. She closed her teeth over her bottom lip so hard she tasted blood. She had to do something. Fish or cut bait.

If she left empty handed, there’d be hell to pay. Time in a cell to contemplate her failure. She shook herself to force her sluggish body into action. It had been a long road to get where she was right now, earning enough of Nameless Ones’ trust to be allowed out of the compound. She might never regain the ground she lost if she jack-rabbited out of here with her tail between her legs.

Fuck it.

She called the power that flowed through her mind. Electricity crackled from her fingertips, forcing the retinal scanner’s hand, and the door sprang open. The doubts that had dogged her ever since she stood outside plotting her course of action vanished. She vaulted through the door, kicked it shut, and dove into a black leather chair sitting behind an enormous mahogany desk. She flipped switches, activating the computer’s central processing unit and movie-sized flat screen monitor.

“Come on,” she urged under her breath, fingers poised over a keyboard. A box flashed onto the screen requesting username and password information. She typed what she’d been told—and got an error message. Glory typed it again. Same message.

What the hell?

Only one explanation, the computer’s owner must have changed it after the Nameless Ones had infiltrated this company. She didn’t hesitate. Assuming the username would be the same, she typed it and then created anagrams from the password in every permutation and combination. The process was quick, because her brain was just like the computer she was hacking into. With her fingers moving so fast they were a blur, she blended her consciousness with the CPU droning at her feet. When it wanted to shut down and sound an alarm after three tries to access its secrets, she reached deep enough into its electronics to stymie the automatic rejection sequence.

“Yes!” Glory fist pumped the air when menus rolled across the screen. She yanked a flash drive from her skirt pocket, slotted it into a USB3 port, and started the download, selecting files as she went. She covered her electronic presence so well that if she wasn’t disturbed, no one would ever know she’d been here. The company had safeguards to keep her from breaking in from an external computer, but they couldn’t keep her out when she was logged in from one of their own.

She wondered how the Nameless Ones had gotten hold of the username and worthless password, but they never told her things like that. She smiled. They’d probably borrowed data from one of those software programs where the unwary store all their important data—never realizing how easy they are to hack. What a bunch of rubes humans were. If she ever escaped from the Nameless Ones, blending in shouldn’t be too hard.

The drive filled, and she inserted another, and then two more.

Her fingers skimmed the keyboard as file after file dropped into her drives. Only one more and she’d be done. There. Glory pocketed her flash drives, four in all, and instructed the machine to shut down. She’d just gotten up from the chair when she heard the outer office door open. Thank Christ she hadn’t turned on any lights. Floor to ceiling curtains partially shrouded windows that looked out on lights and water. She raced behind one and arranged it to hide her.

Barely breathing, she waited, shifting from foot to foot. Glory rode herd on her nerves and forced stillness, concentrating hard to alter reality. It wasn’t a skill she was good at, since the Handlers didn’t encourage its use.

Please, please, don’t let anyone come in here.

An unpleasant whirring clawed at her sensitive hearing as the retinal scanner did its work and allowed access to whoever was standing outside. So much for altering reality to suit her needs.

“I’ll just be a minute,” a man’s voice spoke and he clumped through the door.

“Work, work, work,” a woman groused. “You promised tonight would be just us, and here we are back at your goddamned office.”

The heavy footsteps paused. “This goddamned office supports you,” the man said, his tone heavy with bitterness. Clearly, this was an old bone of contention between the couple. While she’d never lived around humans, Glory had watched plenty of television and she spent hours each day on the Internet.

She took shallow breaths. Her nose tickled, but she pinched it to avoid sneezing. It didn’t look as if the man and his partner would be here long. The footsteps started again, and then stopped.

“That’s odd,” the man said.

Glory’s heart jumped into hyper drive. What hadn’t she done? Was it the chair? Had she left it wrong, somehow? Who the fuck recalled exactly how they left their chair anyway?

“What’s odd?” Lighter steps, wearing heels.

“I always push my chair in when I leave. It’s been moved.”

“Oh for Christ’s sake, Lloyd, The cleaning staff must’ve moved it. Let’s go.”

“Mmph. You’re probably right.”

A desk drawer opened and shut, followed by another. More steps as the couple left, door shutting behind them.

Glory didn’t breathe normally until the door closed. She counted to five hundred very slowly before she left her hiding place and exited the office. Even though it should be enough time, she remained frightened she’d run into Lloyd and his grumpy companion. Once she was in the corridor leading to the elevator at the end of the fourteenth floor, she started to relax.

I did it.

Not yet. I’m not out yet.

She rode the elevator down and made her way to the outside door. The janitor was nowhere in sight, and the door’s scanner flashed green as soon as she swiped her key card. The chill damp of a Seattle night felt like a balm on her overheated skin, and she walked briskly toward the pickup point two blocks away. The shoes didn’t bother her as much. Maybe she was getting used to them.

Nothing could go wrong now. She was in the clear. She had what she’d come for. Glory snaked a hand into her pocket and cradled the drives. She’d memorized the file names driving here, but they were in some kind of code that didn’t make sense, even when she ran it through her augmented brain. She’d been instructed not to take time to read any of what she’d stolen. Good thing she hadn’t broken protocol. As it was, she’d escaped detection by a very narrow margin. A few more seconds downloading and Lloyd would’ve caught her in the act.

Breath hissed through her teeth and her stomach clenched. If Lloyd had waltzed in before she shut the computer off, he’d have turned his office upside down hunting for an intruder, given how spun out he was about his fucking chair. She shook her head. Her instructions were to kill if she were apprehended, with a quick blast to melt neurons into mush. Not that she hadn’t practiced with dummies, but she’d never actually harmed a living creature. When it got right down to it, she wasn’t certain she could.

“It’s about time.” A man dressed in black sidled from the maw of a nearby alleyway.

“Did you get it?” A second man, similarly dressed, joined the first. Both were tall, close to six feet four, with shaggy dark hair and heavily muscled bodies. They always wore dark glasses, even indoors, so she had no idea what their eyes looked like. The men were genetically altered, just like her. One of the government’s many experiments that had leaped its boundaries, gone sideways, and produced freaks that had to be hidden away from polite society.

The thought brought a smile to her lips, and the second man slugged her in the arm. “Look at her. Grinning like a shit-eating demon. Of course she got it.”

“Almost didn’t,” she said. “The man whose office it was came back.”

The first man turned toward her and furled his brows. “And?” he prodded.

“I didn’t have to do anything. I hid behind a curtain until he left.”

“Excellent.” The man blew out a tense breath.

“Yeah,” the other man seconded. “Always better when we don’t have to send in the drones to clean up.”

Glory hurried to keep up with them. She’d never heard this part before. “So someone would have shown up to get rid of the bodies?”

“Ssht!” One of the Nameless Ones jabbed her hard with his elbow.

It felt like a steel pipe pounding into her side, and she grunted with pain, but understood to keep her mouth shut. They came to a black SUV and she got into the back seat, rubbing her sore ribs. The men climbed in the front, and the vehicle pulled away the curb at a sedate pace.

She twisted around and got onto her knees so she could reach her bundle of clothes behind the rear seat. Once she had them, she faced forward again and dug for her worn black trousers and battered lace up boots. Realizing she still had the clear, latex gloves on, she peeled them off and asked, “Is it okay if I change into my other clothes?” She kicked off the high heels before getting an answer.

“Permission granted.” The Nameless One in the passenger seat adjusted the rear view mirror so his gaze met hers. “Mind if I watch?”

It wasn’t a question. Not really, so she didn’t bother to answer, just pulled on her pants before she slithered out of her skirt. She was damned if she’d give him any more of a peep show than she had to. Because he’d want to humor her, and maybe catch a glimpse of tit, she gathered her courage. “You never answered me about the bodies.”

“That’s because you asked in a public place.” He sounded annoyingly patronizing. “Come on, babe. Aren’t you going to take that jacket off? And your blouse?”

She shrugged the jacket off and undid one button, but very slowly. Feeling like she might have the upper hand for once, albeit temporarily, she crooked two fingers and smiled. “Information first.”

“You drive a hard bargain.” He reached a hand toward his lap. “That’s not all that’s hard.”

The driver shot a glance at his partner. “She’s off limits, and you know it.”

“Who’d tell?”

“I would,” the driver said sourly. He twisted the rear view mirror and looked at her. “We never leave evidence of our missions. If you’d had to terminate anyone, we would’ve done away with the bodies, and any associated untidiness.”

“Thank you for the information.” Glory pulled a bulky gray, wool sweater out of her clothes bag and put it on over her cream-colored silk blouse. Because her head ached from the weight of her hair, she pulled the pins holding her bun in place and sheaves of shiny darkness rippled around her.

“Aw, what happened to my tit show?” The Nameless One sounded annoyed.

“It was cancelled.” Glory leaned back against the leather seat and exhaled long and loud.

The man in the passenger seat moved so fast, she didn’t understand how he could possibly have vaulted over the divider and be seated next to her. The chiseled lines of his face were set into a harsh expression, and he shoved a hand in front of her.

“Give.” He opened and closed his fist.

Understanding, she dug into the clothes bag and found the skirt she’d just removed. Glory extracted the flash drives and handed them over. “You can go back to the front seat,” she told him.

“Nah, think I’ll stay right where I am.” He leered at her and patted his lap again.

“I still don’t understand why you didn’t have me merge with the computer and do a direct download into my brain,” she said. “It’d have been much faster.” A flash of insight slammed her between the eyes. She could’ve done both—if she weren’t so scared of her Handlers.

“Too much temptation.” The man eyed her. “This way, we know you didn’t peek.”

She smelled his arousal, and it disgusted her. All the Nameless Ones disgusted her. The driver was correct about her being off limits. They left her alone, for some unknown reason—or they had until now. Her and the other girls like her. Glory closed her eyes to block out the man next to her. She could still smell him, but at least she didn’t have to look at him.

She let her body sag against the seat. It was a long drive back to the compound, well over two hours. Maybe she could catch some sleep. She felt hungry, but asking them to stop at a fast food joint would buy her bupkis. A bottle of water rattled in the door; she made a grab for it, unscrewed the cap, and drained it. At least the Nameless One was keeping his distance. Good. They’d never pawed her before, but there was always a first time.

As miles clicked by, she scrolled what she knew about her origins through her mind. It wasn’t much, which was frustrating. It felt as if there was a locked file in her head, just out of reach. If she could only pop the code, everything would become clear.

Yeah, I’ve been trying to decipher that secret for years.

Sometimes, she got tantalizingly close, only to have truth fritter away in puffs of smoke.

“You’ll never figure it out,” the man sitting next to her said.

“Gawk! Stay out of my head.” She drew as far away from him as she could, hugging the door panel.

“I can’t fuck you, but no one said I couldn’t rape your thoughts,” the man retorted smugly.

Glory ignored him. She withdrew deep into the place in her mind no one could reach and hovered there. Did the ignorant asshole next to her know she could kill him from where she sat without even touching him?

An unpleasant thought intruded. Of course he knew, because he could do the same thing.

Chapter Two

 

Roy Kincaid keyed his mic, just a single tap to keep talking at bare minimums per protocol. Answering beeps hummed against his ears, and he counted until he got to six. The team was in place. Good. They could move out. He keyed his mic again to alert his men they were on the move.

Ahead of them a rattletrap farmhouse peeked from behind dense tree cover. Cottonwoods and aspens grew thickly. The place felt deserted to his artificially enhanced senses, but CIA intel suggested otherwise. Another nest of freaks—genetically engineered humans who’d gone rogue—had been spotted here by The Company’s aerial surveillance network.

Roy glanced skyward. Clouds covered most of the stars and a half-grown moon. He’d counted on darkness, and for once Mother Nature was fully cooperative. He glided forward, his thick-soled combat boots making very little noise as he used old growth tree boles to shield his body from anyone who might be inside the farmhouse. Freaks always posted sentries, so where were they?

Yeah, good question.

He stopped at the last tree before a stretch of open ground between him and the house and tapped his mic to signal everyone else to stop too. Roy stared at the structure, surprised one side was falling in, with a gaping hole in the roof. The wraparound porch sagged, suggesting the place had been deserted for years. A raccoon sashayed out a hole in the front door, paused, and then chirped. Another raccoon joined the first, and they waltzed across the porch and down the stairs, followed by a group of babies.

“What the fuck?” Charlie spoke, breaking protocol, but it didn’t matter. If rodents lived inside the house, freaks didn’t.

“I have no idea,” Roy answered, “but let’s find out.” No longer worried about shielding their presence, he strode across the yard along with his men, who fanned around the farmhouse approaching from half a dozen different angles.

Something subtle shifted in the air currents eddying around the house. If Roy hadn’t taken the injections to make him more like the freaks they hunted, he’d never have noticed. “Stop!” he barked.

Too late.

An explosion flashed from the rear of the house, followed by gut-wrenching screams as one of his men turned into grisly chunks of protoplasm.

“Fall back,” Roy shouted. “To me.”

When he did a nose count, Ted came up missing. Roy ground his teeth together. They’d walked into the trap like prime suckers. The freaks had set them up before, just not lately.

“Goddammit!” Charlie sputtered. “If I’d been half a foot closer to Ted, I’d have bought it too.”

“Bastards,” someone else spat.

Roy moved toward the rear of the building keeping to the tree line. Ted’s cries had ceased almost immediately, so the man must be dead, but they had to check if enough of him remained to retrieve for a hero’s burial. He clenched his jaw harder. The worst part about leading men on black ops missions was losing them. Despite years in the field, he’d never gotten over the guilt he felt for every single man he’d lost.

‘What do you think, boss?” Charlie asked and jerked his chin at a quivering heap of red with slivers of bone sticking out. The raccoons had already closed on the corpse, intent on stripping it.

Roy didn’t answer. He picked up a fist sized rock and chucked it at the raccoons, but all they did was hiss at him. Apparently Ted was too succulent a feast to walk away from without putting up a fight. The rock told him that whatever explosives were there had been tripped, so he strode forward. The largest raccoon turned and snarled, ready to do battle. Roy kicked it square in the chin; it flew backward and landed with a splat before turning tail and scrambling into a bramble thicket. The rest of the raccoons raced after it.

Mindless of the rivers of blood, Roy hefted what was left of his man and turned toward their vehicles parked half a mile away. The others followed.

“Would you like a hand?” Charlie asked once they’d cleared fencing around the property.

“No point both of us turning into head to toe gore.”

As he carted his burden, Roy thought about his thirteen plus years with an entity the U.S. government would never admit existed. Loosely affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency, his black-ops group took care of everything the CIA couldn’t. When he’d first signed on, just out of law school, the job had been easier—much easier. There’d actually been months between assignments. In the interim, he and his hand-picked team worked for The Company, a well-used euphemism for the CIA, doing other things.

That was before a series of top secret government experiments came to light. Sometime between the interminable wars in the Middle East and 9/11, the United States decided they needed to breed a race of super humans. Clandestine labs had formed, armed with eager scientists who’d always yearned to manipulate human DNA. At first the clones—or whatever they were—had looked promising, growing to fighting size in as little as a dozen years. Seven years ago, a rogue group had turned on their creators, blown up the lab, and hit all the other breeding farms, freeing whoever they could find.

Roy shifted the burden across his shoulders and more blood sheeted from the corpse, coating his boots. The last seven years had been hell, no way around it. While they’d had some success, the majority of their efforts to eradicate the freaks had ended like today’s mission. In an attempt to even the scoreboard, he’d volunteered for a series of injections to augment his abilities. Because it was risky, he’d served as a guinea pig.

Once he determined the mixture really did give him an edge, he’d insisted his men sign up for it too. The ones who’d balked ended up with more normal jobs for The Company.

A loud zipping sound snapped Roy’s chin up. Charlie had retrieved a body bag from his trunk. It lay open on the ground; Roy shifted Ted onto it and let Charlie zip him in. Thank fucking God Ted wasn’t married. Telling wives was always the worst. For some reason parents came to terms with losing their sons with far less fanfare.

He looked at his clothes. His black pants, black top, and black gloves were covered in bits of bone, with clumps of tissue here and there. He couldn’t get into the car like that. He considered walking back to Langley, but it was better than ten miles. Dawn wasn’t far off, and he’d attract attention in his current state.

“Want to change?” One of his men asked. “I put sweats in the back of my car after our last fuck—” He cleared his throat and tried again. “Mission. After our last mission.”

Roy sat on the ground next to Ted and laid a hand on the body bag. “I’m sorry, bro.” He followed his words with a silent prayer Ted’s soul would find the peace that had eluded the man in life.

He began untying his boots and looked at David, the man who’d offered sweats. Like all of them, his hair was dyed jet black and his face covered with grease paint. They could’ve been clones, just like the freaks with their lanky, hard-bodied builds. “I’ll take you up on those sweats,” he said. “And you don’t have to pussyfoot around me. Our last assignment was a worse disaster than this one.”

He toed off his boots, scrambled upright, and slid out of his pants. “Does anyone have a plastic bag big enough for my gear?”

David nodded. “Yeah, you can use the same bag I put the sweats in.”

Roy dressed in silence. He wiped his hands on the cleaner parts of his field clothes before stuffing them into the plastic sack. As he got himself together enough to leave, a plan formed in his mind. He gestured to Charlie and they hoisted Ted’s body bag into one of the car’s trunks. They drove separately because two commando-looking men in a car might arouse suspicion, and their cars were as unremarkable as they could manage. Ten year old imports with peeling paint and a few dings and dents. Because the rides were cheap, they traded them out frequently.

He shut the trunk lid gently and turned to his men. “I’m going to float an idea past the mother ship tomorrow morning.” He waited, but no one asked anything, almost as if they dreaded their next assignment. Roy didn’t blame them. For some reason, the freaks’ level of aggression had accelerated dramatically these past few months. If things continued the way they had recently, it was only a matter of time before he and his team were all dead.

He straightened his shoulders. “If I get approval, I’ll go deep.”

“But we’re already black ops,” David pointed out.

“Yeah, well I plan to go even deeper. And I’ll go alone.”

Growls of disapproval rattled from behind five sets of gritted teeth.

“You can’t do that, boss,” Charlie protested.

“You need us for backup.” David stood taller.

“It’d be like signing up for a suicide mission,” another man cut in. “Can’t let you do that, sir.”

“And what we’re doing now isn’t a suicide mission?” Roy demanded. He pressed his lips into a hard line. “I don’t feel right leading you into any more traps. If it’s just me, I have more maneuverability.”

“Yeah, but you’re more vulnerable too,” David argued.

“It’ll be a wash.” Roy tried for an even tone. “I told you as a courtesy. This isn’t up for group discussion.”

Charlie drew his brows together into a thick, worried line. “This means we’ll go back to the main office.” He hesitated a beat. “We can keep our communicators. They run on a closed channel. No one else can pick up our transmissions.”

“Except the freaks,” David muttered.

“Anyway,” Charlie hurried on. “If something goes bad wrong, you radio us. Don’t even need to say anything. Just key the mic like you did tonight. We’ll get your location from the GPS coordinates and be there as soon as we can.”

A murmur of assent swept through the five men standing in front of him, and Roy swallowed hard. Gratitude for their loyalty filled him with pride. He’d chosen well.

“You got it.” He flashed a thumbs up sign. “Now let’s get back to HQ. We need to let them know about Ted.” He picked up the bag with his blood-saturated clothing, chucked it into the backseat of his Toyota Tercel, and got behind the wheel.

 


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author and a clinical psychologist. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her work has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 20 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014 and beyond.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
While watching old episodes of Fringe, the TV series about truly weird stuff, Glory came to me and jumped up and down waving her hands in the air to let me know she needed her very own book. Next Roy showed up. What's an author to do? I loved the idea, and Winning Glory was the result.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
I have a boatload of favorite authors who inspire me. To list a few: Illona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Sherrilyn Kenyon, JD Robb/Nora Roberts, Laurell K. Hamilton, Patty Briggs, Kim Harrison, and the list could go on forever. I love strong writing with dynamite alpha males and strong female leads.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I'm not sure I decided. It sort of just happened. Stories always ran around in my head on long backcountry trips. Late in 2008, I came home from a trip, sat down at my keyboard, and the rest is history. My first efforts weren't very good, but writing is like any other skill. It takes time.

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