Gerry Hinton thought she had the perfect career as an operative for the Company. Her next assignment should have been another "mission accomplished", but hell was delivering hand baskets that day.
When a little girl gives a mysterious silver box to Gerry, her world self-destructs. Suddenly under constant mental attacks, the only person who can save her is her partner, Nicky--but nothing comes without a cost. Secrets buried deep in the past begin to rise, threatening everything she holds dear.
If she can't out run her past, can she save her future?
When he turned, Gerry was standing, tall and stony, against a concrete pillar. Her brown eyes were focused on nothing, though the pupils flitted back and forth as if she were following a pin ball. He approached with easy steps until he stood before her, then he waved his hand in front of her face. She gave no indication she could see him. He snapped his fingers trying to rouse her.
Her mouth opened just a bit and her tongue darted out to lick her lips, then her left hand reached out, feeling for him. He tried to take her fingers, but instead she slapped her palm onto his and something heavy settled into his hand.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Nicky asked and hated the fear in his words.
He clasped the object she placed in his hand. It was some sort of cold metal, but he could see nothing there. He stared at his empty hand for a moment then turned his eyes back to hers.
Her voice was sluggish, sounding almost like an old record playing back on a slow speed. “I’m sorry. You’ve got to trust me, Nicky. I need you to do exactly as I tell you. Tell–Me–You–Trust–Me.”
“I’ve always trusted you, baby. Now, tell me what’s happening.”
“Hide this. Hide it where even I can’t find it. If I know,” she paused and licked her lips again, the speed at which her eyes were darting back and forth increased. “If I know, they’ll know. It must be kept safe. Promise?”
“I promise, baby.”No sooner had the words escaped his lips than her eyes rolled back into her head, and she collapsed like a rag doll.
Nicky slapped her hand when she raised it with clawed fingers to scratch the welted skin on her neck, and he smirked at her when she growled in response. Her eyes met his, and he winked as he lifted a calamine coated cotton swab to her skin. She closed her eyes, shaking her head in annoyance while he finished dabbing the stuff all over her face, neck, arms and chest.
“If you hadn’t rushed off in such a hurry to tackle that werewolf, you wouldn’t have ended up rolling into a patch of poison ivy. Too bad you can’t heal yourself. And we won’t catch back up with the team until day after tomorrow and then Langston can help.”
Gerry ignored him, refusing to open her eyes and look at him.
“There. Feel better?” he asked, snapping the top closed on the calamine and tossing it onto the bed.
“Not especially.” She muttered the response under her breath as she approached the mirror and flicked her nose to engage her magic. The pink splotches began to disappear, and her complexion smoothed back to normal.
“Hey, hey, that’s against rules.”
She knew what rules he meant. They had an agreement that she wouldn’t use her magic to alter her looks when they were alone together. It took him a while to beg that promise from her, because she was much more comfortable when she could smooth and cover the blemishes she saw in her appearance.
Gerry flashed her brown eyes at him. “The rules don’t apply in this situation. I’m still me.”
Nicky came up behind her and placed his hands around her waist, his lips close to her ear, “You’re acting like a baby.” He skimmed his fingers along her ribs. She yelped and wriggled to get away from him, but he held her fast. The angry scowl on her face dissolved into a wide smile.
“Stop it!” She laughed, biting his arm and then kissing the spot.
“Reverse the spell. I want to see you. Spotted and all.”
She complied, twitching her nose until the pink dots appeared again all over her exposed skin. “Satisfied?” she queried, leaning her head back for a kiss. He obliged, smacking her lips and then releasing her.
“Yep, satisfied. Now settle down, woman, and I’ll head out to grab us some munchies.”
She watched him from the corner of her eye as he grabbed the keys from the nightstand. As he passed behind her, he smacked her rear-end with a wink and exited the hotel.
Gerry had a bad feeling when she heard the way the girl said the name “Buck” with a touch of disgust. Taking a deep breath, she reached back into her purse for the phone and texted Nicky: Carriage house. Now.
“Lead the way, Belle,” she told the girl as she pulled her skirt up to find the dagger sheathed on the inside of her thigh. “And while you walk, tell me what I need to know about Buck.”
She shrugged, “He’s not too difficult. Mostly he’s just stupid.” They made their way through the house, careful to avoid the party crowd. “He’s called Buck because his front fangs stick out a little too much. Buck-toothed.”
“A vamp?” Gerry asked.
“Nope, a werewolf.”
“Crap.” Gerry groaned. “He’ll smell us before we can sneak the kids out. I hate weres.”
“Buck lost his sense of smell a few years ago. There was this girl, you see, and she wasn’t much interested in him, but Buck wouldn’t take no for an answer. He followed her one night and the clever lady led him into a spice factory—right into the pepper grinding room. She jammed the gears on the machine and locked him in. His nose was never the same. His pack wouldn’t keep him around after that. So he took this job.”
She might have laughed but the object of their discussion was at that moment standing outside the carriage house taking a leak against a tree. It was easy to guess this was him by his unkempt look and the wild mane of brown hair pointing in all directions. The partially clawed hand leaning against the side of the oak was a sure bet, too.
“Doesn’t the oaf know how to use a bathroom?”
Belle’s teeth shone in the moonlight as she flashed Gerry a grin. “He likes to mark his territory.”
“I hate weres,” Gerry said again, this time whispering in disgust.
When Olivia Hardin began having strange movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long the writing bug had her and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, and she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again.
Olivia’s attended three different universities over the years. She toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology until one day she heard the term road scholar and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She's also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic.
A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny and their puppy, Bonnie.
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