There is something about him that intrigues her and terrifies her. Dr. Melissa wants to trust him yet she can't.
He has betrayed the team. Hurt them.
He wants to take care of her. He wants her to trust him. He's determined to make her trust him.
If Dr. Melissa Averton didn't crack the code and successfully modify the DNA sequence of the existing serum, lives would be lost. Lives she’d grown close to. So close they were like her family. Maybe even closer than family because she rarely thought of her sister, who lived about three stories above the lab. Nearly every minute, of every day her thoughts were focused solely on the soldiers who also lived in the mansion above. Their lives were dependent upon her for their very existence.
She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the deep voice invading her senses from the other room. But try as she might, her thoughts were pulled from the sample to the impossibly handsome man locked in the glass cage behind her.
She gripped the side of the table, squeezing until her knuckles turned white and lifted her eyes back to the lens, determined to do her job. Distractions meant death. Any delay in her research was a risk no one could afford for her to take. Besides, the soldier behind her wasn’t a trusted teammate from Team Mayhem, the group of soldiers she was trying to save, he was a rebel. An abandoned member who tried to kill her team. And while he’d done nothing to try to escape since surrendering, he couldn’t be trusted.
“Melissa,” the voice came more forcefully this time.
Regretfully, she straightened, digging her fingers into her lower back. She turned to face the man who couldn’t be ignored any longer. “What?” She bit out.
His ice blue eyes didn’t so much as flicker at her terse response. “You need to take a break,” he said, the gravel in his voice transforming into silk. He spoke so low and so soft she could just barely detect him through the half inch circle of holes in the thick plated glass that separated them.
Her eyes narrowed, simultaneously irritated by the distraction and yet grateful still the same. Her inability to focus made studying the new samples useless. But, she wasn’t about to let him know that. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Instead of taking the bait, he slid his arms across his chest and leaned his shoulder against the wall of the small cell. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone busier than you,” he paused, scratching at his clean shaven chin, “or anyone who’s simultaneously getting as little accomplished in the same breath.”
His calmly spoken words had her back straightening. “Excuse me?”
Of everyone in this mansion, John Dawson had been the one to witness firsthand the never ending stream of hours upon hours she put in the lab every day, and sometimes nights, testing sample after sample of experimental serum. And now he was insulting her?
He lifted a hand. “That’s not what I meant. What I meant is that you need a break. You can only go so many hours without sleeping or eating before your own brain starts to shut down and you’re no use to anyone. You’ve been studying that single sample for nearly two hours.”
She jerked her chin up towards the clock on the wall and was surprised to see two a.m. Crap. The brief spurt of energy disappeared. Her shoulders deflated. She was letting them down, she was failing. Failing at the ultimate task of saving lives.
If the rate of injections she’d had to administer to the team had held constant over these past months, there wouldn’t be any reason to rush to find a cure. But as the days lengthened, their ability to go without injections shortened. The DNA altering serum she’d invented in the beginning to enhance their already above average performance had turned semi-cannibalistic, devouring their nutrients and damaging their cell membranes without increased dosages.
And John Dawson needed the serum even more.
Whatever General Rainier, the mad man behind Project Mayhem, had done to John in her absence had altered his molecular structure beyond that of the rest of his old team. And she knew he knew. Even though he hadn’t said a word, he’d had to of suspected something since she only had the team down once a week for their shots and he had to take them at twice that rate.
It was like she’d never tried anything at all. Like all the nights of sleep lost, meals missed, showers forgone were all pointless.
Under the order of General Rainier, he’d attacked his team, injured Diggs, and nearly blinded King. When the men had finally managed to take him down, he’d been more like an animal than a man.
And now they had him caged like a wild animal, too.
A wild beautiful animal she couldn’t stop thinking about, yet was expected to tame. His every word and action proved his lack of control. He couldn’t be trusted, yet she wanted to trust him.
God she was tired. Her hand drifted up to cover her eyes, fresh tears stinging the corners. She never cried, not since she was a child anyway, and yet these past few weeks she had to fight off the foreign feeling repeatedly.
Think, Melissa, think. There must be something you’re missing!
Melissa thought about trying to pretend she hadn’t shown such a weakness right in front of him, but found she didn’t even have the energy for that. Instead she dropped her hand and stared at him helplessly.
“Melissa, come here,” he repeated, stepping close to the glass and raising his to the cool pane between them.
Without thought, she moved closer, losing herself in his intense blue gaze. All those awards meant absolutely nothing if she couldn’t solve this equation. They were worthless. As worthless as she was turning out to be.
“Put your hand to mine,” he said firmly.
Numbly, she did as instructed, lining up her much, much smaller hand on the other side of the glass directly across from his.
His gaze locked with hers, stealing the numbness she was so blessedly seeking and instead flooding her with warmth. She sucked in a breath, her weakened pulse picking up steam.
“That’s good,” he said, “You are not worthless, you are literally the smartest person I’ve ever met. You are going to crack this research project and you are going to save all of us.”
Her body started to tingle, and she felt a heated buzzing soothing her mind, as if he were somehow forcibly relaxing every cell inside her.
Entranced, she could no more speak than she could tear her gaze from his. And she didn’t want to, God help her.
“Now, breathe with me, Melissa. Feel yourself relax. Slow. Steady.” His rate of speech slowed with each word, drawing his voice out so that she felt his calmness.
She matched her breathing to his, deep inhale, slow exhale. They were perfectly in sync.
She stopped thinking about the research, and she stopped thinking about the time. She stopped thinking about everything but the impossibly handsome man in front of her.
“That’s good, just relax. Let me take care of you,” he all but whispered.
Him take care of her? She wasn’t even allowed to let him out of his cell unless two members of the team were present. He’d betrayed the team, tried to kill the very men she was trying to save…
“Don’t do that. Don’t pull away for me. You can trust me. I turned myself in, remember?”
She stared at him, the buzzing in her mind growing stronger. She fought to form a solid thought. “You did, but only after they made you. You were surrounded by the entire team.”
John lowered his head, his blue eyes burning. “You and I both know I could’ve gotten out if I wanted to. I surrendered because I knew it was the right thing to do. They are still my team.”
“So you don’t think they betrayed you?” She barely got the words out. She’d been there the night he crashed the Humvee through the front of the mansion. The very sight of him ripping through the door still haunted her dreams.
“I’m not sure on that point, but I am sure they have my daughter, and they’re taking care of her. They’re taking care of my sister.” There was a long pause. “And they have you on their side. I might not fully trust them, but I trust you.”
Her breathing quickened. She wanted to trust him, every instinct inside of her called out to trust him, but her mind refused to follow suit. “No.”
“Yes. Stop thinking with your head. Feel me.” He leaned closer, resting his forehead to the glass.
She closed her eyes, feeling the electric heat pass through her. He was addictive. Even with her eyes shut, she could see him. His taught shoulders straining the black fabric of his t-shirt. The muscles thick and hard. The strong, scarred arms that seemed big enough to wrap around her and support them both.
But…He’d been working for General Rainier, the enemy of Team Mayhem. She would be a fool to blindly trust him after just a month. More than likely he was a plant, sent here to lower their guards and lead the general to them so that he could resume his awful experiment to enhance the emotions right out of them and turn them into mindless killing machines for hire.
With a force of will that strained her frayed nerves, she pulled her hand free of the glass. The warm buzzing disappeared and the weakness returned to her muscles instantly. If she hadn’t locked her knees she would’ve collapsed. “I don’t trust you.”
His hard lips slid into a tight smile. “You will.”
In this sizzling and suspenseful Operation Mayhem novel by USA Today Bestselling author, a soldier betrayed falls for the doctor who changed him.
He’s searching for revenge. She’s searching for redemption. The answer to their dilemma lies in each other…
Dr. Melissa Averton devoted her life to saving Team Mayhem. Living with the guilt that she’d helped create the serum that had not only enhanced their abilities, but tied them to a life of pain. She practically lived in her lab, testing and researching, spending every waking hour trying to undo the damage.
John Dawson lived for revenge. His team had abandoned him, left in the hands of General Rainier to die. But he hadn’t died – he’d survived and thrived under the guidance of the General. Surrendering under the guise of needing his Team’s help, he infiltrated their secret lair, turning himself over for voluntary 24-hour observation. He’d play nice, pretend he was back and then…
The best laid plans.
Dawson didn’t count on the very sexy doctor monitoring him morning, noon and night. Poking. Prodding. Invading his dreams. Turning his plans inside out. His instinct to kill morphed into an undeniable need to protect and possess.
Melissa took one look at him and knew he needed her. Her heart beat fast. Her hands shook. She knew he was dangerous. The men of Mayhem had warned her. All her logic and all the evidence told her that Dawson was unsavable, but…this time she couldn’t rely on her brain, her heart was taking over.
Time was running out. She had to convince Dawson to trust not only his Team, but himself. Dawson had to see the truth, before he loses the one woman who can save him.
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Lindsay Cross is the USA Today Bestselling author of Men of Mercy, Operation Mayhem and Fury Security series. She is the fun loving mom of two beautiful daughters and one precocious Great Dane. Lindsay is happily married to the man of her dreams - a soldier and veteran. During one of her husband's deployments from home, writing became her escape and motivation.
An avid reader since childhood, reading and writing is in her blood. After years of reading, she discovered her true passion - writing. Her alpha military men are damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and determined to win the heart of the woman of their dreams.
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