This excerpt is a conversation between the hero, Jayson Harmon, a wounded Special Forces lieutenant, and the deputy director of the Department of Covert Ops, Dick Coleman. While readers (and almost everyone in the X-OPS Series) knows that Dick is always up to no good, Jayson, who is in a bad place in his life right now, sees a different side to him (or at least believes he does). So, when Dick offers Jayson a way to get back everything he lost when he was wounded in Afghanistan, he doesn’t realize the deputy director is using him to get what he wants. While the experimental serum Dick wants him to take could make Jayson practically superhuman, it’s also beyond dangerous. But Jayson’s girlfriend, feline shifter and newest DCO agent, Layla Halliwell, just went on her first mission and he’s insane with worry. He knows taking the serum is risky, but sitting at home worrying about Layla is worse. If taking the serum is the only way he can watch her back, that’s what he’ll do.
“You can’t just go barging in there. I need to announce you!”
Jayson ignored Dick’s secretary, walking past her and pushing open the deputy director’s big oak door. He hated to blow her off like that, but he wasn’t feeling very polite right now.
“Were you serious about what you said?” he demanded as he came to a stop in front of Dick’s desk.
The deputy director looked up from whatever he was writing on the notepad in front of him as if just realizing Jayson was there. Right. Like he hadn’t heard the fuss his secretary had made.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Coleman. He just blazed right past me.” The plump, blond woman gave him a disdainful glare. “I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen.”
“That’s okay, Phyllis.” Dick gave her a nod. “I’ll take it from here. Close the door as you leave, please.”
Phyllis gave Jayson another scathing look, then turned and walked out, closing the door behind her.
“Was I serious about what?” Dick asked, a trace of irritation in his voice.
“Were you serious when you said that if I take your new drug, and it works, you’ll pair me up with Layla?”
Dick sat back in his chair, his expression changing to something between curious and appraising. “Once we’re able to verify the drug has worked— in some kind of field test— then yes, I’d be open to pairing you and Layla up as a team.”
“Then I want to take the drug,” Jayson said. “Now.”
He expected Dick to ask why the sudden rush, but the deputy only regarded him thoughtfully. “Are you sure, Jayson? This isn’t exactly a situation you can back out of once you’ve started.”
Jayson nodded. “I’m sure.”
Dick considered that for a moment, then nodded. “Let’s go, then.”
Getting up from his chair, the deputy director headed for the door. Jayson took a deep breath and followed. He had to move a little faster than he liked to keep up with Dick, which made his back twinge and tighten up, but the deputy director didn’t seem to notice, and Jayson refused to show any weakness.
As they left the operations building and walked down the sidewalk to the facility where the DCO conducted their shifter and hybrid research, Jayson’s heart beat faster. He knew this was rash, stupid, and probably insane, but after everything that had happened last night, he didn’t have a choice. No matter what, something had to change. And taking Dick’s hybrid serum would definitely change things, one way or the other.
Last night had been a complete and total disaster. Not only had he been a grade A asshole, but he was also pretty sure he might have destroyed whatever was left of his relationship with Layla.
He should never have brought up Dick and that damn hybrid serum. He’d known Layla wouldn’t be thrilled with him taking a drug that hadn’t been tested on humans, but when she immediately assumed that Dick was manipulating him into taking it, something inside him had snapped.
He’d wanted to tell her that he was frightened too, but for different reasons. He was more scared of being a cripple for the rest of his life than he was of Dick’s hybrid serum. He was terrified of her going after dangerous international arms dealers without him and scared of her spending more time with another man—even if it was her DCO partner—than she did with him. Most of all, he was afraid of sitting in a chair, watching his life— and the woman he loved— drift away from him.
But he hadn’t said any of that. Instead, only anger and frustration had come out of his mouth, and before he knew it, Layla was gone, slamming the door on him and their relationship. He’d immediately gone after her, but by the time he’d gotten to the door, her phone had rung. He couldn’t hear everything she said, but he’d heard enough to know her mission was a go.
He’d spent the whole night sitting in his living room berating the hell out of himself and waiting for the phone to ring. It hadn’t.
It wasn’t until the sun peeked through the windows that morning that everything became crystal clear to him. One miserable night was all it took to illuminate very clearly that he was never going to be the kind of man who could sit at home and wait patiently for his significant other to come back safely. One night of not knowing and he was ready to explode.
Now he finally realized why none of the relationships he’d tried to have while he was in Special Forces had survived a single deployment. Some people simply couldn’t deal with the stress of knowing the person they cared about was in danger on the other side of the world. Last night, he’d figured out he was one of those people. If Layla was going to be out there, he had to find a way to be with her. If that meant taking Dick’s serum, then so be it. Because living like this wasn’t even an option.
He was so lost in thought that he didn’t realize they’d reached the lab until the familiar medicinal stench smacked him back into awareness. That’s when he saw the DCO’s resident hybrid expert, Dr. Zarina Sokolov, standing there with a guarded expression on her face.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Zarina asked Dick in a Russian accent that could be icy cold when she wanted— like now.
Dick didn’t seem to notice that the temperature in the room had dropped a few degrees. “I need you to get Jayson ready for the hybrid serum protocol.”
Zarina lifted a brow. “I wasn’t aware the DCO’s hybrid serum protocol was ready yet.”
Dick smiled. “I guess no one told you, then. There have been a few breakthroughs in the past couple weeks. I’d appreciate it if you got Jayson ready. I’d like to start as soon as the doctors arrive with the serum.”
Zarina’s blue eyes darted to Jayson, then back to Dick. “And the serum is safe?”
“I’d never let any of our people take a drug that wasn’t completely safe,” Dick said. “Now, if that’s all, I need to make a phone call.”
Dick gave Jayson a nod, then walked out of the lab, leaving him alone with the Russian doctor.
“Jayson, this is insane. You shouldn’t be agreeing to this. You’ve seen what this serum can do to people.” she said.
Jayson had to admit, he was a little concerned that the one person who probably knew more about hybrids than anyone in the world wasn’t involved in the development of this latest serum— concerned, but not enough to make him reconsider his decision.
“I know what the risks are,” he said. “I’m willing to accept them.”
What do you think, would you take a chance to save a loved one? Leave your anwser below, one reader will get a copy of HER ROGUE ALPHA
HE’LL DO ANYTHING FOR HER
Former Special Forces Lieutenant Jayson Harmon can’t believe that his war scars don’t matter to beautiful feline shifter Layla Halliwell. Why would she saddle herself with a broken man?
But Layla knows that Jayson is a hero to the core, and that only she can heal his wounded soul. So when Jayson is deployed on another deadly mission, no way is Layla staying behind…
Romance Paranormal [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: September 6, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492625896 / ]
About Paige Tyler
Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast. Visit www.paigetylertheauthor.com.