Copyright © 2012 Shelli Stevens
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“Donovan, can you confirm hostage location?”
“Affirmative.” Warrick Donovan touched the button on his earpiece while one hand rested on his weapon. He stared down the dim passage of the building and took in another lungful of musty air. Keeping his voice quiet, he replied, “Seven hostages, secured in one large holding cell.”
“Taking down all cameras in five,” Nathan Larson, the commander of the op, said through his headset. “Stand by and avoid surveillance in section four—it isn’t networked and won’t go off-line with the others.”
The communication device in his ear went silent as the agent on the other end hacked into the Feloray computer system.
Warrick stroked the butt of his Glock as adrenaline rushed through his blood. Stand by? Easier said than done. Especially with the screams of pain that continued to shake the walls of this run-down, mildew-infested hellhole. This building was the secret bastard child of Feloray Laboratories.
Damn it. Let’s do this already.
Another agonized shriek split the air. The sound sent a frisson of unease down Warrick’s spine and made the hair on the back of his neck raise. God only knew what the hell was being done to the guys locked up in the cell. But whatever it was, it stopped tonight.
Anger brewed, making his blood pound and his jaw clench as he waited for the go signal. Though nobody would ever claim Warrick to be a patient guy.
“We’ve got a problem.”
Besides the obvious? He didn’t say the words, knew they had to keep chatter at a minimum. Instead he waited for Larson to continue.
“Someone already disabled all the cameras. I think we’ve got a tango in the building.”
Well, shit. Warrick glanced down both directions of the hallway, his eyes narrowing with interest. The new reason to be alert.
“They can’t be our guys,” Larson continued. “The P.I.A. only authorized the four of us. And Rafferty and Hilliard are waiting with the vans.” There was a pause. “I’m calling Rafferty in to help with the rescue. I need you to find the tango.”
Warrick pulled the Glock from his holster, not the least bit disappointed in the change of plans. If anything, the thought of confronting someone who might be a part of his comrades’ imprisonment brought a ruthless smile to his face.
He moved forward stealthily, watching and listening for any sign of movement.
Come out, come out, wherever you are. And you might just get your head blown off.
A faint clicking noise made him still. He cocked his head, trying to place the sound. There it was again, a soft but rhythmic clicking. Something familiar about the noise prickled in the back of his mind. Almost like…high heels? His brows drew together and he drew in a slow breath. Oh, yeah, their tango was a woman.
He crept forward, his lips quirking in amusement as he finally spotted her. And a regular Cinde-freaking-rella by the looks of it.
Her blonde hair was in some fancy knot on the top of her head, leaving the smooth, alabaster skin of her neck to gleam in the dim lighting. She looked as if she was on her way to the damn ball, wearing a floor-length, completely out of place evening gown. He almost missed the knife in her hand when his attention got snagged by the pair of small, perky breasts.
You’re not here to appreciate the female anatomy, buddy.
He turned his attention back to the little KA-BAR folding knife she clutched. Was she using it for protection, or with the intent to cause harm? He made a small grunt in the back of his throat. Either way, she should’ve picked a bigger knife.
Warrick pressed himself against the wall and took another step toward her. He had to move fast. The woman, though still a good distance away, kept pausing and glancing around. And though he didn’t doubt for a moment he could easily take the petite gal, the fact that she appeared jumpy and wielded a knife made her unpredictable.
For a moment he thought she saw him—she stared down the hall where he stood in a dark shadow and seemed to hesitate—but then she turned and continued toward the hostages.
He kept his breathing shallow. The likelihood that she could see him was slim. He was covered in black from head to toe, with just his face exposed, and he was standing in a corner of the lab where the lighting was out, blending easily with the shadows.
Another ear-splitting scream ripped through the building and the woman jerked, sending the knife skittering across the floor.
It was the only opening he needed. Warrick reholstered the Glock, lunged away from the wall and went for her.
The woman didn’t even see him coming. She was leaning down to grab the knife when his arms locked around her waist and he knocked them both to the floor.
His palm slipped over her mouth, smothering the scream that erupted past her lips. She bucked beneath him, the soft curve of her bottom grinding into his hips as her muffled cries of fear left hot puffs of air on his hand.
Jesus, she needed to stay the hell still. Warrick ground his teeth together, trying not to think about the softness of her body as he let his full weight pin her to the ground, making any movement on her part impossible.
He used his free hand to touch the communication button near his ear. “Tango apprehended.”
Lowering his head so that his mouth was just above the pale curve of her ear, he muttered, “Any more weapons on you, Cinderella?”
Another warm puff of air caressed his hand as she replied with what sounded like some kind of expletive. His lips curved into a humorless smile as he moved his hand down her side, searching for more weapons. Who was she? And more importantly, why was she here?
“I think you came to the wrong party, princess.”
He patted down her side, pressing firmly against the smooth fabric of her gown to check for more weapons. It became difficult to breathe as he slid his hand down her tiny waist and inward.
Warrick eased his weight off her just enough to maneuver his hand up her front, shutting his brain off from anything but finding more hidden weapons. The woman began to struggle again, her muffled cries outraged when she realized where his hand was traveling.
“Just need to make sure you’re not armed.” This time his lips brushed the soft curve of her ear.
An electric current ran through him and his eyelids narrowed as he breathed in the perfume she wore. Some kind of spicy vanilla scent. Sweet, sexy…and somewhat familiar. A memory tingled in the back of his head, but before he could acknowledge it pain rocketed through his hand.
“Shit!” He pulled at his hand, but her teeth followed, piercing the skin until he felt the wet trickle of blood.
“The hell you bite me,” he snarled.
Warrick flexed his hips against her, grinding her lower body hard to hold her still against the concrete floor, and used his free hand to grab the back of her hair. His fingers wrapped in the knot on top of her head, grabbing her hair and jerking her head backward.
She eased her bite, opening her mouth and unclamping her teeth, before finally crying out in frustration and pain. Her furious scream pierced the air of the hallway, echoing in the building and setting off the hostages, their enraged howls starting up once more.
Warrick cursed and clamped his palm across her mouth again. “Bite me again and I swear to God you’ll regret it.”
“Donovan, is that the tango? You need backup?”
Warrick’s lips tightened at the amusement in Larson’s tone as his voice came through the earpiece. He pressed the button to reply. “Under control.”
Larson gave a soft laugh. “Take all the time you need, buddy. I’m good here.”
All the time he needed? Bullshit. He’d have this bitch contained in seconds.
Warrick eased his weight off the woman and—without removing his hand from her mouth—grabbed her hip and flipped her onto her back. He caught her flailing hands and pinned her wrists above her head with his free hand.
“Now listen up, lady. I need you to…crap!” He blinked and shook his head against the roaring in his ears. “Sienna?”