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Authors: Mina Carter,J.William Mitchell

Captive Heart

 

Captive Heart

 

Copyright 2013
Mina Carter and J.William Mitchell

Cover Art by Mina Carter

 

Published by Blue Hedgehog Press: Sept 2013.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the authors, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

 

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.

 

eBooks are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.  

 

 

 

 

Dedication

Friends are angels who lift us up when we forget how to fly…or something like that. Whichever, we’d like to dedicate this book to our friends because without them our world would be a duller place.

 

 

 

Chapter One

Rollie Gavilan. Award winning scientist, developments engineer, and a piece of ass most men would pay good money to get some action from. However, Dayton Vann—Day to the few people he called friend—wasn’t most men, and he wasn’t paying to get some action from Rollie.

He was being paid.

His lips quirked. The sort of action he was being paid—and well—for, his target wasn’t going to be happy about. It was less the sexual sort—more was the pity—and more the snatch-and-grab type.

Day was being paid to kidnap Rollie. And it was turning out to be one of the easiest jobs he’d ever had.

For a company paranoid enough to have concealed Gavilan’s real identity with a stand-in—an austere-looking woman in her early fifties—they were extremely lax on security once he got past the outer perimeter.

Getting past that outer perimeter had been laughably easy. All it had taken were a bunch of fake references, easy enough to obtain, and a month’s work in the local pizza restaurant. Then add in a nice little accident for the guy who usually did the late-night Gavilan lab delivery, and Day had his opening.

Yeah, one had to love the average workaholic nerd’s reliance on fast food. Amusement filled him as he walked down the corridor, searching for the right lab. He’d ditched the pizza place uniform, discarding it in the same closet that now held an unconscious lab assistant. Fortunately, the lab assistant had been easy to dispense with. Unfortunately—Day swore silently as he tugged at the lapels that didn’t quite meet in front—the coat’s previous owner had been considerably smaller. Even badly fitting, it made him look as if he belonged, and it had the required security badge clipped to the front top pocket. The one with the pens all neatly lined up and color coordinated.

Day shook his head.
What sort of nerd lined pens up like that?

He reached an intersection and paused. He was out of place and he knew it. After all, not many scientists looked as though they could bench press a couple hundred pounds with ease. Confidence was the key to a successful infiltration. Look as if you knew what you were doing, that you belonged in the place, and people never questioned you. Carry a clipboard and they scurried to get out of the way. Spying one on a rack, he snagged it as he passed. He held it loosely in the crook of his arm, using it to cover the fact the picture on the badge was obviously not him.

He scanned the numbers on the lab doors as he counted down to the right number. His time was running out. The nerd stuffed in the cleaning closet was going to wake up soon, and Day needed to be out of here with Gavilan before that happened. Trouble was, he still had to locate her.

As luck would have it, a door ahead of him opened, and the woman in question stepped out into the hallway. Her attention was fixed on the coffee machine opposite with the determination of the seriously caffeine addicted. Day hid his smile. He looked like that before his mug of java in the morning, so he could sympathize.

He allowed his gaze to wander over her as he approached, and his interest had nothing at all to do with her as a woman. He was assessing her height and weight. If the worse came to worst, he was going to have to knock her unconscious and carry her out. Doable, he decided as he slid into place behind her as though waiting for his turn at the machine. She was on the slender side and a lot smaller than he was.

***

Forty-nine. Forty-nine hours, twenty-seven minutes and eleven seconds since Rollie had gotten out of her bed and donned the coat. Well, technically, since she collapsed into bed and had fallen asleep in her clothes last night, she hadn’t really donned it. She yawned and rubbed her cheek. She was starting to feel like a close cousin of the Crypt-keeper. And if she weren’t careful, she’d start to look like him, too. God, she could already feel the bags forming under her eyes like a set of matched luggage.

Good thing the day was just about over. All she needed to do was to file the papers she’d been working on, and she’d be able to head on home. On a normal day, she’d leave them on her desk, but tomorrow was a weekend, and the cleaning service would be all over the place again. She always left special instructions not to touch her desk, but she was afraid that someone wouldn’t understand, or bother to read the note. The last time, four month’s worth of research had ended up in the shredder. She and her staff had spent two weeks pasting them all up again into coherent pages. It wasn’t something she wanted to repeat any time soon.

Rollie didn’t like the limelight. It was more trouble than it was worth. So, for most people, Caroline Gavilan appeared to be a kind and elegant woman who could pass for being in her forties. Unable to think of anyone else she trusted enough to act in her stead, Rollie had turned to her close friend—her only friend—Marie Deline. Well-placed donations had allowed Gavilan Technologies Corporation (GTC) to complete the transformation of Marie, a former elementary science teacher, into the award-winning Doctor Caroline Gavilan. Now it was Marie’s face on all the news reports as Dr. Caroline Gavilan, and Marie who faced the press conference cameras.

For the few people who knew the truth, the real Rollie was in her late twenties and looked more like a post grad student than the experienced scientist and businesswoman that Marie portrayed in public. With the exception of her physical appearance, she was a stereotypical scientist; a workaholic with a coffee addiction. She feared she’d eventually croak at the end of a long career spent indoors, standing at her lab table, poring over research data.

Right now, though, the photon reactor project was too important to let trivial fears override it. It was just something that had to be done soon for the sake of…well, everyone. The PR had been the culmination of her original thesis at Carnegie Mellon, and after years upon years of trying to get to the bottom of the issue they had photon/anti-photon collision effects, a week ago she and her staff had finally cracked it.

Accidentally, yes, but still a breakthrough. So, if and when the technology became available to the world, everyone would be able to say goodbye to fossil fuel worries and power problems forever. Photon reactors—cheap, efficient, environment friendly and powerful—would become the answer to the world’s power and environmental crises.

The presence of someone behind her interrupted her thoughts. Strange. She thought everyone had gone home, but after years of working in a lab, she knew that she wasn’t the only night owl running the risk of severe sleep deprivation while trying to get to the bottom of something. She moved aside to give the person behind her a chance at the coffee.

“Working late too, eh?” she asked as she poured sugar into her cup.

“Yeah,” the deep voice drawled as the sounds of another cup being poured reached her ears. “Boss is a slave driver. Got called in late to wrap up some reports.”

Maybe because of the extraordinary amount of time she had spent locked up in labs and poring over reports that she hadn’t even gotten a chance to talk to a man in a social situation. Perhaps it could had been the lateness of the hour, or even fatigue. Whatever it was, the man’s voice alone was enough to get Rollie’s attention. She expected another one of the bookish types, or researchers, or maybe a middle-aged engineer. So when she looked up, she didn’t expect to see a rough and rugged demi-god whose lab coat didn’t quite fit the broad shoulders and the hint of tightly corded muscles under the fabric.

It didn’t stop there. The face was just as heart stopping. A strong chin, wide brows, and dimples from his slight smile made him look adorable. His eyes were the most intense dark hazel with flecks of gold. His smile seemed tired and polite, but for some reason, she could feel his gaze burning right through her clothes.

“Sorry to hear that,” said Rollie. “Though, if it makes you feel any better, you’re not the only one who’s got some late-night assignments to work out. Coming in or heading out?”

“Hopefully heading out soon.” He lifted the mug to take a sip and watched her over the rim. “You?”

“Same. Just putting away some files, before I can finally get some sleep.” She took a sip of her coffee. “I just hope this is the last coffee I’ll be drinking in a while. I could sleep for days.”

He smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling engagingly as he put the mug down on the counter near the coffee pot. The movement made the lab coat shift, stretching over his shoulders.

“Now that would make my job a lot easier.” His voice was low, the charming note still in it, but his eyes were hard as he moved the clipboard he carried a little to reveal the butt of a firearm concealed under the white jacket.

“Scream, and I’ll shoot. Run, and I’ll shoot. In fact, the only way for you to avoid getting shot is to keep your mouth shut and do as you’re told. Understand me?”

At first, it didn’t register with her, but the sense of danger became stronger by the second until the truth hit her like a sledgehammer. He was kidnapping her. She should have known something was wrong. The way the lab coat didn’t fit him, how different he looked from anyone else she usually saw in here. The fact that, even though the lab complex had two-thousand registered employees, this was the first time she’d seen him in this wing; a cluster of high security laboratories. That should have made her suspicious. But she was tired, he was hunky, and she hadn’t been on guard.

“What do you want?” she asked, all friendliness gone and replaced with a scowl.

“You to be quiet and behave,” he replied, motioning for her to turn around. “Now, we’re just going to take a nice little walk. No funny stuff or you know what happens.” He nudged her to start walking down the corridor. As they started moving, he slammed an elbow into the fire alarm switch, setting it off.

“Okay, just don’t poke me with your thingy,” she retorted. “It’s embarrassing. Maybe I’ll pretend it’s a snub-nosed revolver or something.” And she wasn’t just referring to his gun.

The funny thing about Rollie was that when she was in high-stress situations, she didn’t react the same way as other people. Most panicked. Some tried to rationalize with barely reined-in fear. Rollie, on the other hand, became sassy. It had been a childhood survival mechanism. And being kidnapped was definitely a high stress situation.

“Pretend whatever you like, sweetheart. As long as you keep your mouth shut and keep moving, I don’t much care.” His voice was hard behind her, but he kept close, the heat of his big body burning right through her lab coat and reminding her just how large the guy was.

Corridors passed in a blur as the alarms echoed through them. He led her to the back of the buildings, toward the service area. She had to admit, as a tactic, it was working well. There weren’t many people who knew she was in the building tonight, and it would take some time for them to sort through the confusion and then send someone to look for her. By that time, they’d be gone to God knows where.

She felt small and vulnerable, and she didn’t like it one bit. Moving faster, she kept as much distance between them as she could. They passed by so many surveillance cameras, she was sure that somehow, someone would know that she’d been abducted. They were also passing by so many consoles, she tried to calculate how much time she’d need to access one and call for help. She’d left her Blackberry in her office, and didn’t have anything else on her. Just a few personal items and the clothes on her back.
Brilliant
.

Her brain clicked along at a mile a minute as she tried to come up with a plan. She just needed to find the right moment, then she’d strike back. Right now though, the hard butt of the gun in the waistband of his pants kept pressing against the small of her back, reminding her that the danger she was in was serious. Despite what she had said earlier, she hoped it was his gun doing the poking and not something else.

He moved her at a fast pace, not allowing her time to go for anything in her pockets or to try for one of the consoles. Before long, they were in the last corridor, and she could see the darkness of the night outside through the window. There was movement behind her, and the pressure in the small of her back became harder, more focused, as he pressed the muzzle into her back, just over her spine.

“Remember what I said,” he whispered in her ear as they headed for the last door. “No funny stuff. My employers don’t give a crap whether you walk again, and I’ll do whatever I need to.”

Rollie had never responded well to threats. Sure, she was scared, but she didn’t like the fact that she was being bullied and couldn’t do anything about it. It reminded her too much of growing up.

“Who would your employers happen to be?” she asked. “Blackwell? I know he’d love to pick my brain to get some of the inventions he can only dream of. Or are you some sort of terrorist? I have to tell you, Guantanamo Bay isn’t exactly at its best this time of year, and the locals aren’t that friendly to your kind.”

Reaching past her to push the door open, he hustled her through, and all but shoved her out into the darkness.

“If I was a terrorist, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” he said shortly. “I’d have just wired the place to blow and watched it burn from afar. Now, the truck. Move.” He motioned with his gun, the metal glinting dully.

“Yeah, you’re right,” she retorted. “If you were a terrorist, you would actually know just how much more I’m worth to a Jihadist cause than burning down a lab I can have rebuilt in a few weeks. And what kind of a kidnapper
are
you? Aren’t you supposed to have an ominous black van with tinted windows and ski mask?” She turned to look at him, her feet slowing to prolong the inevitable.

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