Sometimes the past comes back to haunt us, sometimes it comes back to tempt us.
Gavin Walker is still reeling from the death of his fiancée, Lela, two years ago. Every day is a struggle to control the monster he hides raging within him. Now, he’s working with sweet, sexy Coraline Evans, and she’s only making it harder.
Cora hasn’t forgiven herself for causing the accident that took her best friend Lela’s life. She tried running from the guilt and Gavin’s accusations, but that’s no longer an option. Someone is out to kill Gavin, and she’s determined to stop them, even if it means letting him break her heart in the process.
SIEGE Corporation has a vested interest in Gavin and they aren’t willing to let him simply walk away again. They’ll use anything and anyone to get what they want from him, including Cora. Faced with choosing between revenge and a second chance at love, Gavin isn’t sure if the monster SIEGE created will let him have either.
The Walker brothers were created to be the perfect bio-enhanced soldiers, human guinea pigs for SIEGE Corporation’s government-sanctioned Posthuman Project.
In the years since the project imploded, they have fought to create normal lives for themselves, despite the scars of a childhood spent caged in a laboratory. But SIEGE forges a dark path of experimentation and the Walkers remain the key to future breakthroughs.
Determined to end their torment, the brothers must put everything on the line. Face the enemy. Accept destiny. Save their souls.
December, 14 years ago
The boy stared back at the man peering through the small window in the door. Seeing Dr. Sinclair meant it was his turn. His stomach clenched; mouth went dry. The trembling started in his hands, quickly spreading through his body.
The door slid open, and the boy pressed in to the corner, curling his legs into his chest. Dr. Sinclair motioned for him to come, but the boy shook his head vigorously, wrapping skinny arms around his knees and tucking in his head until only the short buzz of dark-blond hair was visible.
“Three, don’t make this difficult. Do you want me to call Aiden?”
The shaking stopped as pure terror enveloped the little body. “No.”
“Then come along. Cooperate, and I may let you spend some time with the others.”
It was a bribe the boy couldn’t say no to. He would do anything asked of him if it meant seeing the others. He stood, keeping his head down, eyes focused on his shuffling feet. When he reached the door, the doctor gripped his arm, leading him in to the hall.
He wasn’t sure how long it had been since he last saw them. A month. Possibly more. He used to see them almost every day in the classroom. Then class stopped. He missed seeing them and Mr. Walker, their teacher. He was kind and always smiling. Sometimes he brought pictures of his wife and little girl to show them. Her name was Sky. Mr. Walker laughed when he told them. The boy didn’t understand why her name was funny. He thought it must be nice having two names.
Up until a few months before, Ms. Tharp taught them. She hadn’t hurt them like the doctor, but she wasn’t like Mr. Walker.
The first day Mr. Walker came, he made a fuss about their names. He didn’t believe they were only numbers.
The boy was Three. Mr. Walker called him Gavin; said it was a good name for a good boy. It made Three smile to hear it. Having a name made him feel like maybe he wouldn’t always need to go through all the tests.
When Dr. Sinclair found out, he’d been angry, but that didn’t stop Mr. Walker.
Gavin. The boy rolled the name through his mind, clinging to the hope it gave him. It didn’t have much strength left. When your life was determined by the pain you suffered, a month with nothing was a lifetime.
They reached the end of the hall and turned the corner. Gavin glanced up at the window of One’s door and caught a glimpse of his brother’s face—Noah’s face—before Sinclair thrust him toward the lab.
Just inside the room, Gavin spotted Aiden, and his entire body rebelled instantly. His struggle did little good. Aiden was huge—well over six feet and bulging with muscles. Muscles he didn’t mind using to get the boys to do what the doctor wanted.
A massive hand wrapped around the back of Gavin’s neck, and he was dragged across to the table. Aiden let him go, and Gavin forced himself to get up on the table.
He lay back, staring at the apparatus overhead. It moved up and down with a light so bright it burned his eyes. It wasn’t on. That meant a new test. The lack of food all day should have given him warning, yet part of him held onto the minuscule piece of hope that it would be different.
Gavin knew how the process worked. He’d barely lived through it hundreds of times. The first day of testing the light would be off. Dr. Sinclair would order his assistants around, writing notes as they injected Gavin with needle after needle of drugs and samples. Then they’d wait with him strapped to the table. If he didn’t react within the time they wanted, they gave him more. If he reacted sooner, they administered different things.
Through it all, they monitored and recorded everything. Once the doctor was satisfied, Gavin would go back to his room until the next day. Then they would start the poking, prodding, and cutting, checking whether whatever they injected him with had worked. That would continue until the doctor moved on to testing one of the others.
He swallowed and nearly choked from the dryness of his mouth. A strap stretched across his chest, tightening until it strained his breathing, then his wrists, hips, and feet. Wires were taped to his chest and head.
The assistants worked in silence, never acknowledging Gavin as anything other than a test object. The only person to speak was Dr. Sinclair, who barked orders.
Gavin watched as the doctor made his way over to the side of the table and looked down at him.
“This will be it, Three. Today will be the final test.”
Gavin’s blood turned to ice. His fear showed, and Sinclair laughed.
“Oh. Don’t worry. You’ll live,” he said and held up a syringe filled with a milky liquid. “Everything I’ve worked for is right here.”
“Gideon?” a soft voice said from behind the doctor.
Lifting his head as far as he could, Gavin strained to see who dared speak in the lab, but other than a fleeting glimpse of brown hair, he couldn’t see anything. No one other than the doctor and his assistants ever entered the lab.
“What are you doing here?” Dr. Sinclair kept working, wrapping a rubber tube around Gavin’s arm and then twisting it for a view of the throbbing veins.
Whoever the woman was, she came over to Gavin’s side where he finally got a look at her. He’d seen a female before; some of the lab assistants were women… and Ms. Tharp, of course. That one was different. They usually wore blank expressions, but she gazed down at him with faint lines across her forehead deepening as her eyebrows drew together. It was how he imagined Mr. Walker’s wife might look if something happened to Sky.
Would she help him if he asked? Would she make them stop the tests?
Gavin wanted to ask, but when his mouth opened, only a whimper came out. The consequences of arguing or fighting were too great. The lone time he fought back, Noah had suffered the consequences. The scar slashing across Noah’s face was a reminder to Gavin of what would happen to the others if he dared again.
If Gavin were the one punished for his own actions, he would risk it. Even if it led to possible death, he would do it for the others.
Her next words made him glad he had remained silent.
“Have you considered my proposal to continue the experiments?” She leaned in and, using less than gentle fingers, widened Gavin’s eyes one at a time before moving to one of the randomly beeping machines.
“There’s no need to continue with this formula. You read the data from the other subjects. It’s conclusive. The effects of this serum have been documented for weeks now.” Sinclair placed the syringe on the metal tray beside him and focused on the woman. “We expect subject Six to display early symptoms within the next seventy-two to ninety-six hours. Five was done this morning. Three is the final one.”
“You know I support your work, and the findings are … extraordinary. The board, however, is not prepared to simply end the study.”
“What more do they want from me, Yolanda? Once this is done, they will have six subjects to proceed with to Level 2 training and modifications.”
“I—we want to ensure maximum results are achieved.” She wandered across the room, and Gavin lost sight of her.
Sinclair huffed, gripped a sponge with a pair of tongs, and wiped it across Gavin’s inner elbow, leaving a rust-colored streak of liquid behind. “What do you suggest I do?”
The woman didn’t respond as the needle pressed in to Gavin’s arm. The cool liquid spread through the boy’s vein, traveling up his arm.
“Double the dose.”
Sinclair jerked his head up, and Gavin flinched as the needle tugged painfully at his skin. “Are you mad? We have no idea what it could do to him.”
“Him? It. You know better than to humanize the subjects.”
“A slip of the tongue.” Sinclair shook his head. “My concern has nothing to do with the subject being a human. It has to do with the risk of losing one of my subjects. In particular, subjects Three or Four. Having two subjects with identical genetic material created a unique circumstance, enabling us to analyze the effects of varying formulas.”
“Open your eyes, Gideon. You are not thinking like a scientist right now. Otherwise, you’d realize this is the next logical phase. Four received this treatment and displayed satisfactory results. Administering a large dosage to Three allows us to determine the ideal amount to maximize the effects.”
Gavin listened to her heels click on the hard tile floor—yet another difference between her and the lab assistants. He felt her presence at the end of the table behind his head, so he tipped his chin up.
She smoothed her hands along the sides of his face—a gesture so deceptively gentle his muscles loosened enough that the prick of a second needle hardly registered.
S.I.E.G.E. Corporation Shareholder Statement
Scientific Investigations and Experimentation through Genetic Engineering Corporation is excited to announce a five-million-dollar donation to the Sawyer school district to fund the development of their science programs. These programs will enhance learning opportunities and increase access to state-of-the-art technology, further preparing students for college and careers with the high demands of today’s workplace.
The Board of Directors would like to extend their sympathy and apologies to the six young men who suffered at the hands of Dr. Sinclair during his work on the Posthuman Project. In addition to ensuring he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, SIEGE Corporation is facilitating the adoption of the youths and establishing appropriate reparation.
We would like to also announce the appointment of Dr. Nielson as Chief Science Officer. Dr. Nielson comes to us with a stellar background in genetic engineering, having published her research findings in multiple professional journals. She will oversee the termination of the unauthorized Posthuman Project and spearhead a new study in to possible links between fertilizers and the development of neurological disorders. A request for study volunteers will be posted on our website by the end of the year.