Authors: Mandy M. Roth
Tags: #[email protected], #dpgroup.org
Reality from fiction.
The one he’d just had still shook him to his core. The woman in his vision had long black hair with bright purple streaks in it. While it was a strange combination, it worked for her. Her creamy white skin was so pale he’d have thought her a vampire had he not seen her in the sunlight in his vision. The image of her, the sun at her back, her smile wide, her gaze on him, was now burned into his brain. She was quite possibly the single most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. Her features were captivating. Her deep, chocolate brown eyes were so dark they bordered on black, and her thick lashes had his attention returning to her gaze in the vision—again and again.
He’d probably conjure that image of the woman in his mind whenever he stroked himself to get off. Stroking himself while thinking of her wouldn’t be a hardship by any means.
His cock stirred to life and he had to adjust himself through his tan designer slacks. It felt good to be back in the clothing he preferred. He’d spent nearly a decade in faded, worn jeans and ratty shirts in an effort to blend in with the street element he’d been trying to assist. Since his return he’d not been able to fly out to Seattle and check in on the street kids he’d taken under his wing. Over the years he’d gotten many back on the straight and narrow, some getting degrees, and many were productive citizens.
Some never assimilated.
He couldn’t blame them. All of the kids he’d mentored were supernatural in some regard, though most were ignorant of the fact. James had enough Fae in his DNA makeup that he could sense a fellow magik. The shifter side of him allowed him to sniff out weres with ease. It saddened him to leave that world behind, but he’d not totally abandoned it. Years ago, he’d set up safety nets, a system that, should something happen to him, would ensure the supernatural youths on the streets would still be looked out for. That was a good thing since James had been taken captive and tortured for nearly a year.
One of the street kids he’d personally taken under his wing, Inara, had recently mated to a former PSI-Op (Paranormal Security and Intelligence Operative) who now worked for the Immortal Ops Branch. Eadan Daly was a good guy. James had known for years that Inara was destined for Eadan. James’s gift of foresight had told him as much. Inara had also taken to drawing pictures of Eadan before she’d ever met him, so there was no room for misinterpretation. They were supposed to be together.
He couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit jealous, even when he was elated for them. He’d always longed for a connection like they shared—a mate of his own. There was no use hoping. With as old as he was, the odds were stacked against him that he’d ever cross paths with the woman made for him. He accepted that, even if he didn’t like it.
Inara was now safe and mated to a good man. That was what truly mattered. James had seen her in a fatherly light and was pleased she was now off the streets and with a man who could protect her.
“You failed her,” he said out loud. James’s temper surfaced again, threatening to overtake him, and he kicked one of the stools near him, sending it skidding across the floor of the lab. He hated himself for being such a fool. For being caught off guard and for being captured in an attempt to keep Inara safe. While he’d been successful at that moment in time, keeping her from falling into the enemy’s hands, he’d gotten himself captured instead, and Inara had later been taken by the same men who’d held him prisoner. Thankfully, she’d ended up safe and sound.
You should have held on to your rage back then
, he thought, remembering the time before he left PSI. A time when he would have never been taken captive with such ease. A time when his temper ruled supreme. He would have fared better when he was ambushed had he allowed himself to simply lose control, but he hated that side of himself.
After the passing of a close friend and fellow teammate, James had changed his ways. He’d carried the label of murderer for a long time. He’d not killed Christopher with his own hands, but he’d allowed his temper to win—and the end result was Christopher’s death. A number of higher ups within PSI had demanded James be tried for murder. The Director, General Jack C. Newman, had come to his rescue, refusing to permit James to be made a scapegoat for the system’s failures. Newman had asked James to stay on and return to duty, but James had refused, needing time to clear his head. Time to pay for the wrongs he’d done. To pay for Christopher’s death.
Don’t return to being that man. No matter how tempting it might be.
He’d spent ten years on his own, soul searching, making peace with things he could not change and embracing the here and now. He’d lived a good, simple life. He’d learned to control his darker side—his temper.
His thoughts drifted back to the woman from his most recent nightmarish vision. He certainly did not see this woman in a fatherly light at all. His cock still ached with need just from reflecting on her image. The cruel irony being there was a distinct possibility he’d dreamed her up.
He wasn’t sure of anything anymore. His fucking mind was even turning on him. As if he hadn’t been through enough as it was. Now he had to deal with possible hallucinations?
Asking would only mean he’d get an answer and the Fates liked to mess with people. He clearly had a target on his back as far as they went. They were having a ton of fun at his expense as of late.
The girl from his bizarre dream had felt real enough. She didn’t seem invented. If she was real, she was in danger. His visions weren’t to be taken lightly. Destiny was an odd bird. He learned never to take it for granted. It tended to carve out a person’s path far in advance. Whenever James was given a vision of what a person had in store for them, it was never as simple as it being spelled out. No. His visions were impressions, fast flashes, a strange sense of knowing and sometimes cryptic symbols.
Those were the worst.
The more he thought upon it all, the more he was sure it wasn’t some invented dream. It was real and she was in serious trouble. He didn’t know who, or what, but something or someone wanted the girl dead. Panic welled in him and his hard-on dissipated. The overwhelming urge to find this woman and protect her at all costs swept over him, taking his breath from him. He had to strain to draw in air as he sat there, knowing there was no real way to find her. He didn’t have a clue if she was real, let alone who or where she was.
His hands shook and he had to take a break, closing his eyes, forcing himself to calm down. There wasn’t anything he could do for this stranger until he had more information. If there was anything he knew for certain about his supposed gift, it was that it revealed the truth of the matter in its own time. It couldn’t be rushed. He’d have to wait until it showed him more. That or he’d need to stumble upon the woman. Unlikely to happen since he rarely left the labs or his office. Finding her would not be easy.
“Talk about a needle in a haystack,” he murmured. The sudden, undeniable urge to speak with his newly acquired chatroom friend came over him. “I need to talk to GothGirl.”
He stared at his computer screen, desperately wanting the woman he’d come to know only as GothGirl to log in so he could speak to her and hear her sweet voice again. It had been nearly twelve hours since they’d last spoken. Seemed like forever. He was supposed to be gathering information on her for PSI. He’d not been very successful. At least not on finding out anything of importance. He did know all her online gaming preferences, her favorite color, that she loved it when it rained and that she could hack just about anything. He also knew she had a big heart. He’d discovered she liked to look after homeless veterans in her area. She’d only specifically mentioned one of them, but he knew from the way she spoke that she cared for many.
He could relate to that burning drive to help the less fortunate. To see to their needs and expect nothing in return. That was the way it should be. Those who gave their time and money only for photo-shoot opportunities or write-ups in papers were shameless.
GothGirl wasn’t like that. He’d had to coax the information from her, and she was understated when telling him bits and pieces of what she did for the homeless near her.
He knew she was a good person. Regardless what PSI officials suspected. He knew better.
A smile touched his lips. He knew other little things about her. Details he considered special but his captain would find useless. It had been only a week since he’d been ordered to look more into a hacker an enemy of PSI had a strange interest in. PSI had techs who did that sort of investigation all the time, but even though they operated daily and dedicated their lives to mastering the virtual realm, they’d failed—epically—to make contact with the target.
GothGirl was smart.
Too smart for the computer geeks and the technology analysts on PSI’s payroll to catch. They were probably still scratching their heads, and dusting off their keyboards, wondering how the hell some girl had managed to leave them chasing their tails. And boy, had she. James had heard all about the digital runaround she’d given the men.
He laughed at the thought of it all.
When James’s captain, Corbin Jones, had held a briefing, telling the men that their raid on the facility James had been held prisoner at had yielded intel on several persons of interest, one being a hacker, James had perked up, curious to hear what was going on. But Corbin had glossed over the information on the young woman, moving quickly to the next order of business. The captain hadn’t had much in the way of details, and seemed more interested in other people they’d found information on within the Corporation’s files than the hacker. James’s body had different ideas, though, building and driving a powerful need for him to learn more of the hacker.
Unable to let the moment pass him, James had forced Corbin to return to the previous topic—the hacker who had caught the eye of PSI. His teammates had groaned as if he were
—the one who made the teacher return to a boring topic they didn’t want to hear any more about.
In a way, that was exactly what he’d done.
Something deep inside him wouldn’t let this pass by. When he’d learned that PSI’s very own tech squad had failed to gather much beyond the hacker’s screen name and that the person was indeed a
, he’d found himself volunteering to do more to track her online. Saying he was intrigued was putting it mildly. James had become obsessed and still was.
Corbin had been skeptical. Rightfully so. Yes, James had more skills with a computer than most of his teammates—especially Duke Marlow, who was a luddite in serious denial—but James wasn’t a programmer or anything of the like. With a few questioning glances, the captain had given the assignment to James. And James had spent the last week trying to balance his actual job duties with the mission he’d volunteered for. As head physician at the division branch, he never lacked for something to do. Yes, the facility had other doctors on staff as well, and all were very good and exceptionally qualified, but they all answered to James.
A pang of guilt washed over him as he thought of the person-of-interest. Though, within a few hours of launching his own investigation into her, James had stopped seeing her as that—a POI. She was funny, smart, and he found her incredibly sexy—despite the fact they’d never met in person and he didn’t know what she looked like.
“You are hung up on a girl who you don’t really know and who doesn’t really know you.” He grunted, slightly embarrassed by his behavior as of late. “Wait until she finds out you’re a werewolf and you work for a secret government agency. Oh yeah, she’s going to love you.”
In his week on the case he had managed to do what the tech geeks couldn’t. He’d not only made contact with her, but he’d been engaging in long, drawn-out, deep discussions with her in private chat rooms. He had a hard time believing she was anything PSI needed to be concerned with, but he’d seen the files. He knew she’d managed to gain the attention of the Corporation, leaving them looking into her, trying to mine for information on her. And if that evil empire had their sights set on her that meant PSI needed to know more about her. Corbin wanted to know if she was friend of foe. If she was working with the Corporation or against them.
It had taken him less than an hour of talking with her to know deep in his bones that she wasn’t the enemy. Though, labeling her a friend to PSI would have been a stretch.
Of course, telling the captain he didn’t feel like she was a bad guy wouldn’t really fly. He needed more to go on.
And that was exactly what he planned to gather. Proof. Though, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Far from it. GothGirl wasn’t the type who warmed up to just anyone. He couldn’t blame her.
She seemed to believe the government was out to screw everyone. She probably wasn’t entirely wrong. James had been alive enough to see countless administrations come and go. They all had one thing in common—the quest for power. There was a lot to be said for the saying “If a politician’s lips are moving, they’re lying.”
Most didn’t have a fucking clue what was really go on in the world. They were power-hungry figureheads who thought they understood what real power was, but had none over what really mattered. A few knew of the existence of supernaturals. Most of those humans who did know thought they were in charge of the situation. That they could manage the supernaturals and keep them leashed. That was laughable. Other politicians were actually supernaturals hiding in the open—maintaining a life in the public eye, hiding what they truly were and fully understanding what the hell was happening in the world around them.
So it was difficult to fault GothGirl for being anti the Establishment. The jury was still out if he was as well. For the last decade he’d sure stood against what it all represented. Now he was back and part of it, hopefully part of the solution, not the problem, but only time would tell for sure.