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Authors: A.S. Fenichel

JoshuasMistake

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Joshua’s Mistake

A.S.
Fenichel

 

Book two in the Psychic Mates
series.

 

Accused of treason and the murder
of her Psychic Special Forces team, Tessa is in the custody of the FBI. She’s
shocked and terrified when the most powerful Psi Agent in the world shows up to
probe her mind and discover her guilt or innocence.

Joshua never expected to find a
victim of one of his probes attractive, but he can’t seem to leave her behind
when all hell breaks loose. Saving the stunning blonde means being drawn into a
psychic war that will definitely end his career—and likely both of their lives.

The rhythm of their psychic auras
hums to perfection and neither can fight the bond, but it’s all ripped away by
a madman with a grudge. Tessa falls into a coma and Joshua will have to risk
his heart and soul to pull her back from the brink.

 

A Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from
Ellora’s Cave

 

Joshua’s Mistake
A.S. Fenichel

Dedication

 

For Dave. No books filled with love and hope could ever be
completed without the support and inspiration of my wonderful husband.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

Special thanks to Amanda, Stormie and Karla. If not for
these three spectacular women I would be lost.

 

Chapter One

 

It wasn’t his first time in the safe house at the New Jersey
Shore. He’d always liked the location. The simple slip-covered couch and recliner
were all the furniture in the living room. The shaded windows looked out toward
the dunes and the Atlantic beyond.

He didn’t like the man standing in the middle of the room.
He had to force his hands from clenching into fists. It was a tell and there
was no reason to give his emotional state away.

“Blake.” Joshua kept his voice even and detached.

“Lakeland. You’re late. I called for you three hours ago.”
Blake clenched his teeth.

Joshua crossed the room before the other three FBI agents
could react. He grabbed Blake by the throat and pushed him up against the wall,
thrusting his forearm across the shorter man’s neck. “I don’t work for you,
Special Agent Blake. Just because we both work for the same government doesn’t
mean you get to tell me when to arrive. Frankly, if I hadn’t gotten a call from
much higher up than you, I wouldn’t have come at all.”

The other agents had pulled their weapons. Three Glock 22
handguns had their barrels directed at Joshua’s head. He was confident he could
crush the agent’s throat before they killed him.

Blake probably knew it too. He waved them off. His eyes
watered but he managed to focus on Joshua. “Let me go.”

The guns lowered slowly. Joshua’s psychic ability allowed
him to sense they were reluctant to let down their weapons, but they respected
orders from Blake.

Joshua had to admire the way Blake kept his cool in spite of
the fact that his windpipe was nearly crushed under the weight of Joshua’s arm.
The agent’s glare remained steady.

He released him. “What do you want?”

Blake tilted his head to one side, cracking his neck, before
straightening his shoulders. He pointed to a small monitor on a desk in the
middle of the room. “Your assignment is to interrogate her.”

“Interrogate? If that was what you wanted you would do it
yourself. You want a mind probe.” He’d done it a thousand times and it still
made his stomach clench.

Blake had no psi skills. He made a disgusted face. “It’s
what you do, Lakeland. It’s your specialty.”

Working for the government hadn’t been Joshua’s choice. The
little boy they’d acquisitioned from an orphanage was only a vague memory.
Still, he’d done all right over the years. Ripping the throat out of an FBI
agent would not help his career. He turned toward the monitor. He knew the
room. It was just beyond the door to his left. In any other of the vacation
homes on the block it would have been a bedroom in the two-story house.
However, this was an FBI safe house and all it had was a large metal table and
a few shelves. A six-inch steel ring had been welded into the middle of the
table. Her hands were cuffed in front of her with the chain running through the
ring. The weight of the table and strength of the cuffs were enough to keep her
secured. She looked familiar, though he was sure he’d never met the tall blonde
before. Her straight hair was cut to her chin and her pale-blue eyes narrowed
at the camera.

She sensed him. He could feel her psi energy radiating
throughout the house. Rage, curiosity and just a touch a fear swam through his
senses in an oddly pleasant way.

Joshua had been in that room before. The camera was hidden
in the wall. She knew it was there. Then he recognized her from her records. “That’s
Tessa Clark. She’s with the psi unit. What is she doing here and why is she
chained to the table?”

“Double agent. As soon as you prove it she’ll go to trial
and get the death sentence for treason.”

“What makes you so sure I’ll find what you’re looking for?”

Blake stepped forward until he was inches from Joshua. “Don’t
get sentimental just because she’s a woman, Lakeland. Her entire detail was
killed and she was responsible. Somehow she managed to survive with barely a
scratch. Three men dead, all of them with psi abilities. I had a long briefing
from very high up. There are people in the government convinced she’s a traitor
and she is all but convicted. Just go in there and get the information. We’ll
take it from there.”

“Did you chase down the information yourself?” Regardless of
Joshua’s personal feelings about the agent, he’d admit the guy was good at his
job even if his tactics were a bit repulsive.

Joshua sensed anger and frustration from Blake without even
having to tap in. Not good.

“I have superiors and I have orders, Lakeland. The fact is
that the business with your brother and Thorn last year brought the existence
of your kind into the light with some politicians who are not too happy about Psi
Agents having so much power.”

Joshua had to admit there was truth in the statement. The
Psi Agency had been better off with only a very select few knowing about them.
Ultimately it didn’t matter. He had his own orders, but it didn’t mean he had
to like them.

He studied the agent. A year earlier Blake had used his
position and influence to help arrest Oscar Thorn, a very wealthy and powerful
man. He was also corrupt and evil to the core. Blake’s influence had saved
Joshua’s sister-in-law from death or worse, a hellish life with Thorn. Blake’s
tactics had been questionable. He’d left Lena in prison for months even though
he knew about her abusive marriage and that she was innocent of the charges
against her. He’d known Thorn was abusing Lena, but Blake abandoned her in a
dangerous marriage so he could build his case. He thought it would help him
manipulate Lena more effectively if she was really desperate. He planned to use
her fear to get her to testify against her husband. Blake would do anything and
risk anyone to make an arrest.

Joshua’s brother Kane had been assigned by the court to find
Lena after she escaped prison. He’d found her and then had to rescue her from a
homicidal mercenary, another bounty hunter, and ultimately Thorn. In the
process the two had fallen in love and nine months later Lena had given birth
to a beautiful baby girl.

In spite of the “favor” he’d done for Joshua’s brother a
year earlier, Joshua didn’t like Blake. The man was too much of a sheep for his
taste. He had no problem letting someone suffer if it furthered his goals.
Still, he didn’t sense any deception. Blake followed orders. He didn’t make
policy.

Joshua took a step away. He reached over to the back of the
monitor and pulled the wire, tearing it from the back. The screen went black.
Turning back at Blake, he drew close to the shorter man, whose eyes were wide
with suppressed rage. “I’m going to tell you again. I don’t work for you. I’m
going in there, but a probe is rather
intimate
. I’ll need some privacy.”

“Who are you protecting, Lakeland? Don’t want us to see you
getting excited over a piece of ass?”

There was nothing pleasant in the smile Joshua gave. Losing
his temper could lead to a dangerous outcome. His fingers already tingled with
pent-up energy. “Don’t test me, Blake. You won’t like the result.”

He kept the six inches of wire in his hand and walked
through the door into the holding room. The charge of psychic ability buzzed
around the room. Every psi had a rhythm to their abilities, a vibration called
an aura. Tessa’s thrummed louder and more synchronous than that most people
with psychic abilities. A layer of darkness shrouding the soul was the
byproduct of having psi powers and using them as most agents had to. It was a
hazard he had long ago accepted. With an aura as strong as hers, she would be
difficult to probe.

Her good looks didn’t make him any more comfortable digging
into a mind that would likely scar him. He was used to it and knew how to deal
with the damage. He had his own dark places to hide secrets. Still, he couldn’t
ignore how stunning Tessa was, her heart-shaped face and full lips were set off
by crystal-blue eyes.

She turned her attention from the hidden camera and focused
on him. Her mouth opened, but he held his index finger to his lips. She cocked
her head and studied him. He walked to the wall of shelves where the small
camera was hidden and pulled it from its perch. He then turned it to face away
just in case someone got an idea about fixing the link. He tossed the wire from
the monitor on the floor in the corner.

Returning to the door, he held his hand over the lock and
concentrated his energy before he heard several satisfying clicks of the tumblers
within. If the agents in the other room tried to enter, changing the tumblers
would buy them a few seconds time. Then the door would come crashing down.

Of course, if she was what they said, the delay could be his
biggest mistake and he’d be her next victim. He didn’t think so. Already he
sensed she was exactly what she seemed, a dedicated agent for the government.

He nodded to her.

“Joshua Lakeland. I think I’m honored to have elicited such
a high level agent’s attention,” she said sarcastically.

“Tessa Clark, I’ve been ordered to probe you.” His words
were even, in spite of the gravity of what they conveyed. The room was wired
for sound. If he pulled the listening devices, the outside agents would likely
force their way in.

Her eyes widened and he saw fear for only an instant before
her training returned and she masked all emotion. “I understand.”

He pulled a chair around to her side of the table, sat and
leaned in very close. “Do you? Because I don’t really want to kill you or leave
you a vegetable, Tessa. I have orders and they come from pretty high up.”

“You’ll have to follow them.” Her voice was even, but her
emotions bubbled just under the surface.

He already liked the feel of her energy swimming around him.
It didn’t happen often, but once in a while a psychic came into contact with
another whose energy meshed with their own. He thought of it as if they were
two musical instruments that had been perfectly tuned to play together. It was
rare for anyone with psi talents, but for Joshua it had never happened. His
abilities were off the charts. Theoretically he was the most powerful psychic
talent in the world.

Joshua stood up and walked a few steps away. “I’ve read your
file. You were on the short list for my next field team.”

“I’m flattered.” She sounded as if she actually was.

The irony wasn’t lost on him. “I’ve been doing this a long
time. I didn’t notice anything in your record that would indicate you were a
traitor about to cause the death of three good men.”

“No.”

“Do you want to tell me what happened?”

“No.”

He spun around and found her staring at the empty table. “Because
you had them killed?”

Her head snapped around and her eyes locked with his. “Because
it was the single most horrifying experience of my life and I’ll be fucked if I’m
going to relive it here with you.”

“The powers that be don’t believe you.”

“Obviously.”

“I have to probe you. Do you think you can let me have
access? It would be better for both of us.”

“I don’t know.” Her expression remained unchanged. She didn’t
look or sound afraid of the probe. She put up a good facade. Fear bubbled as if
it were in a cauldron under her calm exterior.

He’d probed hundreds, maybe thousands, of people over the
years. Blake was right, it was his specialty. Even so, he hated that he was the
cause of her distress.
Shit, get your head in the game, Josh.

Her fear was warranted. Guilty or innocent, having a
stranger pulling down the walls of your mind was a terrifying prospect. Regret
for what he was about to do had already begun to fill him. He didn’t want to
hurt her and he cringed at the idea of her hating or fearing him. Worse, he
could damage her. If he made a wrong move, pushed too far, he could change the
vibrations of her gifts. If that happened she would no longer be the same
woman. It was not something he could afford to think about.

What he really wanted from Tessa Clark was inappropriate to
their current situation and he forced down his desire. Distractions would not
help him navigate his mission.

“Why did you pull the video feed? If they’re right about me
I might try to kill you and you’ll have no backup.”

“That’s true.” He placed his fingers over one side of the
handcuffs and concentrated until the mechanism tripped and opened the manacles
around her wrist. He did the same to the other side.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m taking a leap of faith. What are you going to do,
Tessa?”

He saw the flash of fear again. She rubbed her wrists where
the cuffs had scraped the skin raw. Then she ran her fingers through her hair.
The short, silky strands fell back into place around her face.

“Everything I’ve been trained for goes against allowing
anyone to do what you’ve been ordered to do, Lakeland. I don’t know if I can
let down my defenses, but I’ll try to let you in.”

He sat down again and pulled the chair even closer. He could
do it with just his hands touching her skull, but he leaned his forehead
against hers for a better connection. Actually, in most cases, he didn’t have
to touch the subject at all. “
Forgive the darkness. I’ll do my best to
shield you from it.”

“Do you apologize to all your victims?”

The word
victim
made him want to shake her and scream
he had orders. He couldn’t just ignore a direct order no matter how much he
wanted to. He could have stormed in, taken what he wanted and been gone a
minute later. He didn’t want her to be a casualty, didn’t want to hurt her.

“No.”

He felt the surge of power as she let down her most basic
barriers. Her psi power was impressive. Her voice was strong even when no words
were spoken. The walls of her complex mind opened to him and Joshua’s
consciousness stepped through. Externally he felt the tickle of her hair
against his hands and the warmth of her skin. His thumb grazed her temple and
he had a sense of her vulnerability. Yet she was a Psi Agent, which meant any
weakness was at least, in part an illusion. What other falsehoods would he find
within her mind?

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