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Authors: Anne Kane

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Running Scared (Mercenaries)

BOOK: Running Scared (Mercenaries)
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Running Scared (Mercenaries)

Anne Kane

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2013 Anne Kane

BIN: 06521-02097
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Changeling Press LLC
315 N. Centre St.
Martinsburg, WV 25404
Editor: Chrissie Henderson
Cover Artist: Karen Fox

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Table Of Contents

Running Scared (Mercenaries)

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Anne Kane



Running Scared (Mercenaries)

Anne Kane



She was a genetic experiment that was never supposed to get out of the lab. If the government finds her they will kill her without hesitation. Her memories of her early life are sketchy but the one clear image she has is of a brother who saved her life, and then disappeared.


Jackson knows what it’s like to lose your entire family in one bloody instant, and he vows to help Saralyn find hers. It doesn’t hurt that he finds her irresistibly sexy or that the attraction is mutual. They enlist the rest of the mercenary team in a search operation that takes them into the heart of the corrupt government.

Chapter One


Saralyn ran her hands over the computer’s input screen, sorting through the mess of icons with a speed that she knew suggested more than a passing acquaintance with technology.

There! She pulled the icon forward, tapping it gently to open its secrets. Closing her eyes, she splayed her fingers across the screen and let the information flow through the tips of her fingers, gigabytes of info flashing along the web of her nervous system to the storage cells in her brain. Later, she’d sort through the files and isolate the information she needed. Right now she just wanted to get out of here before…

“Looking for something?”

Damn! The overhead lights snapped on, and Saralyn turned to see the man they called Jackson lounging against the doorframe. Bad timing. Five more minutes and she would have been home free. One thing she’d learned at an early age was to hide her differences. Survival depended on blending into the crowd, not letting anyone know just how different she was. Just how much had he seen?

She plastered an innocent smile on her face. “Not really. Just couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d see if I could find a game to play.” She gestured at the bank of computers behind her. “I looked, but I can’t find the game files. Maybe you can show me where they are?”

Jackson lifted one brow, a glimmer of humor shining in the depths of his dark eyes. He had nice eyes. Dark. Dreamy. Right now they seemed to see right through her, and she had to force herself not to squirm. Unfortunately that combination of bedroom eyes and the physique of a Greek god was making it hard for her to think.

Jackson pushed himself upright and sauntered into the room. “That’s Trace’s computer you were fondling, and frankly, I don’t think Trace has ever played a game in his life. But you already knew that. I heard rumors about the government experiments, but I thought they terminated all of you years ago. How come you’re still alive?”

My goodness, he was tall! Of course at five feet nothing, she was used to looking up at people. It didn’t help that she was finding it harder to concentrate with every step he took toward her. She took a deep breath. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve lived on the streets as long as I can remember. All the government has ever done for me is chase me away and make it hard to stay alive. And I was not fondling the computer!” At least not much. He obviously had an overactive imagination. “And how would I know anything about Trace’s preferences? I thought all you geeky type guys were gamers. I’ve barely been here a week, and I’m still trying to sort you all out. Which one is Trace?”

He stopped right beside her, forcing her to tilt her neck backward to look up into his eyes. “Trace is our resident bloodhound. Tall, shaggy black hair, resembles a grouchy bear most days? Ring a bell? Set him onto something or someone and he’ll follow the faintest of leads until he finally tracks them down. He can pull more info out of those computer banks than a buzzard pulls out of the garbage slews. I’m glad he’s on our side, because he’s one scary dude. I wonder what he’d find out if I sicced him onto you.”

Saralyn did a mental tally of the men on Kaeden’s team of mercenaries. Yes, she knew which one was Trace. That description was amazingly accurate. Then again, all of them were scary dudes, although she’d never admit that to them. Living on the run all these years had taught her that any sign of weakness would bring the predators swarming in for the kill. She highly doubted he would find anything of interest on her, though. Her life, for as long as she could remember, had consisted of an ongoing struggle to stay alive and find enough to eat. It was the second part of the statement that intrigued her. “So this Trace can find stuff? Or people?”

Jackson nodded, his eyes narrowing. “If anyone can find it, Trace can. Why? There something in particular you need to find?”

Saralyn opened her mouth, and was amazed to find herself telling the truth. Trust was a foreign concept and if a person knew what was important to her, they could use it against her. She had no reason to trust Jackson.

“Not something. Someone. I’m looking for my brother. At least, I think he’s my brother.” She sighed, her gaze fixed on the mosaic tiles on the floor. That sounded dumb. Explaining herself was another foreign concept, and yet with this man it felt right. “I don’t remember a lot about my early childhood, but there’s this one really vivid memory of me and him running away from some guys in uniform. I was real small, always have been. He hid me in a dumpster and ran the other way, leading the enforcers away from me. I’m not sure why but I know they were going to kill me if they found me. They were hollering that we stole something from them, but I don’t remember what. Probably food.” In this ravaged world, stealing from the government goons was punishable by immediate execution. “Anyway, that’s the last time I saw him. He never came back for me and I’ve been on my own ever since. I realize there’s a good chance he didn’t survive, but I need to know. If he’s alive and out there, I want to find him. He risked his own life to save mine. I can’t let it go until I find out what happened that day. Somehow, I’m sure it’s the key to a lot of weird things in my life.”

There might be a hint of sympathy sparkling in the depths of the mercenary’s dark eyes, but it was overshadowed by suspicion. He didn’t believe her. For once in her life, she’d told the pure unadulterated truth, and he didn’t believe her. That really stung.

Whatever! She didn’t need him. She’d gotten this far on her own, and she’d finish on her own. She was so close. She’d find out what happened that day and she’d find her brother, if he were still alive. Tilting her head at a defiant angle, she swept past Jackson, heading for the door.

“Wait.” Jackson caught her arm. “We can help. My team can help you find your brother.”

“Why would you bother? You don’t believe me.” She spat out the accusation in cold tones.

Jackson shrugged, not looking in the least repentant. “I saw what you did with that computer and I tend to be somewhat cynical. Most mercenaries are. Hazard of the trade, but if you’re serious about finding this brother of yours our charming little band is your best bet.”

“I already have whatever was in that computer.” She might as well admit to mining the data in their computer banks. He’d caught her in the act. “If your buddies have any information, I don’t need you to give it to me.”

Jackson shrugged. “Whatever you found on the computer is a mere pittance. Trace would have buried anything important behind more firewalls than you’ve ever seen.”

What was it about this man? One look from those dark eyes and she found herself being honest with him when she hadn’t realized she knew how. This close, his scent teased her nostrils, a musky male scent that sent heat racing through her body. It had been a long time since any man had been able to elicit a response from her. Sex was a commodity, a means to getting what she wanted.

Maybe it was just hormones. Sometimes her body had an annoying tendency to let her down. She inhaled slowly, trying to identify the reason his scent had such a huge effect on her.

A quizzical frown creased the mercenary’s forehead. “Did I forget to shower or something?”

Saralyn could feel the heat stain her cheeks, and she bowed her head in embarrassment. This whole encounter was bizarre. “No. It’s just… something about you.” Why on earth had she said that? Time to get this conversation back on an impersonal footing. “You think Trace would be able to help me find my brother?”

“If anybody can find him, Trace can.” There was absolute certainly in his voice. “You want me to go wake him now, or do you think you can wait until morning?”

He was kidding, right? He’d actually go wake this Trace guy up? “I’ve been searching for years. I think it can probably wait until morning. I should probably go try to get some sleep.”

A hint of a smile curved Jackson’s lips, and he gave her a conspiratorial wink. “Yeah. That grouchy bear thing gets worse if you try to wake him up. I’ll call a team meeting after breakfast and you can tell them whatever you remember. We’re a democratic bunch -- we vote on whether or not to take a mission. For what it’s worth, I’ll put in a good word for you. And I won’t mention what I just saw. I like to see families get reunited, and it’s rare in this godforsaken place. You should go try to get some sleep now. You look tired.”

She got the feeling that he didn’t smile often, and even now it didn’t quite carry to his eyes. There was something sad lurking in the depths of those dark eyes, something almost haunted. It hit a chord hidden deep inside her. “I am, but sleep is hard to come by. Truth is, I could probably sleep forty-eight hours straight if I could just get my mind to stop running in circles.”

Jackson nodded sympathetically. “Know the feeling well.” Reaching out, he gently tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear.

His fingers brushed her cheek, sending an electric spark of awareness sizzling across the surface of her skin. She’d never felt anything like it, had never reacted to a man’s touch in such an intense way. She turned her face into the palm of his hand, sucking a deep breath into her lungs as she wordlessly asked for more.

Time slowed as Jackson lowered his head and brushed an achingly sweet kiss across her lips. Heat ignited deep within her, blazing to life at the instant of contact. Eyes closed, she savoured the sweet, sensual caress of his mouth as it moved across hers. He was incredibly gentle, barely touching her and yet she yearned for more. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and hold him close, meld her body with his, remove the clothing that kept them from joining, skin to skin.

What the hell? She’d never reacted to a man’s touch like this. She was cool. Calm. Always in control. This man was a danger to everything she’d ever learned in the harsh world of the streets. There, letting anyone get too close was dangerous, possibly fatal. And yet…

Jackson straightened up, his body withdrawing, leaving her feeling cold and bereft. She had to restrain herself from reaching out to pull him back to her.

“Sleep well, my little flower.” Soft as a feather duster, his voice soothed her ragged nerves, calming her down as nothing else could. He turned, gliding out of the room in perfect silence, leaving her to stare at his retreating back in bewilderment.

What was it about this man?

* * *

Jackson forced himself to keep walking, not looking back. Saralyn touched him in a way no women had ever managed, thawing that corner of his heart that he thought he’d lost when his family had been massacred all those years ago.

BOOK: Running Scared (Mercenaries)
7.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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