How about a super sneak peek excerpt from the final PHANTOM CORPS novel, CAPTIVATED?
PHANTOM CORPS: CAPTIVATED by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2012, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing May 2012
Weary to his bones, Julian rolled from the bed it seemed like he’d only just fallen into. People had come in. Vincenz’s voice was clear.
But his normally calm, metered tone had sharpened. Odd.
Pulling on pants, Julian moved toward the talking, pausing to button and zip at the doorway. Across the large space, Vincenz stood, holding an apparently unconscious woman as he argued with two soldiers, one a med-tech. The woman’s hands were bandaged and her clothes, obviously borrowed, swallowed her body.
“I said no. I promised her I’d stay with her. She’s going to be right here.” Vincenz forced his way past two Federation soldiers and into a room just off the main comm and command center of the house.
“She needs to be debriefed. We can take her to a med center where she’ll get real help. We need to know what she knows.” The soldier spread his hands, totally reasonable.
But the look on Vincenz’s face was not. He was so fierce, Julian stepped forward to intercede. To offer his force to make whatever Vincenz wanted happen.
“What’s going on?”
Vincenz put her down carefully and turned back to Julian. “This is Hannah. They kept her in a lab for nearly a standard year in almost total isolation. She’s . . . she’s fragile. And deathly afraid of doctors right now. I’m sure you can understand that.” Vincenz turned his attention back to the med-tech.
“We can keep her under at least while we check her over. Operative Cuomo, she’s clearly malnourished and emotionally unstable. You’re not equipped to handle that.”
Vincenz got in the med-tech’s physical space and used it to push him back. “I told you not to approach! It’s your own fault and now she’s injured and her emotional state worse. You can examine her here. Now. I’m not leaving the room either.”
“Are you saying I’d hurt her?” The soldier’s features broadcast just what he thought of that accusation.
Vincenz batted it away just as angrily. “No. I’m saying I’m not going to let you make it worse. I made a promise to her and I don’t break my promises. I’m staying because she wants it that way, not because I think you’d molest her in some way.”
With a glare, the soldier took up his medical bag and got to work. Vincenz moved to the doorway, watching, his side touching Julian’s.
“Hey.” Julian wanted to kiss Vincenz just then. But they were on duty. But after . . . when the soldiers left, then he’d get that kiss and more.
Vincenz gave him a smile and Julian forgot some of his troubles. “I’m glad you’re here. When did you get back?”
“Daybreak.” And then he’d sat in the shower, hoping he could wash it all away. The water had gone cold and he still couldn’t get the stench out of his nostrils. “What happened?” He tipped his chin toward the woman on the bed.
“Andrei and Piper are on their way to the Center. Kenner . . . her brother Kenner is dead. He was killed on the roof of the lab where I found Hannah.”
Both men looked toward the woman on the bed and the soldier who’d slid her shirt open, carefully using his diagnostics on her. “A year?”
Vincenz nodded. “When I found her she was in a corner, rocking. Not quite filthy, but it was clear she had to make due with wet cloths. Though, that she took the care to try to stay clean speaks to how strong she is. She wouldn’t let go of me, but even in the middle of a firefight she held it together. She’s a survivor.”
Julian looked at the curve of her cheeks. Pretty. Too thin, but with some time to recuperate, she’d be better. He hoped. Then again, he wasn’t sure there was such a thing as recuperation anymore.
“What happened to her hands?”
Vincenz huffed a sigh. “I told them to back off, but they persisted. They wanted to interview her right there at the portal station. Gods. She was holding on to me and then sort of wrapped her hands up in the straps of my pack. They pulled at her. She screamed.” His voice broke. “She screamed and screamed and screamed as they pulled at her. I kept telling them to stop. Finally they used a sedative and before she went under she looked at me like I’d done it to her. Her hands were bloody from where she’d tried to hang on.” He scrubbed his hands over his face and Julian heard the ache in his voice.
Today’s prize is a signed copy of MESMERIZED! The winner will be chosen from the comments to this post. What books are you most looking forward to in 2012?