Trace wants Winter, and he’s not a man to take no for an answer.
Winter remembers all about the insanity of life as a lab rat, but what she doesn’t know is how she got there. Given the mess she’d made out of her life up to this point, she needs to find the answers to her past before she can get on with her future.
Trace isn’t sure why Winter is so hung up on her past but if she plans on chasing all over the nine provinces looking for answers then it’s up to him to make sure she stays safe. And, while they’re spending all that quality time together, maybe he can convince her that he’s more than just a convenient sex partner.
Trace watched how Kalie leaned into Shotgun, as if she could actually draw tangible support from physical contact with the big sniper. A sharp pang of jealously pierced him. He wanted that. Wanted a woman to lean into him like he was the very center of her existence. If he were totally honest with himself, he wanted Winter to look at him the way Kalie looked at Shotgun, as if he were the center of her universe.
Unfortunately for him, he was too damaged, too warped by the animal DNA the Government had spliced into his own to ever find that kind of acceptance from a woman.
“We really need your help to find her.” Kalie’s voice quivered just enough to tug at his heart strings. She really cared about her adopted sister.
“Please.” Shotgun gave him one of those brother-in-arms looks guaranteed to make him feel guilty if he even considered saying no.
Trace let out an audible sigh. “So tell me the whole story. I met Winter at that pit party you dragged us to.” He had no intention of relating the details of that meeting. “She looked quite capable of taking care of herself, so why are you worried about her dropping out of sight for a day or two? Maybe she met some guy and is shacked up with him across the city. Maybe she’s having too much fun and doesn’t want to be found.” He felt his heart contract at the thought of Winter letting some other guy touch her, laugh with her, make love to her.
Kalie shook her head. “Winter would never do that. None of my sister friends would just leave without telling us where she was going. She’s in trouble, and we need to find her.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out one of the wrist-mounted com-devices that Jackson had fashioned for them all. “She took this off. Why would she do that if she were just going away for a day or two? Something is very wrong.” She let the device dangle from one finger as she chewed on her bottom lip, looking down so that she didn’t have to meet his gaze.
Ah, there was more. Trace waited patiently for her to decide to tell him the rest of the story. Kalie might be the love of Shotgun’s life, but she was a terrible liar.
Shotgun gently rubbed her shoulders and Kalie growled impatiently. “Fine. She did leave without telling us, which probably means she doesn’t want us to find her, especially since she left her com unit behind, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t in trouble. Just the opposite, in fact. The only reason she’d leave the com unit behind is because she doesn’t want us to find her, and that means she thinks finding her will put us in danger. Something’s off. I can just tell. Shotgun says you can track down anybody, especially if you have something of theirs. Please, won’t you help us find her? If she really doesn’t want us, then we’ll back off. I just want to know she’s okay. ”
The concern in her voice was real and Trace felt a rush of adrenaline flood his system. He had a very real interest in making sure Winter didn’t disappear forever into some black hole the Alliance conveniently forgot to close.
He’d fallen irrevocably in love with the elusive woman. After a lifetime of meaningless one-night stands, with women he could barely remember the next day, that brief encounter with Winter at the gravel pit had changed his life forever. He could remember not only her name, but every inch of her delightfully sexy body. He’d been keeping an eye on her from a distance ever since. He knew he should leave her alone, let her find someone normal that she could settle down and be happy with, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to forget about her.
It would be damned inconvenient if she weren’t around for him to stalk.
“Do you have any idea why she left, or where she was going?”
Kalie shook her head. “No idea at all.”
“Doesn’t really matter.” Although the information would have come in handy when he found her. “I need an item that’s been close to her, preferably skin close.”
“Here. Shotgun said this would work.” Kalie thrust out her hand, passing him what looked like a pile of material.
He took it and felt an immediate jolt of recognition. Lingerie. Kalie had just handed him one of the most intimate pieces of Winter’s clothing, unaware of what it would convey to him.
He schooled his features to their usual impassive state, doing his best to hide the brief flash of possessiveness he’d felt.
Shotgun lifted one brow, his face dead serious. “So? Do you think you can find her?”
Trace nodded, his mind far away, his senses greedily soaking up the information contained in the fabric. His senses flared out of their own accord, seeking the woman whose persona permeated the thin silken garment.
He knew her. Knew her intimately, and now he’d been given carte blanche to find her. What her friend Kalie didn’t know was that when he found her, she’d never get away again. He’d let her go once, kept a discreet distance away so she could have a chance at a normal life without him. He didn’t think it would be possible to let her go again.