Enjoy this teaser scene from the first book in the Gen-Heirs: The Guardians of Sziveria series.
Release Date: June 3, 2021
A faint creak sounded behind her. Katria snapped her head around and stared at the door to the room where she sat. Her free ear strained to hear another sound while she watched for telltale shadows that she wasn’t alone.
She let out a breath and went back to looking through the scope at the party in the house below, watching for any signs that someone suspected Kevin’s intrusion.
From her vantage point she had a clear view of the entire street, front of the house, gardens and walkway. A house staff meandered up a path lighting lamps as the last of the sun’s rays disappeared over the horizon. The party seemed to be going smoothly enough for her to relax some. She crossed her legs and rested her rifle on the floor in front of the window. When Kevin gave the word he was on the way out, she’d reengage.
A board creaked, sharper, closer. Katria sucked in air. That was definitely not a rodent. She lifted her rifle and swung around as a groaning man, eyes rimmed red, drool flowing from his slack mouth, shuffled into the room. At one time he appeared to have been a builder, if the simple canvas pants, suspenders and long-sleeve shirt were any indication. Fingers twitching at his sides, his feet lumbered in heavy boots unevenly, his sole purpose now to find a victim. Gone was the man he’d once been.
Katria suppressed the urge to scream and reached for her mic button. The movement made the infected man notice her. He charged, fast. His weight slammed her into the rotting wall between the windows. The thin plaster caved beneath the force, splintering into the air around her. Brick and pieces of broken wood bit into her back.
All her strength focused on keeping him at arm’s length. His power was no longer his own, driven by the virus’s impulses. She’d seen how this story played out far too many times. It took all her mental fortitude not to panic. If his gnashing mouth bit or even touched any part of her flesh, she’d be suffering the same fate within two weeks’ time.
The diseased man pressed closer until her biceps burned and trembled with the effort to keep him away. Terror ate at her and she cried out. Sweat dotted her forehead and slid between her breasts. The only choice she had was to somehow kick him far enough away to reach one of her pistols under the window, which would send her to the ground, more vulnerable than she was now.
“Something’s not right,” Kevin’s voice said across the coms. “He’s not in his room and I’m looking at an itinerary. The meeting is happening now. Over.”
“Say again, over,” Sean replied.
“We were given the wrong information. The trade meeting was scheduled for tonight, not tomorrow. Over.”
“Get out of there. Kat, did you copy?” When she didn’t respond, Sean said again, “Kat, do you copy?”
Katria gave another cry of distress as her body strained to keep the infected at bay. Teeth gnashed too close to her face. Twitching fingers attempted to grab at her with uncoordinated movements. The stench of sickness and rot made breathing difficult. Stuck, without much hope, she couldn’t stop a tear from sliding down her cheek. How was she going to escape?
The silence on the other end of the radio made Sean’s heart thump too hard. He didn’t waste another second. Jumping off the carriage, he bolted across the street. The side door into the building Kat occupied hung open, and he slipped in on a soundless stride. Adrenaline flowing through his veins, he took the stairs two at a time, sliding across the dusty landings. He wanted to call out. To hear her voice. To know she was okay. But if she wasn’t, he didn’t want to alert anyone waiting.
Just a coms failure he assured himself to keep calm.
When he reached the seventh floor, he unsheathed his knife and entered the quiet hall on light feet. He did a quick visual search and saw no one else on the floor, at least not in the hallway. A strained shout from a center room told him where to go, and that she wasn’t alone. He pressed his back to the wall beside the door and glanced in. Cornered into the wall, Kat attempted to keep her assailant at bay. Sean let out a curse as he took in the man’s thin frame, disheveled clothes and his sharp snapping of teeth.
He vaulted into the room. The second he reached the attacker, he grabbed a handful of greasy hair and yanked. “Move! Now!”
The infected man jolted back. Sean dropped the knife and broke the man’s neck with a rapid twist. Kat landed on the floor with a heavy thump. She quickly scooted away, the body slumping near her legs in a loose pile of flesh and bone. Sean grabbed the lifeless zombie by the arm and dragged it to the center of the room.
“Are you okay?” He knelt beside Kat and looked her over, examining her arms, turning her wrists. He took her chin in his hand and lifted her jaw, checking her throat.
“I’m fine,” she said, breathless. “He didn’t get to me.”
Before he could stop himself or even realize what he was doing, Sean gathered her into his arms and held her tight to his chest. Trembling, she wrapped her arms around him. His hand smoothed down the long length of her braided hair as relief flowed through him. Little chunks of grainy plaster fell through his fingers to the floor.
“You’re okay,” he assured himself more than her.
“I checked… I don’t understand. I did a search, Sean. This floor was empty. And… the infected don’t have the cognitive skills to climb stairs. H-how did he get in?”
Sean pulled back, his hand still resting in her hair. “I don’t know. You didn’t hear anything?”
“Just a board creak. I thought it was a rat, and then I heard another, and that’s when he…” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “That’s when he came in.”
“Maybe he was in a closet. They can still open doors.”
She shook her head. “No, I searched everywhere.”
“Okay,” he spoke in a calm tone to subdue her rising panic. He rested his chin on top of her head. “What does that leave?”
Her fingers tightened on his back. “That someone is as skilled in covert missions as we are, and dropped an infected man onto my floor to kill me?”
Every muscle in her frame went rigid. He sat back on his heels and took her face in his palms. “They didn’t succeed. You are fine. And if they sent in a zombie for a man, it’s because they knew they couldn’t best you. They would fail.”
She nodded, her lips parting, and Sean made the mistake of focusing on them. For three years he’d avoided becoming personal with her unless absolutely necessary, such as needing an accurate gauge of her mood, or treating her for an injury as the teams Medical Science Officer. Now he found himself inches from her mouth, his fingers smoothing across the soft angles of her jaw and neck. He moved closer, the slightest shift of his weight. She didn’t pull away. In fact, her anticipation tingled through his fingertips, settling in his blood, urging him to act on the compelling need to kiss her.
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