As the New York Times bestselling author of the Troubleshooters series and a "superstar of romantic suspense" (USA Today), Suzanne Brockmann has an acclaimed history of taking readers' breath away with her novels of hot passion and high adventure. Now she takes her talent for sexy, action-packed storytelling in a thrilling new direction: forward--into a future, both fantastic and frightening, that only the brilliant Brockmann could envision.
Dishonorably discharged, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin is down to his last ten bucks when he finally finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, a little-known and believed-to-be-fringe scientific research facility. When he enters the OI compound, he is plunged into a strange world where seemingly mild-mannered scientists--including women half his size--can kick his highly skilled ass.
Shane soon discovers that there are certain individuals who possess the unique ability to access untapped regions of the brain with extraordinary results--including telekinesis, super strength, and reversal of the aging process. Known as "Greater-Thans," this rare breed is recruited by OI, where they are rigorously trained using ancient techniques to cultivate their powers and wield them responsibly.
But in the depths of America's second Great Depression, where the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown even wider, those who are rich--and reckless--enough have a quick, seductive alternative: Destiny, a highly addictive designer drug that can make anyone a Greater-Than, with the power of eternal youth. The sinister cartel known as The Organization has begun mass-producing Destiny, and the demand is epidemic. But few realize the drug's true danger, and fewer still know the dirty secret of Destiny's crucial ingredient.
Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie knows the ugly truth. And as one of the Obermeyer Institute's crack team of operatives, she's determined to end the scourge of Destiny. But her kick-ass attitude gets knocked for a loop when she finds that one of the new test subjects is none other than Shane, the same smoldering stranger who just rocked her world in a one-night stand. Although Shane isn't a Greater-Than like Mac, as an ex-SEAL, he's got talents of his own. But Mac's got powerful reasons to keep her distance from him--and reasons that are just as strong to want him close. She's used to risking her life, but now, in the midst of the ultimate war on drugs, she must face sacrificing her heart.
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March 20, 2012
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Excerpt from Born to Darkness (with bonus short story Shane's Last Stand) by Suzanne Brockmann
The man had taken his own family hostage.
Mac Mackenzie could feel the fear and hear the joker's wife and three children crying as she quickly scaled the side of the house, all the way up to the roof. Her destination was a small third-�floor window, around the back, that was open a crack.
Stephen Diaz's evenly modulated voice came through her radio headset as he and their team leader, Dr. Joseph Bach, waited on the ground below. "Whenever you're ready."
Subtext: Tick tock, bitch. We're waiting on you. . . .
Although, okay. The bitch was her own embellishment.
In the entire twelve years that Mac had known Diaz, he'd never once addressed her with anything other than respect. Including the night--�a long time ago--�when she'd embarrassed them both by planting herself, naked, in his bed.
Here and now, Mac didn't bother to answer him. She just quickly and soundlessly crossed the rain-�slicked roof--�which was actually slate.
No doubt about it, someone who spent a truckload of cash on the freaking roof of their house in these trying times had money to burn. And/or money to buy expensive illegal drugs--�especially the kind that came with the claim that the user would live forever.
Yeah, that whole never die, always look twenty promise that the drug oxyclepta di-�estraphen--�known by its street name, Destiny--�brought to the table was hard for a lot of people to turn down. Especially those who already had all of the cars and fancy houses and pairs of shoes that their billions of dollars could buy.
Although it wasn't always the case that the addicts she and Bach and Diaz helped contain were �ber-�wealthy. Some of them had been using the needle for so long that they'd sold off everything in their lives that had any kind of value. Homes, cars, exotic pets. Yachts, jewelry, designer clothing--�none of it worth more than a miniscule fraction of its original price in this craphell economy.
Except for their weapons.
These days, a Smith & Wesson or a SIG Sauer--�even in shitty condition--�was worth more to most people than a Beemer. Especially considering the skyrocketing price of gas.
But eventually the frequent fliers even sold off their guns and ammo, and the cash went into a vein. But damn, they sure looked good, because Destiny gave them youth and good health, as long as you could ignore the whole violent addiction thing. Although looking hot didn't prevent them from accidentally ODing or worse: hitting the joker-�point and going noisily insane.
Some users jokered earlier than others--�like their current hostage-�taker, who apparently still had enough money to keep the heat on and the lights burning in this three-�story mansion here in the richie-�richest part of one of Boston's few remaining still-�posh 'burbs.
"Okay, I'm finally there," Mac breathed into her lip microphone, knowing that everything she told Diaz would be heard by Dr. Bach, too, even though their leader didn't wear a headset. She dipped her head down over the edge of the roof to get a peek into that partially open window. As they'd suspected, it led into a small bathroom. The shade was up and the light that spilled through came from a fancy fixture out in the third-�floor hallway. She reached over and unfastened the screen, pulling it from its frame. "Status?"
"All inhabitants are still on the second floor," Diaz informed her. "In the master bedroom. Dr. Bach thinks our guy's dosing again. What are you picking up? And please don't do it if you can't block the fear."
Fear and confusion from the family was a given. And since, in this case, there were four of them, that fear was a powerful force that left a strangely metallic taste in Mac's mouth when she lowered her mental shields enough to let it in. But three were children, and even though she didn't know for sure, she would bet her life savings on the fact that at least two were under the age of ten. Because, from them, she felt a still-�strong blast of hope. This can't be happening. Daddy loves us--�this must be a mistake. . . .
As for their joker . . .
"I got some serious no-�fear from our guy," Mac reported to Diaz. "Just a shitload of rage." She sent the window screen silently flying, like a giant Frisbee, well into the neighbor's yard. "Beneath that? Jealousy, to the point of hatred. He's gone."
"We believe he's double-�dosing in an attempt to read his wife's mind," Diaz reported. "Dr. Bach's picking up signs of the vill's increasing telepathic power, but it's bouncing all over the place."
"Maybe he'll do us all a favor and OD," Mac said as she reached down again and pulled up on the bottom half of the double-�hung window.
The damn thing jammed.
True, she wasn't in the best position to muscle it up, hanging over the edge of the roof with virtually no leverage.
And even if she got it open all the way, it was still freaking small--�just as narrow as they'd all imagined it would be from down on the ground.
And that was why she'd been sent up here instead of Diaz, who was nearly twice her size. Usually, she backed up Dr. Bach as he made a first-�floor entry, while Diaz climbed the outside walls and gained access through an upper-�floor window, easily unlocking and opening it with his mind.
But every other window in this Victorian monster of a house was painted tightly shut. And not even their esteemed leader Dr. Bach had the power to break that kind of seal without making a shitload of noise.
Of course, there were times when a shitload of noise came in handy. Sometimes this kind of takedown went more quickly and easily when she and Diaz followed Bach's command to use good old shock and awe. Forget gaining entry by breaking the hundred-�and-�fifty years of paint that glued the windows shut. Just combine their mental powers to blow all of the glass out of the entire structure while flames erupted from the air-�conditioning vents, balls of lightning exploded from every power outlet, and every piece of furniture in the place got up and danced.
Out-�freak the frequent flier.
But this time, Bach didn't want to go that way, and Bach knew best.
And that wasn't Mac being snarky, that was Mac being real. Dr. Joseph Bach did know best. She wouldn't be a member of his weird little freak-�show commando team if she didn't believe that with all of her heart and soul.
She strained to move the window, trying to gain traction on the slippery roof.
"Need help?" Diaz's voice murmured in her ear, just as she finally pushed the window back down and got it realigned.
It went up much easier now.
"Thanks," she said as she rearranged herself, preparing to slip inside.
"That wasn't me," he said.
"I was talking to Dr. Bach," Mac came back. "I'm good to go. Anything else I should know?"
"Joker's name was Nathan Hempford," Diaz replied. "That's all we've got."