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What do you like about Alpha males? Or do you like the more gentle Beta male? For myself, I like a healthy mix of the two. I love the gentle side of a beta, but than given the right circumstances that same Beta male becomes an Alph to protect the women and people he loves.
In Shrouded in Mystery, I put John Davenport into extraordinary circumstances. Normally, he’s a gentle, kind, caring to the people he loves. Then the life of the woman he loves, forces him to act.
Hunched over Sharon Spalding’s desk, John slowly closed her top drawer. A noise, short and faint, carried through the building and into the office. John snapped off his penlight, straightened and glanced over his shoulder at the blackened doorway leading into the hall.
Must be the wind hitting the shattered window and damaged wall.
Earlier, using the cloud filled night as camouflage, he’d searched the outside premises of Sharon’s political headquarters for a way to bypass the building’s security system. Suspecting the window at the back of the building, too small for a human body to slip through, lacked an alarm, John had broken the glass. He’d used the gap as leverage and pulled the brick and cement from the wall. Then careful of his formal dinner suit and winter jacket he wore for later in the evening, he’d slipped through the opening and found himself in a restroom.
John froze. A scrape. A small shuffle. No. Not the wind. Something far different.
Glancing to the files on Sharon’s desk, John decided to leave them for now. He crept across the carpeted floor and listened over the pounding of his heart.
Breathing. A footstep.
John moved into the hall, which led to the back of the building. Up ahead lay a doorway and deeper shadows, but John remembered walking through a luncheon area. Alert now, he peered into the darkness and focused past the doorway. Separating and deciphering the shadows from each other, he made out a counter across the wall, a microwave and the edge of a chrome table and chair.
But no movement.
He inched further down the hall, hearing the rustle of clothing, a harsh whisper, quick, agitated breathing. A person stood behind the partially opened back door.
“Someone’s broken in.”
John froze. He’d heard that voice before.
“You should see the wall,” the man whispered. “It looks like someone took a chainsaw to the thing. It’s got to be him. Who else? I’m not going inside—”
The person must be on a cell phone; John didn’t detect anyone else as he moved across the lunchroom. And that voice…
“Well, what if it’s him?” The man swore under his breath. “Yeah, okay, okay. You’ve made your point.”
John edged along the wall and closer to the back entrance.
“All right, all ready.” The man muttered another four-letter word. “I’ll deal with everything here, but you said yourself that you’d take care of your end tonight. We all know the scientist’s hard to kill off, but she isn’t.”
Each word, each syllable whispered into the room but screamed into John’s brain. John clutched the wall. Horror slammed into him, splintering his thoughts, numbing his limbs, and crushing his chest with the sheer weight of it.
They planned on killing Katherine tonight.
The door eased open. A man stepped inside.
Still off-balance at the man’s words, John reacted slowly, awkwardly. He pushed off the wall with the heel of his hand.
The intruder turned. John instantly recognized him as the man in Spalding’s house the day he’d stolen inside the estate. Jason, he recalled—Spalding’s weak chinned, hooked-nosed henchman, a tall, bony man, who didn’t look like he’d be physically capable of harming a microorganism, never mind a person.
John glanced down and sucked in air.
The other man held a gun. John quickly changed his mind. The creep looked very capable of harming someone.
Jason fired. A flash of light. The smell of gunpowder. The bullet arrowed toward John.
Twisting, John pivoted to the side, dodging the bullet by mere centimeters. Then he lunged toward the other man.
In alarm, Jason’s mouth gaped open. John hit him in the face with a fist. The man’s mouth sagged wider, and the gun flew out of his hand. John caught the weapon in mid-air and watched Jason crumble into an ungainly heap on the floor.
After John set the gun down on the counter behind him, he glanced back to Spalding’s weak-chinned henchman. Jason hadn’t moved. John nudged him with a toe, but the man still didn’t stir. Realizing he might have actually killed him, John hunched down by the body and checked for a pulse.
Yes. Definitely there.
John exhaled. He didn’t want murder on his conscious, but he did want the creep alive and awake. The bastard knew tonight’s plans. John needed that information.
Hunching down, mindful of the power in his hand, he gently slapped the man’s cheek. Head lulling to one side, Jason remained unconscious.
John sprang to his feet, grabbed a glass in one of the cabinets and filled it with tap water. He tossed the contents into the creep’s face. Not even a flicker of movement.
Glaring down at Jason, he brushed his hair back from his brow. He was wasting time. He couldn’t stay here indefinitely with Katherine across town with a killer.
He rummaged through the drawers, found some thick, durable packing tape, and bound Jason’s ankles and wrists behind his back. John thought of tying him even more securely in case Jason managed to get free and go running to Spalding, but he didn’t dare waste another minute.
John dropped the tape’s empty cardboard ring by the discarded cell phone. Something—a hunch, instinct, gut feeling—whatever—made him pick up the phone and scroll down its menu. He punched the button to retrieve the last received call, and then dialed the number.
He waited tensely. On the third ring, someone answered.
John frowned. The person on the other end wasn’t Spalding.
“Jason, is that you?”
He didn’t answer—even if he wanted to. Shock affixed the words to his throat.
A long, thick pause of silence followed. Then the connection died.
But John heard enough to recognize the person. And it scared the hell out of him.
Katherine and he never suspected. Never would have. They’d been so damn clueless, and now Katherine was in that house, vulnerable, unsuspecting, and blind to the truth.
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