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Shadow game (Chapter Seventeen)

"DAMN it, Lily, I just killed a man. I liked him. I've been to his parents' home. What the hell did you want me to do?" Ryland was pacing back and forth, raw, pent-up emotion boiling to the surface and spilling out, making his voice harsh. "He was a good soldier. A good person. I don't know what the hell happened to him." He was remembering Russell Cowlings and the memories hurt.

He couldn't look at her, couldn't see the horror in her eyes again. Resolutely he kept his back to her as he paced the length of her bedroom and back again. Lily was still running her bath, her velvet cloak thrown carelessly over the back of the stuffed armchair. Her sexy red gown was in a heap on the floor. He snatched it up and crushed the material in his hands. "You could have been killed, Lily. He could have killed you. I let him go the first time because I was worried what you might think. Damn it." The words exploded out of him. "I'm good at what I do. You can't just look at me with accusation and shake me up so I can't function. Do you have any idea what would have happened if he had gotten away? I put all the men in danger to keep from killing him in front of you." He hoped that was true. He wished it were true. If it wasn't, it meant he had hesitated because Cowlings had been a friend. And that was a bad, bad thing. Either way he deserved the whip in Nicolas's voice.

Lily pinned her hair up and stepped into the hot bathwater, praying it would help unlock the muscles knotting in her leg. Her shoulder throbbed where Cowlings had made contact in his leap on the stairway and she knew she had a terrible bruise there. She hadn't bothered to check; tears were running down her face and she doubted she would even see her image in the mirror. She ached for Ryland. Felt his pain. Felt how sick he was and how angry at himself. He was yelling at her, but she knew his fierce rage was really directed at himself.

Steam rose around her as Lily forced her body into the hot water. She couldn't comfort him. She couldn't think of any way to take away his pain. He had reached out to her when her father had been murdered. He had been there when she found out she had been an experiment. She could only sit in a gigantic marble Jacuzzi filled with hot steamy water, crying and wondering why someone with her brain didn't have a clue what to do.

"Lily?" Ryland rested his hip against the bathroom door-jamb, her gown still crumpled in his hand. She hadn't looked at him once since they'd raced out of the hotel. Not one single time, as if she couldn't bear the sight of him. She couldn't have hurt him more if she'd plunged a knife in his gut. "You might as well just understand something right here and now. This is what I do, what I've been trained to do, damn it!"

She didn't look at him, staring straight ahead. Ryland stepped closer. He was going to have an ulcer before he ever got a commitment out of her. He could see the ugly black and purple bruise forming high up on the back of her shoulder. "Are you listening to me?" The harsh rage was gone from his voice. "I'm not letting you go because you saw me doing something that was necessary. You may as well know I won't. It's a stupid reason for you to give up on us." He brought the red material up to his face, rubbed it against his jaw. He wasn't going to lose her.

Ryland had no idea how it had happened or when it had happened, but she was so firmly entrenched in his heart, in his soul, he couldn't breathe without her. When she still didn't answer, just sat there with steam curling her hair and tears falling into the water, he sighed heavily, the anger draining out of him. "Don't cry, honey. I'm sorry I had to kill him." His voice was very low and controlled. "Please stop crying, you're tearing my heart out."

"Get a clue! I'm not crying because you had to kill him, Ryland. I'm sorry he's dead, but he was trying to kill us both. I'm crying for you. I have no idea how to help you." Embarrassed, she threw water on her face to cover the tears.

He was silent, studying her averted face. "This is all for me? You're crying for me?" That was what she did. Turned him inside out with a few sentences. What was he going to do with her? "Lily, don't do that. You don't need to cry for me." Where his stomach had been in hard knots, now there was a warm glow. He felt like she'd handed him a Christmas present. No one had shed tears for him in a long time.

Lily heard the note in his voice. Happiness. She felt it in the room in spite of the weight of the guilt he was feeling. That little note allowed her to breathe again.

She turned her head to look at him over her shoulder. Her long lashes were spiked. Beads of water ran down her soft skin, to the tips of her breasts. In spite of the bruises, she was an alluring sight sitting there. Her hair tumbled and curled in the steam. Water bubbled and brushed lovingly at her body. She took his breath away. Stole his heart. She cried for him.

"I can't think when you look like that, Lily. Why did you have to be so beautiful?" He didn't mean physical beauty, but he couldn't separate one from the other. He was sick at heart with what he'd done. He didn't think the blood of a friend could ever be washed from his hands but somehow her tears had managed to do it. Ryland stared at her, in the middle of what looked like a crystal palace, a princess he didn't deserve but was going to keep.

"I wish I was beautiful, Ryland. You make me feel beautiful." Her vivid blue gaze drifted moodily over his rugged features. "How could you think I would blame you for saving our lives? I feel what it cost you. I felt it when you did it."

"I saw your face. You wanted to save him." He blinked away the tears burning unexpectedly in his eyes. His throat felt raw with pain.

"I saw yours. I wanted to save him for you." She reached out her hand to him. Waited until he took her fingers and settled on the edge of the Jacuzzi tub. "We're connected somehow. And you're right. It doesn't matter if my father found a way to manipulate the attraction between us, I'm grateful you're in my life."

Ryland brought her hand to his mouth, nibbled on her fingers, resisting the urge to gather her close. She humbled him with her generosity. "Does your shoulder hurt?" He leaned forward to brush a kiss against the vicious bruise.

"I'm fine, Ryland. What about your ribs? Arly said he cleaned the scratch but you know knife wounds are notorious for infections." She sounded anxious, not at all his perfectly calm Lily.

He knelt beside the tub, reached beneath the bubbling water for her calf. He began a slow, deep massage, working her knotted muscles with infinite gentleness. "Don't worry, Arly scrubbed it with some kind of foul-smelling stuff he called bug juice. It burned like hell. Nothing could be alive, not even the tiniest germ."

"When I was a child, he swore by that stuff. I think he makes it up in the laboratory like the proverbial mad scientist. Every time I fell down, he swabbed it over my knees and turned my skin a very ugly shade of purple."

Ryland laughed. "That's the stuff, all right." He felt her wince beneath his massaging fingers and gentled his touch even more. "Tell me about Ranier. What do you think?"

"He was telling me the truth," Lily said. "I was so relieved. I've known him most of my life and I'm not certain I could have taken it if he had been involved in a plot against my father. Apparently, he received none of the messages my father sent him. Not his letters, or his emails, and not the phone calls. Interestingly enough, the general's aide is a brother to Hilton, the man Colonel Higgens sent to keep an eye on me." She reached under the water, gripped his wrist. "General Ranier was suddenly very worried, as if he were connecting dots to something. I think there's been a security leak for a while and he's suddenly putting two and two together."

"Maybe. If there's been a problem with a leak, they wouldn't advertise it. The investigation would be internal. No one would suspect Colonel Higgens. His record is impeccable.

I certainly preferred in the beginning to believe it was your father betraying us all. And General McEntire… it's still difficult to believe that he would be involved in selling out his country. It's a nightmare, Lily. This entire thing has been a nightmare."

"Do you think Cowlings was a plant? Someone Colonel Higgens placed in the program? I remember when I read his file, he scored low on most of the criteria for psychic ability. I thought he was allowed in because Dad wanted to see if the enhancement would work on someone with little or no natural talent. And it did."

Her voice had slipped back into her professional, completely interested tone. Ryland knew immediately the discussion had gone from personal to clinical. Instead of annoying him, it made him want to smile. "He might not have been telepathic, but he certainly was able to take command of an inanimate object. That was really great."

"Lily, you did destroy your father's original notes on the experiment, didn't you? He wouldn't want it repeated."

The cramps in her leg were slowly beginning to ease under his ministration and the hot water. Lily breathed a sigh of relief and sank deeper into the bubbles. "Dad thought the experiment failed," she pointed out.

"Only at first," he said calmly. His fingers itched to shake her. "He suspected someone had sabotaged it and he still felt strongly enough to tell you to get rid of his work. You have to honor that, Lily. You can keep the tapes of the exercises in case you need them for the other women when we track them down, but the rest of it, you have to destroy so this is never repeated."

"It was brilliant, Ryland." She sat forward, her blue gaze alive with interest. "What he did was totally brilliant from a purely scientific standpoint."

"I volunteered, Lily, the men and I, but you and the other little girls had no choice. What Peter Whitney did to you was totally wrong from a humanitarian standpoint." Ryland's strong fingers encircled her ankle, gave her a little shake. "Think how you felt, Lily, seeing those little girls. Seeing yourself. Think how those women feel now and what they must have gone through all these years. And my men, how they are going to have to guard themselves for the rest of their lives to keep from ending up in an institution. Yes, from the standpoint of a military operation, with the help you're giving us now, the experiment may have been a success. It was very cool, by the way, to be able to divide my energy and fight Russell Cowlings even while I was working with the other side of my brain. But the point is, we have to function as a group. Those without an anchor to draw the excess energy away from them are always going to have problems living a normal life."

"I know, I know. But Ryland…"

His grip tightened. "There are no buts, Lily. These men and the women deserved a normal life. They want families. They have to support those families. They don't have your money and this fancy house to help provide a sanctuary for them to live in. I can't believe you're even contemplating the idea to continue."

Lily gave a small sigh. "I'm not, Ryland. I'm really not. I can't help but find it interesting and rather brilliant." She ducked her head. "I can hardly bear the thought of giving up anything that was my father's. Especially his handwritten notes. They make me feel like he's still here with me."

His hand tangled in her hair. "I'm sorry, Lily. I know it hurts to lose a parent. You didn't have a mother and I didn't have a father. We're going to make interesting parents when we have children."

She laughed, dispelling the shadows in her eyes. "I wouldn't know the first thing about children."

Ryland leaned over the edge of the tub to kiss the top of her head. "That's all right, honey, you can always get books off the internet."

Lily glared at him. "Very funny. Those books were very informative."

"I'm not complaining." The smile faded from his face. "I'm sorry about Russell Cowlings, Lily. Nicolas was right, you know. I could have ended it immediately, when I first had my hands on him. I let him go. I kept thinking about his parents, about the way he was in training. And I kept thinking about how you might not forgive me for making a kill. I didn't want it to end that way. Instead, I put you in danger." He caressed her bruised shoulder lightly. "He would never have hurt you like this if I had just done my job."

"I'm glad it bothered you, Ryland. If it was easy for you, that's when I'd worry." Lily yawned, tried to cover it with her hand.

"Come on, honey," he responded immediately. "Let's go to bed. We can figure this all out in the morning. Is your leg feeling better?"

Lily nodded. "Much better, thanks." She shut off the Jacuzzi jets and stepped out, seating herself on the tiled bench to towel off.

Ryland took the towel out of her hands and performed the task with long slow strokes, rubbing away the small tempting beads of water. "I wish I could supply proof to General Ranier, but I don't have anything but conjecture at this point. That's not going to get me out of a court-martial."

Lily went very still, her eyes wide. "Maybe we do have proof, Ryland. That disk. It's still in my lab coat pocket. I hung the jacket on the peg by the door inside my office when I came back from the clinic. I didn't take any meds until I was home because I didn't trust anyone. I was hurting so bad I just came home. I wish I had remembered it at the time. How could I have forgotten something so important?"

"Maybe because someone hit you on the head and knocked you out?" he ventured.

Lily limped past him back into the bedroom, yanking open the doors to her closet. Ryland frowned as she whipped through shirts on hangers. "I've been meaning to talk to you about this closet. A family could live in it." He took the shirt she was trying to yank over her head out of her hands. "What are you doing?"

"Going to Donovans to get that tape." She pulled the shirt back to her.

"Lily, it's four o'clock in the morning. What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking Colonel Higgens isn't an idiot and when he discovers Russell Cowling's body in that alcove after he obviously sent him to watch me, Higgens will arrange a little accident or kidnapping or just plain murder at my office. If I go now, I have a chance to get that disk and get out clean. He won't be expecting me to go there. He'll be looking for a way to penetrate the security of my house or use someone I love-John, Arly, or Rosa-to get to me." She wiggled into the shirt, dragging it over her generous breasts. "This is my one chance to get the disk. He doesn't know about it."

"It's four o'clock in the morning! You don't think that might raise even a security guard's suspicions?"

She shrugged, selected a pair of slacks, and dragged them on. "I doubt it. I go there at all hours. They all think I'm a little bit crazy." She leaned over and kissed his mouth. "Don't look so worried. I know this is a calculated risk but it's worth it. Higgens doesn't know about the disk. They think the recorder with the disk in it in their possession is all there is. I don't even know if it's anything. It could be blank, but if it isn't, it might be the proof we need against Higgens. It would clear you and the others and General Ranier would have to listen."

"I don't like it, Lily."

"You'd like it less tomorrow, in the light of day when Higgens and Thornton have had a chance to regroup and plan. I know Thornton. He's drunk right now and sleeping it off at home. He's nowhere near Donovans. I'm telling you, Ryland, if we want that disk, this is our only chance to get it. Right now."

"Lily, you can hardly walk."

"Stop throwing up roadblocks when you know I'm right. There's no way I'm walking into that place a few hours from now. It's now or never." She lifted her chin. It took a tremendous amount of courage to decide to go and she didn't want to have to argue, afraid she might give in when she knew it was a necessity.

She could see the struggle on Ryland's face. He would have gone in a heartbeat, but Lily was at risk, not Ryland. She touched his arm. "You and a couple of the others can stand by to act if I need help. Cowlings was the only one we knew of who could detect telepathic communication and he's dead. If it's necessary we can use that and also turn the guards the other way so I can get out. We have to act fast, right now."

Ryland swore softly but nodded his head, knowing she was right. The disk was too important to let go. If it held any information at all, even Peter Whitney's suspicions, it was worth the risk. They would have to chance getting out from under Higgens's military guards positioned around the estate and it was growing lighter. It could be done, but it was trickier. Even Lily couldn't simply waltz outside. The guards would tip Higgens off immediately.

"I'll let Arly know we'll need the use of the vehicles he has stashed off the property." Ryland capitulated completely. "I'll round up the team."

"I'm just going to run in and come right back out. You and the others can stay here and if I need help, I'll let you know." She pulled on her watch. "Arly put a mini communicator in my watch. He can monitor me too."

Ryland called Arly to alert him, as Lily searched for a jacket. "We aren't going to wait here, honey, we have to stay close to you to be of any use." He spoke into the phone in a low voice, hung up, and turned back to her. "Don't give me any argument on this or you aren't going anywhere."

She rolled her eyes. "I just love it when you get all macho on me. You don't have to worry, Ryland. I'm afraid. I don't want you hurt, but I rather like knowing you're close by. I'm not taking any chances."

They hurried to beat the rising of the sun, going through the tunnels and once more using their combined strength to direct the guards' attention elsewhere. It was easier as the guards were much sleepier. Nicolas and Kaden jogged to the garage behind the groundsman's cabin to get out two cars. Arly drove Lily the distance to Donovans with the second car close behind, stopping a few blocks from the chain-link fence surrounding the property.

Arly stopped at the gate, looked bored as the guard shone a flashlight throughout the car and carefully checked Lily's ID. "New driver, Dr. Whitney?" he asked.

She shrugged. "My security man. Thornton and Colonel Higgens are concerned for my safety." She sounded bored, slightly irritated. "I figured it wouldn't hurt to placate them."

The guard nodded and stepped away from the car. Arly took the hot little Porsche smoothly into the parking lot and followed her directions to the block of buildings where her office was located. "I should have considered that changing drivers might make the guards suspicious with everything that's been going on around here. It's always been John driving the limousine or just me driving the Jag alone." Lily sighed. "If I say get out of here, Arly, don't argue, just go. If they get me, I don't want them to get you."

"I will, don't worry about me. You just get in and get out fast." Arly looked at her anxiously. "I mean it, Lily, straight to your office and back."

She nodded. "I promise." Her heart was in her throat. She was definitely not heroine material. At the first sign of trouble she planned to run like a rabbit. Lily glanced down at her leg. She was still limping and the leg was reacting badly. It was her own fault, dancing several dances without resting it in between. Making wild love. Running down stairs. She had forgotten to do everything necessary to keep her leg from giving out and now she was paying the price.

Lily waved at the guards, easily passing through security. She often preferred working at night just to avoid the sounds of people and the emotional turmoil and energy that always surrounded them. Now, as she heard her own footsteps echoing in the empty hall, she was fixated on the many cameras tracking her progress.

She could feel panic beginning in the pit of her stomach. A thousand butterfly wings taking flight at once. Her stomach started doing somersaults in time to the frantic beating of her heart. Even her mouth went dry as she stepped into the empty elevator and rode it down to the lower regions where her office was located.

Only the dim lights in the tracks along the center of the hall lit the interior. Spooky shadows she had never noticed before were everywhere, moving as she moved, as if following her. It seemed impossibly quiet. Lily was tempted to talk to herself for added courage.

She unlocked the door to her private office and went inside, closing it behind her. She was certain a camera must have been planted in her office, so she tried to be casual, donning her white jacket as she always did and going straight to her desk as if she had forgotten something important.

Lily began rifling through the drawers. She unlocked the lower drawers, dropping the key into the pocket of her jacket and palming the tape as she did so. It was very small, able to fit in the microrecorder. She put her hands on her hips as if frustrated, sliding the disk into the pocket of her slacks. With feigned irritation, Lily closed all the drawers, did a once-over of her desktop, dropped the key into her purse, and hung her jacket up.

No matter how many times anyone viewed the tape, she was certain they would never spot the disk or realize it even existed. With a huge sigh of relief, she jerked open the door to her office.

Hard hands struck her solidly in the chest, driving her backward so that she landed on the floor, blinking up in surprise and alarm. A stocky man who looked very much like Capt. Ken Hilton from the fundraiser stalked across the office while Colonel Higgens quietly closed the door. She knew she was looking at General Ranier's aide.

Higgens stared down at her with his cold flat gaze. "Well, well, you certainly are much more brazen than I ever gave you credit for being." He strolled across the floor, all the more menacing for his lack of anger.

Lily stared up at him, not attempting to rise, still fighting for air. She rubbed her palm over her face, then clasped her fingers together in her lap, feeling for the small catch on her watch. Pressing the button, she alerted Arly to trouble and prayed he would leave.

"You left the fundraiser early."

Lily shrugged. "I hardly think leaving early warrants your friend shoving me to the floor."

"Did you know a man was killed on the first floor of the hotel tonight?" Higgens circled around her, his shoes brushing her slacks.

"No, Colonel, I had no idea. I'm hoping there's a reason you're attempting to intimidate me, because I'm about to call the security guards in here."

Captain Hilton slapped the back of her head.

Lily glanced down at his shoes. She had seen them somewhere before. She remembered the strange inch-long scratch zigzagging along the inside near the seam. She looked up at Higgens. "I take it you're threatening me in some way."

"Don't play dumb with me. You're not dumb. You have your father's records, all of them, don't you?" Higgens continued to circle her.

Lily rubbed at her sore leg, not looking at him. "If I had the records I would have given them to Phillip, Colonel. The code my father used on the computer here and at home in his office meant absolutely nothing. Everything I read in his reports, you already had access to. The things I put together, guesses, conjecture, I passed on to General McEntire. I also typed them up and sent both you and Philip a copy. Beyond that, I have no knowledge of how my father managed to enhance psychic ability in the men."

"I don't believe you. Dr. Whitney. I think you have a very good idea how he did it and you're going to write it all up for me. The entire process."

Lily did look at him then, her eyes wide and accusing. "Do you think your friend here is going to beat me in the head and knock it out of me? If you believed I knew the process, you wouldn't touch me. You couldn't afford to."

Colonel Higgens reached down, grabbed a handful of her hair, and dragged her up. Lily fought to get her bad leg under her. Tears swam in her eyes, but she refused to cry out. She kept staring at the shoes. At the scratch. Higgens thrust her away from him so that she stumbled back against her desk.

Lily caught at the edge to steady herself. There was no way she could run even if they took their eyes off of her for a moment. Her leg was too weak. She leaned her hip on the desk to ease her weight off her bad leg. "Are you selling the information to the highest bidder, Colonel? Is that what you do? Sell out your country?"

Hilton reached out casually and slapped her. Lily swore and went straight for his throat, chopping viciously with the edge of her hand. It was so unexpected, he didn't have time to block, but fell back choking under the blow. Lily followed up with a knee to the groin, dropping him to the floor and kicking his head hard, using the outside edge of her strong leg.

At once her weak leg collapsed under her, spilling her back on the floor, right beside the writhing man. Lily rolled over and drove her fist into his solar plexus, robbing him of air. She pulled back her fist again, angry enough to go for his throat a second time, but Colonel Higgens caught her under both arms and dragged her away from the fallen man.

"Get up, Hilton," he said in disgust. "Get off the floor before I hit you myself. She's got a bum leg and she still kicked your ass."

Hilton rolled over and managed to push up to his knees, groaning the entire time.

Lily didn't struggle, allowing Higgens to help her to the desk where she sat on the edge. Her leg throbbed, already cramping viciously, but she looked at the two men without expression.

Hilton turned his head, still on his hands and knees, to glare at Lily. "I'm going to kill you with my bare hands."

Her gaze dropped to his hands, drawn by a force far more powerful than her will. She recognized his hands. Recognized his wrist. His watch. There had only been the briefest of moments, but she had seen what her father saw. Hands dragging him across the deck of a ship. A scratched shoe.

Raw energy massed in the room. Surges so powerful the lights flickered. The lamp on her desk exploded, shattering glass into fragments. Books flew off the shelves, heavy tomes hurtling through the air like missiles, pummeling Hilton. Pens and pencils, the letter opener, every sharp object in the room suddenly had one target in mind, covering the distance with blinding speed and lodging in Hilton's skin.

He went down screaming. Colonel Higgens casually drew his side arm and shot the desk inches from Lily. Shocked, she diverted her attention and the objects in the room fell harmlessly to the floor. Lily and Higgens stared at one another. He was pointing the gun right at her head.

"So, Dr. Whitney, your father obviously enhanced you too."

Lily's eyebrow arched. "He was interested in psychic enhancement and what it could do because I had natural ability. He saw what I could do and wanted to see if it could be developed to a much greater extent in others."

Hilton staggered to his feet, shuddering as he tried to pull the various objects out of his skin. Fortunately for him he was wearing a jacket that helped to keep most of the pen and pencil wounds shallow.

"Just in case you're wondering where the two hairpins that were sitting on the desk went, you'll find them in your bloodstream, winging their way to your heart," she said helpfully.

Hilton roared at her. "I'm going to cut you up into little pieces and feed you to the sharks," he snarled. He looked nearly as afraid as he did angry.

"Really? You'd better make certain you hold on to the knife while you're doing it, otherwise you're the one that will be cut into little pieces and fed to the sharks." As she spoke, her voice conversational, without rancor, she concentrated on the gun in Colonel Higgens's hand.

The hand began to tremble, the gun wavered, tried to swing around and point in Hilton's direction. She watched Hilton's eyes widen in alarm.

"Stop it, Dr. Whitney," Higgens demanded. "I need your brain, but not the rest of you. If you don't want me to shoot your leg, you'd better behave."

Lily looked away from the gun. "That was me behaving, Colonel. I wanted him dead. I should have driven the shards of glass right through his skull." She smiled at him. "Don't worry, I'm tired. Unfortunately, the drawback to a natural talent is it doesn't last that long. That's why my father wanted to enhance the psychics, to make them stronger with more endurance."

"So you did discuss this with him."

"Of course we discussed it. We discussed it for years." She tilted her head. "Did you have my father killed or did Ryland Miller?"

"Why would I want your father dead?" Higgens demanded. "I needed the process. He was being stubborn."

"You didn't offer him the right things. Where is Miller?" Her voice was as cold as ice, her blue gaze direct.

Be careful, honey. Don't go too far. He's a smart man. Ryland's voice brushed at the walls of her mind, but he sounded far away.

Lily tossed the cloud of dark hair over her shoulder. Not that smart. He had my father killed and he's using the same moron to come after me.

Damn it, Lily, don't push him too hard, it's dangerous. Ryland was adamant.

"You want Miller?" Higgens asked.

Hilton, finally managing to straighten, tossed the last of the pens to the floor and took a step toward Lily. He stopped abruptly when Higgens held up his hand in a silent order, but he never took his vengeful gaze from her face.

Lily ignored him. "If Miller killed my father, then, yes, I want him. You track him down and kill him. Show me his body and I'll give you the process. Otherwise, go ahead and kill me. You'll never figure it out on your own."

There was a small silence as the colonel thought it over. "You're a bloodthirsty woman, aren't you? I would never have guessed. You're always as cool as ice."

"He killed my father," she pointed out. "Do you know where Miller is?"

"Not yet, but he can't just disappear. I have men looking for him, We'll get him. What did Ranier say?"

"General Ranier? What does he have to do with anything?"

"You spent a great deal of time with him," Colonel Higgens said, his eyes narrowed into tiny slits.

Lily felt an instant chill down her spine. She could feel the waves of malice pouring off of Higgens. The intent of violence. She forced a casual shrug, knowing she held the general's life in her hands. "He was concerned about me. Delia wanted me to go stay with them after my father's disappearance. She hasn't been well and the general wanted me to consider the idea for her benefit as well as my own."

"Did he mention Miller?"

"I did." Lily took a chance. "I was hoping Miller had contacted him but the general didn't know anything at all that was helpful. I dropped the entire conversation because I didn't want him to become suspicious. We talked about Delia after that."

"I think for your safety, Dr. Whitney, you're going to have to be placed in protective custody. I think Miller is a real threat to you."

"My house is safe enough."

"Nobody's safe from Miller. He's a damned ghost. A chameleon. He could be in the same room with us in plain sight and we wouldn't know it. It's what he was trained for. No, you're much safer with us." The colonel nodded at Hilton.

Hilton caught Lily's hands and yanked them out in front of her, snapping handcuffs tightly around her wrists. On the pretense of checking to see if they were on solidly he jerked her wrists back and forth maliciously.

"That's enough, Hilton. Let's get out of here." Lily slid off the desk, testing her bad leg. She could limp, dragging her leg along, but it would never hold up if she had to run. With a sigh of resignation, she fell into line behind Hilton. Somewhere outside, the GhostWalkers were waiting. She hoped they were all the colonel said they were. Chameleons. Lying in wait to ambush her kidnappers.

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