Tag: Rebecca Zanetti

Review: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted June 7, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Rebel's Karma by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #13
Also in this series: Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Fated (Dark Protectors, #1), Claimed (Dark Protectors, #2), Hunted (Dark Protectors, #3), Consumed (Dark Protectors, #4), Provoked (Dark Protectors, #5), Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Shadowed (Dark Protectors, #6), Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors, #8), Demon's Mercy (Dark Protectors, #9), Alpha's Promise, Hero's Haven, Guardian's Grace
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

There’s no denying destiny . . .

For too long, Benjamin Reese has masked his deadly skills and temper with loyalty and humor. A vampire-demon hybrid, he fiercely protects his family, guards his brothers, and destroys the enemy without mercy. But when he discovers one fragile, beautiful blonde—a woman once mated to a Kurjan, no less—every primal instinct he has buried for centuries roars to life. With the mating mark she roused on his hand entwining their fates, no one will prevent him from keeping her safe and making her his, forever . . .

Or desire . . .

Karma wishes she could remember her last name. Or if she even had one. All she has in this confusing new world is a desperate duty to save the innocent. That means destroying the dark, dangerous, and desirable Benjamin Reese and everything he loves—an impossible task even before his touch arouses a passionate hunger she can’t afford. She’s certain a deadly enemy watches her every move, but it’s not until Benny kisses her that she tastes true danger…

I adore Rebecca Zanetti. I think she’s a fabulous storyteller that really pulls you in deep. Rebel’s Karma is book 13 in the Dark Protectors series. The books she’s writing now have to do with the Seven. Seven vampire/demons/vampire-demon hybrids have been chosen to keep Ulric in another dimension so he doesn’t come destroy the world.

This book was really about Karma coming into her power as a woman. She has been with the Kurjans for centuries, had even mated one. He died and now she’s only a tool for the Kurjan’s to use. When they use her to spy on Benjamin Reese, she wants to say no. She can’t. Whether she likes it or not, she lives with the Kurjans.

Benny knows that Karma has some kind of Stockholm syndrome. Except she doesn’t. She has to protect her two daughters. To do that, she has to find out more about the Seven and the Realm. She’s already heard all sorts of horror stories about the Queen of the Realm. It doesn’t take Karma long to realize that most of the things she was taught were a lie.

Benny wants nothing more than to take care of Karma. She is his mate, and he hers. But he won’t mate her when death is looming over his head. He’s sure that to stop Ulric, he will have to sacrifice himself. Benny refuses to mate because he knows he’s going to die.

One thing I appreciated was that RZ addressed what would happen if someone actually broke through an alternate dimension. Scientifically that is. It was clear that you can’t just go willy-nilly through dimensions without there being consequences. The Seven are dealing with the fallout of those consequences and have basically been exiled by the Realm.

This series keeps getting better. I like where it’s going and am really looking forward to Sam’s story. Oh, Sam.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dark Protectors

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted June 6, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I adore the Dark Protector series, especially the arc of the Seven. I’ve loved Benny since he first appeared in this story and was so excited to get his book!

Excerpt

The smell of the earth, deep and true, centered her as she traversed the hastily created tunnel. It probably said something about Karma that she preferred darkness, muddy walls, and being underground to any other circumstance. Battery-operated lanterns had been dropped haphazardly along the trail, their artificial light dancing across the packed dirt walls, highlighting minerals she couldn’t name as she descended quickly, the swish of her skirt the only sound she made.

She bent her head, trying to stay in the moment and not panic at the job to come. One she was no more prepared for than she had been for mating a Kurjan general nearly two centuries ago. Or was it closer to three?

Taking a deep breath, she turned the corner and faced the cell. The cell that had been dug just the day before, in case it might be needed.

It was.

She swallowed.

The male was sprawled across the ground, so large he could probably spread his arms and reach the cement blocks on one side and the steel bars on the other. If he’d been conscious. Bruises mottled his face and neck, while a wound bled freely beneath his jaw. Blood ran past his ear to pool on the dirt beneath him.

She couldn’t breathe.

It really was him. Despite the bruises, blood, and dirt covering his face, she recognized him from more than three years ago. He’d tried to pull her into a helicopter with him after he’d attacked the Kurjan stronghold where she lived. He was bad, he was the enemy, and yet…he’d saved several kidnapped human females from the Kurjans. The Kurjans were an immortal species more powerful than any other. It had been a miracle that the male before her had succeeded in taking those gifted human females away from the Kurjan nation. He’d almost taken her at the same time, but she’d fought him.

Had he thought he was saving her? Had he hurt those human females? Were they now in worse danger than they’d faced when captives of the Kurjan nation?

She waited patiently, as she’d been taught. The guard would get to her when he had time. The medical supplies in her pack became heavy, so she set them down, stepping closer to the bars to study the male.

Benjamin Horatio Lawrence Reese. He was a vampire-demon hybrid, large even for his kind. At about six-foot-seven, or maybe eight, he was as tall as many Kurjans. The wideness of his torso tapered down at his waist, matched by the length of his legs. His boots had to be a size eighteen, and his hands were big enough to cause colossal damage. Oh, she’d been hit before, but one punch from him and she’d be dead.

He could never learn how much she already knew about him. How she’d been preparing for this day for three years—since he’d tried to take her from another Kurjan holding. Her home. With the Kurjans, since she’d mated one centuries ago and thus had become immortal, even though she’d started out as a human female.

A see-through figure hovered behind the male.

Karma sighed. “Loti? I thought you’d moved on.” She’d helped the Kurjan spirit accept his fate after he’d been killed in a training accident, or so she had thought.
The kid, his hair black yet see through, rolled his eyes like any teenager. “I’m going now. Just wanted to say goodbye.” Then he stiffened. “The guards are coming. Good luck.” He wisped out of sight, and hopefully out of this world to the next one.

The air changed, and Karma stiffened as the guard made his way down the tunnel, his white hair glowing as he came closer. He was a Cyst: one of the elite soldiers and spiritual leaders of the Kurjan nation. A single line of white hair bisected his pale scalp, leading down to a long braid. His eyes were a deep purple tinged with red, and he spared her not a glance as he unlocked the cell and then stepped back.

She took a deep breath and entered, wincing as the coppery smell of blood assaulted her nostrils. Then she dropped to her knees and reached inside the pack for the materials that would
clot the bleeding wound. The hybrid must’ve been badly injured in the skirmish if he was still bleeding.

A ghost popped up in the other cell, and she ignored him. He was wavering in and out of her sight and would soon cross over; there wasn’t time to help him.
The second she touched Benjamin’s head, his eyes opened.

He was fully alert in a second, his deep eyes a strange metallic color. “Karma,” he murmured.

She drew back. He remembered her name? Nobody remembered her name.

“Do you need blood?” she whispered, leaning closer, even as the guard locked the cell door and disappeared down the hallway, leaving her alone with the enemy. Right now she was useless to the Kurjans, so if the prisoner killed her, they’d find a plan B.

“No.” Benjamin sat up, looked around, and put his back to the cement brick wall. His impressive body seemed to take up all the space in the cell.

She shook her head, her lips trembling. “You must be badly injured, or you would not have been captured. You need blood.” It would hurt if he bit her, and he’d have to be quick to avoid touching her skin for long.

“I let them take me. I’ve been searching for you for three years.”

God. The Kurjans had been correct. He really had been looking for her. He’d been caught twice and both times had asked about her, so it wasn’t like he was keeping it a secret. “The baby? Rose?” Karma held her breath. When Benjamin’s people had attacked the Kurjan holding, she’d gone with her instincts and forced him to take a toddler who had been kidnapped by the Kurjans—and she’d paid for that decision. “Is Rose well?”

Benjamin nodded. “Rose is fine. She’s at Realm Headquarters with a nice family.”

Relief and fear made an odd combination in Karma’s body. “Realm Headquarters?” The Realm was the enemy of the Kurjans. Its people were evil, or so she’d been taught. She’d always
wondered, because lies were everywhere. She held out bandages and antibiotics, although the wound beneath his jaw was already closing as he sent healing cells where they were necessary.
“I don’t need those,” he murmured, studying her with an intensity that shot tremors through her abdomen.

“I don’t understand why you would come looking for me,” she said, sitting back and keeping her knees covered with her dress. The Kurjan leaders had noted that this male kept showing up in different attacks, and he took ridiculous risks for a soldier with his experience. They’d been sure he was coming, based their plan on that knowledge, but she hadn’t believed it. Why would this male put himself in danger for her? “You let them take you hostage?”

“Yes.” Benjamin’s voice was low and rough, hinting at demon ancestry.

She rested her hands on the thin material over her knees. “I don’t understand.”

A bone snapped loudly into place somewhere in his body, but he didn’t even flinch. “Let’s start here. I’m Benny Reese.” He held out a hand the size of a frying pan, as if they were meeting at a village game instead of in a cell.

She hesitated and then slid her palm against his. “Karma.”

His hold and shake were gentle, and he released her before the mating allergy could hurt either of them. She’d been mated centuries ago to a Kurjan, and no other male could touch her for long without both of them developing terrible rashes.

“What’s your last name?” he asked. Another bone popped into place.

She jerked at the sound. “I do not have a last name.”

“Oh.” He looked beyond her at the steel bars securing the cell. “I was out for a while. Where are we?”

“In a temporary holding area where you will be kept until you are transported to a more secure location.” She coughed. “For questioning.”

His smile nearly knocked her over. Even the slight tipping of his lips turned his rugged face from dangerously hard to nearly boyish with charm. Amusement glimmered in his eyes for a moment. “Darlin’, I’ve been tortured before. You don’t need to trouble yourself about that.”

She had bigger things to worry about than the life of this massive hybrid. She allowed herself one moment to stare into his unusual eyes. Oh, many immortals had metallic-silver eyes, gold eyes, even copper or purple. But his were a combination of all argent colors, mingling into a hard-edged glint, even with the humor lurking there. In another time, she might’ve thought him beautiful. She’d learned long ago that beauty could mask the darkest of evils.

Vampires were bad, demons were bad, and this male was a hybrid of both. When he decided to kill her—and he would at some point—she wouldn’t stand much chance of surviving. Yet she still couldn’t comprehend why he’d come for her. “Why are you here?”

“For you. To rescue you because I couldn’t last time.” He stretched out his arms and healed a broken finger in his left hand.

His words didn’t make any sense. “Why?” Surely his ego wasn’t such that he’d risked his life just because she’d rejected his help last time. She wasn’t worth that.

He sighed. “I’d hoped to ease you into the truth, but here it is.” He held up his right hand, showing a demon marking with a jagged R in the center. The R was a crest representing his surname: Reese. Demons mated with a branding and a bite—the marking was transferred from the demon to the mate during sex.

Her mouth dropped open, and she hurried to shut it. “You’re mated?” Why did that thought nauseate her? How odd.

“No. The brand appeared when I touched you three years ago.” His chin lowered, and he studied her, towering over her even as he sat. “When you shoved me away and refused to get into that helicopter with me.” He didn’t sound happy.

She snorted and then quickly recovered. “Impossible. I’m already mated.” Well, she had been mated a couple of centuries ago, although her Kurjan mate had died shortly thereafter. Sometimes she forgot what he had looked like, and that was fine with her. “Your brand must have appeared for someone else.”

“No.” Benjamin looked down at the dark marking. “The mark hasn’t faded a bit, and it’s pulsing like a live wire now that you’re near.”

Oh, Lord. Her research on Benjamin suggested he might be insane. Dangerous and unstable? There was no way she could succeed in this mission. “Benjamin—”

“Benny. Might as well get cozy with me now.” His smile held charm and determination that warmed her in an unexpected way.

For the second time in her life, she let her instincts take over. “Just leave. Take an opening and find freedom,” she whispered tersely, her stomach cramping. “Forget about me.”

“Not a chance.” His gaze ran over her face like a physical touch.

Movement sounded down the tunnel, and she stiffened.

Benjamin tensed and set his jaw. “Get ready, darlin’. We’re about to escape this place.”

Dark Protectors
Dark Protectors

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: June 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


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Review: Guardian’s Grace by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted October 21, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Guardian’s Grace by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Guardian's Grace by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #12
Also in this series: Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Fated (Dark Protectors, #1), Claimed (Dark Protectors, #2), Hunted (Dark Protectors, #3), Consumed (Dark Protectors, #4), Provoked (Dark Protectors, #5), Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Shadowed (Dark Protectors, #6), Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors, #8), Demon's Mercy (Dark Protectors, #9), Alpha's Promise, Hero's Haven, Rebel's Karma
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 346
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


Duty—or desire?

Vampire soldier Adare O’Cearbhaill’s default setting is cranky. Or irritated. Or down-right hostile. Still, as a Highlander of honor and duty he stepped up to save an enhanced and special human female by mating her—with merely a bite and a brand. The last person he wants in his life is a fragile human, yet he can’t get her out of his mind as she regains her strength before taking off for parts unknown. And when he discovers she is in danger, nothing can stop him from hunting her down—whether she likes it or not.

There’s only one way to find out . . .

Photographer Grace Cooper has had it with vampires, demons, and the rest of an immortal world she was happier not knowing about. She also doesn’t believe she’s destined for some great battle because of an old birthmark. Forget the fact that her mate is the sexiest thing on two stubborn feet, or that her brand is fading along with her health. She’ll handle things on her own—until an old enemy reappears and she learns the only way to stay alive is to actually mate, wild sex and all, with that ripped and dangerous Adare—a powerful, captivating Highlander who demands nothing less than everything . . .

Guardian’s Grace is book twelve in Zanetti’s Dark Protector series. Adare and Grace’s arc started a few books ago.

Adare knew it was his duty to mate with Grace. It was the only way to pull her out of the coma she was in. Grace doesn’t remember anything about the attack that put her in a coma. She knows her sister, she knows her childhood, but everything after that is a blur. Grace didn’t even know the Realm existed until she was mated to a vampire. Now she’s firmly in their world even if she doesn’t want to be. Grace is a Key, one of three women that can open the Lock. Too bad no one knows what exactly the Keys are or how they’re going to open the Lock.

Five years have passed since Adare and Grace mated. Grace took off to parts unknown. She wanted to live her own life away from the maddening Adare. When Grace starts looking for vampire blood to heal someone she knows, the Seven immediately take action. Imagine Adare’s surprise when he finds his mate trying to buy another vampire’s blood. He’s infuriated until he sees what bad shape Grace is in. Instead of thriving, Grace seems to be sick and she’s unable to heal herself.

Grace knows she’s dying. She’s unable to heal herself, something she was able to do in the past. Her mating mark is disappearing. She knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s back in a coma. Adare was the one that pulled her out and the only one that can stop it from happening again. Before she dies, Grace is determined to get answers about her attack. She returns to the scene of the crime in Denver and starts digging for answers. It was pretty stupid of her to go off on her own. The Kurjans are looking for her, as are the Cyst who are a religious offshoot of the Kurjans.

This was a sweet story, but it just didn’t pack the punch that I thought it would. Adare and Grace were extremely interesting in the previous books. In this book they were just meh. I did like how confident Adare was about saving Grace. Honestly, that was one of his best qualities. What they were told by the doctors didn’t concern him. He is one of the Seven and Grace is a Key. To save Grace, they’ll have to mate again. This time they need to go all the way for the win.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Dark Protectors

three-stars


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Review: Knight Awakening by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted March 18, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Knight Awakening by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Knight Awakening by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Scorpius Syndrome #6
Also in this series: Mercury Striking, Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending, Storm Gathering, Winter Igniting
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

“Sexy, tough, and deftly sprinkled with dark humor.” -- New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione
The Line Between Obsession and Love has Disappeared
The world has changed. Any rules that might’ve been in place before the Scorpius bacterium ripped through civilization and decreased its population are no longer in place. Obsession and survival are the new reality. So, Marcus Knight, after a hellish time in captivity that stole most of his memory and all of his soul, has one focus, and that’s keeping Dr. Penelope Kim safe in the aftermath. She’d risked her life to save him once, and she’s all that matters. For months, he’s kept his distance, protecting her from afar, because he knows that one touch—one sigh—one kiss—from her will never be enough.
Passion is a Dangerous and Deadly Temptation
Penny Kim is one of the few doctors still living, and she alone holds the key to ensuring the human race continues. Several of her friends are pregnant, and the clock is ticking down on their survival. Her days are filled with experiments and hope, while her nights are consumed with visions and dreams of the hard-bodied and powerful soldier who’s made her safety his one and only mission. She should be wary of him; she should be terrified of him. Yet all she feels is an unreal craving for his touch that gets stronger every day. Life is short, and she’s unwilling to wait, unaware of the danger already hunting them both. Some risks are worth it, even in this new and dangerous world.
“Thrilling, post-apocalyptic romance at its dark, sizzling best!” --New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian

RZ brings us back to the world of Scorpius. Scorpius has been a global killer with only a small majority of the population surviving having the virus. It was actually a little eerie reading this book considering our current circumstances (i.e. COVID-19). Creepy.

This series is set in a post-apocalypse Los Angeles. Jax Mercury is the leader of Vanguard-Merc, a ragtag group of 600 survivors of the life as they knew it. While trying to live their lives they have to deal with a crazy President, a street gang, rationing food, and a lack of water. Which is only the tip of the iceberg.

Penelope Kim was fresh out of medical school when the virus hit. Forget an internship or a residency. She was thrown from the frying pan into the fire. She took it like a champ, wanting to help as many people as she could. When she first lays eyes on Marcus Knight, she has no idea who he is. She only knows that he’s being held captive against his will and experimented on. Penelope vows to help Marcus escape before she leaves the bunker. She has no idea the shit that is about to go down.

So when Vanguard-Merc shows up at the bunker where Marcus is being held, Penelope panics. In the midst of the chaos, Penelope is infected. She survives (obviously), but Marcus still blames himself. See, Marcus had the virus and one of the side effects of surviving it is that you may become a little obsessive. Obsessed with Penny’s safety. He won’t let anything or anyone get between himself and Penny. Not even his brother. Yes, his brother is none other than Jax Mercury, the leader of Vanguard-Merc. Only problem is that Marcus doesn’t remember anything. He barely remembers his time at the bunker and his torture. Penny is in the forefront of his mind; her safety is all that matters to him.

Penelope is aware that she has her very own guard dog. But she doesn’t want a guard dog. She wants to be a partner with Marcus. Any feelings of waiting for things to happen flew out the window with Scorpius. Penelope isn’t waiting for Marcus to come to her. She goes to him. Marcus wants to take what Penny is offering badly, but he is terrified of hurting her. His obsession about protecting her hasn’t gone away. When they start their relationship it actually becomes worse.

Last night when I finished this book, I gave it a strong 4.5/5. This morning, after thinking about the book, I can’t give it that high of a grade. Based on the ending, it seems as if that is the last book of the series. I always admire an author that can bring a series to a close. Anyway, the ending was so rushed that I really felt let down. After the buildup of what was going on with the President, it was just wrapped up too neatly. That’s my only complaint about the book. I really loved it other than that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Scorpius Syndrome

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Knight Awakening by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted February 16, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Knight Awakening is the sixth book in Zanetti’s Scorpius Syndrome series. I am a big lover of dystopian/post-apocalypse stories. This series has never disappointed me. I love each and every character. I’m really looking forward to reading this book. Marcus and Penny are sure to be remarkable characters. I highly recommend this series to you dystopian readers. It’s amazing. We have an amazing excerpt for you!

Sunday Spotlight: Knight Awakening by Rebecca ZanettiKnight Awakening by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Scorpius Syndrome #6
Also in this series: Mercury Striking, Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending, Storm Gathering, Winter Igniting, Knight Awakening
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

“Sexy, tough, and deftly sprinkled with dark humor.” -- New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione
The Line Between Obsession and Love has Disappeared
The world has changed. Any rules that might’ve been in place before the Scorpius bacterium ripped through civilization and decreased its population are no longer in place. Obsession and survival are the new reality. So, Marcus Knight, after a hellish time in captivity that stole most of his memory and all of his soul, has one focus, and that’s keeping Dr. Penelope Kim safe in the aftermath. She’d risked her life to save him once, and she’s all that matters. For months, he’s kept his distance, protecting her from afar, because he knows that one touch—one sigh—one kiss—from her will never be enough.
Passion is a Dangerous and Deadly Temptation
Penny Kim is one of the few doctors still living, and she alone holds the key to ensuring the human race continues. Several of her friends are pregnant, and the clock is ticking down on their survival. Her days are filled with experiments and hope, while her nights are consumed with visions and dreams of the hard-bodied and powerful soldier who’s made her safety his one and only mission. She should be wary of him; she should be terrified of him. Yet all she feels is an unreal craving for his touch that gets stronger every day. Life is short, and she’s unwilling to wait, unaware of the danger already hunting them both. Some risks are worth it, even in this new and dangerous world.
“Thrilling, post-apocalyptic romance at its dark, sizzling best!” --New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian

Excerpt

Penelope rushed into the infirmary with the room tilting wildly around her.

“How bad?” she asked Jax, who’d fetched her from a nice sleep on her sofa, where she’d crashed after several hours with her friends. The bottle of bourbon was now, sadly, empty.

“Not too bad,” Jax said, brushing glass off his shoulder.

She turned into the second examination room, stopping at seeing Marcus sitting on the taller table, his legs extending to the door and his shirt already off. He was okay. Well, bleeding from the upper arm, but looking directly at her and breathing evenly. Okay. Her knees stopped shaking. He was alive. She pushed hair away from her face. “Bullet wound?”

“Just a cut.” Jax patted her arm and turned away. “See you two tomorrow.”

“Wait,” Penelope said. “I’m intoxicated.” In fact, her feet were numb. “I can’t stitch him up.”

Jax turned and looked at her, his eyes bloodshot and a purple bump above his right eye. “You’re the best we’ve got right now. I can barely see.”

Marcus wiped blood off his arm with his other hand. “I only need a couple of stitches. I can do it.”

Jax nodded. “You two figure it out. I want to see Lynne.” He took a step and then paused. “Let’s meet in the morning and come up with a plan, Slam.”

“Okay,” Marcus said, and Jax took off at a fast clip.

Penny pressed a hand to her throat as her heart continued to pound.

Marcus looked around the room. “Could you get me a needle?”

A needle? He’d been in a gunfight, and he was acting like everything was normal? “Are you sure you weren’t shot?” She stumbled for the drawer to take out supplies.
“Yep. Just glass from when the bus flipped over from the bomb.”

Her head jerked, and she whirled around. Heat climbed down her throat so fast, her lungs burned. “There was a bomb?” Her voice rose.

He turned away from examining his arm. “Yeah. What’s the matter?”

Oh, wrong question. Way wrong question, and the bourbon flowing through her veins prevented her from finding any sort of filter for her words. “I can’t believe you just asked me that,” she muttered, setting the needle, thread, and bandages next to him on the table. “From the first second we arrived here, it has been you and me. All the time. But it’s one way, isn’t it?” Even though anger now focused her, she was gentle with wiping more blood from his wound. “You need about ten stitches, and my hands aren’t steady.” Not even close.

“That’s okay. You’re still better than I am with one hand. What do you mean, one way?” He twisted his arm so she could get a better angle.

This broke every rule she’d ever been taught in medical school, but the pandemic had pretty much broken the world, so what the hell. She took a deep breath and expertly threaded the already clean needle, wiping blood again. She forced her eyes open and then stitched him back up, rather surprised the stitches were even. It was a sad state of the world that she could stitch up a wound while mildly drunk. She’d been stitching up way too many wounds. She pressed a bandage into place and stepped back. “Yes. One way.”

He sat there, bare to the waist, his chest an intriguing mix of raw muscle and healed scars. The fact that he’d survived such torture only made those ripped muscles even more intriguing.

“I’m not following.”

That just figured. It really figured. She put her hands on her hips. “You don’t tell me anything.”

“I tell you everything.”

Maybe she hadn’t asked enough. “What is wrong with you? You were just blown up in a bus, and you’re sitting there like you’ve had a day at the beach.”

He frowned and rubbed dried blood off his hand. “A beach? I’m sunburned?”

Oh, for hell’s sake. “Do you have to be so damn literal all the time?” And alluring? Marcus Knight without a shirt on should be illegal.

“Yes.”

The simple response nearly made her head spin around and blow steam. “Marcus? You must be frightened sometimes. It’s okay to share that.” It should scare her how badly she wanted in. How much she wanted him to really share with her.

His face cleared. “Oh. That. I don’t feel anything, Penny.” At her silence, he shrugged. “Sorry. I’d love to tell you that I do feel a lot of things, but I just don’t. Not anymore.”

Oh. That was certainly a defense mechanism against what they’d done to him in the labs, as well as a result of surviving Scorpius. The bourbon swirled around in her blood, and her head fuzzed, but her body flashed wide awake along with her instincts. She stepped toward him, standing between his legs. “Yes, you do.”

He frowned, the sight more bewildered than upset. “No. I don’t.”

She placed both hands on the sides of his rugged face, and his shadow of whiskers scratched her palms. “Do you feel this?”

“Yes.” His voice deepened and his expression smoothed out.

Caressing down one side of his face, she traced his sharp jawline. “Do you feel this?”

“Yes.” His eyes darkened, going to the green instead of the brown. He held perfectly still, tension around him, his muscles tightened as if ready to spring.

She blinked. This was a mistake, and it wasn’t fair to him. He was still sitting on her examination table after she’d stitched him up. Her hands started to drop.

“No.” He snatched her wrist. “Don’t stop. Finish what you started.”

Her gaze lowered to his firm mouth. “I can’t.”

“Because you don’t want to?” His hold was light but his tone a low growl.

“Because I’m your doctor.” She took a deep breath and filled her lungs, trying to clear her mind.

He released her wrist, and she started to back up, shocked when he slid his hand through her hair to cup her nape. “I’m not your doctor.”

What was happening? His hand was warm and so strong, flexing against her skin. She swallowed. The energy ticked between them, enhanced by the silence throughout Vanguard headquarters at the midnight hour. Her gaze flew up to his eyes, and he was studying her like nobody ever had. Completely and with a focus that uncoiled live wires in her abdomen.

The next moment was inevitable.

He drew her near, and his mouth touched hers. Gentle and seeking.

Heat flowed through her faster than the bourbon had, and she leaned closer, putting her hands on his chest and sighing softly.

Then he ignited. He grabbed her hip, yanked her hard into him, and kissed her so hard he bent her back. Intense and deep, he took over, taking everything. She closed her eyes, overcome, her nails curling into his bare skin as he plundered. All of her.

Scorpius Syndrome

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Sunday Spotlight: February 2020

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About Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormals, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.


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