Zoe squinted as she took in the industrial efficiency of the hospital room. Lying there, she worked to understand her surroundings. She remembered being brought in on a stretcher, but everything seemed fuzzy—her memory of why, and the things around her.
“Here you go, Zoe.” Gage stood at the side of her bed, placing something in her hands.
She sighed with relief as she realized they were her glasses. “Thank you.” She sounded a little tipsy to her own ears. Whatever they gave her last night had done the job. Zoe remembered talking to the nurse in a darkened room, and now she was awake again with the sun streaming through her window. Time had moved forward without her. She glanced over at Gage, who wore a bemused look on his face. His eyes, which could magically change from blue to green to black as coal, were locked on her. Right now, she could easily read affection and concern in their depths, and also a little bit of that look he got just before they… Zoe felt her cheeks turn pink.
Gage chuckled. “I’d pay good money to know what you’re thinking.”
“Have you been here for a long time?” She glanced at the wall clock, then over to Gage. He wore the same clothes as last night, along with the rough shadow of an unshaven face.
“In and out since last night. Mostly in. I wanted to keep an eye on you.”
Zoe pushed the button on her bed so she could sit upright. She crossed her legs under the cotton blanket. “All right, Captain America, what happens now?”
Gage sent her a curious look. “Why did you call me that?”
“Oh.” She tilted her head and examined him. “Must be the body language.”
“Your body language, especially right now, reads as trustworthy, intelligent, courageous, and having deep affection for me. You know, a total Captain America.” That last word caught in her throat.
Gage chuckled. “You don’t think those are good things?” When she didn’t answer, he added, “This is an odd conversation. Zoe, you don’t flatter people as a rule.”
The corners of her mouth tugged down and pressure built behind her eyes.
He cleared his throat and wrapped his hands around her guard rail. “You’re obviously not trying to stroke my ego.” The statement sounded like a question, like he’d found some puzzle that needed solving. “You’re usually not sarcastic either. I don’t know why the look on your face is throwing me so hard. I hate that you’re frowning at me, you’ve never done that before.”
Zoe blinked back tears. “I’ve never felt this way before.” She reached behind her and pulled her pillow around so she could hug it. “I am so deeply, profoundly grateful.” She sniffed hard. “Beyond words. It’s actually kind of like a tsunami rolling through me right now.” She attempted a quivering smile and something that sounded like she wanted it to be a laugh. “Yeah, I feel like I could be swept away and probably drown in all of these emotions.”
Gage waited silently as she fought for some semblance of control. When her breathing came a little steadier, he leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
A quick knock on her door and the entrance of a nurse stalled any further exchange.
“Good, you’re awake. I’m doing a last round before I go off duty, and you get a new nurse. The doctor is right behind me.” She pushed her rolling computer system beside Zoe’s bed. “Unless there’s an issue, it looks like you’ll be discharged this morning.” The nurse glanced over at Gage and smiled. “Good morning.”
Zoe considered the way the nurse’s tired countenance brightened like her happy pill suddenly kicked in, and realized that Gage had caught this woman’s attention. While the nurse documented numbers on her computer, Zoe considered Gage. He was cute. She could see why the nurse would perk up at the sugar rush of some unexpected eye candy. Cute was probably the wrong word. Cute really didn’t belong to a man with Gage’s hardened warrior’s body. His face was ruggedly handsome, more so now that he was sporting stubble on his normally clean-shaven face. She guessed the cute description came from his smile, and how his eyes crinkled at the corners when he was amused. Gage’s eyes were his best feature, she thought. Well, no. He had some other features that sat at the top of her list too. As that thought came to mind, Zoe caught Gage’s gaze, and he winked. Her pink flush turned to bright red, and he started laughing.
WASP (Uncommon Enemies, Book 1) by Fiona Quinn
Why is Zoe hiding beneath her bed?
Zoe Kealoha is a military research scientist. Her work is aimed at saving lives. Then why are there intruders looking for her inside her very own home. Most friends yawn at Zoe’s conversations about micro-robotics. It must have struck a nerve with someone, and they don’t sound friendly at all. As she hears the heavy crunch of footfalls creep closer, she realizes her quiet, orderly world is about to be upended.
Unlike Zoe’s orderly world of hypothesis and laboratory-controlled environments, Gage Harrison loves the rush of risk. A Marine Raider, Gage is a warrior in every sense of the word. His soft spot is Zoe.
When he hears desperate screams from inside her home, his instinct and training switch from lover to guardian. He’ll stop at nothing to save her from whatever evil lurks behind her bedroom door.†
While Gage may have thwarted an attempt on Zoe’s life, he recognizes the skill of the men sent to abduct her. They, like he, were trained killers. And Gage knows they’ll be back.
Who is after Zoe and what does she know that’s worth abducting her? Gage and his team are willing to risk everything to protect Zoe. If her research is that vital to saving lives, she and Gage will stop at nothing to untangle the sticky web of intrigue traps politicians, lovers, schemers, spies, and those willing to put money over loyalty.
About Fiona Quinn
Canadian born, Fiona Quinn is now rooted in the Old Dominion outside of D.C. with her husband and four children. There, she homeschools, pops chocolates, devours books, and taps continuously on her laptop.