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Authors: Elle Davis

Tags: #romance, #scifi, #fantasy, #young adult, #genetic alteration

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BOOK: Designed to Love
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Elizabeth joins us, before he has a chance
to answer. "Ronan, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to give the
government access to this kind of information about us," she says
cautiously, glancing over at Bernie who is preparing to hand out
more paperwork.

"What is with you guys? Why the sudden
paranoia? Look, you can do what you want, but I've been trying to
get this information for three years and there is no way I'm
leaving here without it!" I say in a seemingly louder mental voice
than intended, because Elizabeth winces and Burke says, "A little
lower please."

Bernie waits for the server to finish taking
our order, and then proceeds to hand another packet to each of us.
"This is a confidentiality agreement. You are under the highest
security contract, and because three of you are under the age of
eighteen, we had to make some exceptions to these documents. Ronan,
Burke, and Claire, if you look below your signature line, you will
see my name as a co-signer. What this means, is that I am willing
to gamble, not only my reputation, but my life as well. The
government takes a breach in security very seriously and has a way
of dealing with any traitors. While your abilities may be able to
protect you, I would venture to say that you won't be able to
extend that same protection to those you love, at least not one
hundred percent of the time," she says gravely, giving pause to let
the weight of her words sink in.

I hear Claire's frightened voice mentally,

Bernie must sense Claire's apprehension,
because she smiles tenderly at her. "You have nothing to fear
Claire, as long as you follow the rules. They are very simple. Do
not talk to anybody about anything you see or hear while on
assignment. Got it?" Claire nods her head vigorously. "Now, on a
brighter note, the pendulum swings both ways. Your safety is of
paramount importance to the government. We will protect your
identity in every way possible and we will have you work remotely
as much as possible, although there will be times when you will
need to be on location for assignments." The waiter sets down our
food, and she waits until he leaves before continuing. She passes
us a map of the 7
subterranean floor, which is much
larger than the desk clerk let on. "You are free to go anywhere on
this floor, including the pool, which is down the west hallway. You
may not leave this floor unescorted for any reason. There are
elevators at the end of each hallway, but only those with
authorized fingerprints can use them. Instructions on what to do in
the event of an emergency are posted on the inside of each room.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with them. Now, if there are no
further questions, I am going to my room," she says pushing back
from the table, leaving half a plate of untouched food. "We will
meet back here at six a.m. Wear comfortable workout clothes and be
prepared to sweat."


"Fifteen, sixteen.....seventeen. Keep going
Claire" Bernie murmurs, looking down at her stopwatch, as the rest
of us hold our breath. Claire is the last of us to complete the
running test on a specialized treadmill designed to reach speeds up
to 75 mph. Brandon, the fastest out of all of us, reached a max
speed of 56 mph, and I was just under at 52 mph. Elizabeth,
although well above average for a woman, was the only one so far,
who didn't meet the criteria for supernatural abilities in speed,
even though she exceeded our ability to maintain her top speed by
about fifty percent.

Claire's stride is long and graceful, like a
gazelle. She reminds me a lot of Cat when she runs. There is a
mixture of determination and joy on her face as she climbs to a
speed of 19 mph. Brandon and Burke cheer her on like proud older
brothers, and Elizabeth nervously stands by, ready to catch her
should she happen to trip. Alisha and I are fixated on the heart
monitor. Her heart rate hasn't changed at all from her baseline. It
continues to beat steadily at 88 beats per minute, in spite of her
exertion. Even I know this can't be right. The rest of us doubled
our heart rates in the first ten minutes.

"Are you feeling okay?" Bernie asks for the
third time, and Claire cheerfully responds, "Yep!" Her speed peaks
at 22 mph, and she assures everyone that she is running as fast as
she can, yet other than a slight flush to her cheeks, you would
never know she was sprinting on a treadmill. She is allowed to run
for almost forty minutes at this speed, before the test is halted
and when she jumps off the treadmill, she looks disappointed that
it's over with. Bernie dismisses us to our rooms for a break while
the eleven members of the evaluation team congregate to discuss the


Incoming calls to Area 51 are restricted,
and outgoing calls are discouraged. A call can only be placed using
a facility issued phone which can only be obtained from the front
desk clerk. The clerk must program a code for each use and the code
is only good for one attempt whether the call is connected or not.
I have been a little on edge ever since Bernie brought up
conspiracy suspicions, so when my third call to Cat goes
unanswered, I panic. Unbeknownst to Cat and the others, Bernie and
I arranged secret service protection while I'm away. Now I
vacillate between calling the lead agent or trying Cat one more
time. In the end, I decide to take a quick trip to the Freeman
house, rather than risk permanently getting on Gail Grover's bad
side. Gail is the front desk clerk for the day and unlike
yesterday's cheerful receptionist, she sees any interruption to her
daytime TV program, as a huge imposition.

Michael and Jason are nowhere to be found at
the Freeman house, but a soft melody drifting from the upstairs
bedroom beckons me, and I drift down the hallway toward Cat's
voice, pausing outside the bathroom door, just as she turns off the
bath water. Up until now, I haven't even considered using my gift
of remote travel, to violate someone's privacy, even though it's
been suggested by Burke, that I should. Hearing Cat's voice now
leaves me with an intense ache to see her. In a split-second
decision I pass to the other side of the wall, justifying my
actions with a reminder that she is, after all, my fiancée.

The lights in the bathroom are dim, and
there is a candle burning on the corner of the tub. Cat is reclined
in the tub, hair piled high on her head and there are beads of
sweat forming on her forehead. Her skin is creamy and flawless. All
guilt of behaving like a peeping Tom vanishes when I see her
dreamily looking at her engagement ring, twisting it around on her
finger, smiling as if recalling a favorite memory. I may be biased,
but I am certain that her beauty surpasses anything I have ever
laid eyes on, including the models who pose in Burke's adult


The images of Cat stay with me long after we
resume training and I'm distracted when Bernie warns us that the
next testing station would be the most difficult. It was the combat
station and we would be tested in hand-to-hand combat, using our
speed, agility, strength, and any of our other special gifts
against a team of soldiers who had advanced skills in hand-to-hand
combat. Basically, it was us against them, all eleven of them. The
rules were simple, no firearms or other weapons, only hands on.
Other than that, anything goes. Once an opponent was pinned to the
ground, they were considered out, and would be escorted from the
arena. "Expect some injuries, they're almost impossible to prevent
in this type of a training scenario," Bernie says seriously. The
rest of us strongly oppose Claire's participation in the event, but
Claire stubbornly disagrees and Bernie says she's a necessary part
of the assessment.

We are led to an outdoor arena that, from my
remote aerial view, looks to be about the size of two football
fields. It is like a movie set, complete with trees, giant
boulders, and a few small buildings. Our first objective was to get
Claire to safety, and the team agrees that a giant redwood tree,
located on the north side of the arena, would be the perfect place
to keep her out of harm's way. Elizabeth would accompany her, while
the rest of us managed the military combat team. Unlike, Alisha,
Elizabeth would never fare well in a fighting situation. Her
strength and speed are not as enhanced as the rest of us, and her
soft, gentle personality would make her an easy target for any
opponent. It was better for her to engage in battle using mental
forces to disable the enemy. She readily agrees.

Marquis, the team leader for the military
combat team, is a formidable six foot, three and 300 pounds. He
examines us with a failed attempt at hiding his humor, and turns to
his teammates and announces, "It'll be over in five minutes."
Apparently, no one shared with him the results of our previous
tests, and I have a sudden surge of excitement over the pending
fight. Alisha tells Bernie that she wants a five minute team
meeting with us and when it's granted, she signals us to a corner
of the arena.

"All right guys, listen up. We have never
had to perform mentally and physically at the same time, so this is
going to be a challenge. It's imperative that you stay connected
with Claire so that she can fight using our mental power source,
too. Let your body move instinctively, you don't need to be
consciously connected; your body will automatically know what to
do. Do you understand?" We all nod in agreement, but I'm not so
sure we really do understand. "Ok, Brandon, you are the fastest, so
you head with Elizabeth and Claire to the north. Get them into the
tree, then come around from the east. The three women are mine.
That leaves eight between Ronan and Burke, until Brandon gets back.
Do you think you guys can handle them?"

"I call the leader," I respond with complete
confidence, certain I can have him removed within the first five

Claire warns, "He's gray, Ronan."

We are separated on opposite sides of the
arena and I lock eyes with Marquis. He smiles wickedly and an
unintentional hiss escapes my lips. I hear Alisha in my head
commanding me to stay connected mentally. A loud trumpet sounds and
I remain motionless, fully aware that Marquis is running full speed
toward me. My mind divides, and I am aware of being in three
separate places at once, like having three separate brains. One is
the spectator, watching the whole scene from above, hovering like a
spirit over the arena. A second stays connected to my physical
body, becoming hypersensitive to the changes in my tissue and
organs, as my body prepares to fight. The third is connected to the
other Designers, in our personal mental cloud, where we exchange
and send thoughts to Claire.

When Marquis reaches me, my body springs
into action, engaging in hand-to-hand combat as if it were a
pre-choreographed dance. It feels instinctive, like I was designed
with advanced fighting technology. I remote view the scene from
above and send the information back to the others, so that they can
anticipate the every move of our opponents.

Elizabeth and Claire make it to the redwood
un-touched; thanks to some strategically uprooted trees falling in
the path of their attackers and Brandon's excellent fighting skills
incapacitating the remaining soldiers. Elizabeth may not have a
Designer's supernatural speed, but when she launches herself
fifteen feet in the air to catch the lowest branch on the redwood,
there is no question that she has some sort of feline DNA.

The number of participants on the combat
team quickly diminishes, especially with Claire and Elizabeth using
telekinetic power to throw up invisible shields to block a punch or
kick here and there. Not that it was really necessary though. From
the aerial view, all of us are fighting using the same advanced
techniques as the combat team. I couldn't be sure about Alisha and
Brandon, but Burke and I had never taken any type of martial arts
or combat training in our lives, yet you would never know it by
today's performance. I now have Marquis in a choke hold, and I can
feel his body weaken under my grip. I shove him to the ground but
don't readily pin him. I'm not really ready for the competition
with him to end so soon, so I give him a chance to recover.

"Are you crazy Ronan?" Alisha screams out

He uses the distraction to pitch a handful
of dirt in my face, immediately blinding me, and then tackles me
with such force that the wind is knocked out of me. From my
birdlike view, I see him reach down and pull an automatic switch
blade from his boot and he has it pinned against my neck before I
have time to alert the others.

"What now, pretty boy?" he sneers.

His bad breath makes me gag. The output of
telekinetic energy from Claire and the others may have been slight
overkill. Marquise is catapulted through the air with such force,
that he ends up nearly thirty feet away, landing in such a way that
his lower leg is perpendicular to the rest of his leg. His screams
can be heard throughout the arena, and instantly there are
attendants at his side with a stretcher. The event, witnessed by
the three remaining combat soldiers, leaves them shaken, and one by
one, they follow the stretcher out of the arena.

Bernie doesn't request our presence at
dinner tonight and we all have our own theories as to why. Claire
obtains a rock solid promise from Alisha and Elizabeth to take her
to the pool after dinner and Burke and Brandon agree to join them.
On the way back to our rooms, Claire launches herself on my back
and climbs up to my shoulders, showing off her newly discovered
gift for jumping. Bernie pulled us in for additional testing, after
seeing Elizabeth's fifteen foot jump to the tree branch and, as it
turns out, Claire is gifted with a similar ability. She reached a
twelve foot platform from a three stride running start. Now she
considers us her own personal jungle gym and like a monkey, she
swings from one human body to another as we walk down the

BOOK: Designed to Love
2.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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