Authors: Marie Harte
DAWN ENDEAVOR: 5
Dawn Endeavor 5: Grayson’s Gamble
Copyright © November 2011 by Marie Harte
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Grayson Belle paced the soundproof office in the Pentagon, feeling like a wild animal in a zoo. The pressure threatened to undo his control. If the situation didn’t soon improve, he feared he’d pull his hair out by the roots.
The wild brown mane on that dickhead Decker would do one better.
To his boss he snarled, “Reassign him before I do something we’ll both regret. It’s been eight fucking months already. I’ve had enough.”
Admiral Geoffrey London smiled at the threat, and Gray snorted. Despite all the shit he’d been through in the past year, they both knew he wouldn’t hurt his superior, the man he thought of as an honorary grandfather, to make his point. But he didn’t intend to let his unhappiness go by unnoticed. When Gray continued to glare at the older man, Lonnie finally relented and took a healthy step back behind his desk.
He sighed as he sat down. “Now Gray, don’t you think you’re overreacting? You’re both doing so well together.”
“Well?” Gray stopped pacing and stared in incredulity at a man he’d always respected for his intelligence. “This is the third time in as many ops that I’ve had to pull Decker’s ass out of the fire. The idiot almost got his head shot off in Mexico. Seriously, Lonnie, the kid needs to be pulled and thrown back into training. Let Gunnar work him through his paces.”
Lonnie shook his head. “First of all, if I give him to Gunnar, he might get killed.”
“I know.” Gray smiled through his teeth. Gunnar was his brother-in-law and a badass who kept Gray’s sister in line. Any man who could do that could whip Decker into shape with ease.
“Secondly,” Lonnie continued, “that
is twenty-nine. He’s only a few years younger than you.”
“He’s about as mature as a fifth grader,” Gray muttered.
“I think Sebastian has been doing a stellar job. The man’s been a Circ for just little more than a year. Remember how long it took the others to adjust. Not everyone is built like you, son.”
Gray clenched his jaw, wishing he didn’t have to restrain the temper building inside him. The risk of losing control was both foreign yet welcome from the sentience that lay just under his skin. That inner beast, that raw part of him that kept him safe from harm, seemed to encourage his rage. Where the hell had his legendary calm under fire gone? It seemed lately Gray wanted to beat the hell out of someone on a daily basis.
Namely, his hulking partner.
Until the bastard couldn’t move or utter one more smart-ass comment.
“Sebastian Decker might have been hell on wheels in the FBI, but he’s barely craptastic as a Circ,” he pointed out. “He can’t seem to control the
. Hell, last week he about tripped over his own two giant feet trying to save me.
.” Gray shook his head, still stunned. “I’ve been working ops since I was seventeen. And I was born this way. Yet your artificial wonderboy thinks he can swoop to
rescue. Talk about delusions of grandeur.”
“And exactly why he belongs by your side.
You take too many chances you shouldn’t. You don’t listen to your grandmother anymore, and let me tell you, it’s all I can do to prevent her from taking you out of action until your—and I quote—‘unsafe antics cease.’”
Gray swore. His grandmother, Alicia Sharpe, had serious pull in Washington as well as a host of other influential places. The woman played for keeps, and she didn’t screw around when it came to family. “She’s supposed to be occupied with Ava and the baby and the rest of the team. Why the hell is she putting her nose in my business?”
“You might be family, but you’ll damn well speak with respect when you talk about my wife.”
“Oh come on.” Seemed like lately the admiral took any opportunity to brag about or defend his new bride. Not that Gray could rightly complain about the man protecting his grandmother.
“Boy, don’t press me.” The militant gleam in Lonnie’s eyes told Gray he’d pushed as hard as he dared about Alicia.
“Sorry. No disrespect intended.” Gray cleared his throat. “But the situation is serious. I’m so busy looking after Decker that I’m worried our missions may be compromised. He’s a liability, Admiral.” Maybe appealing to Lonnie’s rank and importance would help.
Lonnie studied him with an intensity that unnerved his beast. Gray didn’t trust the sudden smile that appeared on his face. Hell, he looked just like Alicia.
“I’ve seen Sebastian in action, Gray. I don’t know if you realize it, but part of your last mission was caught digitally. From what I saw, Sebastian saved
from being shot.”
Gray huffed. “I’d have healed in minutes.” Born with an ability to self-regenerate, to communicate telepathically, and to turn into a stronger, faster creature with an astonishing capacity to endure, Gray rarely needed protection from anyone.
“But you shouldn’t have to heal when you can avoid harm altogether. Damn it, you’re not listening.” Lonnie pushed down on a button. “Miss Preston, could you please send in Mr. Decker?”
“Right away, sir,”
“Not him again.
I’m here on my day off as it is. Is this really necessary?”
“I think we both know it is.” The hard-nosed admiral sat calmly while Sebastian Decker, the bane of Gray’s existence, entered the office.
Six feet five and barely contained by the broad muscle and tightly packed frame of a man in his prime, Decker had the nerve to
at him before coming to stand before the admiral’s desk.
“Stand easy, Sebastian.” Lonnie smiled at him as if the two were fast friends. That in
irritated Gray. But when Decker eased back and invaded Gray’s personal space, he barely contained a growl. Lately Gray had a hard time restraining his beast around the male. The damn thing wanted to fight, to prod and test Decker’s strength. He’d seen plenty of evidence that the bastard could and would fight to protect himself, but Gray had the sense Decker always held back when they sparred. And he didn’t like it.
Decker placed his hands behind his back and stood at a modified parade rest. In doing so, his hand grazed Gray’s arm. It was all Gray could do not to grow claws and rake them down Decker’s powerful chest.
Lonnie continued to watch them. Decker looked straight ahead, while Gray silently dared the man to make eye contact. Just once would be all it took, and Gray would… What? Gut him? Caress him? Kiss him?
Oh shit. Not those thoughts again.
Lonnie cleared his throat, and Gray blinked to focus on the admiral once more. He lived for the job. He just had to keep reminding himself of that.
In private, Gray would address him with familiarity. But in front of a peer, he always afforded Lonnie the ultimate respect.
Lonnie, however, ignored him. “Sebastian, do you have a problem working with Grayson?”
Gray is legendary in the field. It’s an honor to work with him.”
Gray didn’t want to see where this questioning led. “Admiral—”
“Out on missions, would you characterize his performance as top-notch? Does he get the job done with minimal casualty?”
“Most of the time.”
Gray didn’t like Decker’s answer and glared at the man. “What does that mean?”
Decker turned his bright blue gaze in Gray’s direction.
Fuck, but the man has amazing eyes
. His beast approved, rumbling deep inside Gray’s chest. Lonnie took no notice of it, unable to hear. But Decker’s eyes narrowed. His Circ senses, so attuned to the smallest change, must have heard the ultrasonic sound.
Decker’s lips twitched as he turned back to the admiral. “Gray will do anything to accomplish the mission, to include putting himself needlessly in harm’s way.”
Gray scowled. “I—”
Decker interrupted. “He thinks because he heals easily, he’s not at risk. But he forgets the enemy always has surprises in store for us, since it seems like everyone out there knows we Circs exist.”
“Bullshit.” Gray fumed.
The admiral stopped him from saying anything else with an upraised hand. “And his mood swings?”
“Mood swings?” Gray repeated, not understanding Lonnie at all. “I’m not moody. Christ, where the hell are you going with this?”
“Getting worse,” Decker answered. “But I can handle it, no problem.”
“Good, good.” Lonnie clasped his hands together on top of the desk. Then as if they’d never discussed mood swings or Gray’s alleged idiocy in the field, Lonnie briefed them on their next assignment. “I’m sorry to throw you two out there again, but we can’t ignore these reports of a rogue Circ. After that last batch we found in Mexico, I thought we’d contained the breakouts. But the file I have indicates another rogue, possibly the beginnings of a nest. Reports lead me to believe this one might turn mutant at any time.”