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By Jessica Andersen
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Wellington? Darn it, Wellington, are you in here?"
Genie shoved at the revolving door and squinted into the research lab's darkroom, trying to pick out her irritating co-worker's broad-shouldered silhouette. She stepped inside, fumbled for a switch and heard the ultrasonic whine of warming red lights over the rumble of machinery. "Because if you're hogging the developer again when my name is clearly written on the sign-up sheet, I'll -"
A blur of motion swept across the faintly red darkness. "Dr. Watson?"
"Wellington, I -" But it hadn't been her floormate's voice. "Who -"
The stranger's hand clamped over her mouth. His hard, hot arm latched on to her ribs and crushed her back against his body. She opened her mouth to scream and tasted the powdered latex of a lab glove. Only a muffled whimper emerged.
"Shut up." His voice was uneven, his breath sour and his silhouette black against the bloody red lights.
"Just shut up, slut-doctor-whore. Ruin a man's life and think nothing of it, will you?"
Genie screamed against the glove, thrashed and tried to elbow her captor in the ribs. He cursed and shoved her against the waist-high counter that circled the room. A starburst of pain sang as her hip smacked against something square and solid and red-black.
His heartbeat pounded against her shoulder, quick and scared - or was that hers? - and he thrust against her backside and growled over the clanking hum of the X-ray developer. She tried to wrench away and he pressed harder, pushing her against the counter as she flailed her hands against the warm, red-black air.
She was trapped. Powerless. And her office, safe and bright, wasn't twenty feet away.
"Thought you were safe in your ivory tower, didn't you?" The whisper slid across her skin as his hand cruised up to cup her breast and pinch her nipple through the starched lab coat. "Thought you could take her away from me and I'd do nothing?"
Genie felt her soft leather shoes slide on the linoleum floor as the sharp scent of spilled developer chemicals and madness stung her nose and tears burned her eyes. Shaking her head, she tried to say, No, no! Why are you doing this? I help people. I don't take them away! But her struggles only excited him more and he tightened his grip.
"We're smarter than you think, Doctor. We figured out what you and the old man are up to. And we're going to stop you. Permanently. But first ..."
He shifted his grip, his intent clear. Oh, God! Genie squealed and kicked backward but encountered only air. Her attacker chuckled and ground her harder against the sink. She whipped her body from side to side in an effort to loosen his hot, trembling arms while her hands groped wildly for a weapon. Something. Anything.
Her grasping fingers glanced off a pair of bandage scissors and sent them spinning to the floor.
She flailed, straining against his superior strength and trying for the freedom she knew was only a few feet away. Then at the last possible moment, when she heard the rasp of his zipper and felt his cruel, groping hand on her body, Genie touched something else with a straining fingertip.
Something cold and metal and sharp-cornered.
As his hot fingers slithered up her leg beneath the sensible gray wool skirt, Genie screamed against the impersonal latex glove, grabbed the metal thing and swung it over her shoulder with all her might.
There was a sickening thud as it connected. A bitter curse. Warm wetness sprayed her cheek and the hand fell away from her mouth. She was free!
Then she saw a quick movement of black shadow against the unholy red light.
Pain exploded in her head.
And she saw no more.
"Dr. Watson? Dr. Watson?"
At first the voice reminded her of the loudspeaker at St. Agnes, where she'd done her residency. Dr. Watson. Paging Dr. Watson. Dr. Watson to the NICU.
She'd hated the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, full of sick babies, some born with genetic disorders. For many of the tiny lives in the NICU the cures were few, the costs high, and the bright spark of consciousness too quickly snuffed. Like Marilynn. Poor, dear Marilynn. Genie shuddered and tried to slide deeper into the beckoning blackness.
But the voice wouldn't allow that. "Dr. Watson? Genie? Come on now, wake up."
She must be dreaming. She heard the rubba-thump, rubba-thump of the light-proof revolving door and wondered what the light lock was doing in her bedroom.
"Genie? Can you hear me?" For that matter, what was a man's voice doing in her bedroom? The last time that had happened the voice had belonged to the cable guy, and he'd been whiny and had a hanging butt crack the size of a Smithfield ham.
"She's unconscious. And look at all that blood." Another voice murmured agreement as the first one said, "Where the hell are the paramedics? The genetic research building is part of Boston General, for chrissake. The E.R.'s right down the street. What's taking them so long?"
Frustration edged the tone, but the voice was still nice-gruff and interesting, without the nasal twang of Boston. His voice made Genie feel warm and fuzzy and she wanted to snuggle into the sound and bring it with her to the safe darkness.
"Genie? Can you hear me? Open your eyes, sweetheart."
Sweetheart? She liked that. She hadn't been anyone's sweetheart in a long, long time. Not since her father died.
Her eyes remained stubbornly closed when she ordered them to open, but her head began to hurt like hell as if the act had alerted thousands of anxious neurons that she was conscious and ready for pain.
Rubba-thump, rubba-thump. The sound of the revolving light lock magnified the throbbing behind her eyes and she began to feel the hard, cool floor beneath her. This wasn't her bedroom and, oh, she was beginning to hurt.
A new voice, excited. "The police and the paramedics are here." An audible gulp. "Is Dr. Watson going to be okay? That's an awful lot of blood."
"I don't think it's all hers. I hope to hell it's not." She could feel her anchor move away. With a monumental effort she cracked open her eyes and made out a blurry man-shape against the bright, stabbing light.
"Don't leave me. Please." Was that pitiful croak really her own voice? It must have been, because she heard him crouch down beside her, felt him take her hand -
And she slid back into the warm, blessed darkness, taking his presence with her. Feeling safe.
Excerpted from Dr. Bodyguard by Jessica Andersen Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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