Sera has no memory of her life before. Before captivity, before experiments, before the only lifeline she had was the voice of a boy in the cell next to hers. Before G.
G wishes he could forget everything before Sera brought him back to life. Forget his memories as a ruthless mercenary on an alternate version of Earth. Forget that he was part of an experiment simply known as Alpha.
Now on the run from their captors and in need of an antidote to save his life, G and Sera’s clock is ticking. And they’ll have to gamble everything on the bond they forged in captivity if they want to survive.
The Infinity Division series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Infinity
Book #2 Omega
Book #3 Alpha
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About the Author
JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food.
Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing, as well as the Darker Agency series, and the New Adult series, The Eternal Balance. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.
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The rain stopped, and the wind outside had settled, leaving an uncomfortable silence in its wake. I didn't have a problem with the quiet. I liked it, in fact. But this was something a little different. This was uncomfortable. The kind of stillness that came from forced proximity to someone or something that made your skin itch and your stomach roil. The kind of hush that usually set in right before a devastating storm or a natural disaster.
He did this sometimes. Just sat across from me and stared. He usually wouldn't even say anything. I didn't think he expected me to say anything, either. He just looked. Sometimes it lasted a few minutes, just long enough to send that chill skittering up and down my spine. Other times it would go on for hours. He'd blink and breathe and fidget, but his eyes ... those remained locked on me, his unhealthy mix of sadness and lust and greed and anger crushing me to the point of breathlessness.
We were at it again, and I was just about out of patience. It was one thing to have been ripped away from my home, from my life, by that madwoman, Cora Anderson. It was another to have her poke and prod and use me as a science experiment. She'd altered my mind. Made me forget most of my life before the day I woke up a prisoner on the floor of her cold, dank cell. Those things were all bad, but having been "rescued" by this bastard and forced to stay by his side at all times? That was an entirely new level of torture.
"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" His tone was acidic and his jaw tight. He had a temper, this guy. I'd seen it multiple times. He'd never done anything more than scream at me, but it was only a matter of time with people like this. I wasn't sure how I knew that, but I felt it in my bones. Maybe I'd known someone like him at home. Maybe it was just intuition.
"Yes," was all I replied. I found that simple, one-word responses went over the best. Or, more accurately, the worst. When I said too little, he grew agitated. He wanted me to talk to him, yet the things that came out of my mouth weren't ever what he wanted to hear. I didn't act like he'd hoped I would, didn't say the things he longed to hear. Some days he was determined to change me. Others, he was rabid, blaming me for not behaving like myself and demanding that I wake up.
Forget that I had no idea who I was.
"While it's not okay, I understand." He offered me a smile — a small, tentative twitch of his lips and gentle shrug of his shoulders. He was making an effort to be kinder today, going out of his way to speak softer and move slower.
That made me even angrier.
"You understand? Then my life is complete. All I've ever wanted was the understanding of a serial killer." Even if I hadn't been thinking about ... someone else, I would have lied. The fact that I wasn't focused on him, and him alone, drove Dylan — my savior, my captor — crazy. But the truth was, I was thinking of him. That other him. How could I not? Even if I didn't find myself missing him every moment of every day in an almost physical way, I wouldn't be able to put him out of my mind because he was technically sitting here across from me.
The only solace to be found during my captivity at the Infinity Division had been a boy named G. Like me, he'd been ripped from his home and experimented on. Like me, he didn't remember who he was or where he'd come from. We'd formed a strong bond. Kept each other sane in the midst of a torturous situation. Just hearing his voice made me feel safer. Knowing he was there — even if I couldn't see or touch him — calmed the terrible churning in my gut and allowed me to drift off to sleep at night. Then Ash, the foster daughter of our captor, and her friends had freed us, and I'd seen him for the very first time. He was beautiful, with dark hair and chocolate brown eyes. I'd gotten to touch him ...
It was brief, and it wasn't enough, and I hadn't been able to stop thinking about him.
"I am him," Dylan said. There was a hint of impatience in his voice. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have blamed him. He'd been telling me the same thing, over and over again, for the last three weeks, and that would be enough to drive anyone over the edge. Well, anyone who hadn't already gone over. Dylan had jumped the sanity line years ago, from what I understood. "You don't need to miss him because I'm right here."
The most twisted part of this whole mess? He wasn't technically lying. G — whose real name was apparently Dylan — was sitting right here. The face was the same, though G's was thinner. The voice was the same, though the pitch was different. G's was lower, while Dylan always sounded angry. G was scruffier, with slightly darker hair that brushed his shoulders. Dylan kept his hair buzzed close to his head. They were different versions of the same person. From different dimensions of the same place.
It made my head spin to think about it, but a scientist named Cora Anderson — most Cora Andersons, apparently — had invented a way to travel between dimensions. As Dylan put it, there were an infinite number of Earths just floating around out there. All different, if only slightly, from the next. Infinite versions of him and me playing at the same song and dance — one I wanted no part of.
"You're not him." My only joy in life anymore was pointing that out to him. Over and over, in as many ways as I could come up with. Because it was true. There were infinite versions of Earth, which meant an infinite number of Dylans — but still only one G.
Dylan jumped up, fists balled tight, and began stalking back and forth. All pretenses of his softer side evaporated. I was familiar with this. While he made an effort most days, it was always short-lived. His patience was nonexistent.
The motel room was small. Only eight by ten. And every time he passed, the temperature dropped a little. I didn't know if it was from the breeze he created as he moved through the room, or something darker, but it cut me to the bone and left me feeling hollow.
"What's so great about him?" He stopped pacing and stood in front of me, bending to grip the arms of my chair. Leaning in close, he said, "He looks and sounds exactly like I do. What makes him so different from me?"
"For starters, he wouldn't have kidnapped me." If Dylan lost his temper and killed me, then at least this would all be over. I wouldn't be stuck listening to his annoying comparisons. I wouldn't be subjected to his weird romantic overtures and attempts to win my heart. He was another version of G, and I was another version of his girlfriend, Ava. He'd lost her to an accident on his Earth, and it had destroyed his mind. Since then, he'd cut a bloody swath across the multiverse in search of another version of her — me. One he could claim as his own. "He wouldn't blackmail me into staying with him."
Dylan straightened and made a sweeping gesture toward the door. The corner of his lip pulled up and created the smallest hint of a dimple. On anyone other than this madman, it would have been adorable. I'd swoon hard if G had flashed it my way. On Dylan, though, it seemed almost sinister. "Go ahead, then. Leave. Get up and walk away right now if you feel inclined. I won't stop you."
I'd tried leaving once in the beginning, a few days after he'd taken me away from my new friends. He kept me tied up for the next four days, watched me like a hawk, stealing away whatever tiny shreds of dignity I had left. Now, though, the shackles were off because he'd found a much more effective way to keep me in line.
If I left him, I would be stuck. Stranded in whatever world we were in at the time. The chip that allowed him to move between dimensions, the one buried beneath his skin, worked on both of us if we were touching, but I hadn't gotten one of my own. If I ran from him, then I would never find my way home — wherever that was — and I would never find G ... He could track Dylan because of the chip, but if I wasn't with him ... That wasn't a scenario I could live with, so by his side I stayed until G found me — and I knew he would.
Plus, there was a good chance I'd end up back in one of Cora Anderson's cells if I left.
She'd put some kind of tracking device in me. Property. That's how she'd referred to me. The specifics were unclear, but she'd claimed that on top of being vital to her research, I owed her my life thanks to the tech she'd created, and without her, I would eventually die.
My life was hers.
Of course, if you asked Dylan, my life was his. Sometimes I wondered if anyone else would step up and put in a claim. If they did? Fine. I'd enjoy showing them — all of them — that my life belonged to me. I just had to bide my time. Wait for my moment.
"Do you think they'll ever stop looking?" It was a legitimate question. I didn't know Cade and Noah very well. Only what Dylan had told me about them — which was colorfully bad. Despite the horrible things I already knew about him, he'd painted them as the villains. They'd been chasing him since he left home, determined to make him suffer. Determined to keep him from finding me.
As for Cora? As surely as I knew G would never rest until he found me, I knew she'd never stop, either. She would hunt me until the day one of us died. If I went first, she'd probably cart my carcass back to her lab and do, well, whatever it was she did with her property. Maybe I'd end up in some weird science museum. Or maybe they'd stash me away in a freezer to be used at a later date. Dissected and diced to bits. Whatever her plan, I had no intention of making it easy on her.
"Do you wish they would stop looking?" he challenged. The set of his jaw was stiff, and his shoulders were rigid. He was barely controlling his temper.
"Of course not."
"So you can be with him?" It was more an accusation than a question. His tone was light, but his eyes ... his eyes brimmed with fury. At his sides, both fists were balled tight, the muscles in his arms coiled and taut. Ready to strike. Always ready ...
He and G had that in common.
"So they can put an end to you." I stood. "So they can make you pay for all the horrible things you've done."
He pushed me back into the chair. "The horrible things I've done? You mean all the things I did for you?"
I stood again, and this time, I pushed him harder. It was one thing to leave him to his delusions, but to allow him to essentially lay the blame at my feet? Not a damn chance. I wasn't responsible for the devastation he'd caused, for the blood on his hands. Every drop he'd spilled coated his own conscience — not mine. "You've done nothing for me. Everything you've done, every single selfish action, was for you and you alone. Even now, hiding away in this rat-infested place so you can keep me safe from Cora is so that you aren't denied the one thing you feel the universe owes you. Me!"
I watched it come — the subtle twitch of his left eye and the pull of his lips as he ground his teeth. Rage swirled behind his eyes and I knew ... Somehow, I was sure that I'd taken this too far. This could be it. I might have finally pushed him hard enough.
I thought about the twin scars on the insides of each of my wrists. I had no recollection of how they'd gotten there, but every day I spent with Dylan was one day closer to convincing me that I'd had a death wish in my old life. One that had carried through the memory loss and was fighting its way to the surface.
He grabbed two handfuls of my shirt and hauled me away from the chair. Whipping me around as though I weighed nothing more than a feather, he flung me at the bed. I crashed into the mattress and bounced, rolling off the side and hitting the floor with enough force to jar my hip. A jolt of pain shot through me, and I winced, lifting my head to glare at him in defiance. "That's it? All you've got?"
He clenched his fists and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, the anger had gone. Mostly. "You'd like that, right? If I killed you? Then you'd feel justified in believing I'm a monster."
"You don't need to do anything to justify to me that you're a monster." I grabbed the edge of the bed and climbed to my feet. I'd traded one captivity for another, and I'd be damned if I let him bully me into silence. "I've told you repeatedly that I want to leave. That I don't want to be here with you. The fact that you refuse to set me free, to let me find G, proves it in spades."
"For three weeks I've done nothing but keep you safe." He had a point. A small one. Cade and Noah and G weren't the only ones chasing us. Cora's main man, Yancy, and his crew had been nipping at our heels for weeks now. Sometimes we burned the cooldown on his chip, skipping and waiting out in the open until they found us, only to skip again. After the fourth and final skip, we hunkered down in some out of the way hole, like we were now, a brief twenty-four hours of reprieve granted while the chip reset before we had to do it all again.
That was, of course, assuming they didn't land right on top of us when they followed. The way the chip worked, you could track someone's frequency, but the individual landing spot was a bit random. It could put you anywhere from one foot to half a mile away from your target. We'd had a couple of close calls but had gotten lucky this last time. "If it wasn't for me, you'd be back rotting in that cage."
"I think I would prefer that to spending another second with you." It was a lie. I hated Dylan, but even all his staring and misplaced lovesick actions weren't as bad as the things Cora had done to me. All in the name of science, she'd say. Over and over. She told me that I was special. That I would herald a new generation to change the world. I was going to be instrumental in making it a better place — though, I had no idea how.
Dylan flew at me, eyes wild, but stopped when our faces were mere inches apart. I held my breath and waited, but the blow never came. "You're lying. I know because of the way you scream at night. Like the devil himself was standing at your back."
His voice was low and, even though I refused to acknowledge it, held a hint of compassion. He'd been sweet in the beginning. Each word had been carefully chosen to make me comfortable. Every action was played out with the sole purpose of wooing me. In the beginning, I almost fell for it. Not for him, but for the show. For the mask he donned to sway me. He'd been kind, and I'd returned the favor. But when I'd asked him to return me to G, to let me go so that I could find the place I belonged, the mask had slipped to reveal the monster beneath. I screamed at night over the things Cora had done to me, but Dylan was right. The devil was standing at my back.
And he had Dylan's face.
"Get your crap together. We need to leave in five." He turned and stalked out the door, slamming it behind him so hard that the small vase on the table beside the bed wobbled then teetered off the edge. It hit the stained carpet, a piece of the rim cracking off and bouncing across to land at my feet.
I picked it up and turned, then spun in a slow circle as I rubbed my left wrist, the raised scars on the inside that could be from only one thing. I didn't remember my old life, but those scars told me that I'd tried to escape it. I had the feeling that I was always trying to escape something. That just like now, I'd been trapped. Caged. But whatever it was that I'd been running from back then, I'd changed. I might not know the true extent of that change, but I wasn't about to take the easy way out. I wasn't going down without a fight.
I went to the window and peeled back the curtains. Dylan was just outside the door, pacing back and forth like a caged animal. He did this when I frustrated him — which was at least ten times a day. It was the one small pleasure I was able to squeeze from the current situation.
He was so focused on his irritation that he didn't notice the man approaching from the far side of the building. Tall, with a five o'clock shadow and a wicked gleam in his eyes, the man was dressed in a dark purple suit and walked with a kind of confidence you didn't see often.
"Yancy." I threw myself at the door, fumbled with the knob, and propelled myself outside just in time to see someone else round the corner of the building not far behind him. Several others, actually. Cade and Noah and their friends, and ...(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Alpha"
Copyright © 2018 Jus Accardo.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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