Home > Brawn (New Species #5)

Brawn (New Species #5)
Author: Laurann Dohner

New Species series

Chapter One


Becca Oberto glared at her father, resisting the urge to yell. “You what?”

Tim shrugged. “I need you to move in with me right now. In less than an hour someone else will be moving into your house. I put clean sheets on your old bed.”

“No.” She shook her head vehemently and leaned against her car. He’d just announced he had agreed to allow some man to move into her home but it was hers. “You can’t just order me to live with you or give permission for someone else to take my home. Grandpa left the main house to you and the guesthouse to me. He’s your guy so make him stay in your house.”

“That won’t work. He’s, uh, different. He needs his own space, Rebecca.”

“So do I. I don’t care how different he is or what the situation may be. He is not getting my home. I love you dearly but I’m twenty-nine years old, a widow and way too old to live with my daddy again.” She took a breath. “Plus, you drive me nuts. You treat me as though I’m ten years old and I’ve lived on my own for far too long to revert to that. No way in hell. Is that clear enough? Give him my old room.”

Her father shifted his stance. “He’s New Species, Rebecca. He needs his own space and he’d have a problem with how close the main house is to the street. I was told he needs quiet living accommodations or the sound of traffic will keep him awake. The guesthouse is all the way at the back of the property and it’s got all those trees to make it secluded. He’d love it there. I swore to the NSO that I’d give him safe, quiet living and your place is perfect. It won’t be for that long. Please?”

Stunned, Becca just glared at her father. He headed some secret task force that directly worked with the New Species Organization—NSO for short. She’d never met a New Species but she’d seen a few of them on television and featured in newspapers. Her father kept her fuzzy on what he did at work but she guessed it probably was dangerous. Her father had been with the military for twenty-five years, had retired nearly two years before and was an adrenaline junky. He lived for being shot at or to shoot at shit. He found and saved New Species who were still being held captive. That’s about all she knew.

“Why would one of them need to be here? All of them either live here at the NSO Homeland or they live up north at the NSO Reservation. I’m not stupid, Dad. I read the papers and none of them ever live outside those gates. It would be too dangerous with all the morons who bug them.”

Tim frowned. “I don’t have to explain this to you, baby.”

“You do if you want me to let someone live in my house for awhile.”

A curse broke from his lips. “Fine. Do you remember Jessie Dupree?”

“The wild redhead? Sure. She’s the only woman on your team and I met her a few times when you had them over for drinks for team morale. What does she have to do with some guy wanting to live in my house?”

“She was hurt on the job and had to be replaced. The NSO offered us one of their people to fill her position. Jessie did the first contact stuff for us when we recovered a New Species POW alive. We thought—I thought—that since we don’t have Jessie then we should have a New Species do first contact. The thing is that he’ll have to live here or we’d have to send our only helicopter to get him for every mission. It’d waste funds and resources when we have few to spare. This way he’s on the spot when we need him and have to move fast.”

Becca let that all that information sink in. “POWs? You call them prisoners of war?”

“What would you call them? My job is to find imprisoned New Species and free them. They aren’t there for fun and games. They are prisoners and it’s usually a fight to get them free.” He shifted his weight again. “Anyway, now that you know the situation, I expect you to get with the program. I’m going to go change my clothes while you pack your belongings. I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes to help you move. He should be arriving within the hour.” He paused and his eyes narrowed. “I want you to stay away from him. That’s an order, Rebecca Marie Oberto.”

“This is why Mom left you and why you’re still single eight years after the divorce.” Becca was pissed. “Do not tell me what to do. I’m a grown woman. You get with the program. I can talk to whoever I want, even hang out with him and I don’t take orders from you.”

“You will not.” His voice deepened and took on a stern tone. “I am your father and you will do what you’re told. I have spoken.”

Her eyes widened in astonishment. Her hands fisted as she shoved them against her hips. “Wow! Really? You’ve spoken? I’m having flashbacks of my teens and we both know that didn’t go so well for you. I sneaked out of the house plenty of times when you refused to allow me to have a life. It didn’t work then and it sure as hell won’t get you what you want now. I’ve spoken.”

“Damn it, Rebecca Marie. Stop being childish.”

“Listen up, Dad. I’ve been married and I survived burying a husband. I grew up. I’m not the kid whose diapers you sometimes changed when you were home on those rare occasions between the wars you couldn’t wait to go fight. Do not treat me as though I’m still a child. I love you but I swear to God, I’ll stop speaking to you if you continue with this line of bullshit. I’m not one of your military guys who jump when you say boo. Yes, you have spoken but so have I. Deal with that!”

“You’re still mad that I wasn’t around much when you were a kid? I was working.”

“You were always volunteering! Don’t think I didn’t know you asked for the toughest assignments that would keep you out of the house the longest just because you and Mom didn’t get along. You were hardly there. I am not angry anymore because I grew up and got over it. What makes me mad is that you were hardly there to tell me what to do as a kid so what makes you think you can pull this crap now? I would rethink it. Stop telling me what to do, where I can live, or who I can talk to.”

“He’s New Species, Rebecca. You’ve learned enough about them to know why I don’t want you near him. They were locked up all their lives as test subjects and they were prisoners who suffered physical and emotional abuse. No one could be completely right in the head after that. They are all big and were shoved full of altered shit. He’s going to be part man and animal. You’re a good-looking girl and he will notice that. I don’t want you near him and that’s an order you will follow. You are not to talk to him or hang out with him.”

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