Solid as Stone (The Brotherhood #1)
by Amylea Lyn
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The Brotherhood is seeking their freedom, and one man holds the key. When the father's sins come to light, can one shy doctor and a tough assassin work together or will past scars be too much for them to overcome?
Stone's life is one of ordered control. As a child he was experimented on and turned into something more than human. Now the leader of The Brotherhood, an elite group of soldier assassins, he is given the task of eradicating the man who possibly holds the key to his freedom.
When Dr Wesley Folcomb finds himself targeted by the government group that killed his father, he is forced to seek safety from the very assassin sent to eliminate him.
On the run for their lives, Wesley and Stone grow close but with such different pasts, can they find love? Or will the danger hunting them cause their relationship to crumble before it has a chance to become as solid as stone?
Slamming the large metal door shut behind him, he flipped the locks and leaned back against the cool steel. Bending over, he gasped for breath, wiping the cold sweat from his brow. His heart raced, feeling like it would beat right out of his chest given half a chance. Fear and adrenaline fueled him, keeping him from crumbling to the floor in a shaking heap after what he'd just witnessed.
That one had been too close, much too close; he'd almost been caught this time.
Dr Steven Folcomb straightened, pushing a shaking hand through his dark brown hair. He ignored the fact his white lab coat was askew, and gazed about the lab; the place where everything had all began, and ironically enough, about to end.
Odd though, the simple lab didn't look like somewhere the very basis of the human structure had been altered; what with its glass beakers, stainless steel worktops and sterile air filtration system. No, it really just looked like any ordinary laboratory found in just about any university in the country.
Except this one held a dark secret; something so horrifying that it would only be a matter of time before it lead to the death and destruction of all he held dear. He hadn't meant to be the cause of so much turmoil; oh no, all his intentions had been for the best, truly.
He'd only wanted to end the pain his beloved wife, Tonya, suffered from every day, due to the debilitating disease ravaging her body. He'd only wanted his son to have a life where both his parents were whole and healthy, to be able to watch him at ball games and graduate from college, even to marry some day. He'd only wanted to give his loved ones the life they deserved; instead, he'd destroyed every chance of that ever happening.
Oh, don't get him wrong, the formula he'd spent most of his career working on and the resulting serum had worked, very well in fact. The formula just hadn't worked for what it had originally been intended.
He'd thought he had found the cure for Tonya's multiple sclerosis, to rebuild the muscle strength the MS had stolen from the once bright and vibrant woman he loved. Instead he'd created a drug that did nothing to combat the disease, but instead enhanced the physical attributes in the most average of people. Better hearing, eyesight, strength, speed, agility, and healing. It mutated their DNA, making the receivers of the drug more than human.
The formula was science in its finest form.
He'd created a way to better all of humanity and possibly change the world; except he couldn't change anything for the one person he'd really wanted too. He didn't know why the formula had no effect on the test rats that he'd infected with many other disorders to create something akin to MS, no actual explanation could be found. The effects of the formula on the physically healthy and fit subjects had been astounding. The younger the subject, the easier the formula altered the subject's DNA, thus creating the ultimate creature.
The next step in the evolutionary ladder had been born.
What a fool he'd been, to believe the government agency funding his work had the best interest for all involved. When they'd first approached him, wanting to use his formula on soldiers stationed at the front lines, he'd warned them the drug was still in the first stages of testing, and that he'd only had a small batch of serum available. He would create more after additional testing had been completed.
Dr Folcomb hung his head in shame. What a fool he'd been to believe they'd wait for him to be sure the formula was ready. He'd been blinded by his own ambition, and now it was much too late.
But he knew better now, didn't he? He'd seen the small faces of the orphaned children injected with his drug; stomachs gaunt, eyes hollow and empty, working together to become the best, most mindless killers the world had ever seen. He'd counted six, but there could have been more that he didn't know about. Horrified didn't even begin to cover his reaction. Those were children, not soldiers volunteering for assignment! These children had no choice. Good God, they couldn't have been much older than his own son, Wesley!
Those poor babies; and he'd helped in destroying their lives.
Well, no more, the doctor decided, moving away from the door and to the refrigerator filled with hundreds of perfected formula doses. Every small vial waiting patiently for delivery to the very government that could no longer be trusted. Punching in the passcode and opening the door, he shuddered, but not at the cold draft wafting out of the steel box. No, the vials upon vials of milky green substance stacked on ever shelf caused his unease.
He knew he didn't have much time. The ones sent to kill him would no doubt be showing up soon; he'd only gotten maybe an hour head start.
But it was enough time to do what must be done.
Quickly, in what could only be described as a frenzy born of desperation, he began knocking the vials off the shelf; the shattering sound of glass echoing in the empty room satisfying to hear. He had to destroy all trace of the drug from existence, so it could never be broken down and created anew.
So his work could never again be used to harm the innocent.
Closing his eyes, he swayed with weariness at the knowledge of what was to come. But he must. Thank goodness he'd already sent his wife all she would need to know. Information no one but he had, things he knew she would take to her grave. He hoped she hid everything well; no doubt there would be an investigation when this was all said and done.
Reaching over to each of the four separate worktables, he started cranking different knobs; the low hiss of fumes being released hardly noticeable over his harsh breathing. So caught up in the moment, the doctor almost missed the sounds proclaiming he was no longer alone in the building.
What was that? It only took a moment to identify the sound. The rhythm of slow, stealthy footsteps softly thumping down the hall outside the lab, headed his way.
So, the end had begun.
A sense of calm descended over him as he walked to the door and pushed the large red emergency button, the one that was to be used when there was chemical contamination and instantly sealed the lab door to outside forces. He could hear them better now, pounding on the door loud enough to be heard over the emergency sirens, but he hardly noticed. The room was heavy with vapors, and the time had come.
He gave a grim, humorless smile. He hoped he took as many of the bastards with him as he could.
Sparing a quick thought for the wife he would never see again, and the son he would never get to watch grow up, he reached over and lit a Bunsen burner.
Dr Steven Folcomb and his formula went up in flames.
Wesley finds himself sorting through his mother’s possessions after she dies and comes upon some of his father’s papers. As his father died when he was but a boy Wes is very curious, especially when mixed amongst the papers are pictures too frightening to forget. Children being experimented on. When Wesley winds up as the target of The Company the man sent to bring him in brings him to his knees but with lust not fear. Stone is one of the children, long ago experimented on with Wesley's father’s formula, and now destined to live in service to The Company. However, Stone falls for Wes and decides to initiate a plan that will have he and his brothers fighting for their lives and their freedom.
I love stories with "Super" Soldiers who have powers beyond human. Stone and his brothers are such men, although the way they got those powers is heartbreaking. The relationship that develops between Stone and Wes is sweet and tender even while Stone is large and in charge. The descriptions of the Alters, bad zombie like men sent to kill AWOL soldiers, was frightening in a very creepy way right down to them smelling like burnt cinnamon. I know I will never have the apple spice drink at my local coffee shop around Halloween without thinking about these guys!
Solid as Stone is a very good start to what promises to be a very interesting series. The experiment on super human men theme has been done in a lot of male/female romances but you don't see it as much in the male/male genre. It is something I enjoy, as allowing some extra powers and senses can be used so effectively to enhance the story through bringing in extra sensory input. Really a good way to immerse the reader. It looks like Blade's book might be next which should be interesting especially after the reveal in the epilogue. Ms. Lyn has become of my favorite MM authors for her fun characters who don't always take themselves too seriously coupled with plots that sometimes do which provides a nice contrast!
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