by Rebecca Royce
The Conditioned - Book 1
Available from Decadent Publishing
Download for Amazon Kindle
Thirty years ago, after the breakdown of an oil negotiation, the President of the United States decided that all people born with unusual abilities, which he would now refer to as “the condition”, would be locked away from the general public where they couldn't harm others. Parents and loved ones of these people, most of whom were children, were forced to turn them in upon penalty of death. Formed to keep the institutions secure, the Committee for the Protection of a Free Society now rules these institutions with an iron fist.
The granddaughter of one the Committee members, Addison Wade has lived her life wary of the institutions and all they represent. A woman of secrets, she is forced to turn to Safe Dawn, one of the facilities designed to hold conditioned people, when her nephew is kidnapped and, despite her best efforts, cannot be recovered. She knows the last thing anyone in 'Safe Dawn' will want to do is to help a Wade with any problems, but she is desperate and out of options.
Spencer Lewis is famous for being the premier conditioned ‘locator.’ There's no one he can't find and he has a soft spot for missing children. But, Spencer has been through a trauma and locating Jeremy Wade may be dangerous both to himself and to those around him. In addition, he takes one look at ice cold Addison Wade and wants nothing more than to knock her down a peg. Never having turned down an opportunity to help a child, he reluctantly agrees to help recover Jeremy.
In a world where nothing is as it seems and every person they encounter has his own agenda, Addison and Spencer will find that the only people they can trust are each other. But how can anyone fall in love living in a world that wants you dead just for being born?
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Spencer nearly swallowed his tongue when he’d stormed into the room in one of his too common rages and stumbled on the blonde with the cold blue eyes sitting in the chair to the left. Stunning didn’t begin to describe her. She had made the world stop for a moment.
That she was a Wade didn’t surprise him, not in the least.
Despite the heat of attraction, he could almost feel a chill. Then again, the whole family was said to have ice instead of blood running through their veins. Addison Wade sat frigidly in her chair, her expression haughty and removed, as if she was more concerned with not wrinkling her skirt than noticing that he was in the room. They had come asking for help to find a missing boy? She looked like she was making a quick stop before some trendy lunch date.
Spencer had some experience with finding missing children, he was used to the families falling apart, not sitting calmly looking like they had just come from a day at a hair salon.
At least they had come.
Surprising as that was, until then, Spencer would have sworn a Wade would rather swallow their tongue then come near one of the institutions. The whole thing was ironic, considering he was in the presence of two of the people responsible for the misery that plagued so many of his people and necessitated the continuing use of these places.
He should tell the Wades to go screw themselves.
Why was it his problem that they couldn’t keep track of their own child?
Even as the thought crossed his mind, he dismissed it. In his life, he’d always helped a child if he could. In this case, the could would be the ultimate question. Spencer had no idea if he was even capable of performing the functions they would need to locate their nephew.
Knowing that every eye in the room was focused on him, including Will’s, he turned around to regard the women who sat behind him. Leaning on the desk behind him, he gave Addison a good long stare. If she already thought he was a savage, why not live up to the role? There would be hell to pay from Will later, but just watching the woman squirm would be worth it.
“Your nephew has gone missing.” He made his statement sound like a question. He knew the kid was gone, Will had just said he was and Will was, as far as Spencer could tell, never wrong.
“Yes, he disappeared from his bedroom a month ago.”
“Spencer, I told them you aren’t available for the assignment. I’m going to assign someone else.” He dark tones clearly expressed what he thought of Spencer’s presence in the room at that moment. “Your other issue, the one that had you storming in here like a lunatic, I’ll look into the matter later.”
Ignoring Will, he continued his long stare at princess Addison. “And it took you a whole month to come here? What were you doing?”
“Why we were too busy to come here, naturally. I had a ski vacation in Aspen and my aunt needed to get her nails done every day.” Addison’s sarcasm spit from her mouth and Spencer nearly laughed aloud. So, the cat had claws. What was wrong with him that he liked it so much?
“Temper, temper, Ms. Wade.” Spencer ignored the tug in his groin that said he was more than just a little aware of how attractive she was.
“I don’t like your implication, Mr. Lewis. For your information, we have been working with the authorities and trying to handle this nightmare ourselves.” She looked down and for a moment, Spencer swore she was biting the inside of her cheek. Her foot still tapped on the floor. When she looked up, her gaze was not on him, but on Will behind him. Spencer narrowed his eyes. He didn’t like that one bit.
“I realize this is the perfect opportunity to attack and humiliate us. We are sitting here in your office, easy targets. But, we’ve come here in good faith, to ask you for help in our most desperate situation. Can you help us or should we leave?”
“We can help you. I’ll assign you someone.” Will stood up and walked around the desk to stand next to him, placing a hand on his arm. Spencer started. When was the last time the other man had touched him? A jolt of psychic awareness filled the room, although he was sure the two non-sensitives wouldn’t feel it. Why was Will pushing on his senses so hard? “But it won’t be Spencer here helping you. As I said, he’s not capable of doing what you need him to do right now.”
Addison’s eyes showed relief. “That’s fine. We’ll be most grateful.”
Oh, hell no. “I can do it.”
“What?” Will and Addison spoke at the same time. Spencer crossed his arms over his chest.
“I said I could do it. I’ll find the missing Wade child, your nephew.”
“No.” Addison stood up.
Looking left and right between Addison and Spencer, the older woman Will had called Morgan stood up too, a pained expression on her features showing her worry.
“Mr. Rhodes says you are not capable of doing the job. Therefore, we need someone else.”
“I said I would do it, and I’m the best there is. No one else can find your nephew as quickly as I can. You do care about that, don’t you, Ms. Wade? Or do people in your position, who wait a month to get the services of freaks like us, not care about things like the mental health of the missing child?”
Addison’s mouth gaped open and he had the momentary pleasure of watching her do her best imitation of the number zero. Satisfaction crept up his spine. Let the spawn of all things evil feel lower than low for a while. Nothing he’d ever said had felt better.
Until he saw her hand shake.