Fallen Comrade by Jillian David

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Project Morpheus, 1

Ex-Green Beret Jake Zimmerman’s Georgia mountain seclusion is shattered when the one woman he should never have left, pregnant Kiera McNeill, shows up on his doorstep. Her life is in danger, thanks to a botched Morpheus Squad mission. If the nature of her baby is discovered, evil forces will stop at nothing to capture Kiera. When Kiera learns of Jake’s top-secret Morpheus Virus running through his veins, she realizes that her protector is the deadlier threat.

Kiera knows the secrets of Fallen Comrades, a billion-dollar “charity” which siphons donations away from wounded veterans and into the pockets of power-hungry CFO Beau Lequire. Now her sadistic ex-boss, Lequire, wants revenge. Her only chance of escape rests in the lethal hands of the man who once rejected her: Jake. All she needs to do is suppress her feelings for Jake long enough to destroy Fallen Comrades, stay alive, and save her baby.

 

Excerpt:

Thanks to his tree-mounted security cameras that made the system guarding the crown jewels look amateur, it took less than ten seconds for Jake Zimmerman to identify the vehicle creeping to a stop in front of his remote Blue Ridge, Georgia, cabin. Silver Hyundai Accent, five years old, brand-new tires. Getting the registration info from the license plate, however, led to a dead end. His computer kept cranking through databases. So far, nothing had come up.

Odd. Normally, he could get the information right away.

Where was the convoy? When would they storm the compound?

He cocked his head to the side. No whumps of an incoming helo.

Sparks of adrenaline fired up his nerves, lasering all of his senses on the intruder.

His first thought was that the Army had finally found him. He ran the pad of his index finger over the rough grip of the Sig nestled in his shoulder holster. How could anyone find him? He’d buried his personal intel deeper than a black ops mission file. The powers that be would have had to connect a hell of a lot of dots to figure out Jake’s real identity and location.

Besides, if Uncle Sam wanted to storm Jake’s castle, there better be a battalion coming. If Uncle Sam was smart.

He shifted, feeling the weight of a second pistol in the drop leg holster. With minimal concentration, Jake could detect the mild indentations of a Ka-Bar fixed blade in the sheath at the small of his back as well as the ever-present multitool tucked away in a pocket and ready to go for any occasion.

He peered at the … occasion … on the computer screen.

He kept the house lights off and waited despite a driving need to run out there and exterminate whoever had dared to invade his peace and quiet. Control, dammit. Drawing a hand over his face, he took several deep breaths and tightened and loosened a fist. The muscles in his neck clenched, refusing to loosen despite his automatic relaxation techniques.

The damned virus had started to take over his brain again until his entire world narrowed down to one mandate: destroy.

No, damn it. He was a man, not this … monster.

His ability to restrain those calamitous urges was slipping. Thanks to the top-secret Project Morpheus he had volunteered for almost two years ago in Special Forces, the part of Jake that had previously kept him from devolving into base violence now fucking loved it when he lost control. The darkness within Jake thrived on the anarchy that was his virally corrupted soul.

Add in an uninvited visitor, and it looked like tonight would bring even more fun for one of the U.S. Army’s best-kept secrets.

Question of the evening: what idiot would show up at his place at 2:00 AM? Better yet, why? It was mid-March, still damp and at times freezing up here in the southernmost part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Did the person want to rob him? Jake had no material items of value. Not for lack of resources, thanks to his combat pay savings and mother’s life insurance policy. But he didn’t need much—just the ability to keep his demons at bay chopping wood out back and lifting weights until oblivion. That, and a deep-seated desire to not interact with any other humans suited him fine.

Something of value? Well, he had a locket with a clip of smooth auburn hair he should have thrown away long before now. Yeah, he was a bastard for preserving the keepsake, despite being technically faithful to his then-wife who did not have auburn hair. Could explain part of why he was no longer married.

He peered out the window again. Whoever was out there remained in the vehicle. Come on, people, let’s go.

So. What to do about the person parked outside his house? Well, right now, his goddamned virus had a helpful suggestion. It wanted Jake to dismember whoever was in the car. Now.

Wiping his hands on his black cargo pants, he unholstered the Sig and crept to the front door. Time to eliminate the person stupid enough to visit him. Because one person could lead to two people, which could lead to being put back in the military “testing facility.”

Unclenching a fist, he carefully released more of his tenuous control over the virus. It infused every cell in his body with unnatural strength and reflexes. But as the strength and acuity of his senses grew, his sanity ebbed.

The hellish yin and yang.

Ingrained training was all that kept him from falling over the cliff into psychosis.

The one person who knew he lived here was Mateo, and Jake hadn’t seen his Special Forces buddy since Mateo and the rest of the Morpheus Squad had gone underground a year ago. Actually, strike that. He’d seen Mateo briefly at Brady McNeill’s funeral.

Brady’s funeral. And one particularly fucked-up night. Not in small part because of seeing Brady’s sister, Kiera.

Seen? A bland word for the silky skin sliding over him and around him during their sweaty, heated reunion.

Since that night, nothing besides Jake’s own misery mattered. Not his best friend’s death, not the Morpheus Squad, his own emotional baggage. Nothing.

Which was exactly what he had now, wasn’t it? Nothing.

Well, not completely. He had someone casing his house.

He licked his lips.

The figure closed the car door and stood, unmoving, facing the front porch.

Jake took stock in a matter of seconds: The person was around five-foot-eight, with a hooded jacket hiding the head and face in shadow. They favored one leg on those first few steps toward the house. Thin legs and what looked like a bit of a paunch. He squinted. Paunch or explosives vest? Damn it.

If the government had found him, they would attempt to take him back in for more experiments or wipe him off the face of the earth trying. Best of luck.

Maybe someone was lost out here in the mountains. The road petered out in another five miles, deep into the National Forest. Who the hell wandered around the Georgia mountains in the middle of the night?

He rubbed the back of his neck. The virus crackled through his nerve endings. Mental processes turned to sludge, making high-level analysis more challenging.

What a time to skip an antidote dose.

Too late now. Don’t care.

As a swell bonus for volunteering to become a walking military biological experiment, each Morpheus Squad member had gotten extra goodies, like Jake, with his extraordinary upper body strength. He rolled his shoulders, upper back, and arms, priming for action.

Each muscle popped as poorly contained rage swept through him, turning him from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde.

Sweat broke out on his forehead as the shaking began.

Using his military training and what little humanity he still possessed, he fought to retain a shred of control. Adrenaline whipped like an icy breeze on naked skin.

He tightened up on the Sig’s grip.

Neutralizing the guy was going to feel like nirvana.

On second thought, he could use a good brawl. Stuffing the weapon back in his holster, he flexed his hands. Mr. Hyde would much rather do this the natural way.

The hunched figure in the baggy jacket trudged up the gravel driveway, halting gait a little short on one leg. Jake spied a hint of a pale nose and cheek as the person looked up at the house, but he couldn’t make out any other facial features with the hood casting a shadow.

Pressing his back to the wall next to the front door, he waited. Listened. Biofeedback techniques and clenching and releasing his hands allowed him to slow his heart rate and focus all of his energy on the shuffle of footsteps up the porch stairs. The virus strained like a chained dog tempted by a wounded rabbit.

Jake became a metal spring, coiled and ready.

At a knock on the door, he didn’t move.

The spring inside of him tightened. Tick, tick, tick. His body ratcheted down as tight as he could go.

A tap on the electronic keypad outside. What the hell? The bolt turned and the door cracked open.

The coil released.

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings)
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4/5
Good
Written by Noelia Gutierrez on 7th Aug 2022

I thought this book was good. It kept my interested and I loved that these was an inner turmoil with the character. He was flawed and i love when a flawed character is the main one.

5/5
Action, Suspense and Revenge ... there's more than one kind of heartbreak
Written by robbob19 on 6th Aug 2022

A military experiment gone wrong.. well maybe not wrong for the ’givers’ but definitely bad for the ‘takers’. Those Special Forces are strong men already. What will happen when injected with a virus giving Superman type strength? A pregnant woman running for her life. She knows too much. A wanted poster has her name all over it : Dead or Alive…. Nope, she is wanted DEAD and she has the bullet holes in her clothes and fresh shrapnel embedded in her flesh to prove it. Fooling around with DNA is a tricky thing. It can make a real Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. And the ‘takers’, those brave military men, have little choice or control now that they are infected. And just because she’s pregnant, doesn’t mean Kiera is not dangerous. Revenge is a very powerful tool. When push comes t shove, she’s a take no prisoners type of woman. And a really important piece in her toolbox is an old high school flame who happens to be injected with the Morpheus Virus, which can make him trigger happy. Now, throw in a shady Fallen Comrade organization, the Almighty Dollar and whistleblowers, then lives are expendable. So, if you like action, drama, and revenge, alongside suspense with some hopeful romance, I’m guessing you will love this book. Just know, not all land mines are explosives. There can be some even more dangerous. It’s not always easy keeping Mr Hyde locked away.

5/5
Action packed with a little bit of romance thrown in
Written by Laura S on 2nd Aug 2022

Wow, this story keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat turning the pages to see what is going to happen next! Big, burley, ex-military good guys take on a corrupt government program while dealing with their own unwelcome issues that were the result of corrupt military experiments. Throw a bit of romance into the ride with a fallen comrade's pregnant sister and all of the the pieces come together in an action packed story that you won't be able to put down until the end!

5/5
Phew!
Written by BecM on 2nd Aug 2022

Though it took some serious concentration to actually understand what I was reading, it ended up being a real roller coaster ride. The emotional toll on each man goes through pulls at you. The mission & trials that Kiera goes breaks your heart. So worth the HEA they get. Fabulous read!

5/5
End-of-your-seat page-turner!
Written by H.M.S. Brown on 2nd Aug 2022

What a fantastic book! Fallen Comrade is a book written by new-to-me author, Jillian David and wow! I was blown away. I love romantic suspense and the more action an author throws in the better! This is a well-written story that brings together two people who were grieving the combat death of a family/friend. Kiera, whose brother was killed in combat, and Jake, who served with her brother on that same mission. Not having seen each other for several months, Keira shows up on his doorstep - wounded and very pregnant. Using his training as well as the benefits of a top-secret military team, Jake and his fellow veterans / security ops team are able to protect her, though the bad guys certainly didn't make it easy. This book is action-packed and full of tension and romance that kept me turning the pages. I can't wait to read more books by this author and hope there are more in this series.

5/5
Fallen Comrade
Written by mysticbaby1991 on 2nd Aug 2022

I absolutely loved this book! All the men dealing with the Morpheus Virus had me enthralled and wanting to know more about how the virus effected or enhanced each of the members. I really hope we get to see more with these team members and their fight to live in the now with the virus and maybe even finding more women to love them for who they are. Kiera and Jake have a history that goes all the way back to high school. From first loves to heartbreak, losing friends/brother, and heartbreak all over again. However, now Kiera is in a position where she needs Jake's help. Only Jake can't help on his own. He'll need the entire squad together again to help protect Kiera and maybe take down Fallen Comrades, a billion dollar "charity" that is responsible for killing now two of his 'brothers' But every time Kiera and Jake are around each other feelings always seem to arouse. Hence, Kiera's current state... Jake isn't one to stay around though. When things get serious or he gets scared he runs, always has. Now being stuck with Kiera he's forced to confront his feelings. Will he be able to see past all of his issues and see the future he could have with Kiera and his baby?

5/5
Fallen Comrade
Written by Niki T on 2nd Aug 2022

This is the first book in this series, and I cannot wait to read more from this series. It is an intense read, but very good. Jake's world is disrupted when Kiera shows up at his house and tells him that she is running for her life, and one of his friends is dead. When her trouble comes to his door, he will do everything to keep her safe.

4/5
4 stars
Written by Suzi on 26th Jul 2022

Interesting premise. A little bit paranormal and a whole lot of action suspense. Kiera and Jake have a history. They grew up together but Jake was very good at walking away when the going got uncomfortable. Now Kiera is messed up with so really bad people and needs his help. Loved the banter with these two although I didn't like that Kiera wouldn't just override Jake and tell him about the baby. Loved the rest of the Morpheus men as well. Looking forward to seeing where this group goes. The bad guys are still out there so you know there is more suspense to come. Great start to a series.

5/5
5 stars
Written by Donna on 26th Jul 2022

Jillian David is a new-to-me author, and I was so intrigued by the synopsis of this novel, listed as a romance, that I requested an advance reader copy, but this novel is hard to classify--it's a highly original, paranormal, second chance, romantic suspense novel on steroids, and it kept me turning pages until dawn, and it gets 5 bleary-eyed stars from this reader. Keira, the heroine, is on the run and pregnant. Her brother, Brady, who was in Special Forces was killed. She's being looked after by one of this comrades, Mateo, and the two are working to bring down a phony wounded veterans charity she and Mateo have been working for under assumed identities, run by the son of a powerful U.S. senator. But somehow, their boss is on to them and Keira manages to escape with a thumb drive, Mateo is killed when their house is bombed, and thanks to his directions and her eidetic memory, she manages to turn up at the secret and secure hideaway of Jake Zimmerman, her late brother's best friend, who was also once his teammate in Special Forces, and she's about to get them into more trouble and danger than you can possibly imagine, all because of something called Project Morpheus. Jake's and his teammates all volunteered for the highly classified project, which involved being injected with the Morpheus Virus, designed to alter their DNA and turn the already highly trained and fit soldiers into ultra-fit, bulked-up, super killing machines--the ultimate warriors, except there's a catch--while the experimental virus did do what it was intended to do, the genetic upgrade didn't have an off-switch, and the virus continues to work, causing the men to go into hair-trigger, manic killer-mode at the slightest trigger if they aren't given regular shots of an antidote to slow down the process. They've all gone into hiding because the government wants to reacquire and study them, turning these skilled warriors into human lab-rats. The men who were given this viral upgrade were advised to get vasectomies, since no one had a clue what would happen should they father a child post-inoculation, but Jake attended the funeral of Keira's brother before having the procedure, and although he's in denial, and assumes that the fetus Keira is carrying is Mateo's, he's in for a rude awakening. Jake and Keira were high school sweethearts, when she became pregnant with his child in high school--she miscarried, and he joined the military. Later, his marriage to another woman he impregnated and dutifully married, ended when his wife also miscarried--he's a runner, and Keira is a strong enough heroine to finally call him on it--and that's just for starters, in this high-tech, thrill ride of a novel, which is also the first novel in a new series, and it's a series I'll be following, because Ms. David has serious wiring skills, and quite an imagination, and each and every one of the men in the Morpheus Project are going to have to deal with the aftermath of this experiment. Frankly, I can't wait to read those upcoming novels.