Jax (The Protectors, #8) - Teresa Gabelman

Chapter 1

Caroline didn't understand what she was doing there and had no clue where there was. She walked down a corridor, following a man in dark slacks with a white lab coat. The clicking of his hard-soled shoes on the tile floor echoed all around her. He kept looking at her over his shoulder without saying a word, as if making sure she still followed. She wanted to speak, but couldn't form any words. It was odd. Caroline always had words. Finally, he turned, heading into a room. She followed, but stopped in the doorway.

Her eyes roamed the all-tile room and stopped on the stainless-steel table positioned in the center of the room. A scale hung from the ceiling at the head of the table, which her eyes went back to. A body, covered with a stiff white sheet, lay motionless on the cold steel. The man just stood, arms hanging by his sides, as he watched her in an eerie silence.

"Who is that?" Caroline's voice finally forced its way out of her tight throat. When the man didn't answer, her gaze swung to his, narrowing angrily. "Who, dammit?"

His answer was a slow, smug half grin as he made a tsking sound in the back of his throat.

Taking a step toward the table, Caroline felt like she was walking in sludge. Her legs were heavy and it took great effort just raising them to move. Finally reaching the table, she grabbed the pristine crisp sheet in her fist, but didn't jerk it away. She was terrified, more terrified than she'd ever been in her life, to see who lay beneath. What was happening?

The man's tsking was driving her insane. He wouldn't stop, but she refused to look at him; instead, she stared at the body hidden under the sheet, willing herself to pull it away. She knew something wasn't right; it was all wrong. Feeling something touch her free hand, she looked down to see the little dead boy from her house, his pale face looking up at her with wide eyes. Slowly, he shook his head. Looking away from the boy, she spared a thought to his presence, but then he left her mind completely as she looked back at the body beneath the sheet. With a swift, strong pull, she yanked the sheet away, a scream freezing in her throat.

Lana, her twin, lay naked and pale on the cold steel table. Wide-open eyes, fixed in a horrified expression of pain and fear, stared back at her, her mouth slashed on each side making an exaggerated frown. Dried blood caked her neck, lower stomach, and the insides of her legs, indicating to Caroline that her sister had been violated violently.

"No!" Caroline's voice thawed in her throat, echoing in the sterile room. Her focus shot to the man who had finally stopped making the tsking noise, but before her gaze landed on him, she noticed more bodies covered with sheets filled the room, tables that weren't there before.

She shook uncontrollably as all feeling left her body and mind, leaving her numb. A rush of wind filled the room, pulling the sheets off, and exposing the bodies of the Warriors and their mates. Their expressions mirrored Lana's, but when her stare fell on Jax, his eyes were closed as if he were sleeping.

A sinister laugh burst free from the man who had led her to this nightmare, but her eyes never left Jax as she urged him to wake up. "Please." Her voice sounded so faraway, as if spoken from somewhere else. "Please, Jax." Caroline actually reached her hand out, but didn't take a step.

Suddenly, his eyelids popped open as his head snapped toward her. "Run!" Jax's voice filled her mind because his lips never moved, but his focused stare ordered her in a way only Jax's eyes could, and yet she stayed glued to the spot. She shook her head back and forth, refusing to leave him, leave any of them. "Run!" This time his mouth opened as the angry order filled the room.

Caroline jumped, her focus automatically going to the threat. The man watched her closely, his head tilted to the side with a crooked grin, and before she could react, he shifted into Jax's brother, Mika.

"Ah, sweet Caroline." Mika's voice was low, but sounded like he was singing under his breath. His head lowered as he looked up at her with a stare full of an evil she had never experienced before.

Transfixed by his stare, she wondered if he