Here's an extract from Myke Cole's excellent Gemini Cell, courtesy of the folks at Ace. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe
Here's the blurb:
Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with GEMINI CELL, an all-new epic adventure in the highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe. US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself – and his family – in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.
It should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty – as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realises his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark – especially about the fates of his wife and son…
“Sarah has been working for four years to get this show.” Though Biggs was his lieutenant, James Schweitzer didn’t call him “sir.” They didn’t stand on formality in his corner of the navy. “I thought we were stood down. This will kill her.”
He glanced over his shoulder at his wife. Sarah had noticed the call, but was doing her best to keep the irritation from her face.
“That was before I got word that our ship might be coming in.” Lieutenant Biggs sounded grim. “Now, suit up. We’re mustering.”
“Might be coming in, or is coming in? Damn it, she’s already on her last nerve with the pace of operations. Do you know how hard it is to get an art showing in Norfolk? There are critics here from every paper in the Tidewater. She needs me. I can’t leave unless it’s going to count.”
Biggs was silent a moment. “Still waiting on the intel watchstander. If this is the right one, we’re going.”
“Then call me when you’re sure it’s the right one.”
“God fucking damn it, Jim, I am not . . .”
“I’m a fifteen-minute drive from Station. I can be there before you finish boat checks. Call me when you know.” Schweitzer killed the call and stuffed the phone in his pocket before Biggs could say anything else.
Schweitzer took a deep breath, willing the knot in his stomach to settle. This was Sarah’s first show in Norfolk, and she was nervous as hell. Hopefully, the watchstander would be slow in confirming the target, or Biggs was wrong altogether. Schweitzer turned, putting on a smile, shaking his head as he walked to where his wife leaned against the art-gallery door.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
“Biggs dug himself another hole. This is the thing about junior officers, they need us to keep them from walking off a cliff. It’s fine.”
She frowned at him, her dark eyes narrowing beneath her bright pink bangs, the two purple streaks framing her face, so beautiful she still made his breath catch after all these years. “If he needed help, why didn’t he go to Chief?” she asked.
Schweitzer winced internally, struggled to find words.
“Jim.” She spoke as if to a little boy. “Do you know where liars go?”
“To the movies?”
“To the couch for the night. Without getting any.”
“You are a coldhearted woman.”
“I am a beautiful angel who can see through your bullshit like it’s clean glass.”
Schweitzer sighed. Lying to her was a necessity of his job, but he knew better than to think it would ever work. “You need to focus on your opening. We can talk about it when we get home.”
She drew her lips into a hard line and breathed out through her nose. “So, that means we’re going home together. As in, you’re staying for the whole event.”
“We’ve only got the babysitter until eleven. You know Patrick isn’t really going to sleep until you come in and kiss him good night.”
She grimaced. “Oh, right. Let me call before we go in.”
He touched her elbow. “Babe, you called her ten minutes ago.”
She looked up at him. “I did? I did.”
He pressed his forehead to hers, inhaled her rosewater perfume. “You know what you’re doing?”
“You’re trying to get your mind off this opening by worrying about something else. That’s fear talking. Mission first. Focus.”
“Mission first.” She was smiling now.
“Mission first,” he said, “and people always. You are a fantastic mother and a better wife than I could ever hope for. I love you so much it hurts. Now, get in there and show them what I see every day.”
“Love you, too,” she answered. Her face composed, the smile smoothed.
They turned together and stepped into the gallery.
The crowd inside applauded as Sarah entered. Her paintings lined the walls, hanging from clear line, looking as if they were floating amid tastefully arranged sprays of white orchids. Schweitzer caught himself scanning the crowd for threats, noting the exits and blind corners. Stop it. You’re not at work. This is for Sarah. Be present.
“Sarah!” squealed a tall woman wearing diamond earrings likely worth more than their car. She stretched her arms to embrace his wife, and Sarah returned the hug with precisely the correct blend of affection and forbearance, turning to Schweitzer as they parted. “Jim, this is Bethany Charles. This is her gallery.”
Schweitzer smiled, extending a hand. “Thanks so much for hosting us.”
Bethany dragged the proffered hand until Schweitzer was wrapped in a tight hug. Her pale neck smelled like oranges and alcohol. He met Sarah’s eyes over Bethany’s shoulder and made a face. Sarah rolled her eyes and grinned.
“Sarah’s told me all about you,” Bethany said when she finally released him. “She says you’re in the navy, but absolutely will not talk about what you do! I’ve been in Norfolk long enough to know how it is with you intel folks.”
Schweitzer let her error pass as she put the back of her hand to her mouth and spoke in a stage whisper. “Your secret’s safe with me!”
A man approached out of the crowd. He wore too-thick glasses and a beard that rivaled Schweitzer’s own. “Ms. Schweitzer,” he began.
Sarah took a step toward him and shook his hand. His smile froze at the close contact. Schweitzer winced internally. Guy was the shy type, liked more personal space. Sarah immediately released his hand and took a step back, smiling as if that was her intended approach all along. “Sarah Schweitzer, nice to meet you.”
The man’s face relaxed, and his smile turned genuine. “Leo Volk, I write for the Virginian Pilot.”
“Oooh,” Bethany whispered to Schweitzer as Sarah and Leo spoke. “That was a good save. He’s not one you want to disappoint.”
Schweitzer shrugged. “She’s a natural. She should have joined the navy. We could have used her in intel.” He smirked internally. No harm in perpetuating Bethany’s assumption. .”
“Well, one sailor per family is plenty.” Bethany gestured to Schweitzer’s chin. “Don’t they give you grief about letting your beard grow?”
Schweitzer smiled. “I’m on leave,” he lied. “I’ll shave it when I get back to base.”
Bethany followed Schweitzer’s gaze to his wife. “She really is quite socially adroit.”
“She’s had a lot of practice.” It was a gross understatement. The practice was born of years of dedication to her craft and the networking that surrounded it, until it had become as natural as breathing.
Sarah wrapped up her conversation with Leo and headed into the crowd. She looked over her shoulder at Schweitzer, cocked an eyebrow.
You’re good, he mouthed.
I know, she mouthed back, gave an exaggerated wink.
He missed Bethany’s next question, intent on Sarah, circling and smiling and engaging with such ease that you’d never know this was her first big show, her “coming-out” in the Mid-Atlantic arts scene. The stakes were high.
But that was when Sarah Schweitzer locked on. When it mattered. She was a professional.
“I’m sorry?” he asked Bethany.
“I was asking if you like art?”
“Depends on what you mean by ‘art.’ I like her paintings,” he answered. And I love the painter.
Sarah was speaking to another man now, Schweitzer recognized him as an art critic from one of Sarah’s magazines. She was matching his style effortlessly, leaning in at the same angle, nodding recognition at a point he was making. He laughed like an old friend, put unconsciously at ease by her smooth reading of his signals. Sarah looked lit from within, like she was having the time of her life.
But Schweitzer caught a glance out of the corner of her eye, then another. She was looking to see if he was still there.
He could stare down a gun barrel. He could run until his lungs burst. He could always find a way. But to give Sarah what she needed, he’d have to stay, really stay. And that would mean giving up the one thing that made him as powerful as she was.
Sarah was approaching him now, her hand on the elbow of a man in his midthirties, a mop of Dylanesque curly hair hanging in his face. He wore a corduroy jacket and an expression of cool boredom. “Honey, do you remember the sculptor I was telling you about?”
Schweitzer did, the man made scale replicas of major monuments entirely out of gun parts. His work was amazing. What was his name . . .
Sarah was smiling as the man’s hand came up to shake Schweitzer’s. “This is my husband, Jim.”
The pride in Sarah’s eyes sounded in her voice. She wasn’t just showing off for her husband, she was showing her husband off. Schweitzer blinked.
“I’ve heard great things about you. My name is . . .” the sculptor began.
Schweitzer’s pocket buzzed. The bosun’s pipe ringtone sounded.
Sarah’s expression changed as Schweitzer lifted his phone to his ear, sliding from shock to recognition to hurt to anger and back to composure in an instant.
“I’m sorry, baby,” Schweitzer said as he hit the ANSWER button, his stomach doing somersaults.
“It’s fine,” she was saying, the professional mask already back in place. “Do your job.”
Her big night. The one she had worked four long years to get.
Schweitzer prayed it was a wrong number, or the babysitter calling to say Patrick wouldn’t go to bed.
“It’s our ship,” Biggs said. “We’re going.”
“It’s fine,” Sarah said again, reading Biggs’s words in Schweitzer’s expression.