In this sequel to the best-selling book, Haywire, Jack Connors and Sean Delaney, who've survived being hunted down by aliens, are living under assumed names in Mexico. They're finally getting over the events which sent them into hiding, but Jack is taunted by nightmares of his son, Nicky, calling out to him. Jack is traumatized as these episodes become more frequent, and he starts to worry that the secret government agency that was creating hybrid human-alien babies--of which his son, Nicky, and Sean's son, David, were part of the horrifying program--has found them.
Sean tries to calm Jack, assuring him that he is just paranoid and fearful. Nobody knows who they are. But then strange things start to happen. Jack is shocked when he and Sean meet a US Marshal who claims to be on vacation in Mexico, but is he really? Is Jack losing the plot? The marshal is traveling with his wife and daughter. Can it be a coincidence…or is something terrible about to happen?
Jack stirred in bed. Something had awoken him. He groggily eyed the clock radio. Three forty-seven in the morning. The illuminated digital clock face disrupted his sleep all the time. Sometimes he covered it up, but Sean hated that. Had to be the former military man in him. He had to know what was going on all the time, each and every hour, even when he was sleeping.
This time, though, he couldn't blame the clock. It was the damned nightmares. The screaming echoes. Jack had to get up. His heart pounded and sweat gripped him.
Jack couldn't move without disturbing his lover, who slept wrapped around him. Sean was possessive, even in repose. Sean stirred and loosened his grip. Stealing his chance, Jack crawled out of the sheets. He slipped on shorts, his hands shaking. He felt vaguely stupid. They were home, naked and alone. No kids to worry about.
Or were there?
Calm down, idiot. There's nobody here but us.
Images from the past flashed in his mind. He tried to stop them as he walked out of the room. The dreams had been happening for weeks now. No. Not dreams. Disturbing, twisted night terrors. In them, his son Nicky, cried out to him, begging for help.
Jack moved quickly through the house. Nobody here. There was never anybody here, but he always checked. He took out the Glock he and Sean kept hidden inside a vase filled with Mexican paper flowers--a gift from the children of one of their neighbors. Gun cocked, he scanned the rooms he could see into, dreading the moment he encountered an intruder, because he was certain that one day he would.
When you've experienced genuine monsters in your life, you never really live without them. And Jack had experienced some badass monsters.
He stopped and listened. The roosters that lived on the property he shared with Sean were quiet, but then they didn't usually start their ruckus until the first sign of daylight. He could hear the faint rustling of wind in the trees and beyond it, the crash of surf. The sound still tickled him, a year after they had settled into their lives in rural Bajamar, Mexico. He loved Sean's rustic ranch with its sprawling, faded white-walled house overrun by bougainvillea and grape vines. It still needed half its wind-broken windows replaced and three-quarters of the roof had to be fixed, but he didn't care. Most of the time he felt safe here. And most of the time was better than nothing.
Best of all, they were only a mile inland from the Pacific Ocean.
Jack hesitated at the guest bedroom door. It was the one that secretly, in his heart of hearts, he would have designated as Nicky's room. He took a deep breath and opened the door. It was filled with little-boy things, for Sean had once been a dad too. His son had been David. In a cruel twist of fate, Sean had adopted David from the same orphanage Jack and his late husband, Dexter, had adopted Nicky.
Of course, none of them could have known that David and Nicky were monsters. Hybrid, alien creations from some sick lunatic with plans to take over the world with mutant, perfect children. Each of the boys at Applegrove looked exactly the same, though none of the adoptive parents knew this.
They each thought they had wonderful, healthy, happy little kids.
Until their kill modes were activated.
Jack stood in the doorway and looked around. The father in him desperately missed his little boy. He pined for the small, loving child who needed him--Nicky, with his finicky eating habits and pathological fear of water.
Swallowing down the grief and panic he'd experienced in sleep, he sat on the bed, touching the antique Mexican bedspread Sean had bought for David long before he knew his own son was a scientific experiment sent to hurt him. Sean had suffered at the hands of the secret organization that was fast gaining control over the human population. Each time they watched TV and caught glimpses of little boys that looked like Nicky and David, they shuddered.
The children haunted both of them because when they looked again, the kids looked nothing like Nicky and David. Sean and Jack knew they were out there though. The people who made them were improving on their sample models. How many were there?
Some days, he could get through just fine. He could almost convince himself none of it happened except that he was now quite afraid of the dark, and frankly, so was Sean. They comforted one another. They felt safe in Mexico. Nobody had a call here for perfect, little white boys. They were all too busy coping with the kids they had.
Jack didn't want to think about little boys like David and Nicky being trafficked here as child sex slaves.
It was bad enough having horrible dreams that his child was alive, held captive somewhere, being tortured, and screaming for his daddy. He'd seen TV shows of children held against their wills for years. In his worst moments, he had to work hard to remind himself this hadn't been Nicky's fate.
Something dreadful had lain dormant in Nicky. Some part of him had loved Jack and he'd gone wrong in the execution of his order to kill. He'd finally turned into the homicidal alien he was supposed to be, but Jack liked to think that Nicky had resisted.