A snippet from The Lab Wars

Written by Kyra Fox

March 5, 2022

“Why would I trust you?” she asked once the door was closed behind her.

“Because I’ve never given you a reason not to?” Wyatt answered with his back to her, organizing his notes into tidy binders. “Or are you one of those people who distrusts everyone they meet until proven otherwise?”

“It’s more sensible that way, don’t you think?”

“Probably.” Wyatt finished tucking away all the papers and turned to her with a thoughtful gaze. “But, every once in a while, someone comes along that deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

Now Mia knew he was bullshitting her. “No, they don’t.”

“Oh?” Wyatt shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the table. “Sounds a bit harsh.”

“Sounds safe.” Her response was snippier than she’d intended, and she realized that Wyatt had somehow managed to sneak past her guards and push one of her buttons.

“I’m sorry someone made you feel that way,” Wyatt said in that sincere and understanding tone that grated against Mia’s nerves. She was not going to let him play this dirty game with her.

“It’s not about feelings, it’s about rationality,” she replied with an indifferent tone, mimicking his posture and leaning against the door with her hands tucked behind her back. “When we choose rationality, we give up a lot of exciting and questionable things that we would otherwise pursue without a second thought, don’t we, Wyatt?”

His eyes lit up at the underlying meaning of her words, and though nothing else about his body language indicated she was affecting him, Mia could feel the air between them fill with sparks. This wasn’t part of her strategy, just a way to divert the conversation from uncomfortable topics, and Mia knew it would backfire. She wasn’t immune to whatever this thing between them was, but she preferred it to Wyatt psychoanalyzing her.

“What’s your angle, Mia?” Wyatt asked, his voice low. “You’ve been at it since the day I set foot in the lab, what are you playing at?”

“Who said it was a game?” Her heart was beating erratically in her chest, a pulse starting low in her abdomen when Wyatt stood and started towards her in a slow prowl.

“What is it then?” he asked, russet eyes intense as they stayed focused on her face. “Are you trying to prove how untrustworthy you are?” He was getting closer, and Mia pressed herself into the door. She wasn’t afraid of Wyatt, rather of him feeling the heat she was sure was radiating off of her like a furnace. “Because the rational course of action would be to let me believe you’re on my side, use it against me.”

“Maybe I just enjoy seeing you lose your cool and show your true colors.”

“Is that so?” Wyatt caged her between his arms, a sinful half-grin breaking across his face.

“Yes, it proves you don’t have what it takes to run this lab.” She stuck out her chin, daring him to take a step back and resume his professional façade, unsure if she wanted him to. “You can’t separate what you want from the logical course of action.”

“The logical course of action would be to fire you,” he grumbled, more to himself than to her, it seemed, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. “You smell like pears.” One palm slid from the door to her neck, thumb rubbing against her pulse. “A very prickly pear.”

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