July 1997, Genetics Council, Wolf Breed Labs
Wolfe growled in fury, his teeth bared, his body taut, ready to spring as they pushed the young woman into his cell once again. She carried his scent now, proof that she was his mate. The mark he had given her the day before was still vividly evident on her upper shoulder.
“You’ll do as I demand this time, Wolfe, or Hope will take the beating instead of you,” Delia Bainesmith told him coldly.
“She’s your daughter,” he howled out in fury. “How can you do this to her?”
“She is a lab rat, no more, no less than are you,” she informed him smugly. “Now breed her. She’s ovulating, and we’ve made certain she’s ready. Fuck her, my little wolf, or she’ll be the one who pays.”
The Bitch walked away, her laughter echoed behind her as Hope whimpered in sexual distress. They had given her an aphrodisiac, ensuring she would accept him.
“Please, Wolfe.” Her slender body shook with tremors of arousal. “It hurts.”
“I can’t, Hope.” He couldn’t look at her. “I won’t.”
She was just a child, barely seventeen. He wouldn’t scar her, either physically or emotionally with what he knew was coming.
“She’ll beat me,” she whispered.
“She won’t get the chance.” He knew that.
“She said you mated with me. How did you mate with me, without taking me?”
He could almost hear the tears whispering over her pale cheeks.
“I marked you, Hope.” He couldn’t stop his eyes from going to the proof of his ownership. “No other will touch you. No other will have you. That mark and the scent it places on you is mine alone. Don’t make the mistake of ever allowing another man in your bed. Because I’ll kill him.”
Cold, hard rage shuddered through him at the thought. He had killed one soldier already over her. The one who had dared to fondle her breasts as they tore her clothes from her the day before.
“I’m sorry she did this. It’s my fault, for loving you.” As always, she would try to take the blame on her slender shoulders.
“No, Hope, it is my fault,” he told her bleakly. “Mine for ever desiring to try to hope for more.”
Explosions ripped through the compound. Gunfire exploded around the small house Hope was locked into; the smell of burning buildings, the sounds of horrified screams echoed in her head.
“Wolfe!” She screamed his name out. Huddled in the bedroom on the opposite end of the house, terrified it would go up in flames at any minute, she prayed he would find her.
The ground rocked, plaster showered from the roof as she pressed herself closer to the huge dresser that she prayed would deflect the ceiling should it fall. She screamed out Wolfe’s name again. He would come for her soon.
The sound of the front door slamming had her on her feet, racing for the doorway. Her abrupt halt just inside the living room had her rocking on her heels. Her mother stood there, furious, shaking, her normally austere composure crumpled.
“Wolfe,” Hope couldn’t stop her cry, her unasked question.
“The son of a bitch is dead. They all are,” she sneered. “They hit the Labs first, and it’s an inferno. Forget it, Hope, save yourself now. Don’t worry about that mongrel excuse for a man.”
Hope slid to the floor, the wall supporting her body, her mind unable to accept, unable to process the meaning of her mother’s words.
“He’ll come for me,” she whispered.
Cruelty echoed in Delia Bainesmith’s demented laughter.
“Wishful thinking, daughter. That bastard will never cum again. Too bad. You might have enjoyed it.”
Six Years Later, July 2002
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hope Bainesmith knew when she received the phone call from her mother that it wasn’t going to be a good day. The woman hadn’t bothered to call her for years, had taken no interest in her life other than the monthly medical tests Hope was required to take. So the phone call that morning had caused her no small amount of concern.
“Have you seen Wolfe?” Hope’s knees had weakened at the question. She collapsed into the kitchen chair, stilling the pain that raged in her chest.
Wolfe. Her hand touched the mark at her upper shoulder. Her body throbbed in remembrance. It was that mark that made the monthly tests necessary. An odd quirk of nature, given to a man that was created by science. The small bite had allowed a minute amount of an unknown hormone into her blood. It marked her pheromones and acted as a very mild aphrodisiac. She had been in arousal hell ever since. Hence the reason for monthly medicals.
“Wolfe’s dead, mother. Remember?” She reminded the creature who spawned her. “How could I see him?”
There was silence over the line. Hope knew her voice reflected the grief she still lived with on a daily basis. It had been nearly six years but she could still remember with brutal clarity the attack on the Labs, the engulfing blaze and the horrendous screams from those trapped inside.
“We never recovered a body,” Dr. Bainesmith reminded her, her cultured voice cool and autocratic.
Hope could just see her petite, pretty mother, her black eyes as cold as ice, her Asian features a cool mask of studied indifference. Nothing mattered but the project at hand, and nothing else would matter. But Wolfe wasn’t a project anymore, she wanted to scream, and neither was she.
“There were a lot of bodies you didn’t recover,” Hope pointed out painfully. “Wolfe’s dead, let him rest in peace now.”
She hung up the phone carefully, fighting the tears that filled her eyes. The instinctive longing welled inside her at the oddest times. Wolfe was dead. No amount of grieving could bring him back. There was no justice to be found—no matter what she did—in his death.
Her mother refused to accept it. Wolfe was her creation; she considered him and his Pack her property. He had defeated her with his death, and Hope knew the other woman could not accept that she would no longer command the army she had envisioned. A pack of savage, intelligent soldiers with the instincts and intelligence of an animal.
The world was still in shock, even now, years after the broadcast of the first Breeds, felines in that case, announcing their lives. Those men and women, created by science, had been genetically altered with the DNA of savage cats. They had been created to kill. “Disposable soldiers,” one announcer had reported. The Breeds they were called, for want of a better name. It was during the broadcast of that announcement that the labs in Mexico had been raided by Mexican and American agents. It had been a brutal, bloody battle, one that would have done any drug lord proud. But it wasn’t drugs they sought; it was the human experimentations and the scientists and soldiers who made their lives hell that the agents wanted.
Hope shuddered at the memories of screams, the erupting flames and gunfire echoing around the house she hid in. She had screamed Wolfe’s name over and over during those hours. Certain he would have escaped. But had he escaped, he would surely have come for her. He had claimed her, swore she belonged to him. He wouldn’t have left her there to die.
Sighing deeply, she collected her jacket and backpack and headed for class. Her day was full, her life was heading somewhere for a change. She couldn’t allow the memories to destroy all she had gained in the past years.
Exiting her small apartment, she noticed the white cleaner’s van in the parking lot, but paid it little heed. She noticed the large men moving about outside its opened doors, but the sight was a common one. What she wasn’t expecting was the hard grip one of them took of her arm as she passed. For a brief second surprise flared in Hope’s chest as one of the tall men stepped before her, a growl emitting from his lips, his gray eyes swirling with anger. She gasped, then blinked as something stung her arm.
“Wolfe,” she whispered his name in desperation as she felt the shocking, abrupt departure of consciousness.
Hope awoke disoriented, groggy. She blinked up at the ceiling and stared at the heavy beams that crossed it. This wasn’t her bedroom. She looked around, taking careful stock of the large room. The heavy logs that made up the walls told her she was in a cabin. The scent of a fire burning, the low hum of voices assured her she wasn’t alone. She shifted against the mattress, intending to rise from the bed and demand a heated explanation. Fury flared in her as she tried to move but couldn’t.
Her legs and arms were tied to the four corners of the bed like a damned virginal sacrifice. She was still dressed, but only barely. Her shirt had been unbuttoned to the waist, her jeans unsnapped, the zipper lowered. Her body hummed with arousal, ached in ways it hadn’t for years. Wolfe. Only his touch, only the stroke of his tongue, the caress of his lips could put her into such burning arousal.
He had touched her. She stifled a sob, closing her eyes as she let the knowledge soak into her brain. He was alive, and he had dared to touch her while she was unconscious. Her eyes flew open again. The tips of her breasts were so sensitive she could swear that just breathing irritated them. Her abdomen was heated, a spot on her hip sang with sensation. Her blood pulsed through her veins, a rapid tattoo of lust had her shifting against her bonds, trying to clench her thighs to relieve the ache that centered in her very womb.
He had touched her with his mouth, tasted her. She almost whimpered. She held the sound back though, knowing well his exceptional hearing. He would know she was awake, and he would come to her. Tears stung her eyes. He was alive, all these years he had been alive and he had never come to her. Had not contacted her. He had left her suffering. Her lips thinned, her eyes narrowed. Damn him, he knew what he had done to her the night her mother had locked her in his cell. He knew he had marked her as his mate, ensuring that no other male, normal or Wolf Breed, would take her with her cooperation.
She still carried the scar of that mark on her shoulder. A sharp bite, then gentle strokes of the tongue that infected the area with a hormone so potent that it took very little, and no time at all for it to make its way to the bloodstream.
She had been in misery that night, so hot, needing him so desperately that she had pleaded with him for hours. But that one touch, that one caress was all he allowed her, and he had been furious with himself, and with her, when he realized what he had done.
Of course, the Bitch had been overjoyed, certain that it would be only a matter of time before Wolfe proved her theory that the Breed’s DNA would in fact find a way to procreate. Their females were barren. There was enough evidence to support the theory that the mutated sperm the males carried would change once again to ensure breeding. Her daughter had been chosen as the first lab rat for the procedure.
Hope had never cared much for the cold, sarcastic woman that she knew as her mother. But when she had learned the calculated plan to use her so coldly, she had begun to hate her.
“I see you’re awake.” Her eyes flew open as his cool, dark voice greeted her from the open doorway.
He was older, but still so handsome he took her breath away. His hair was black, cut shorter in the front and tapering down below his neck, brushing his shoulders. He wore a blue cotton shirt tucked into jeans and a wide belt cinched at his hips. Below, the fabric bulged with the pressure of his erection.
Hope swallowed with no small amount of difficulty. He was more intimidating than ever before. But he was alive. So alive he took her breath with his presence.
“You tied me up. You touched me while I was unconscious,” she accused him, suddenly furious he had allowed her to be tormented for six long years. “You’re no better than the bastards who created you, Wolfe.”
The words, born of hurt and fury could not be taken back, and she had no desire to do so. How dare he leave her hurting, aching all these years? How dare he kidnap her and frighten her, rather than coming to her as he should have?READ MORE >>