BookBesties is so excited to participate in Berkley Bookmas and we’re closing out this event with a bang and hosting a first look and excerpt from Lora Leigh’s new The Breeds Novel: CrossBreed! Berkley Bookmas has been chock full of exclusive content from authors like exclusive excerpts, deleted scenes, author recipes and more! Check out all the goodies that have been shared these past two weeks here: http://bit.ly/2AaShZF
She was only eighteen and she knew would die soon. Here, on this island Seth Lawrence owned, surrounded by the protective strength of a breed force unlike any other, and Cassie knew she would die.
It wouldn’t be tonight though. Not yet. But it was coming.
Stepping past the wide double doors opened into the huge atrium, the glass domed roof allowing the night to slide into the enclosed garden and had to fight back the bitterness. The anger.
Turning she met the gazes of the breed enforcers standing behind her, their gazes resolute, but compassionate, and snapped the doors closed as they watched her silently.
“Ask to enjoy the gardens at night and this is what I get?” she muttered, swinging around to let her gaze go over the massive enclosure of brick and glass surrounding it.
The grass beneath her feet was surprisingly real. A wide stone walk led into the shadowed greenery, the lush, heavy growth and sultry scent of moisture and fragrant blooms pulling her into the depths of it.
The atrium, Seth had called it. It was a damned greenhouse and nothing more. A well protected, stone and bullet resistant glass enclosed room with only one entrance, the wide doors she’d stepped inside.
Moving further into the lush greenery she could find little pleasure in it. Despite her bare feet and the feel of grass beneath them, she found no satisfaction in it. Just as she found no satisfaction in the deep, wide pond trickling in the center of the trees surrounding it.
Heavily leaved, beaded with what appeared to be dew, but actually came from the water that misted from the pipes running along the steel frame supporting the glass above. The scent of the night wasn’t here. The chirp of insects, the scuttle of creatures created to stalk such shadowed beauty wasn’t here. It was sterile. Created by man rather than by nature.
She hated it.
At least on her balcony she could smell the night, the creatures that inhabited and the sea surrounding the Lawrence island. On her balcony there was a chance of sensing him…
Swallowing tightly Cassie eased wearily to sit on the rough, flat boulder bordering the pond, and shed the matching robe covering the thin, long white gown she wore. Drawing her feet up to rest on top of the boulder and looping her arms beneath her knees, she rested her chin on her knees and stared into the trickling water.
What was wrong with her? She knew how dangerous it was to allow herself to stand on the balcony, in clear view, a target to any enemy with the intent to kill her. Though few wanted to kill her. The price on her head was for her abduction, her virginity intact when she was turned over to the scientists secretly working with what remained of the Genetics Council.
She was Cassandra Sinclair. Cassandra Colder. She was unique, not just in her genetics but in her birth. Breed sperm used to inseminate her mother’s egg without any alterations to the ovum. The same as a hybrid, a breed born of a breed and human mating.
But she was even more unique that that. She wasn’t created from a single animal species genetics, but two. She was created from both wolf and coyote genetics. The good and the bad. The wolf dna altered and forever dirtied by that of the coyote dna.
“Such a beautiful animal,” the voice whispered through her memories.
She’d been five, standing in nothing but the white panties she wore, shuddering, sickened by the touch of the bastards fingers on the mark at her shoulder. The shadow of a paw print. A genetic marker. But as she grew older another shadow began marring her flesh, one even her parents were unaware of, one resembling that of a jagged slices made by claws. The mark of the Coyote stained the flesh just over her womb.
“She was created to whelp monsters,” her father sneered as Cassie shook with her tears and disbelief.
A part of her had known he wasn’t her father. Unlike her mother, her father’s scent didn’t resemble her. Her momma’s scent resembled her. And her mother loved her.
“She’ll whelp my little monsters,” Terrance chuckled, lifted his arm and a second later the weapon he carried exploded and her father was dead.
She knew he was dead. He fell to the floor, blood spilling from his chest as he stared at Cassie with hatred.
Thirteen years. It had been thirteen years and still, Cassie remembered every second of it as though it had happened only moments before.
She would whelp monsters. Many said she was the monster.
At that thought she felt the presence. She didn’t smell it, there was no scent to warn her. She felt him. Her heart raced, her breathing was faster, and she could feel the whisper of the air drifting through the room.
What an odd sensation. She’d never felt that before, until him.
“If you’re caught, they’ll kill you.” She didn’t shift, did try to call out to the guards standing outside the doors.
She wasn’t frightened of him, though she sensed she should be. She should be terrified.
“Think they will?” he remained behind her, hidden. And she let him stay hidden, because she didn’t want to know…
“You know they will,” her voice trembled. “Are you here to kill me?”
“Do you want to die?” amusement laced his voice, amusement and something more, something dark and shadowed.
“I’ll die either way.” She stared into the pond, wondering at her own cowardice. “I won’t leave here alive you know?”
Silence met her question, but she knew he heard her, knew he hadn’t left. She could feel him in the air she breathed, in the whisper of movement as he eased closer.
“What makes you so certain of that?” curiosity filled his voice. A voice that was dark, sensual.
“I know things…” Sometimes, she knew terrible things. Things she didn’t want to know, didn’t want to see or sense.
“I won’t let you die, little halfling,” he whispered just behind her, causing her to stiffen at the warmth of his breath at her ear. “You’re mine.”
She stiffened in outrage, in anger but before she could turn and inform him just how insane he was, he was gone.
Wide eyed, her heart racing, she stared at the swaying leaves of the huge ferns behind her and heard a whisper of a chuckle somewhere in the darkness.
“Cassie.” The atrium doors were thrown open her father’s voice echoed through the artificial glade, dark with menace, but not toward her.
His enforcers rushed through the atrium, at least half a dozen, converging on her as she drew her robe on and tied the satin ribbons holding it closed.
“Cassie, sweetheart, I told you stay in our rooms.” Her father, Dash Sinclair, pushed through the foliage, his amber gaze piercing as it went over her. “Are you all right?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Looking around the silence of the atrium sadly then she knew her time there was finished. “It’s not like I’m actually outside, right?”
He stared behind her, his eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring as though testing the air for any unfamiliar scents.
“Come on, let’s get you back upstairs.” He held his hand out to her, his expression implacable when his gaze returned to hers. “It’s getting late.”
“And of course I’m still a toddler that has no idea how to defend myself, nor do I have gaurds on my ass twenty-four seven.” She ignored his outstretched hand and pushed past him instead. “For God’s sake, dad, I’m not ten.”
She didn’t wait around for his reply or the confusion she knew she would glimpse in his eyes. He couldn’t understand, couldn’t know the hell her dreams were becoming or the anger that clashed through her every waking second.
She was going to die here, soon. So very soon.
If her father had just let her have this time in this place, maybe she could have stolen something for herself. Maybe she could have figured out why the man whose gunsights she felt on the balcony outside her room, didn’t terrify her.
Why he drew her.
Why she ached for his warmth for just a moment, just for tonight. Because tomorrow night would be too late.
She’d be dead.
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