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book is dedicated to a dear friend of many years, Abbie Cook. She’s
a paramedic, a firefighter, and a wife and mother. A true hero.
love you, Abbie.
special thanks to my amazing beta reader, Cathe Green. Much love to
you, my friend.
my wonderful, caring husband, thank you for always believing in me
and loving me unconditionally. I love you, always.
voice could barely be heard over the thundering of waves crashing in
endless stream of tears streaked down Abbie’s face as great
racking sobs seized her small body. Pain welled up from her chest
until it became impossible to breathe. Still, she ran.
father’s shouts faded with every step she took until they
grabbed at her arms like the bony fingers of a thousand skeletons,
cutting into her skin. She welcomed the sting of every scratch;
anything to relieve the pain in her heart.
mother’s cold, pale face burned behind her eyes, frozen and
empty. Gone were the laugh lines, the sparkle…the life.
couldn’t bear to see her mother lying in a box for hundreds of
people to pass by and say words over. She might be only seven, but
she was old enough to know it meant goodbye. A coffin, they’d
called it. Resting place. Final.
wail wrenched from her small chest. It ricocheted off the trees,
scattering birds in different directions. She’d give anything
to have wings in that moment, to fly away and never look back.
burst onto the beach without slowing. Her little legs ate up the sand
as she ran straight for the water.
of swimming with her mother lit through her mind in sorrowful detail.
The laughter, splashing around and exploring the unknown.
storm was coming, but she didn’t care. She needed to feel her
mother’s presence, to beg God to give her back.
do you know why the ocean is salty? It’s all the tears God
cries when someone passes away.”
what does ‘passes away’ mean?”
it means when people die, they leave this earth to become angels.”
they get to be angels, then why does God cry?”
the ones that are left behind who will miss them after they’re
sailed headlong into the waves with her sights on the second sandbar.
She would swim out as far as she could to be sure her prayers were
heard. If God cried enough to create an ocean, maybe He would take
pity on her and give back her mother.
weight of her skirt wrapping around her legs made it hard to move in
the churning water. She used her arms to pull herself along in a
rowing motion until the current became too strong, forcing her to
dive under and swim. Her eyes stung from the salt, but she held them
open while memories of her mother’s voice whispered through her
did you know that dolphins can communicate with humans?”
is commu… Commu—”
means talk to them.”
you ever talked to a dolphin?
What did he say?”
said for me to tell my daughter to stop peeing in the water where his
mother’s tinkering laughter echoed through her heart as she
fought the tide in search of the sandbar.
arms eventually grew weary and her lungs began to burn, leaving her
no choice but to kick her way up for air.
head broke the surface to a wall of water so high it blocked out the
sun. She opened her mouth to scream a second before a powerful wave
crashed down on top of her, taking her back under.
body spun head over heels along the gulf floor, leaving her powerless
to stop the undertow. Panic gripped her as sand scraped her face,
entering her mouth and eyes. The need to breathe became too strong,
and Abbie gave up the fight. Pain. Darkness.
* * *
Abbie felt chilled to her bones. Her chest burned, and something was
caught in her throat. A spasm gripped her, and she heaved.
voice she didn’t recognize. She screamed for someone to help
her, to remove the heaviness from her neck.
slid along her arms to her hands. Tingling warmth. Heat spread out
from her palms through her stomach and legs. The shivering stopped.
The strange word came from a deep voice above her. Was she dead?
slowly lifted her heavy lids and stared up into the brilliant green
gaze of a teenage boy. His eyes were a color she’d never seen
before, resembling a few of the marbles she’d been recently
cocked his head to the side as if he didn’t understand.
tried to lift her arm, but he held it down. His hands were covering
hers, palm to palm. He tilted his head to the other side, and more
tingling heat pulsed through her skin. The pain in her chest receded.
boy peered down at her in open curiosity, similar to the way she’d
seen her dog do when he spotted an insect crawling through the grass.
are you?” Abbie whispered, realizing the boy had saved her
glanced up at something in the distance before returning his gaze to
her once again. She wondered if maybe he didn’t speak English,
and pulled one of her hands free of his to point at herself. “Abbie.”
he repeated in a strange accent.
She touched her finger to his chest. “And your name?”
could be heard over the crashing of the waves, and the boy suddenly
stilled. Abbie watched in wonder as he sprang away from her and dove
into the water.
She pushed up onto her elbows in time to see him swim out toward the
sandbar with the speed of a dolphin before disappearing from view
wait.” She rose to her knees at the edge of the gulf. Her gaze
flew over every wave of the rolling water, but there was no sign of
her savior. Fear gripped her, and she forced herself forward. She had
to find him.
Her father’s terrified voice shouted in the distance. “Abbie,
sweetheart, don’t move! Daddy’s coming.”
could the boy stay under the water so long? she wondered, searching
the sandbar and beyond.
was suddenly there, scooping her up into his arms. “Somebody
we have to help him.” Abbie tried to wriggle free, but he only
held on tighter.
father turned in a half circle, scanning the beach without slowing
his steps. “What boy?”
one who pulled me out of the water.”
no one there, honey. And don’t ever scare me like that again.”
began to run toward the dunes where a small crowd flocked in their
direction with cell phones in hand.
she all right?” an older woman with bright red lipstick yelled
as she stumbled along the sand. But Abbie was no longer listening.
twisted her head around, frantically searching for the boy who had
magically disappeared in the great pool of God’s tears.
really should eat better, young lady. Your mother would have my ass
if she were alive to see some of the dreadful things you consume.”
Abbie hid a smile at her father’s scolding. “I’m
thirty-two years old, Henry. I doubt she would go all June Cleaver on
shouldn’t call me Henry, you little brat. It makes me sound old
the toupee fits.” They both laughed a moment before falling
into a comfortable silence.
mother had died from cancer twenty-five years earlier, and Henry had
never remarried. He hid his loneliness behind a mask of indifference
and immersed himself wholly in his work.
the lead epidemiologist for Winchester Industries had become Henry’s
proverbial crutch, and he spent entirely too much time alone at the
worried about him constantly and planned evenings such as the one
they had tonight to spend quality time together. It didn’t
always work. She knew he saw her mother every time he looked into his
daughter’s eyes. The exact replica of the only woman he’d
trill of a phone broke the silence, and her father excused himself to
take the call.
no doubt, Abbie thought, taking a bite of the burger she’d just
made to her liking.
reappeared a moment later with a guilty look in his eyes. “That
was the lab, honey. They need me to come back in.”
could be so important that it can’t wait until morning?”
avoided her gaze. “I’m not sure, but I’ll call you
later. Don’t wait up. It’s going to be a late night.”
in his voice kicked her curiosity up a notch. He never could hide
things well, and the whole no eye contact? Yeah, he was definitely
keeping something from her.
come with you.” She pushed her plate aside and stood.
Stay and eat your heart attack on a bun. You worked a twelve-hour
shift at the hospital today.”
had worked at Winchester Industries with her father for several years
and often assisted him in the lab before she’d been
unceremoniously laid off due to supposed budget cuts.
knew the higher ups had purposefully kept things from her during her
time working in the lab, but whatever Henry hid from her now had to
be awfully big for him to outright lie to his only daughter.
she had no doubt he evaded the truth by the way his left eye
twitched. That little trademark had always given him away. “What
are you not telling me?”
pursed his lips. “Okay, you got me. I didn’t want to have
to say this, honey, but you are adopted.”
chuckle bubbled up before she could stop it. She stood on tiptoes and
gave him a quick peck on the chin. “That explains a whole hell
of a lot.”
look so much like your mother, Abbigail. She had the same hazel eyes
and dark hair. Her butt wasn’t quite as big though.”
playfully smacked him on the arm before stepping back. “I
inherited the infamous booty from you, Henry.”
knew he didn’t like her to call him Henry any more than she
appreciated him referring to her as Abbigail. They were incorrigible
teases, but it was their way.
really do have to run, sweetie.”
least let me pack up your food to take with you, or you won’t
nodded and began gathering his work paraphernalia while she bagged up
are you up to, Henry?
followed him to the car and held the door open as he deposited his
things on the passenger seat.
are welcome to stay here tonight, Abbie. Jax would love the company.”
probably will. If I leave, I’ll feed him before I go.”
gave her a two-finger salute and slid behind the wheel.
stepped back as the door closed and the engine roared to life. He
backed out of the drive without another glance in her direction.
waited until his tail lights disappeared around the corner before
going back inside to put food out for Jax. He followed her around
with a rubber ball in his mouth, bumping into her legs. The big
German shepherd had been with Henry for nearly ten years and had
become part of the family.
“You know what’s going on, don’t you, boy?”
tail wagged in response from the attention.
“Wanna give me a clue? No? I didn’t think so. You are a
male after all.” She snagged the ball from his jaws and tossed
it across the room, grinning as he bounded after it.
After a quick shower, Abbie brushed her teeth and strolled to her old
bedroom in search of something to wear. Henry kept the room exactly
as Abbie had left it before she’d gone off to college, right
down to the blue pom-poms hanging from the bedpost.
She dressed in a pair of jeans and a black tank top, pulled her long,
dark hair back in a ponytail, and made haste cleaning up the mess
from their earlier dinner.
Grabbing her keys, she switched off the lights and left the house.
strode to her car with determined steps. Something was up, and she’d
be damned if she would remain behind to play the docile daughter
while her father was probably neck deep into something illegal.
* * *
pulled into the parking lot of Winchester Industries and switched off
father’s car sat in its reserved spot in front of a sign that
read H. Sutherland. She grabbed the registration to her
vehicle from the glove box, exited the car, and glanced up at the
camera situated on the corner of the building.
would be a piece of cake. She did, however, need to figure out a
believable reason for being there in the first place without alerting
Henry to her presence.
evening security guard waved from his perch behind a small, less than
clean window. Smudges on the glass blurred his smile, but she
couldn’t mistake the shiny gold tooth displayed so proudly from
its position in the front of his mouth.
door buzzed once, and a click told her the lock had released.
She pulled it open and stepped inside.
Willie. How are you this evening?”
had been one of her favorite night watchmen. His uniform always
appeared clean, neatly creased, and he smelled nice. The badge he
wore shone perfectly to match the bald spot on top of his head. He
had a toothy grin for everyone and a heart of gold.
good, Miss Abbie. I sure have missed your face around here. The place
hasn’t been the same since you were laid off.”
you, Willie. I miss you too.”
Willie cleared his throat. “What brings you here?”
forgot an important piece of his work.” She held up the folded
car registration before quickly tucking it into the pocket of her
hate it when that happens. My wife is always harping at me about how
forgetful I’m getting. I reckon she’s right. It’s
hard getting old.”
glanced at the pocket she’d tucked the paper into. “He
must be working on something pretty big to bring you down here at
this hour. It’s almost nine o’clock.”
inwardly groaned. She hated lying to Willie, but left with little
choice, lying was exactly what she did.
working on some antimicrobial susceptibility tests, and they called
him in to straighten out a mix-up in results. It could be the fact
that he used the gradient diffusion method instead of—”
laughed, effectively cutting her off. “Okay, Miss Abbie. You
lost me back at antimicro…something.” He waved her on.
“Tell him not to work too hard.”
a good night, Willie. Tell that beautiful wife of yours I’m
ready for more of her fried chicken.”
sure will.” He beamed.
touched her arm as she turned to go. “Wait. Dr. Sutherland left
his dinner down here when he signed in. Do you want to take it up to
him on your way through? If not, I can buzz him and let him know it’s
ground her teeth. If Willie picked up the phone, he would spill the
beans without realizing it. The man loved to talk.
thank you. I’ll take it.” She caught sight of a keycard
peeking out from beneath some papers on Willie’s desk and
quickly snagged it when he bent to retrieve Henry’s dinner from
under the counter. She stuffed the card into her back pocket.
straightened and handed her the bag. “Here you go, Miss.
you, Willie.” She winked at him and hurried off down the hall.
cameras strategically placed along the corners of the ceiling made
her nervous. If anyone involved in whatever Henry worked on
recognized her, they would surely sound the alarm.
knew Winchester Industries pushed the limits and sometimes
experimented with drugs not previously approved by the FDA. But
whatever her father had rushed to the lab for had nothing to do with
illegal testing. He wouldn’t have been asked to come back in
for that alone. No, this was definitely something bigger.
increase her chances of staying under the radar, Abbie bypassed the
elevator for the stairs.
them two at a time, she stopped at the door to the second floor. With
a slight tug, it cracked open enough that she could see into the
hallway. She stood there for several heartbeats, listening for any
sound, and then slipped quietly into the corridor.
laughter rang out up ahead, and Abbie stilled. Are they guarding
glanced up at a camera in the corner. Monitors were installed in
every office throughout the building, along with the security hub.
The longer she stood in the open, the higher her chances were of
being seen by Henry.
a moment, the voices grew faint, signaling the men had headed off in
the opposite direction. She blew out a breath she’d been
holding and crept silently forward.
the door to the lab was closed when she rounded the corner, she
quickly fished out the keycard from her back pocket and slid it
effortlessly through the vertical groove situated next to the
doorjamb. The green light activated right on cue, and she cringed as
a click sounded loud enough to startle a sloth.
predictable sounds of a lab in use met her ears as she eased the door
open and entered her father’s domain. He obviously hadn’t
heard the lock disengage over the consistent beeps and humming of the
equipment surrounding him.
took in the room with a quick glance, noticing a big pair of feet
hanging off the end of a bed her father stood next to.
heart began to pound as she crept farther inside. The closer she got
the more confused she became. It was definitely a man lying on the
bed; only, she’d never seen one that size in her lifetime.
sheet covered his lower body from waist to ankles, leaving his upper
half bare. His chest appeared devoid of hair and stood off the bed
about two feet. He was massive and had to be at least six foot ten by
enveloped Abbie as her gaze slid to the stranger’s face.
Beautiful would be a gross understatement.
had a smooth, strong jaw that angled up to slightly pointed ears.
Pointed ears? His dark hair lay haphazardly tousled on the
pillow. Full lips and a faintly crooked nose made up the rest of his
face. She wondered what color his eyes were.
conscious thought, she inched forward on shaky legs. Why would
they have him here? Is he sick? It didn’t matter as long as
she could stand there and drink him in.
father must have sensed her approach. He stiffened a second before
spinning around. “What are you doing here?” He seemed
more nervous than angry.
could ask you the same thing. What’s going on, Henry?”
She nodded toward the incapacitated stranger taking up far too much
have to leave. Now.”
surged. “What is that man doing here? This isn’t a
hospital, so don’t lie me. I knew something was going on when
you got that phone call earlier. What sort of illegal activity do
they have you involved in this time?”
please. You’re not supposed to be here. You need to go home.
Now. I’ll explain it all in the morning.” He glanced
toward to door several times as he spoke.
until you tell me the truth. You promised me you wouldn’t
participate in anymore illegal activities, Dad. No matter what Newman
threatened you with.”
took a deep breath and pinned her with an impatient stare. “Fine.
But then you must go. And it’s not what you think. Newman
didn’t threaten me, but he might if he finds you here. How did
you get in here, anyhow?”
raised an eyebrow. “Newman’s not going to find me here.
And Willie let me in. He doesn’t know what kind of illegal
dealings go on in this lab. He thinks that I was laid off due to
averted his gaze. “You’re going to be the death of me.”
stared at her father as he attempted to explain away the man’s
presence with some fabricated tale.
is all I know. It…” Henry took a deep breath and started
again. “It washed up on the beach a few hours ago. Newman
called me in to run some tests before they extradite the corpse to
Abbie held up a hand when he would have continued. “Newman, the
CEO of Winchester Industries? And it?”
hesitated. “It’s not human, Abbie. I don’t know
what it is, but I need to get these samples taken before the crew
from Area 51 arrives. You have to go. No one else is to know about
human? That’s impossible.” Other than the stranger’s
size and pointed ears, he appeared the same as any other man. “And
how did he get here?”
turned to a computer near the head of the bed and tapped a few keys.
The screen came out of hibernation within seconds to display what
looked to be a chest X-ray.
ran across the thing on the beach. Apparently it drowned somehow and
floated up on shore. Local PD had the creature sent to the morgue,
and Newman had it delivered here. He told the police this was a
Hazmat situation and needed ‘him’ contained until
they cleared the scene. No one questioned Newman since he owns the
hospital and this lab. The cops had no idea it was an alien.”
would they think he’s not human? Did the coroner open him up
and find a little green man in residence?” She would have
rolled her eyes if the situation didn’t already resemble a
Twilight Zone episode.
“Come look at this.”
stood next to her father to gaze at the unbelievable evidence of a
six-chambered heart. It took a moment to register the truth, but
there was no mistaking it.
is that possible? I’ve never seen anything like it. Do you know
what this means?” Her voice sounded strained to her own ears.
have I. And it doesn’t mean anything to us. Once it leaves
here, we forget it exists.”
He glanced at his watch. “The crew will arrive in less than
three hours to retrieve it, and then I develop amnesia. Do you
have a little time before they get here. Show me please? This is too
amazing to be true.” Several questions ran through her mind at
once. She couldn’t voice them all.
a click of the mouse, another image appeared. “Do you see
that?” Henry pointed to an object on the screen.
what is it?” She leaned in to get a better look.
equivalent of lungs.”
what is that?” She indicated something winged that grew from
the sides of the organs.
gills.” His voice took on an awed tone, which she could
understand. She was in the same frame of mind.
can’t be.” Yet the evidence of it mocked her from inches
glanced up at her. “They’re gills, I tell you. I saw them
on the back side of his ribs. His arms cover most of them and they
wouldn’t be noticeable to someone that didn’t know what
to look for.”
you realize what this implies? Gills for God’s sake.”
seeing similarities to humans, amphibians, reptiles, and fish here,
Abbie. The heart of a fish only has two chambers, one to receive
blood and the other to send it out to the rest of the body. A human
heart has four.”
that our blood leaves the lungs and enters the heart, while a fish’s
blood leaves the heart and enters the gills. And take a gander at
this.” Henry clicked the mouse once more.
in the world?” she breathed, studying the image before her.
the digestive tract. I would give anything to be able to dissect it.”
His excitement at the possibility of a dissection disturbed her.
glanced over at the it in question, and something tugged at
her emotions. Some kind of beautiful creature had washed up on the
beach only to be violated and sent to a place few had ever witnessed.
She shuddered and turned back to the screen. “Have you ever
seen anything like this before? And why six chambers instead of two
don’t know why the six chambers. I understand that an octopus,
squid, and cuttlefish have three separate hearts, so perhaps it has
to do with evolution.”
the bridge of his nose, he continued. “I studied tissue samples
taken from an unknown subject many years ago, but I wasn’t told
its origin. And it had blood. This subject doesn’t. Well, not
enough to fill a cup, at any rate. And there are no wounds that it
could have bled out from.”
Abbie was sure she hadn’t heard him right.
here and I’ll show you.” Henry took up residence on the
left side of the bed as she rushed around to the right.
lifted the creature’s left arm, turning the hand so she could
see both sides. “We attempted to draw blood here first.
Nothing. Not a drop could be found.”
the arm, he gripped the subject’s chin next, tugging it to the
side for her inspection. “One vein runs along here, from jaw to
the bottom of the neck. Dry also.”
come back to that. There’s more.” He dragged the sheet
down to a small pink vertical scar on the creature’s abdomen.
“Impossible,” he gasped.
wrong?” Her gaze flew to her father’s face.” Henry
had significantly paled.
made that incision less than an hour ago. It’s nearly healed
already. The thing is dead. I don’t understand.”
you sure he’s…gone?” Abbie couldn’t bring
herself to refer to him as it.
“No heartbeat.” Henry laid two fingers on the creature’s
neck. “No pulse. It’s dead all right.”
how is he healing if he isn’t alive?”
don’t know. I was able to remove a small sample of something
resembling blood from near the stomach cavity, but it wasn’t in
any of the A, B, O, or RH classes. It’s an anomaly.”
you should try giving him a universal donation to see what happens? I
mean, if he’s healing, he has to be alive.”
It’s not a person, Abbie. And I’d thought of that. I was
just about to try it before you snuck in here and gave me
indigestion. I’m running out of time. I want you gone before
that crew arrives.”
let’s hurry. I’ll help.”
shot her an impatient glance. “So damn stubborn.”
another thing I inherited from you.”
not too old for me to turn over my knee, young lady.” He spun
on his heel and left the room.
took advantage of Henry’s absence to study the beautiful
creature before her. His wrists and ankles were strapped down with
leather cuffs attached to bands that disappeared beneath the bed.
looked very much alive to her, with color in his cheeks and his lips
slightly parted. She was certain his mouth had been closed only
fingers shook as she reached toward him. She gently pushed his top
lip up with her thumb. “Holy crap,” she whispered,
jerking her hand back as if burned. He had razor-sharp incisors where
his eyeteeth should have been.
nothing untoward happened, Abbie slowly leaned in again. Heat
instantly surrounded her upper body. She felt a soft tugging
sensation that left a tingle in its wake. Her muscles relaxed without
effort as something unseen moved up the sides of her face.
deeply accented voice invaded her mind. “Open.”
knew she should run, but the allure of the command was more powerful
than her fear.
allowed the warmth to pull her closer, never taking her gaze from his
mouth, until she half lay across his massive chest with her arms on
either side of his shoulders.
gentle pressure wrapped itself around her mind, and she found herself
inching toward his parted lips to hover slightly above them. His
breath mingled with hers, and she breathed him in. He’s
felt as if his very spirit entered her body, traveling down her
throat and circling her chest. The pressure continued to slide
through her stomach and grew in strength as it reached her abdomen.
had no desire to move even if it were possible. Her insides turned to
liquid, and she exhaled softly into his mouth only to draw him in
again. He’s alive…
shifted on his huge frame and stroked her fingertips down to his
wrists. Though no pulse was evident, she could feel his energy, his
breath teasing her lips.
instinct, she gripped his hands and slowly turned them over until she
was palm to palm with him. A gentle electrical current traveled up
her arms, tingling, throbbing, as if it had a life of its own.
image of herself as a child coming awake on the beach while waves
washed over her legs suddenly flashed through her mind. She jerked
her head back. What the hell?
pulsing continued through their points of contact while Abbie held
her breath, lowering her face close to his once more. Another jolt
entered her palms.
had she heard that before? She recognized it as the Latin word for
and voices began swirling together in a multitude of color and sound,
leaving her helpless against the onslaught.
“Abbie, did you know that dolphins can communicate with
groan slipped from her parted lips, full of pain and sorrow. Mother.
current slid from his hands to hers. “Salt from his tears.”
Water. Coffin. Death.
she softly moaned.
Her lungs hurt. Heat snaking through her arms and legs. “Salutem.”
heard a keening sound and realized it came from her. She
slowly removed her shaky hands from his and brought them to his face.
“It can’t be.”
unsteady fingers, she rested her thumbs on his eyelids and gently
lifted. A soft gasp escaped as she stared into the emerald-green eyes
of a dream she’d thought long forgotten.
was swift and strong, and she clung to it like a life raft on a
wondered a thousand times about the day they’d buried her
mother, when the teenage boy with the strange accent and rare-colored
eyes had magically appeared to save her life.
memory had faded over the years until she’d convinced herself
it’d all been the imagination of a child who’d recently
suffered a trauma.
couldn’t believe the boy from her dreams was actually real and
strapped down before her now.
She forced herself to break the connection and stand on legs that
felt too weak to hold her up. His warmth abruptly disappeared,
leaving an ache and emptiness in its place that was staggering.
pain. Hauke could hear his sister’s scream piercing the night,
ripping his heart in half. Sunlight scorched his skin. The cool,
healing power of the water.
could breathe once again. Voices. More pain. The distinct feel of a
blade opening his skin.
defenseless state enraged him. To be trapped inside his own mind,
unable to retaliate as someone violated his body.
plagued him, making little sense.
clung to the female’s voice. She touched him. He knew she
attempted to soothe him, yet he couldn’t read her thoughts.
“Open,” he mentally implored.
mind became partially exposed to him as he beckoned her closer. His
spirit clawed its way to the surface, craving hers. It was a hunger
unlike anything he’d ever known.
breath entered his mouth, and he felt as if he’d died a
thousand times. He saw her lovely face in its true form behind his
closed lids. Soft, warm, and expressive. She cared about what
happened to him.
took in her sweet scent, amazed as his spirit encircled hers,
wrapping itself around her life force in a slow, sensual slide.
connection broke unexpectedly, and he panicked. The pain from it went
beyond the physical to be felt in his very soul.
pricked Hauke’s arm, and warm, blessed liquid traveled up,
straight into his heart. It beat for the first time in hours—
days… He was unsure of how long he’d been gone. If not
for the membrane in the roof of his mouth producing the enzymes he
needed to heal and keep his organs from shutting down, Hauke knew he
would already be dead. He had no clue how long he’d been in the
sensation kept coming, and he realized blood somehow pumped into him.
The female had to be responsible, he thought, feeling his body soak
up every last drop of the coveted source.
inside his subconscious, he knew it to be human blood now coursing
through his veins. Forbidden among his kind, yet there was nothing he
could do but allow it to happen.
filled his eyes in stark relief, and his protective lenses slid into
place. He lifted his lids enough to see shapes moving around the
female’s voice sounded from somewhere near his feet, and he
zeroed in on her. She wasn’t beautiful in the conventional
sense, though she was still very attractive. Sensuality surrounded
her. He wished she would come closer where he could see her eyes.
beeping noise echoed around him, and someone shouted from nearby.
“It’s alive, Abbie! Get back.”
okay, Henry. He’s strapped down and not fighting.”
people had been familiar with the English language since the great
flood over two thousand years ago. Some of the words had changed over
time, but he had little trouble keeping up. Although, the couple in
the room with him did have strange accents, he silently admitted.
didn’t recognize the voice to his left and cut his gaze in that
direction. A tall man with gray hair, wearing a white garment stared
back at him with wide eyes. Hauke growled deep in his throat,
registering him as a threat.
voice broke through his defensive state. “Hello? Can you
brought his focus back on her, and his chest constricted with
emotion. It was her. The young girl that nearly drowned in the gulf
all those moons ago.
foreign feeling did little to slow his curiosity. He openly stared,
drinking in her expressive features.
wanted to communicate with her, but the older man would hear. He sent
her a thought instead. ”I comprehend.”
small intake of air was the only sign that she might have heard him.
tried again. “Come.”
slowly moved forward until she stood next to his head. The fact that
she’d gone to the same side as the man wearing white wasn’t
lost on Hauke. She is protecting me. The thought warmed him.
female had no idea how much power he possessed. The only reason he
hadn’t broken loose and snapped the old one’s neck stood
before him now. He didn’t want her to fear him.
He liked the sound of her name.
appeared nervous but didn’t run. There was a determined set to
her jaw that he found oddly sexy.
back this instant,” the gray-haired one demanded from behind
her. “If that thing gets loose, you could be killed. And we
have no idea what type of diseases it carries.”
spun around. “Just stop it, Henry. He’s alive. Does he
look like he’s trying to break free to you? Have you no heart?
We have to do something before they get here. He will die at Area
not our problem, Abbigail. Their crew is already on the way. There’s
nothing we can do.”
listened to the exchange, understanding enough to know that the one
Abbie referred to as Henry planned on sending him somewhere to die.
could feel his strength returning with the help of the blood now
inching through his veins. The hunger for more grew by the second,
and his fangs began to throb in time with his pulse.
disappointed in you, Daddy.”
didn’t miss the catch in her voice or the parent reference.
He’s her sire. He filed that piece of information away
for a later time. His first priority was to get out of there and find
the group that had been with him before the explosion.
His heart ached with the knowledge that his sister might not have
survived. If she’d died, he would destroy every last human
involved in blowing the oil well that separated Naura from him.
do you expect me to do? Take it home with me and set up a college
fund for it? Come on, Abbie. Be reasonable. You saw the X-rays. That
thing may resemble us to a degree, but that’s as far as it
goes. Now keep your distance while I check on the incubated samples.
It’ll be gone soon, and we have no choice but to forget we ever
saw it.” Henry stalked off, leaving a fuming Abbie to gape at
door suddenly opened, admitting a short, beefy man wearing dark blue
clothing. Something shiny hung from his shirt. He stood there for a
moment, leering at Abbie before coming fully into the room. “What
are you doing here, Doctor Sutherland?”
would appear that Abbie was a healer, Hauke noted, watching the man
in blue slowly advance forward.
father called me to bring him a case of files he’d forgotten.”
thought you were fired. And who is that behind you on the bed?”
crossed her arms over her chest. “I was laid off, Donald. Not
fired. This man is sick. I wouldn’t advise you come any
guy’s beady gaze wandered slowly over her body. “It
doesn’t surprise me that you were laid off. You created more
trouble than any other employee in the place.”
be willing to bet not much does surprise you,” Abbie retorted.
didn’t need to open his mind to feel the venom in her words.
They fairly dripped with it.
think I’ll just double check with your father about you being
up here. Where is he?” Donald turned toward the door Henry had
disappeared through only minutes before.
can’t go in there, Donald. He’s spinning samples at the
moment. You’ll run the risk of contamination.”
stared back at her with traces of suspicion and lust swimming in his
eyes. Lust won out in the end.
“Fine. I’ll be in the restroom if you need me…for
anything.” Donald winked at her and sauntered across the room,
disappearing behind a row of bottle-filled shelves.
bit down hard enough that one of his incisors pierced his bottom lip.
He would kill the man for his filthy thoughts of Abbie. Hauke didn’t
need to touch him to read his intentions.
“Abbie.” Her name came out in a whisper only to be
swallowed up by the insistent noises of the room. He tried again.
spun around to face him with surprise registering on her face. “You
attempted to lift his arm, but the restraints held him back. It would
be easy to break free, apprehend her, and escape back to his home.
But the thought of frightening her in any way was unacceptable to
sorry. I don’t understand?”
Latin was commonplace among his people, Hauke spoke many languages.
English had been the most difficult to learn due to the backhanded
slang most humans used. The need to practice it over the years had
been rare since he’d only come in contact with a small handful
cross-referenced words in his mind. “Where am I?”
in a lab. Someone found you on the beach. We thought you were dead.”
She cleared her throat. “Wh-what… Who are you?”
am Hauke. Son of Klause. What means Area 51?”
averted her eyes. “Are you in pain?”
would be an understatement. He ached from head to feet. Even his
hair seemed to hurt. “No pain.”
must be thirsty.” She darted away before he could answer.
would have laughed if it wouldn’t hurt to do so. Any other
time, he’d enjoy teasing her. And there would plenty of times,
of that he was certain.
tested his bonds. Simple. They thought to hold him with their
returned to his side, holding a clear plastic cup. He gave her a
floats inside.” He’d never seen its contents before.
glanced down at the cup, and her lips twitched. “That’s
ice. It keeps the water cold.”
voice took on a husky tone as she leaned over him and slid her arm
beneath his head. “Here, try it.”
and energy radiated from her in the way Hauke imagined the sun would
feel on his skin in that moment.
breathed deep, taking in her essence. Her spirit was strong, and he
felt his own rise to the surface, seeking, craving. Mate.
possessive growl rumbled from his chest, and she stilled.
not fear me, Abbie.”
I hurt you?”
only shook his head.
sincerity in her voice made him want her more. Emotion poured from
her in waves. Her concern over his pain touched him in ways he didn’t
lifted his head off the pillow and brought the cup to his mouth.
cool liquid touched his tongue, and he bit back a groan. Hauke drank
slowly to appease her. If she had any idea he was capable of
breathing underwater, she’d probably be horrified. No, he
rather enjoyed her caring for him.
soft breast pressing against his cheek nearly drove him to insanity.
He wanted to turn his face to the side and nuzzle her.
removed the drink from his lips and eased her arm out from under his
neck. Hauke missed her touch instantly. He watched her set the cup on
a side table and busy herself with the tube attached to his arm.
blushed but didn’t say anything.
sire.” He nodded toward the other room. “He is concerned
for your safety.”
Sire?” She gifted him with a small smile. “Where do you
ignored her question. “What means Area 51?”
felt her emotions shift. She was like an open book with her
expressive features and guileless eyes.
She hesitated. “It’s a place where they… um…
I have never actually been there.” She appeared flustered.
“Shit. I’m getting you out of here. “
sound of footsteps could be heard coming from somewhere in the back.
Abbie quickly put space between her and the bed. The anxiety
radiating from her was suffocating.
whispered words did little to slow the growl rising in Hauke’s
throat. He didn’t trust Abbie’s father.
studied the older man as he progressed into the room. He was hiding
something, and Hauke wondered how much of it had to do with the prize
he had strapped to the bed.
of the samples was compromised. I’m going to need another.”
Henry went to a stainless steel side table and opened the drawer. He
withdrew several items, laying them on top.
are you doing with that?” The spike in Abbie’s adrenaline
wasn’t lost on Hauke.
going to sedate– ”
hell you are.” She practically spat the words.
barely spared her a glance as he lifted a vial from his coat pocket
and set it beside the other items on the table. He tore open
something that appeared to have a miniature blade protruding from one
end, and plucked up the small glass bottle in his other hand. After
holding them both up to the light, he pierced the vial with the sharp
won’t let you drug him, Henry. Not gonna happen.”
father raised an eyebrow. “I refuse to go near his mouth unless
he is incapacitated. I’m not running the risk of being bitten,
and neither are you.”
Hauke watched as Henry proceeded to withdraw his small weapon from
the bottle he held and lay it aside before rummaging through the
drawer once more. Hauke realized the older man intended to inject him
with something foreign that would render him unconscious. He had to
agree with Abbie. How had she said that? Oh, yes. Not gonna
get the samples. I’m not afraid of him.” She extended her
hand, palm up.
in a million years. Now stand back.” Henry snapped on some
strange-looking hand coverings and began to rip open a package that
held a small wooden stick with cotton encircling the tip.
are you giving him and how much?” Her voice grew in volume.
rattled off the medication’s name. “And just enough to
put him out until the crew gets here.”
felt a shift in Abbie only seconds before she snatched up the small
silver blade on the table and pierced her father’s upper arm.
Henry stared at the place she’d impaled him, and then lifted
his gaze to his daughter. Hauke could practically taste the man’s
confusion and disbelief.
me.” The whispered words seemed torn from her soul. Tears swam
in her eyes but didn’t spill over.
staggered back several feet before dropping to his knees. His eyes
rolled up in his head. and he toppled over.
Aware she’d felled her own father for him, Hauke watched Abbie
in disbelief and no small amount of pride. He said the first word
that came to mind. “Angel.”
no angel. I’m an ass. One that just ruined the relationship
with the only family I have left.”
would you assist me?”
saved me once, long ago. And I’m not going to let them take you
to Area 51 to die.”
owe me nothing.”
owe you everything. If not for you, I wouldn’t be here today.”
had to be done this way,” she interrupted.
dawned. Her father couldn’t be held responsible for Hauke’s
escape if he was incapacitated. And it would appear Hauke had felled
Henry and taken Abbie as a hostage. More pride settled inside his
chest. She had intelligence also.
door opened across the room before Hauke could respond. The guard
wearing the blue clothing came into view, his strange black shoes
clicking on the floor as he stomped his way toward them.
slowed his steps when he noticed the unconscious doctor lying at
Abbie’s feet. “What the hell?”
hypoglycemic, Donald. I just gave him a glucose tablet under his
could hear the nervousness in her voice. Apparently the one known as
Donald could as well. He studied her for a moment; seeming to gauge
broke eye contact and peered down at Henry. “He’s never
mentioned being a diabetic. I’m calling for help.” He
unhooked a small black device from his belt and pressed something on
Abbie threw up a hand and took a step in Donald’s direction.
“Don’t do that.” She’d obviously forgotten
she still held the pointed-tipped evidence.
bells went off inside Hauke.
guard’s energy changed to something dangerous. “What did
you do, Doctor Sutherland?” He shifted the communication device
to his left hand and unsnapped the holster that housed a weapon with
a flex of his taut muscles, the straps across Hauke’s body
snapped like paper. The glands surrounding his fangs swelled on cue,
and the normally soft as silk barbs on his wrists and ankles grew
erect to razor-sharp intensity. His protective lenses slid back to
reveal brilliant green eyes that burned with rage.
had one thing on the brain as he shot from the bed and slammed into
the guard. Protect Abbie.
* * *
gasp was drowned out by the deafening explosion of a gunshot. She
stared in shock as a very naked Hauke straddled the guard with one of
his huge hands wrapped around the man’s throat. The
implications of that were shocking.
had broken through his bonds and attacked Donald before her mind
could register he’d left the bed. If he killed everyone in the
building, it would be her fault.
from Hauke’s infusion line dripped onto the tile to pool near
have I done? Abbie was suddenly terrified. She thought of her
father lying defenseless on the floor, and Willie with his laughing
eyes sitting at the front door probably humming while eating a snack
his wife had packed for him. She had to do something.
gun lay a few feet away where it had landed after he’d been
tackled, and Abbie made a dive for it.
snatched it up and pointed it at Hauke’s massive chest. Her
hands trembled so hard she had trouble holding the gun steady. “Let
lifted his head and pinned her with a glittering green stare. “He
can’t let you do that.” She was surprised at the strength
in her voice.
meant you harm.” His fangs peeked out from under his top lip as
he spoke, and Abbie realized how inhuman he really was.
doesn’t matter. Now please, back off. I don’t want to
held her gaze for what seemed like an eternity while the guard’s
face continued turning purple.
breaking eye contact with her, Hauke drew back a fist and slammed it
into the guy’s chin, snapping his head to the side. Donald went
the impossible happened. One second she had a gun trained on Hauke,
and the next, he stood behind her with an arm around her neck.
went completely still, afraid to move. It wasn’t that she would
have actually shot him, but he didn’t know that. She only knew
she couldn’t stand by and watch him take the life of another
human being. Not even one as horrible as Donald.
will not harm you.” His deep voice rumbled in her ear.
did you— ”
high-pitched sound of an alarm unexpectedly blasted through the
building. Abbie felt Hauke stiffen behind her.
pained sound wrenched from him, and he released his hold on her
instantly. She spun around in time to watch him stumble back with his
hands covering his ears. The look of agony on his face couldn’t
wrong?” she shouted, taking a step toward him.
jerked his head toward the red flashing light in a corner of the
room, and realization dawned. The high-pitched sound coming from the
alarm affected him somehow.
coming. We have to hurry!” she yelled over the screaming siren
echoing throughout the room.
had to get him out of there before security arrived. They would shoot
him where he stood if they saw her father and Donald unconscious on
the floor. She knew exactly how it appeared.
Abbie realized she still held the guard’s gun and quickly
stuffed it into the waistband of her jeans before grabbing Hauke’s
arm and giving him a tug.
led him over to a locker that stood against the wall and jerked one
of the doors open.
were several different size scrubs stacked inside, and she grabbed a
pair of bottoms from the extra-large pile. “Put these on. We
have to get out of here.”
accepted the pants and had them on in record time, but not before she
caught a glimpse of him below the waist.
seemed to have the same equipment as any other man, but bigger. Much
bigger. Heat crept up her neck and into her face. Yeah, that image
would stay with her for a long time to come.
Averting her gaze from Hauke’s masculine form, Abbie took one
last look at her father before jogging toward the exit with Hauke
tight on her heels.
she could get Hauke out of there without being seen, she and her
father would remain blameless.
felt certain that Henry would back up her story, no matter what she’d
done. He would be livid about her rendering him unconscious, but he’d
never throw her under the bus.
before they reached the door, the screaming siren abruptly stopped.
Abbie glanced over her shoulder and noticed the instant relief on
Hauke’s face. She spoke in a hushed tone. “Stay close.”
the door handle down, Abbie gave it a little tug and peeked into the
hall. The sound of shouting followed by footsteps could be heard
coming up the corridor, forcing her to quickly abandon the idea of
making a run for the stairs.
“They have keys. We have less than a minute before they reach
us.” She eased the door closed and reengaged the locks.
her heart beat any faster, she be in tachycardia in a matter of
seconds, she acknowledged with a shuddering breath.
glanced around the room, his glittering gaze touching on every object
visible. “Stand back.”
watched in wonder as he sped over to one of the sterilizing machines
and lifted it from the floor. She knew it weighed over four hundred
strained and bulged under the heavy burden as Hauke carried it over
and deposited it in front of the door. It would only be a temporary
block from the guards, but maybe it would buy them enough time for
Hauke to escape.
way.” Abbie ran over to a window as a loud click sounded
and shouting ensued from the other side of the door.
easily sprang the locks and slid the glass up to peek over the ledge.
“Son of a bitch,” she growled, taking in the scene below.
It was a long drop from the second floor to the ground.
was immediately at her side. “We go down from here. Do not
think, Abbie. Follow my lead.”
Abbie asked in surprise. “I can’t go with you, Hauke.
That would make me an accessory. No. This is as far as I go.”
glanced toward Donald, lying on the floor. “He will accuse you
of felling your father. If you come with me now, it will appear as if
I have taken you against your will.”
warred in Abbie’s gut. She knew Hauke was right. She wasn’t
supposed to be there to begin with. At least if she went with him, it
would take the blame off Henry. “Okay, let’s go.”
threw a long leg over the windowsill and disappeared from sight.
breath caught. She couldn’t believe he’d just dropped
from at least twenty feet up.
peered over the ledge to see Hauke standing with his feet planted
apart and his arms extended out. She could barely hear over the
cluster of people attempting to fight their way into the room.
in me, Abbie. I will intercept you.” The surety in his voice
swayed her, and she brought her knee up to the windowsill.
me? Jesus, I’ve hooked up with Spock.
heavy incubator scraped over the tile as something crashed into the
door. A male voice began barking orders. “Hit it again.”
held Hauke’s gaze while her stomach rapidly tied itself in
knots. She had no choice but to trust him or stay behind and face the
consequences of her actions.
Hauke’s demand was almost as powerful as the impact on the
the hell does that mean?”
violent sound reverberated from behind her, and Abbie threw her foot
over the ledge. She gripped the windowsill and quickly lowered
herself until her body hung suspended above him.
her chin against her chest, she stared down at Hauke in horror. He
might as well have been a football field away as far as she was
concerned. She wasn’t about to loosen her hold.
splintering of the door giving way made the decision for her. She
squeezed her eyes shut and forced her trembling fingers to relax.
feeling of free-falling damn near stopped her heart. Her arms flailed
at her sides, and her stomach shot up into her throat. Every muscle
in her body tightened as she braced herself for impact.
breath whooshed from her lungs as she landed without a modicum
of grace in Hauke’s waiting arms.
you injured?” he rasped, staring intently into her eyes.
she? She wriggled her fingers and toes. “I don’t think
set her gently on her feet and turned in the direction of the tree
line. “We must make haste.”
This way.” Abbie shook off the nausea from her near-death
experience, took hold of his hand, and sprinted toward the front of
the building, digging her keys out of her jeans pocket as she ran.
She slowed as they reached the last corner before the parking area
would be visible.
night seemed deceptively calm and peaceful as Abbie scanned the
darkness, straining her ears for evidence of movement.
sound of crickets chirping in the distance became deafening in the
otherwise tranquil night.
wrong.” The hair stood up on the back of her neck.
gun suddenly pressed against the side of her head, and she was jerked
back hard against a wall of unforgiving muscle. “What—
not move.” A dangerous undertone lined Hauke’s voice.