Turning payne, p.1
Turning Payne, p.1Chantel Seabrook
A Therian Agents Romance
Table of Contents
Coming Spring 2016
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Copyright (C) 2016 Chantel Seabrook
Cover design by Aria Tan - www.ResplendentMedia.com
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the author's permission.
"Breaking news—the Siberian tiger seen roaming Central Park earlier this morning has been detained on Lexington Avenue. Central Park Zoo has denied accusations that the animal is theirs. Police are asking anyone with information—"
Turner blew out a frustrated breath and switched the car radio off.
The Therian Agency had been able to keep most of the recent cases out of the news, but when a six-hundred-pound predator strolls through the streets of New York City, it was going to get media coverage.
He loosened his tie and glanced at the unopened manila envelope marked CASE #238 on the passenger seat. It contained the file of the most recent incident of spontaneous shifting.
Thank God, the media hadn't gotten a hold of that story. He could see the headline now—
SUBURBAN HOUSEWIFE WAKES TO FIND CHEETAH IN BED. SAVES FAMILY WITH GLOCK 19 PISTOL. HUSBAND STILL MISSING.
Unfortunately for the unlucky bastard, his wife kept a loaded pistol in the side drawer of her nightstand.
Not that Turner blamed the woman. The world remained blissfully unaware of the subspecies of Metamorphs living alongside them, and it was Turner's job to keep it that way. But between the random spontaneous shiftings and the rogue Metamorphs intent on exposing their kind to the world, it was becoming increasingly difficult to do his job.
He caught his reflection in the rear-view mirror and cursed. Dark circles rimmed grey eyes, and his normally coiffed black hair was disheveled. He'd been awake for thirty-six hours straight and every muscle in his body ached. He rolled his neck, shifted into third gear, and sped through the deserted streets of Bellefonte, anxious to get home and sleep for a few hours.
Someone was messing with the natural order of things.
Over a hundred new cases in the last three months alone, and those were only the ones the agency knew about. Of the two hundred and thirty seven other cases Turner had examined, not one of the victims had shifted back into human form.
Some members of the Therian Council were calling it the Great Shift.
A day of reckoning for the abuse humans had inflicted on the world.
Turner didn't buy it.
He'd seen the lab reports. He was no molecular biologist, but he could read a basic DNA sequence. The chromosomal mutations that caused the victims to shift were fundamentally different from the mutations that classified H. sap. Metamorphs as a subspecies.
This wasn't nature's attempt at retribution. If it was, Mother Nature had one warped sense of humor.
No, someone or something was genetically modifying the victim's DNA, causing them to shift permanently into an altered animal state, and Turner had a bad feeling he knew exactly who was responsible.
Professor Richard Fucking Boyd. The bastard was supposed to be dead, his research destroyed, but this shit had his stench all over it.
He turned the corner and had to slam on his brakes to avoid missing the long-legged redhead who stood stone still in the middle of the road.
Turner's heart beat wildly, and a trickle of sweat rolled down the side of his face as he stared at the woman's profile. She didn't move or react to the fact that he'd almost tracked black tire prints over her sexy baby blue pajama shorts.
He slammed the car door. "What the hell are you doing? I could have killed you."
Her shoulders flinched, but she didn't turn around.
"Did you hear me? I almost killed you. What the hell are you doing standing in the middle of the road?"
Her dark green eyes barely wavered over him as he came to stand in front of her.
He stopped short as recognition swept over him. Bloody hell, of all the people to almost run over, it had to be Richard Boyd's oldest daughter, Riley.
If the agency found out he'd rented an apartment two blocks from her house, he would be in deep shit. He was already on probation after what happened with Boyd. One more strike and he would get more than a slap on the wrist. He was breaking protocol just talking to her, but it wasn't his fault that she had a death wish.
Her chin trembled and her eyes glistened with unshed tears. God, she was gorgeous. His gaze lingered on the full curves of her breasts before travelling to the full bottom lip that begged to be nipped and sucked.
His cock twitched at the thought.
Yeah, that's what he needed, a hard-on for the daughter of his mortal enemy. A man whose death he was somewhat responsible for.
Her breathing was rapid and shallow. She was in shock. Either that or she'd inherited her father's unhinged mind. The latter thought sent a chill down Turner's spine.
"You want to tell me why you're standing out in the middle of the road in your pajamas?"
She blinked slowly, then turned her attention back to the red brick bungalow. "My-my sis-sister."
He laid a hand on her bare shoulder. She was ice cold. "What about your sister?"
She placed her palms over her eyes and shook her head. "Oh God, I'm losing my mind."
Was crazy genetic? It wouldn't help to agree with her, but knowing who her father was, her words held a high probability. Still, he couldn't leave her like this.
He gripped her elbow. "Let's get you back inside."
She jerked her arm away, eyes rounding in fear and took an unsteady step backwards. "I can't go back in there."
He scrubbed his hands over his face. "Is there someone you want me to call?"
A hysterical laugh escaped her lips. "Yeah, Animal Control."
He looked back at the house and inhaled deeply through his nose. Fuck, and double shit. It was faint, but even from thirty feet away he could smell its scent. Why hadn't he noticed it before? Probably because he was having a hard time keeping his eyes diverted from the taut nipples that pressed against the thin fabric of her tank top.
The day was just getting better and better.
He put his hands up in an effort to look unthreatening, but with his height and build, that was no easy feat. He took a tentative step towards her. "Can you tell me what happened?"
With shaky fingers, she tucked her tussled red hair
"I heard Kiera's alarm going off." She closed her eyes, and her lips quivered as she spoke. "She never sleeps in. I don't even know why she sets it; she's up at the same time every day."
Turner clenched his teeth and fought for patience. "And then what happened?"
She hugged herself, her eyes dazed as she tried to articulate what she'd seen. "I went to Kiera's room to check on her."
"But she wasn't there?" he asked, already knowing the answer. His questions were only putting off the inevitable, but he needed confirmation. "Was the room empty?"
She flinched at his question.
In that single gesture, his suspicions were confirmed. Shit, he had to call the agency, but how was he going to explain why he was near her house in the first place?
He cursed Richard Boyd under his breath. Figured the asshole would find a way to screw with his life, even beyond the grave.
A little too roughly, he grabbed her upper arm and pulled her towards the SUV. "Get in the car."
"What?" She stared at him, wide-eyed, and tried unsuccessfully to pull free of his grip.
"Get in the car, Riley. I'll deal with it."
She gave him an odd look. "Deal with what? You don't even know what's in there."
He moved quickly, leaning down so he was nose to nose with her. "Then tell me." He kept his voice deliberately low, but she didn't shrink in fear as he expected her to.
"A lion." She pushed at his chest, and he released her. Bordering on hysterical, she threw her hands in the air. "There was a freaking lion on my sister's bed."
That did surprise him.
Of all the victims Turner had analyzed, not one had been of the species panthera leo.
He opened the passenger door and motioned for her to get in. "I'll deal with it."
She gave her head a small shake. "Did you hear me? There's a lion—"
He held out a hand to stop her. An older couple walked by, staring at them. The last thing he needed was to draw more attention. What he needed to do was get the lion contained. Wipe Riley's memory, and somehow get the animal to the agency's underground research lab without being detected—So much for his morning nap.
"You need to trust me."
"Trust you?" Her eyes instantly narrowed and filled with suspicion. "I don't even know you."
His phone vibrated in his back pocket.
Incoming Call, Chase Payne flashed on the screen. If there was anyone in the world he could rely on to help him with this mess, it was his older brother.
He pressed Talk, and brought the phone to his ear. "I need your help."
There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the line. "What did you do now?"
Riley's gaze darted between him and the house. He wasn't sure which she looked more scared of, him or the lion.
He turned his back to her and lowered his voice. "I'm at the Boyd's house. I need you to get your ass over here ASAP."
"Dammit, Turner. If anyone finds out your anywhere near that man's family—"
"Lay off the lecture. Just get over here. We have a—situation." He ended the call before his brother could argue.
Riley chewed on her bottom lip and took a step back when he approached her. "How do you know my name?"
"Let's go inside and I'll explain." He held out his hand and gave her a half-smile.
She shook her head and took another step backwards.
He shrugged and turned.
"Wait," she called out as he stalked towards the house.
The front door was slightly open. The moment he stepped inside, the animal's scent slammed into him.
"You can't just barge into someone's—"
"Sit." He motioned to the sofa in the living room just off the front entrance.
"Look." She crossed her arms over her chest and narrowed her eyes. "I don't need you here. I was probably just sleepwalking. I do that sometimes when I'm really stressed, or overheated—"
She didn't finish the sentence. Her jaw went slack as her gaze focused on something behind him.
He didn't need to turn to know what caused her reaction. "You've got to be fucking kidding me. You didn't think to shut the bedroom door?"
Riley couldn’t breathe as the lion took another menacing step towards the tall, dark stranger. His silvery blue eyes locked on her like a homing device, the scowl on his handsome face almost as frightening as the animal behind him.
She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.
"Don't make any sudden movements." His voice was low and steady.
Her attention darted back and forth between the lion and the man. A small cry escaped her lips, and she covered her mouth with her hands.
The animal crouched lower and a deep rumble resonated from its throat.
"I said don't move."
Riley's knees went rubbery. God, what if the animal had attacked her sister? She needed to get to the bedroom. Needed to make sure Kiera wasn't hurt. "I ne-need to find my sis-siter."
The lion's head snapped up and looked at her. A vibrating hum replaced the savage snarl. It watched Riley almost curiously.
"Riley." The man's voice jerked her attention back to him. He had his shirt halfway unbuttoned before she knew what he was doing. With slow subtle movements, he removed the white button-down and let it fall to the ground. "Whatever happens, I need you to remain calm. Can you do that for me?"
Riley sucked in a deep breath at the sight of the bronzed flesh covering his tightly coiled muscles. The sudden rush of air into her lungs left her lightheaded. "Wha-What are you doing?"
The lion's ears flattened against its head as the man began unbuckling his belt.
His pants, as well as his Georgio Armani boxer briefs, dropped slowly to the ground. His gaze never left hers. "I need you to trust me."
Trust him? Was he serious? Heat scalded her cheeks and surged through her. Blinking at him, she shook her head and took a step backwards.
The lion growled and leapt through the air, teeth and claws bared.
A deep roar that sounded like a freight train echoed around her.
She screamed and stepped back, and tumbled over the coffee table. She spread her arms, trying to catch herself. Her head smacked against something metal and the room went black.
* * *
Turner was ready for the attack. As the animal pounced, he shifted into lion form. Bones and sinew snapped and reformed, but not quickly enough. The lion sank its teeth into his right shoulder, and he let out a roar.
Across the room, Riley lay unconscious. The smell of fresh blood tickled his nostrils.
He needed to get control of the situation before things got more out of hand. Why hadn't he grabbed the stun gun out of the trunk before entering the house? How many rules had he already broken? It didn't matter. When the Council found out, he was going to be in deep shit.
The animal bared its teeth and paced, golden eyes locked on him. Its nostrils flared and ears flattened. It moved towards Riley, and he blocked its path.
He wasn't worried about her attacking the woman. The victims seemed to retain enough of their memories that they knew their loved ones. But the instant he had walked into the house, his own scent had alerted her already heightened emotions. He was an alpha lion on her turf.
Kiera. He tried to touch the animal's mind with his own. I don't want to hurt you.
She stopped for a moment and looked at him, confusion in her eyes.
Good. The animal hadn't fully consumed her. There was still a chance to reach her.
By the time he or any of the other Therian agents had reached previous victims, too much time had passed. Their minds had been taken hostage, trapped in purgatory.
Kiera. I know you're scared, but you need to listen to me. I can help you.
He sensed the surprise and uncertainty warring within her. She tilted her head and glanced at Riley.
Where the fuck was Chase?
Riley was still out cold. If something happened to her, the Council would have his head.
He really didn't need this shit right now. He hadn't slept in two days, and now, here he was in Richard Boyd's living room, one daughter bleeding and unconscious and the other ready to rip his throat out.
As much as he hated Boyd, Riley and Kiera were innocent. As far as he was aware, neither woman knew about their father's cruel and deranged research, or the enduring pain it had caused Turner and his family.
His gut tightened as another growl tore from Kiera's chest. If she attacked him again, he would have to take her down, and he didn't think he could do that without hurting her.
Anger darkened his vision as she swatted at him, her claws drawing blood and just missing his eyes. He charged her, rolling her over, and pinned her to the ground. She struggled to throw his weight, but it was useless. In his lion form, he outweighed her by a good two hundred pounds.
The front door flung open. Chase entered, stun gun aimed and ready to fire. He let out a string of curses as his gaze darted between the unconscious woman, and the two lions. "You've got some fucking explaining to do."
Put her down before she takes another piece out of me. Turner pushed into his brother's mind.
Shaking his head, Chase shot Kiera with a tranquillizer dart.
She roared, baring her teeth and stumbled sideways a few times, before landing with a thud on the floor.
Her pupils dilated in fear.
We're going to take you somewhere safe. Turner tried to reassure her.
In less than a minute, she was unconscious.
Chase picked Riley up and laid her on the couch, then placed a pillow under her head.
Turner shifted back into his human form, a growl rumbling low in his chest as bones and sinew snapped and cracked back into place. He wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead, and shrugged his pants back on.
Running his hand over the four puncture wounds on his shoulder, he sucked his breath in sharply and clenched his teeth against the pain. Warm blood seeped through his fingers. He healed fast, but it still hurt like a bitch.
Chase knelt over Riley, and pushed her hair back, exposing a goose egg that had formed under the small gash above her temple.
Turning Payne by Chantel Seabrook / History & Fiction have rating 5 out of 5 / Based on50 votes