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       True, p.1

           Laurann Dohner
 
True


  True

  Laurann Dohner

  Book 11 in the New Species series. It is advisable to read the books in order to get the most enjoyment from the series.

  Jeanie loves a New Species and is willing to pay for that love with pain, tears and heartbreak. She’ll do anything to keep 710 alive but she never wants him to know how she suffered for him. He’s the reason for her mission in life—freeing others like him.

  True has a new life working with the NSO to rescue his people. A good life, until he encounters a dying woman—the female who betrayed him. True should feel gratified that she’s finally going to pay for her crimes, but she claims to be a victim too. He is still irresistibly drawn to the pretty little human who touched his heart and made him want her. When he clasps her hand to offer comfort, his instincts kick in and True will fight everyone to protect her.

  A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

  True

  Laurann Dohner

  Dedication

  Mr. Laurann—I couldn’t do what I do without you. You still open my doors, you always make me laugh, support me in everything, and I’m completely in love with you. Thank you for the best twenty-four years of my life.

  I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who has fallen in love with New Species. You’ve made my dreams come true by finally being able to share them with the world.

  Prologue

  New Mexico

  Drackwood Research facility

  Jeanie smothered a cry of distress and fought back tears. It was horrific to watch the man she obsessed over being tortured. It would only get both of them killed if she followed her gut instinct to rush outside to come to his aid.

  “I knew you liked that one too much,” a chillingly familiar voice snickered from the doorway of the lab office.

  Jeanie felt all the blood drain from her face as she turned, horrified that he’d managed to ease open her door without making a sound. Dean Polanitis headed the entire facility. At forty-five he was young for the job but what he lacked in age, he made up for in viciousness. He wasn’t tall at five foot eight but he was still extremely intimidating from years of military training and lifting weights. His body was muscled, dense and physically fit. His normally dull green eyes were unusually intense and his thin lips were twisted into a rare smile that left Jeanie feeling icy cold inside.

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she lied.

  He pointed to a spot on the large shelves that took up one wall. “I installed a hidden camera in this office to monitor your every movement for the past week after I noticed your interest in that test subject. I’ve gotten reports that you’ve attempted to shield him from being roughed up by the guards. That was the tipoff. Then, after reviewing the tapes from his cell, I realized that he looks at you the same way.” He closed the door behind him. “Did you really think it wouldn’t draw suspicion from me? I don’t miss anything that goes on inside my house. I know you care about him. You stop working every time he is out there and I know body language.” His gaze darted down the length of her body before returning to her face. “You’re easy to read when you don’t know you’re under surveillance.”

  She shook her head. “He’s just another number,” she mumbled, praying he’d believe the lie. A chill ran down her spine at the way he’d stated the facility was his house. It was a hellish place no one should want to claim but it only strengthened her belief in the pure evilness of her boss. “I’m just a nice person. Excuse me for having a smidgen of compassion. That’s probably what the guards reported if I said or did anything to prevent them from being abusive. Some of those jerks can be pretty malicious just for the fun of it.”

  Her boss’s eyebrows arched. “Really? That’s all it is? What about your reactions to seeing 710 bloodied to test the healing properties of the new drugs?”

  “I don’t like watching any of them suffer. I do have a heart. That’s all. I hate to see anyone in pain but I understand how important the research is. I was told he’s in a trial for medical advancements that could stimulate the body’s triggers to mend open wounds faster.” She glanced back at the window. The man she loved attempted to protect himself against eight vicious, armed men intent on causing serious harm while he was leashed by chains they held. He was strong enough to knock them off balance to prevent some blows from landing but not all of them. Blood ran from wounds on his arms and chest. One of the guards hit him with a whip and she faced her boss quickly, before her knees buckled. “It’s brutal and I’m not into that kind of shit. Sue me.”

  Dean Polanitis chuckled cruelly. “Money isn’t what I want from you.” His smile died. “I’m going to give the kill order on 710 today. We want to see how well the animals are able to hunt down prey and your number out there is bleeding pretty good. We’ll drug a few of the males, get them nice and crazy for a fight and send them out to track him. They’ll be so mindless they won’t even notice he’s one of their own. He won’t be too fast on his feet once my boys out there are done beating him down.”

  Her heart nearly stopped. “He’s in excellent physical condition and smart. It would be a waste of resources to kill him. But it’s your call.” She managed to keep her voice steady somehow. Inside she whimpered, No!

  He took a step in her direction, blocking the door and any chance of escape. “You’re good, Jeanie.”

  “That’s ‘Ms. Shiver’ to you, thank you very much.” She tried to keep her voice firm. Weakness would be perceived as a flaw by a slimeball like Polanitis and that would make her a victim in his eyes. It’d be a mistake she couldn’t afford to make if she wasn’t able to bluff her way out of the situation. Employees had disappeared, never to be heard from again. Christie had gone missing just weeks after Jeanie had started working there. The woman was most certainly dead. They hadn’t been friends, actually Jeanie had detested the other lab technician, but it made her realize just how dangerous working for Drackwood Research could be. She didn’t want to die too. “I’m here to do a job and I’m paid well. I never forget that.”

  He moved even closer. “Jeanie, you and I are going to make a deal.” He gripped her elbow in a bruising hold.

  She gasped, trying to get away, but his fingers only tightened. Terror instantly flooded her. Dean Polanitis was in charge and he ruled the employees with fear. No one would dare stop him from killing her if he decided she wasn’t trustworthy anymore. He could call it a training exercise and that would be the end of her.

  Does he suspect I’m trying to get this place shut down? Does he know I’ve smuggled out evidence? Paranoia had made her take a lot of precautions and she was pretty sure she hadn’t messed up. She couldn’t help the men and women trapped inside the facility if she died. They’d never have a chance at freedom.

  “You care about that thing,” Polanitis grunted. “You can’t even fuck him because you never have the opportunity to be alone but you want to.” His harsh gaze raked down her body and then back to her face. He shoved her closer to the phone at the end of her desk and lifted the receiver. “I am going to call Security and tell them to kill him, Jeanie.”

  He had to be lying. The subjects were worth a lot of money and that was the bottom line to the company they worked for. It would cost him his job. Even Polanitis had to answer to someone. She forced herself to relax.

  “Okay.”

  Polanitis lowered his chin to study her features more closely. “You think you’re fooling me? You should see how pale you’ve become.” He turned his head and punched the number zero then four on the phone. He held the receiver between them so they were both able to hear.

  “This is Mickie at Security.”

  “It’s Polanitis. I want number 710 immediately pulled from his current drug trials. We’ll use him in an exer
cise tonight as a runner to test that new mind-altering drug. It should be amusing to watch him being hunted to death. One of the doctors has been riding my ass to hand over a subject for the test. Take 710 to the exterior compound and secure him in a holding cell there.”

  “Yes sir,” Mickie snapped.

  Her heart pounded as her boss jerked her around to face the window. A new security team walked outside. They spoke to some of the men attacking 710 and the beating stopped. The second team grabbed the chains that were secured to 710’s wrists and ankles, using the six-foot length to keep him between them and stay out of his reach. They dragged him away from the building. The only thing located in that direction was a concrete structure where she’d heard they had cremated some bodies when their drug experiments had killed the subjects. It was also rumored they did top-secret testing there, which she couldn’t get anyone to talk about. The few employees who knew what went down out there had dubbed it “hell”.

  “Watch him for the last time,” Polanitis whispered next to her ear. “Want to wave goodbye? Oh, that’s right. He can’t see you behind the tinted glass.”

  He really planned to kill 710. Panic and horror battled inside her. Anger won as seconds ticked by. Polanitis had a god complex and his cruelty made her want to claw his eyes out.

  She spun, glaring up at him. “You’re a son of a bitch. Why are you doing this? You don’t need to have a test subject murdered. You could just as easily have them hunt an animal if you need to see their skills as trackers. It’s not cost effective to waste a prime subject. It’s just malicious.”

  He pushed his chest against hers. Jeanie backed up but the desk prevented her from breaking the contact when he leaned forward to trap her against the unforgiving wood. His gaze narrowed and locked with hers.

  “710 is an animal. This has nothing to do with how good their senses are. The new drug we’re going to dose him with will hopefully make him homicidal to his own kind. We need a defense against those bastards’ crazy supporters who are putting everyone here in jeopardy with their rants about these animals deserving human rights. We’ve all had to look over our shoulders since Mercile went down. I refuse to have this place shut down the same way they were. It’s brilliant to turn them on each other. They can waste all their resources fighting each other instead of trying to prevent us from finishing our work. Imagine dosing one of these animals up and dropping it off at Homeland. They’d welcome it right through the gates, never suspecting they’re about to die.”

  She was horrified. It was a brilliant plan in a sick, twisted way if the drug worked. They planned to use the captured Species to kill the free ones. The NSO arrested people like Polanitis when they were discovered. Her goal was to help them do that. She shuddered. I need to warn them!

  “I want something from you and you want 710 to live. I think we can compromise.”

  A sick feeling settled in her stomach. “On what?”

  “Let’s not play games. You try to hide it but you’re too soft. I knew it the moment I met you.” His tone became harsh. “I’ll keep him from even getting hurt, for as long as you do what I say. He lives if you play ball.”

  “What do you want me to do?” She had no idea why he’d blackmail her. She didn’t have any money or a high-priority job that denied his access to any information she could obtain. She collected samples from the subjects and took them to the lab. Her clearance didn’t even allow her to know what they tested for or why, or the results.

  He backed up, his gaze shrewd as he assessed her body. “You’re in good health, young and not married. I checked your file and you live alone.”

  She didn’t like him scrutinizing her personal life or her body but he’d taken a specific interest in her. “So?”

  “We weren’t able to gain access to many of the females after Mercile came under fire. The few we were able to transport before they were hit just aren’t enough for what we need to do our work.”

  This conversation isn’t going anywhere good. Her heart raced, terrified he’d suggest the articles she’d read about in the news. Mercile was rumored to have forced the New Species to undergo breeding experiments. Of course, if it were with 710, it wouldn’t be a nightmare for her. He wouldn’t be abused anymore if he was paired up with her and she’d get to spend more time with him. The whole concept of having sex with him wasn’t unpleasant but the conditions would be wretched. They’d be watched on monitors, doctors digging into every aspect of what happened between them.

  Polanitis cleared his throat. “There is a drug we’re working on for an outside party and we need an employee to get involved with the project.”

  Part of her was disappointed. “What kind of drug?”

  “It doesn’t matter.”

  Jeanie didn’t agree. “What outside party?”

  “That’s none of your business. All you need to know is someone is paying us a lot of money to specifically modify a drug Mercile Industries invented for use on the male test subjects. Now they want a version of it that targets regular women. We can’t be sure it will work without a live trial.”

  She tried to make sense of his words. “Someone hired Drackwood to alter a drug for use on humans? One that was specifically designed only to be used on New Species? Which drug? I thought all the research done on them was to benefit humans.” That’s the stupid reason they always give to explain the horrible shit they do to those poor people. It didn’t make sense.

  “Never call them that.” He gripped her arms and shook her. “They are test subjects. Don’t let me ever hear you utter those words again. They are lab animals and nothing more.”

  Fear silenced her objections about how he viewed the New Species. The only drugs they were testing on New Species were for advanced healing from traumatic injuries but a few of the doctors had some projects she didn’t have access to. Those were the ones that frightened her the most. They couldn’t be good if they were that highly classified.

  “You just volunteered to be our trial subject.”

  She shook her head, horrified. “No.”

  “I’m not asking.” He gave her another brutal shake. “I will keep your favorite pet alive if you comply.” His features hardened as his lips twisted into an ugly sneer. “Not that you have a choice. It’s just that we discussed what would happen if you disappeared. The last thing we need is a police investigation.”

  Bile rose as the implications sank in. “What do you mean by that?”

  “It means we have to allow you to go home so your neighbors don’t report you missing. You will show up at work every day and never tell anyone what is being done to you.” He released her arms and grabbed her throat, leaning in enough to glare into her eyes. “You can be killed at any time. Remember that. You run, you will be found.” He spun her around until she was forced to stare out the window. “And he’ll die. I’ll personally gut the son of a bitch and make it as painful as possible. He’d suffer for hours before his death.”

  The door to her office opened and for a split second, Jeanie had hope that she’d be saved. Dr. Brask entered, closing the door behind him. His gloved hand rose, the syringe gripped between fingers and thumb easy to spot.

  “Did she agree?”

  “I didn’t ask,” Polanitis snorted. “Give her the shot.”

  Jeanie wanted to scream but the grip on her throat tightened until she couldn’t breathe. Her boss abruptly shoved her down, his weight coming over her back until she was crushed between him and the desk.

  “What if she goes to the police?” Dr. Brask’s voice lowered. “I thought you were going to pay her extra or something to let us test these new batches.”

  “We don’t have the budget for that bullshit. Just hike up her skirt and jab her in the ass with the needle already. The bitch wouldn’t dare be stupid enough to betray me.” He eased up enough for her to suck in much-needed air. “Would you, Shiver? Tell him you know it would be the last thing you ever did.”

  “Please,” she begged, terrified of what they
were about to do to her.

  “Shut up,” Polanitis ordered, squeezing her throat again. “She is your new test subject.”

  Jeanie struggled, panicked that she couldn’t breathe or get the heavy weight off her back. Her skirt was shoved up and pain stabbed through her left upper butt cheek as the needle found its mark. Polanitis released her afterward and backed away.

  She sucked in air and spun, shoving her skirt down. She glanced at both men, seeing they were putting as much room between her and them as the small office allowed. That was fine with her.

  “What did you give me?” She stared at Dr. Brask. “What was that?”

  He smiled. “It should immediately take effect.”

  “What should? What did you give me?” Her voice rose in panic.

  Jeanie cried out when a jolt of sharp pain stabbed from her head to her toes, comparable to the time she’d accidently touched a damaged cord plugged into an electrical outlet. Her knees buckled and she hit the floor. Her stomach churned, her head began to throb as signs of an impending migraine began, and she broke out in a sweat. It felt as though someone had poured gasoline over her skin and lit a match. She writhed on the thin carpet, curled into a ball, suffering a strong burning sensation over every inch of her body.

  “That’s not good.” Dr. Brask sighed. “We’ll wait until the drug leaves her system and lower the dosage next time. That wasn’t the response I wanted.”

  “She’s all yours.” Dean Polanitis chuckled. “Bring a gurney and we’ll transfer her to your lab for the day so you can monitor the results.”

  Jeanie prayed to pass out. The sheer agony she suffered was worse than anything she could have imagined would be possible. She forgot about the two men in the room, lost in the pain as her skin felt as if it were blistering and boiling from her body.

  * * * * *

  710 paced his cell, worried because something different had happened. He wasn’t sure what was going on but it couldn’t be good. He’d been fighting the guards to prevent them from permanently maiming him when everything had just ceased. Different guards had arrived and led him toward the outer building.

 
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