Beyond the Darkpart #10.5 of Breeds Series by Lora Leigh / Fantasy / Romance & Love
They were created, they weren't born.
They were trained, they weren't raised.
They were taught to kill, and now they'll use their training to ensure their freedom.
They are Breeds. Genetically altered with the DNA of the predators of the earth. The wolf, the lion, the cougar, the Bengal; the killers of the world. They were to be the army of a fanatical society intent on building their own personal army.
Until the world learned of their existence. Until the council lost control of their creations, and their creations began to change the world.
Now, they're loose. Banding together, creating their own communities, their own society, and their own safety, and fighting to hide the one secret that could see them destroyed. The secret of mating heat. The chemical, biological, the emotional reaction of one Breed to the man or woman meant to be his or hers forever. A reaction that binds physically. A reaction that alters more than just the physical responses or heightens the sensuality. Nature has turned mating heat into the Breeds'
Achilles Heel. It's their strength, and yet their weakness. And Mother Nature isn't finished playing yet. Man has attempted to mess with her creations. Now, she's going to show man exactly how she can refine them.
Killers will become lovers, lawyers, statesmen, and heroes. And through it all, they will cleave to one mate, one heart, and create a dynasty.
I dreamed of a man, lost, broken, and alone.
I dreamed of a woman, disillusioned, weeping,
and forced to roam.
I dreamed of a child, cold, hungry, and without a home.
A wolf cried out.
A lion roared.
And the lonely eagle screamed upon the winds,
where he soared.
And in a dream, a story was born.
Thank God for the dreams.
New York City
Dubbree Suites Hotel
Two assassinations in one month, each tied to known or suspected Genetics Council members. It was going to be a public relations nightmare for the Feline Breed contingent of the species. First General Cyrus Tallant. Of course, his assassination had been laid at the feet at the Genetics Council upper-level members. As would this one be. After all, Dr. Benedikt Adolf Albrecht was under just as much, if not more, suspicion of being aligned with the shadowy twelve-member directorate of the council. Matthias Slaughter knew Albrecht was more than just aligned. Albrecht was an actual member of the council directorate. He was also the director of training. It was his, his father's, and his father's before him, legacy to the hellish existence the Breeds had endured in the labs. The Breed species hadn't been lucky enough to be born. No, nature hadn't, in all her insight and mercy, thrown a genetic kink in the works of an everyday human. Quite the contrary. In one of her rare fits of humor, she had decided instead to work with what man had created. What monsters such as Albrecht had pieced together. With their genius in genetic engineering and the past atrocities of their forefathers, the council had managed to create the human and animal species they had envisioned as their own personal army. An army that would be the muscle behind their quest for power. How nature must have chuckled over that one.
Matthias imagined over the years that he had heard a giggle or two from her as well. Physically, mentally, genetically, the Breeds were everything the council had hoped for, paid for, killed for. Psychologically, they fell far short of the mark. Like their natural cousins, the predators of the earth, the Breeds worshipped freedom, and they worshipped their own honor. Many had died remaining true to that inner code, an ideal rather than a set of rules. An instinctive hunger and drive to attain the freedom their wild cousins knew.
They were animals in men's bodies. Primal, savage, predatory. And intelligent. That intelligence had been the downfall of the council's plans. And it found him here now, more than a century after the first Breed had drawn his first breath.
The technical wizardry of another Breed enforcer was ensuring that the security cameras didn't record Mathias's entrance or later his exit. It was ensuring that the council itself was blamed for this death, as well as the generals before him.
The council must be cleaning house.
Matthias grinned at the headlines he imagined. The grin was quickly gone, as the sound of the penthouse's double doors opening had him waiting expectantly.
He didn't tense. Not so much as breath disturbed the air, as he inhaled carefully. Albrecht was known to travel with several bodyguards, though tonight, as they had every night, during this short stay in New York, Albrecht's bodyguards were heard entering their separate room farther down the hall.
Excellent. Albrecht was known to depend on the Dubbree Hotel's security. Arrogant bastard. He thought his position protected him. That his genius in genetics and his fortune in pharmaceuticals could possibly shield him from retribution. But he had always flaunted security. Just for the hell of it. After all, who would dare attempt to harm him?
"Cretins. " The heavy German accent had Matthias's lip curling to reveal the wicked canines at the side of his mouth.
Benedikt Adolf Albrecht wasn't well known for his respect toward his bodyguards. Lights flared in the entryway, the doors closed, Mathias waited.
His prey was a creature of organized habits. Albrecht believed an organized mind was a stable mind. That could explain the accusations Matthias regularly received in regards to his own sanity. Or lack thereof.
He waited patiently in the darkened living room. The bar sat across from him. Albrecht would go there first.
And just like clockwork, the low lamps flared to life, all but the two that sat near Matthias, and Albrecht moved slowly toward the bar.
Albrecht looked like a cadaver. Tall, skinny, thin gray hair, lying close to his scalp, and pale, almost bleached flesh. He stalked to the bar, as Matthias lifted his weapon from his lap. Ice clinked in the glass, liquor splashed into it. Matthias aimed, pulled the trigger, and watched the back of Albrecht's head crack from the bullet. A second later the council member fell over the bar. Crystal carafes rolled, broke, scattering glass and the scent of liquor. But even that couldn't drown out the sound of horror from the entrance.
A woman's shocked gasp, the scent of fearand of recognition. For the first time in his thirty years of life, Matthias felt regret, and a tinge of sadness. Because he knew his own fate had just been decided. Matthias turned to his side, a snarl on his face, a growl in his voice.
"Goddamnit, Grace. "
Static crackled in the communications link at Matthias's ear.
"Get her out of there, Matthias. I can control the security monitors for five minutes, tops. Use the stairs, proceed to the ground floor. Lawe will be waiting with the van at the exit. " Matthias was moving, even as Jonas barked the orders into the receiver at his ear. He was across the room before the slender, doe-like figure of Dubbree's assistant manager, Grace Anderson, could run. Her lips were opening, her lungs filling. Before the scream could leave her throat, his hand was over her lips and nose, his other arm jerking her against his chest, compressing her lungs and causing instant unconsciousness.
He slung her over his shoulder and strode quickly from the suite, pausing a precious second to make
certain her prints didn't show anywhere on the doors, and securing the locks before moving down the hall.
He picked up the sounds of the bodyguards in the next room, the television they were watching, someone was showering. He strode by the door, slipped down the stairwell, and began taking the steps at a quick run.
Grace's weight was slight, her scent wrapping around him like silken regret. She shouldn't have been here. He had watched her get into her car and move into the traffic that congested Manhattan that afternoon. She was supposed to be on her way out of town, on vacation, leaving the city for the peace and relaxation of the mountains.
She wasn't supposed to be here. And she wasn't supposed to be anywhere near Albrecht. The assistant manager of the exclusive hotel had earned herself a well-deserved break from the city. She had laughed with him about it and invited him to join her when his business in town was completed. Sun and fun, clear streams and lots of trees, she had teased. And he had promised her, first thing in the morning, he would follow her.
Dammit to hell, why had she come back?
"Lawe's in position, you have three minutes," Jonas spoke in his ear. "You have to clear that exit and be in the van before the cameras go to normal operation again. "
The scheduling of the security upgrades were top secret, even the floor security personnel had no idea when it happened. Jonas, miracle worker that he was, had managed to find out not only when it would happen, but how to ensure how long it would take.
"I'll have ten seconds to spare," he muttered, racing down the stairs, his steps silent, his movements sure despite his burden. "Have the doors open. "
"Open and ready," Law reported. "Get a move on big boy, this area won't stay secure the full time. " Get a move on. He grunted at the order. As though he wasn't going fast enough.
"Break the girl's damned neck and dump her. " Another voice came across the line. "She's a liability. " A growl rumbled from Matthias's throat, though his pace never faltered.
"Shut up, Simon," Jonas ordered. "Two minutes, Matthias. " He would make it in plenty of time if Sleeping Beauty didn't decide to wake up and pitch a fit. And she could pitch a fit. He'd met her during the mugging Jonas had staged for Matthias to save her from. If he hadn't moved in when he had, Simon might have been charging the Breeds extra for hazardous-duty pay. Thankfully, she stayed quiet. He hit the exit, ducked, and disappeared into the interior of the van, with two seconds to spare. The door slammed shut, barely missing Grace's head. The van was accelerating away from the exit less than a second later.
"Security system active. All monitors showing normal operational status. The Monarch Suite is locked and secured. Good going Matthias," Jonas congratulated him.
Matthias placed his hand protectively against Grace's head, shifted her from his shoulder, and laid her on the tarp-covered floor of the van.
Simon watched him, smirking. The blond haired mercenary with the smooth southern drawl was a pain in the ass under normal circumstances. A blue-eyed ladies man and self-professed rogue, the mercenary was also a tactical genius.
Beside him, Jonas, the director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs, sat in the secured chair in front of a bank of monitors and finessed a keyboard like it was a lover. The military cut of his black hair revealed an imposing profile, though his eerie silver eyes were damned odd for a Lion Breed. Breed Enforcement agent, Lawe Justice, drove, and Rule Breaker (hell of a set of names for cats) watched him expectantly from the front passenger seat.
"He didn't kill her," Simon stared down at Grace almost mournfully, as he tipped his cowboy hat back and flicked a glance at Matthias. "What the fuck are you going to do with her, wolf?"
"My problem. " Matthias moved to peer over Jonas's shoulder at the monitors that recorded the hotel's security, tracked personnel, and alarms.
"No alarms. " Jonas moved between the monitors using keyboard commands. "Your entrance or exit wasn't recorded or seen. We're in the clear. "
Jonas turned in his chair, and Matthias retreated to rest his back against the wall of the van, as Jonas stared down at Grace's unconscious form.
"Why didn't you kill her?" Jonas repeated Simon's question dispassionately. "If she was in Albrecht's suite this late, then she was a part of him. "
Matthias stared back at him coldly. "I won't reward her help by snapping her neck. "
"Then I will," Jonas decided, moving as though to do just that. Matthias lifted his lip in a growl, causing Jonas to pause.
"Matthias, she's a risk. She can identify you and place the weapon in your hand. What other choice do you have?" Slashing quicksilver eyes clashed with Matthias's gaze.