Tempting the Beastpart #1 of Breeds Series by Lora Leigh / Romance & Love / Fantasy
TEMPTING THE BEAST
An Ellora’s Cave publication
Dedicated to: My Husband Tony
Just because he makes life wonderful.
“This story is mine.” Merinus stared down her family of seven brothers as well as her father, her voice firm, her determination unwavering.
She knew she didn’t present an imposing figure. At five feet five inches, it was damned hard to convince the males of her family, all over six feet, that she was serious about anything. But in this one instance, she knew she had no other choice.
“Don’t you think this is a little bit much for you to take on, Squirt?” Caleb, editor-in-chief of the National Forum and her second oldest brother, smirked with an edge of superiority.
Merinus refused to give into his baiting. She looked down the long table, directly into her father’s thoughtful expression. John Tyler was the one to convince, not his moron upstarts.
“I’ve worked hard, Dad, I can do this.” She fought to put the steely determination in her voice that she often heard her oldest brother use. “I deserve this chance.” She was twenty-four years old, the youngest child in a family of eight and the only daughter. She hated makeup, despised dresses and social functions and she heard often how she was a disappointment to the female race, according to her brothers. She wanted to be a journalist; she wanted to make a difference.
She wanted to stand before the man whose picture lay on the table before her and see if his eyes were really that brilliant amber. Perhaps she was more woman than they knew.
She was obsessed. Merinus silently admitted to it, and knew she would play hell trying to hide it. From the moment she had seen the picture of the man in question, she had been nervous, panicky, terrified that his enemies would get to him before she could present her father’s offer.
“What makes you think you’re the best person for this job, Merinus?” Her father leaned forward, clasping his hands on the table before him, his blue eyes serious, thoughtful as he watched her.
“Because I’m a woman.” She allowed herself a small smile. “You put that much testosterone in the same room with just one of the behemoth seven here, and you’ll have an automatic refusal. But he would listen to a woman.”
“Listen to her, or try to seduce her?” one of her other brothers questioned harshly. “This idea is unacceptable.”
Merinus kept her eyes on her father and prayed Kane, the oldest brother would keep his mouth shut.
Their father listened to him where she was concerned and if he decided it was too dangerous, then there was no way John Tyler would allow her to go.
“I know how to be careful,” she told him softly. “You and Kane trained me well. I want this chance. I deserve it.”
And if she didn’t get it, then she would take it on her own. She knew her brothers couldn’t make contact, but she could. She suppressed a shiver at the thought. Some would say the man wasn’t even human. A genetic experiment conceived in a test tube, carried to term by a surrogate and inheriting the genes of the animal his DNA had been altered with. A man with all the instincts and hunting abilities of a lion. A perfectly human looking male. A man bred to be a savage killer.
Merinus had read the notes, experiments and the thirty-year journal of the scientist who carried him within her body. Dr. Maria Morales had been a friend of her father’s in college. It was she who had the box ready to be delivered to John in the event of her death. It was his decision who would carry out the woman’s last request.
He was to find her surrogate son at the location she had given. Help him defeat the secret Genetics Council by convincing him to come forward, making a way for him to find safety. She had enough proof to get them digging. Kane had done the rest. They had names of the Council, proof of their involvement, everything but the man they created.
“This is too dangerous to trust to her,” Caleb argued again. The others were silent, but Merinus knew they would voice their opinions soon enough.
Merinus took a deep breath.
“I get the story, or I follow whichever moron in this room gets it. You won’t have a chance.”
“This coming from the woman who refuses to wear makeup or a dress?” another brother piped in with a snicker. “Honey, you don’t have what it takes.”
“It doesn’t take being a whore,” she bit out furiously, turning on the youngest brother. “It’s simple logic, dunce. A woman, whether in pants or a dress will draw more attention from a man than any other man will. He’s careful, he doesn’t trust easily. Maria’s notes state that plainly. He won’t trust another man.
The basic male threat.”
“And he could very well be just as dangerous as he was created to be,” Caleb argued for Gray as he swiped his fingers through his short brown hair. “Dammit, Merinus, you have no business even wanting to be anywhere near this bastard.”
Merinus took a deep breath. She lowered her eyes, staring down at the bleak loneliness reflected through glossy paper. His eyes mesmerized her, even in the picture. There were decades of sadness reflected there. He was thirty years old now, single, alone. A man without a family or even a race to call his own. How terrible it must be, and to be hunted as well was a tragedy.
“I won’t stay here,” she said loud enough for them all to hear. “I’ll follow whoever goes out there and I won’t let you hound him.”
The silence was heavy now. Merinus could feel eight sets of eyes on her, varying degrees of disapproval reflected in their expressions.
“I’ll go with her. I can handle the research part, Merinus can make contact.” Kane’s voice had Merinus jerking her head up in surprise.
Shock echoed along her body as she realized that the brother who suffocated her the most was actually willing to help her in this. It was hard to believe. Kane was arrogant and ninety percent of the time, the world’s worst jerk. He was an ex-Special Forces commander as bossy as any man ever born.
For the first time she looked directly at him. His expression was cool, but his eyes were angry. Deep and hot with fury, the dark blue orbs met hers without their usual light of teasing mockery. The intensity in his look almost frightened her. He wasn’t angry with her, she could tell, but Kane was pissed. And a pissed Kane was not a good thing.
Merinus was aware of her father sitting back in his seat, watching the eldest son now with surprise.
“You’ve put a lot of time in this already, Kane,” John remarked. “Six months at least. I thought you would be ready for a rest?”
Kane glanced at his father, shrugging his shoulders with a tight movement.
“I want to see it through. I’ll be close enough to help her out if she needs me, but also able to do the research that could be too damned dangerous for her. If she can be ready to leave tonight, then we can do this her way.”
“I’ll be ready.” Her response was instantaneous. “Just tell me what time.”
“Be ready at four. We have an eight-hour drive ahead of us and I want to do some recon before morning. Damn good thing you don’t care if you chip a few nails, brat, because you’ll be doing just that.” He came to his feet abruptly as the men around him erupted into a furious argument. Merinus could only watch him silently, amazed at his decision. What the hell was up with this?
He ignored the heated protests of his other brothers. The arguments of Merinus’ safety, the lack of assurance that ‘some damned hybrid animal’ wouldn’t infect her. Merinus rolled her eyes, then bit her lip nervously as Kane’s face tightened into a mask of dangerous fury. His eyes went dead. She couldn’t describe it any other way. As though no life or light resided inside him. It was a scary look.
The room silenced. No one but no one messed with Kane when he looked like that.
“Be ready, baby sister,” he said evenly as he passed by her. “And if you pack one damned dress or a single tube of lipstick, then I’ll lock your ass up in your bedroom.”
“Ahh, Kane,” she whined sarcastically. “There goes my luggage quota. Asshole.” He knew better than to think she would pack either one.
“Keep your nose clean, brat.” He flicked the ends of her long brown hair as he walked by her. “I’ll pick you up this evening.”
Sandy Hook, KY
That was not a sight for virgin eyes. Merinus trained her binoculars on the vision below her, stretched out in the warming rays of the sun, as naked as a man could be and more than a little aroused. That gorgeous, heavily veined shaft of male flesh rose a good eight inches—no less, could be more—from the base below his flat abdomen. It was thick and long and mouth-wateringly tempting. She blew out a hard breath, lying flat on the rock she had found, the only viewpoint into the small sheltered back yard. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.
Callan Lyons was tall. At least six feet, four inches, muscular, broad chested and narrow hipped, with powerful thighs and the most gorgeous damned legs she had ever seen. This just wasn’t a sight that a nice, prudish little journalist like herself should be seeing. It could give a girl ideas. Ideas like how it would feel to lie next to him, rub over him, kiss that smooth, golden skin. She shivered at the thought.
She and Mr. Lyons had been playing an amusing little game for over a week now. She pretended not to know him, who he was, where he could be found, and he pretended she wasn’t snooping around town asking questions about him and his deceased mother and where he lived. It had gone so far as direct conversation several times. Like she hadn’t come prepared, she thought mockingly. Papers, notes, memos, pictures, the whole nine yards. She had studied the man for weeks before demanding this story.
She still couldn’t believe Kane had stood by her and brought her with him to contact Callan. Not that he wasn’t breathing down her neck half the time. He would be now if he hadn’t had to run back to D.C. to talk to a scientist they thought might have been involved with the original experiments. And Merinus was supposed to be finding out about Callan’s mother and making contact with the elusive object of her fascination.
So here she was, on the story of her life, and instead of the investigative reporting she should be doing on the man below, she was watching him sun himself. But what a sight. Tanned, muscular skin. Long, golden brown hair, the color of the lion that was supposedly infused into his DNA structure. A strong, bold face, gorgeous, almost savage in its planes and angles. And lips, full male lips with just a hint of a merciless curve. She wanted to kiss those lips. She wanted to start with his lips and kiss and lick her way down. Across that broad chest, the hard, flat stomach to the erection rising from between his tanned thighs. She licked her lips at the thought.
She jerked as she felt her cell phone vibrating at her hips. She grimaced impatiently. She knew who it was. It had to be her oldest, most aggravating brother.
“What, Kane?” she hissed as she flipped the phone open and settled it against her ear. She was rather proud that her eyes never once strayed from all that male glory below.
“It could have been Dad,” Kane reminded her, his voice flat and hard.
“It could have been the Pope too, but we know the averages on that one,” she muttered.
“Bitch,” he growled almost affectionately.
“Why Kane, how sweet,” she simpered. “I love you too, asshole.” There was a brief chuckle over the line, making her smile in response.
“How’s the story going?” His voice turned serious, too serious.
“It’s getting there. I have an appointment later today with a woman willing to talk about the mother. She was murdered in her own home. Dad doesn’t know that.”
Maria Morales, known as Jennifer Lyons in the small Southern California town had died at the hands of an attacker, not a thief or a random victim, but someone who wanted only blood.
“What do you think you’re going to learn researching the mother?” Kane asked her. “You need proof on the son, Merrie, don’t forget that.”
“I know what I’m after, big shot,” she bit out. “But to get to the son, I need information. Besides, someone’s trying to give me the runaround on Morales. You know how I hate that.” There was a puzzle there, just as big a puzzle as the one stretched out on the deck below her. Sweet Heaven. She watched as his hand moved to his scrotum, not to scratch as she assumed, but to caress, stroke. There went her damned blood pressure.
“I’m research, remember?” he bit out. “You are just contact.”
“Well, I can do some of both,” she hissed.
There was a weary sigh across the line.
“Have you made contact with Lyons yet? Offered him the deal Dad has set up?” Yeah, the deal of a lifetime, show yourself, tell your story for us, and we’ll make you famous. Fuck your life. She hadn’t liked that deal to begin with but she knew it was the only one Callan was ever likely to receive that would provide any measure of security.
“Not yet. Getting there.” She fought to breathe evenly as his hand clasped the base of that thick cock and he began stroking all that firm, wonderful flesh.
He was going to masturbate. Incredulity flared through her system, especially her vagina, at the realization. Right here before her eyes the man was going to masturbate. She couldn’t believe it. His hand barely circled the broad shaft, moving slow and easy, almost lazily from tip to base.
She felt the flesh between her thighs heat. The muscles of her vagina clenched, moistened, her womb contracted as sensual heat speared her body like a bolt of lightning. Her nipples hardened, ached. Her body became so sensitive she could feel the breeze caressing her bare arms now, like the stroke of a ghostly lover.
Gracious, was this how men felt when they watched women masturbate? No wonder they liked it so well. Long, broad fingers stroked over his cock from tip to base, the fingers of his other hand gripped the sac beneath, massaging it in time to the stimulation of the other hand. Where was a damned breeze when she needed it? She was due to overheat any minute.
“Hurry, Merinus, you don’t have the rest of your life,” Kane grunted. “The bastard has mercenaries stalking him. I can’t keep your ass covered forever, you know. I have three more days here, and Dad’s pitching fits over you being there by yourself.”
Yeah, mercenaries. She blinked as she watched those hands cover the thick head of his own erection, the tips of his fingers caressing the area just underneath. She licked her lips, wishing she was there helping him. She was a doomed virgin.
“I’ll hurry, I promise,” she muttered. “Now let me get off here so I can get some damned work done. I don’t have time to bullshit with you all day.”
She heard him sigh roughly.
“Check in soon. You wait too long to call,” he accused her.
“Why should I? You call everyday instead,” she told him absently. “I have to go, Kane. Got work to do.
Chat with ya later, hon.”
She heard him curse as she disconnected and tucked the little phone back into its handy case at her hip.
Good Lord, she was going to have a stroke. Cat boy was playing his cock like a finely tuned instrument now. She could have sworn she saw the head pulse, throb. His hips arched, then a thick stream of creamy semen erupted from the tip, splattering on that hard abdomen and coating the rough hand.
“Oh man, let me taste,” she whispered, unable to take her eyes from the sight.
Then he stretched, his eyes opening. She breathed in sharply as their gazes connected, a self-satisfied smile stretching across those wonderful lips. Of course, he couldn’t know she was there, she assured herself. It just wasn’t possible. Was it?
* * * * *
Callan chuckled to himself as he turned his gaze away from where the woman thought she was hiding. Damn her, he could smell her arousal on the breeze, even across the distance of nearly a mile. Didn’t she read her own homework? He knew the files she had hidden in her truck clearly stated he had exceptional eyesight, hearing and smell. Though he had never smelled another woman’s heat in quite the same manner as he did hers.
He rose from the deck, stretched again, presenting her a glimpse of the tight muscles of his ass as he snickered in enjoyment. Teasing the little journalist was more fun than he ever imagined it would be. Each time she approached him, pretending she had no clue who he was, it was a test in patience, wondering when she would snap. He doubted it would be much longer. Not that he intended to touch her. Callan sobered on that thought. No, it was better he didn’t. Hell, it would have been better if he had left when she first arrived, but there was something about her that held him firm, kept him curious. The rumor of a cat’s curiosity wasn’t folklore, though he could have done without a measure of that specific genetic mark.
“She still up there?” Sherra stepped to the doorway of the house as he pulled shorts over his hips, covering his still hard cock. “Quite a show you gave her, Callan.” She was smiling broadly, though there was a question in her eyes.
“Perhaps I’m enjoying the game too much.” He grinned back at her. “She has a unique way of going after a story, you have to admit.”
“Or going after you.” Sherra moved back from the doorway as he entered the kitchen. “Doc wanted to see you again in the lab. Your latest tests were a little off, he wanted to run them again.”
“Off how?” Callan frowned. The monthly tests had never been off.
Sherra shrugged. “The glands along your tongue appear enlarged.” Callan ran the side of his tongue over his teeth, frowning at the slight difference in the feel of them.
Nothing to worry about, it had happened before.
“Maybe I’m catching a cold or something.” He shrugged.
“Heart rate, adrenaline, semen and blood tests are off too. Could be the equipment, but he wants more samples just to be on the safe side.”
“Damn. We need new equipment already?” He sighed. “That shit costs, Sherra.”
“Keeps us sane though,” Sherra reminded him as he pulled a bottle of water from the refrigerator. “Go keep him happy, you know how cranky he gets if a test gets off. He ‘bout went crazy last year when Taber’s went haywire, remember?”
Hell yes, he remembered. Taber had been half crazy during that year too. Irritable to the point that he was almost savage. He disappeared for days at a time, no excuses, no apologies.
“Yeah, I remember a cool half million disappearing from the account for the updated machines too.” Callan grimaced. “Dammit, he’s going to have to take better care of his toys. That was just a year ago.” Sherra grinned, her nose wrinkling, the sharp pout of her lips smoothing out with the smile.
“Better go let him have more samples then, just to be sure,” she urged him. “We don’t want him purchasing new equipment on a whim.”
Callan shook his head, heading quickly to the underground cavern where the lab was located. It wasn’t the most perfect place to keep their secrets, but it worked. The cool atmosphere wasn’t as damp as most caverns were, it was dry and solid, with a steady underground well and easy access from the house.
Doc enjoyed the place and it made it easier to keep their lives secret.
“More tests,” he muttered. “I need those like I need this hard cock aggravating the fuck outta me.” He would have taken care of the first problem if it would cooperate with any woman other than the tight-assed journalist stalking him. But no, it wilted like limp lettuce if he even attempted it, then shot up like fire forged steel the second her scent reached him. Inconvenient, to say the least.
The fact that she was the one woman he couldn’t have wasn’t helping matters. He knew the psychology of it. He wanted her more for the very fact that he couldn’t have her. A journalist stalking him was not a good thing. His secrets were many and his survival depended on him keeping them. He kept a low profile, stayed away from town as much as possible and let few people get to know him, which meant there was only one reason why a journalist, especially a Tyler journalist, would be searching for him.
His surrogate mother and her infernal idea that by revealing himself he could attain his freedom was the cause of this. The box she had mailed out to the National Forum and her old college friend, John Tyler, right before her death, hinted at the evidence the man could have. There were notebooks of memos, test results, lab results, DNA sequencing, the whole nine yards needed to bury him, all missing. They had fought over it the night she had been attacked and killed. Argued for hours while the others steered clear of the kitchen where they screamed and cursed like mortal enemies. In the end, she had won though. He had agreed to go with her to New York the minute he was able to pull yet another team of mercenaries off his ass.
He and the others had left to do just that. When they returned they found Maria in the kitchen where they had left her, lying in her own blood. And now, a year later, Merinus Tyler was searching for him.
Which would be okay, he thought, if he could just fuck her and send her on her way. But he had a feeling the tenacity and determination he glimpsed in her expression didn’t leave him much hope for that.
The Gass Up station, convenience store and diner were all in the same lot. And Callan was there as well.
Merinus pulled into the blacktopped parking area late that afternoon and got out of the SUV slowly as she looked around.
There were half a dozen vehicles parked here and there, several at the gas pumps and one weary looking pickup with its hood raised, waiting to enter the garage section of the station. Taking a deep breath, Merinus moved quickly to the garage section and the lone man standing outside, gazing rather intently at the innards of the old pickup parked there.
The game was fun, but getting old. Still, she was reluctant to be the one to end it. Especially after watching him stroke all that hard, glistening flesh of his hard-on to a serious orgasm. She still hadn’t recovered from that one. Neither had the flesh between her thighs. It wouldn’t stop throbbing, demanding the hard stroke of that broad-headed penis deep inside it.
She took a deep breath anyway and approached the truck cautiously. Today, Callan was dressed in thin faded jeans and T-shirt, a baseball cap covering his hair. She hoped he wasn’t trying for a disguise. If he was, it wasn’t working so well. She had seen him the minute the station had come into view.
“Excuse me, could you tell me where I could find Taber Williams?” Merinus asked him cheerfully, careful to stand well clear of him. Oil marked his gray T-shirt and the snug denim that encased long, muscular legs. Besides, if she got too close, she may not be able to keep her hands out of his jeans. She still hadn’t forgotten the hours past and the sight of all that hard male flesh. But the game was on again.