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Wake a sleeping tiger, p.1
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       Wake A Sleeping Tiger, p.1

         Part #22 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh  



  Yesterday’s dreams . . .

  Today’s reality . . .

  Tomorrow’s hope . . .

  THE WORLD OF THE BREEDS

  They were created; they weren’t born.

  They were trained; they weren’t raised.

  They were genetic creations. Human DNA merged with that of the animal. The perfect soldier, a disposable creature.

  They were created to die, often in the most horrible experiments that the human mind could ever imagine.

  Their lives were a horror story from the moment of their births.

  Babes that knew no tender care, no sweet lullabies nor a mother’s love. They cried until hoarse, until they learned no one was coming unless they required feeding. And many times, they were allowed to go hungry until they lay weak and in pain.

  Only the most basic of service was given to the babes. Creations that millions, billions of dollars had gone into in more than a century of scientific experiments and genetic engineering. “Cubs,” they were called, never “babes,” but they were living beings that, in terms of the cost of their creation, were nearly priceless.

  Yet in the eyes of those who made them, they were worth no more than the young women who died giving birth to one after another of the creations implanted in their wombs.

  Human and animal. Determined and far stronger in both spirit and body than the scientists could have ever envisioned.

  Despite the cruelties heaped upon their young bodies, the experiments, the demented training exercises designed to ensure their success in any mission they were given, many of them survived. The strength of their hatred, of their hunger for freedom, refused to allow them to pass quietly from the world they’d been brought into.

  Those creations are free now.

  They’re triumphing against all efforts to see them back in the labs from where they came.

  Their intelligence is far greater than any could ever comprehend. Their strength is more primal than any could ever suspect.

  And they’re living on the fragile, desperate hope that the world never learns the secrets they fight to hide.

  THE BREEDS

  From the journal of Dr. Ambrose, Geneticist, Genetic Theorist

  Science.

  The ultimate good or the ultimate evil?

  In this, I say, we have become the ultimate evil.

  Two hundred years before, a vision came into being, one that began with the purest of intentions, yet turned to the darkest of perversions.

  The creation of an altered being, one that began with the mutation of the most base genetic code even before conception. Those first scientists had a vision for their creations. A mix of human and animal, stronger, faster, more enduring and impervious to the illnesses or wounds that kill and maim. If such a species of man could be created, they argued, then they could be studied, their talents used to strengthen the human race.

  Arrogance.

  There is such arrogance in science.

  What began with such innocent intentions became darker, more perverted, with the first surviving human/animal creation that took breath and grew strong. Stronger than any of them imagined. The animal strength and power merged with the human spirit and gave birth to such determined will, such preternatural beauty and grace that those scientists could not bear to admit they could not control what they believed they had created.

  The spirit, the heart and soul of life, cannot be created. Man cannot breathe life into a being, and he cannot sustain that life against the worst of odds.

  And they hated the beings they envisioned for the very fact that they knew and understood that what they altered, a superior being, was refining, strengthening.

  Man. Born to such innocence, so easily corrupted by such black evil. Soon, they tortured the beings they birthed. They created such horrendous experiments—in the name of science, they were eager to argue—but it was in the name of their own greed and corrupt natures.

  For over a century and a half they gave birth to one after another of those they called Breeds. Hundreds, perhaps thousands. They were soldiers sent to assassinate, to spy, to gain riches and power for the organization that funded the research program. Then they were experimented upon, to see how much pain they could endure, how deeply they could be wounded and still survive.

  The babes, to ensure only the strong survived, weren’t cuddled or given affection. They weren’t nurtured or raised. From the moment they drew their first breath, each moment of their lives was an exercise in training.

  In horror.

  Such horrors.

  So many babes left to die, to wither to a final breath when but a gentle touch would have brought about untold strength.

  They were Breeds. Less than human, less than animal as far as those scientists were concerned, and they spilled the blood of the Breeds, took life after life, as though such atrocities would never be found out.

  But they were found out.

  Found out, proof given, the creations then turned on those who believed themselves to be their creators, and each day they’re free is the greatest insult to the organization that funded them, gave birth to them, tortured, maimed and committed such evil against them.

  Each day they’re free is a miracle, a gift I pray they appreciate each moment of. Because the Breeds hold many secrets of their creation and many more will arise. Man may believe he created them, but a much higher power breathed life into them, and that power is refining them and redefining them, daily.

  And that redefinition could end up being the very weapon that destroys each and every Breed walking free.

  PROLOGUE

  From Graeme’s Journal

  The Recessed Primal Breed

  Recessive, Primal Breed genetics, after age five, begins with an animal’s awareness of its own strength and the danger surrounding it. It can also be the child’s primal response to protecting itself and the creature lurking inside.

  Continued recession after age eighteen to twenty can be blamed solely on the Breed and the dictates of his human genetics. The animal refuses to go against its nature, and the human refuses to acknowledge what the animal knows. At its base, the stubbornness of the two natures is in conflict, both refusing to relent.

  In the end, the awakening of those recessed abilities comes when the animal grows tired of the human’s obstinate nature and surges forward to take control in ways that prove false the belief that the human controls the predator within.

  Five in the morning was too damned early for a knock on his front door. He was barely out of bed and showered. His coffee was still dripping into the cup and he hadn’t even had a chance to strap his weapon on.

  Cullen Maverick liked things in order whenever possible. It made life a hell of a lot easier.

  Pulling his weapon from his side holster, he made his way to the front door, confident that if a threat awaited outside, then it wasn’t directed by forces other than a normal workday upheaval. As commander of the Navajo Covert Law Enforcement Agency, he’d made a few enemies over the years.

  Those enemies weren’t the ones he watched out for, though. It was the enemies he’d made as a teenager that worried him.

  The knock came again, firm though not masculine in the least. Recognizing the sound, a direct knock without pounding, he knew instantly who it was without questioning how he knew. His lips almost quirked into a smile.

  A quick look outside the narrow window next to the door showed a slender feminine figure dressed in jeans and a light jacket. One of the junior members of the force, she’d been on a few operations, though he’d refused to give the go-ahead to move her higher.

  Chelsea Martinez, with her black hair, brown eyes and dusky skin of combined Navajo and Caucasian parents, stared at the door as though she could will it open. She was a force to be reckoned with when she wanted to be.

  He should know; he was usually the one butting heads with her.

  Swinging the door open as he leaned against the side of the wall, he stared down at her somber, implacable expression with a slight smile.

  Dawn was barely lighting the land outside, giving it an otherworldly, quiet sense of solitude belied by the homes along the side of and facing his own.

  “You didn’t call, so I assume this isn’t life or death,” he remarked when she just stared up at him silently.

  She’d been doing that a lot in the past few months, just staring at him as though she expected something from him, as though he’d forgotten something.

  She cleared her throat, lips thinning, her gaze sliding from his for just a second before jerking back.

  “I need to talk to you.” Quiet, intense, her demeanor wasn’t threatening, just too damned serious.

  “Come on, I’ll give you the first cup of coffee,” he sighed heavily.

  No doubt she was there to argue over her place in the Agency again. She’d been pushing for some of the more dangerous assignments in the past months. Covert Ops agents were kept quiet. They had no official uniforms, didn’t call attention to themselves. Chelsea was one of their more covert agents, though she mainly worked in an assistant capacity at the office. She could streamline files and people like nobody’s business. Hell, her name wasn’t even officially listed with the Agency and he liked it that way. It lessened any danger she might face and ensured he didn’t have to worry about losing a damned good friend because someone else blinked.

  She was too young to be part of operations, he’d tried to explain to her, to make her understand that he couldn’t put her in the line of fire until her training was far more seasoned.

  “Here you go.” Stepping into the kitchen, he removed that first cup of coffee and placed it on the round table that sat in the middle of the darkened room. “Flip a light on if you need to.”

  He rarely turned the lights on in the place simply because he spent the least amount of time there as possible. It was a place to sleep and keep the few possessions he owned. Mainly, his clothes.

  Sometimes, the television screen set in the fridge door was on, but not this morning. He hadn’t had time yet to turn it on, and music would get on his nerves after an hour or so.

  “I’m fine,” she assured him.

  His night vision had improved over the past years. At first, he’d questioned the change until realizing his twin, Gideon, was in the area. For some reason the appearance of the Primal Bengal sibling had sharpened a few of the recessed Breed traits Cullen possessed, but not enough to change his life. Not enough to worry him.

  “Let me get my coffee before we start, minx.” He shot her a grin. That solemn, sad expression was beginning to bother him in ways he couldn’t put a finger on.

  “Of course.” The answer wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear. “I know how you are without that first cup.”

  There was no amusement in her tone, no teasing.

  What the hell was up with her?

  Leaning back against the counter and crossing his arms over his chest, he frowned at her. Damn, she looked so sad, not angry or upset. There was a sense of loss emanating from her, and he couldn’t find a reason for it.

  Pulling the cup free of the coffeemaker when it finished, he lifted it, sipped and continued to regard her. She wasn’t fidgeting in front of him, wasn’t acting in the least nervous as she usually did whenever she was ready to put forth yet another position she could hold on an operation. Anything to get her out of the office and to put her training to work, she’d demand.

  She was a member of the Breed Underground, she’d pointed out the last time. She’d helped move juvenile and adult Breeds more than half a dozen times, keeping them just ahead of the Genetics Council or pure blood fanatics searching for them.

  And yes, she had done that, but he didn’t command the Breed Underground. He couldn’t disqualify her as a member of the forces that aided hidden Breeds or mates, so he ground his teeth each time she went out and argued with her cousins over it on a constant basis.

  She was too innocent for covert work, too innocent to be scarred by the crazies in the world.

  “Spit it out,” he sighed, lowering the cup and facing her quiet, intense expression. “What have you come up with this time? What argument do you think will sway me?”

  She blinked a few times and if he wasn’t mistaken her eyes actually looked as though—were those tears?

  What the hell had happened? Setting his coffee aside, he prepared to act, to fix whatever had been done to bring tears to her eyes.

  “Chelsea?” he questioned gently. “What’s going on, honey?”

  Cullen watched as she pulled back the front of her jacket, removed a folded piece of white paper from inside it and slowly laid it on the table.

  Cullen swore he felt the need to growl. One of those deep, dark rumbles of dangerous warning he’d heard come from his twin’s throat more than once.

  Every muscle in his body tensed and he knew, knew to the soles of his damned feet what that simple piece of paper represented.

  His gaze lifted to hers once again.

  “You don’t want to do this, Chelsea,” he sighed. “Come on, honey, we can talk about this.”

  They had to talk about it.

  They were going to talk about it.

  He’d be damned if he’d let her—

  “It’s my resignation from the Agency,” she told him, her tone soft but firm, determined.

  She’d made her mind up. By God, she actually thought she’d made her mind up to leave him—to leave the Agency. That she could just walk away.

  He stared at it, glared at it.

  If he had his way it would burst into flames and the memory of it would dissipate along with the paper.

  “The hell you are.” Lifting his head, he directed that glare at her.

  And she met it.

  Not once did she flinch or look away. Not one time did she even pretend to acknowledge his dominance. Hell, she didn’t even consider it.

  “The Agency isn’t going to work for me, Cullen—”

  “Because I don’t let you run it?” he snapped. “You don’t make the decisions there, girl. If you did, ‘Commander’ would be sitting in front of your name instead of mine.”

  There were times, few though they had been, that standing firm would encourage her to back down. She had to back down on this.

  She nodded sharply. “Agreed. But I never wanted to run it. I just wanted to be a part of it, not a glorified running girl for you and the other agents. That’s not happening, so it’s time I leave.”

  His jaw tightened with a surge of anger at once confusing and filled with frustration.

  “You won’t give it time,” he began, his back teeth grinding.

  “I don’t have any more time to give it, Cullen.” Her lips tilted in remorse as she lifted one hand out to him before dropping it just as quickly. “It’s just time, okay?”

  “Time for what?” He stepped closer, though she chose that moment to look away from him, unaware he was coming closer, that his refusal to accept this was about to get up close and personal.

  “Grandfather agrees it’s time I go. That I find my own way . . . Cullen?” She turned back, her gaze going first to where he was supposed to be, then to the shadow suddenly at her side.

  “Cullen?” Breathless, a woman’s sound, one filled with surprise, a bit of shock and a hint of apprehension as he swung her around, pulling her against him, letting her feel the erection he had no intention of hiding from her any longer.

  And damn her. Her lips parted; her eyes, like soft melted chocolate, stared up at him, widening, then turning slumberous as her breathing escalated, her breasts rising and falling faster as he held her to him.

  What the hell was wrong with him?

  That distant thought wasn’t enough to stop him, it wasn’t enough to pull back, to free her and let her walk away. He’d known for years, far too many years that this was coming. And when it happened, letting her go wouldn’t be an option. All that wild independence and pure energy she possessed would have to be tamed. The thought of the danger she’d face otherwise was more than he could contemplate.

  “This is why,” he snarled, his lips lowering to her ear, his own breathing harder, hunger driving a stake straight to his balls as he fought the need to take her then and there. To back her against the wall, get her hot and ready for him before taking her. He’d take her from behind, pushing inside the sweet heat between her thighs as his teeth gripped her neck—

  They were already there, raking over the tender flesh at the bend of her neck and shoulder, gripping, releasing, his tongue laving the sharp bite. Her nails were gripping his shoulders, her head resting against his arm as he held her, the little cry that left her throat one of pleasure and shock. Sharp, sweet pleasure struck at his senses, the reaction so strong, so deep he felt it awaken something inside him that he knew he couldn’t allow free.

  Something dark.

  Something hungry—

  “Fuck!” As quick as he’d pulled her to him, Cullen released her and all but jumped back from her.

  God, the scent of her, the taste of her skin, so sweet and soft. Giving his head a hard shake and turning his back on her, he raked his fingers through his hair and fought to get a grip on himself.

  Lust had never controlled him. He’d never let his hungers free like that, even during his marriage, before his wife’s painful death; he’d never felt that deep, dark hunger, like another presence coming alive inside him.

  “God, Chelsea, I’m sorry.” What more could he say? He couldn’t explain it, even to himself.

  “Good-bye, Cullen.”

  He turned as she raced from the kitchen to the living room. He’d taken two running steps to stop her before pulling back, forcing himself to stop, to let her go. His lips pulled back in fury, a snarl ripped from him seconds before he turned and plowed his fist into the wall, burying it in the suddenly crumbling drywall.

  Jerking back, he stared at his knuckles, his fingers. They ached, but not from the strike. And it wasn’t just the fist that slammed into the wall that was aching; his other hand was balled so tight he swore his nails were pricking the flesh of his palm.

  “Damn her!” he bit out, forcing himself back to the kitchen and that damned letter on the table.

  Before he could stop himself, he ripped it to shreds and let the pieces fall to the floor, watching them flutter with a slow, gliding grace.

  She’d be back.

  It was just another damned way to show him how serious she was. He’d put her on one of the less dangerous operations when she came back, he promised himself. Hell, he should have done it already but he liked having her with him in the office. She was funny, insightful. She smelled good—

  And she’d run from him.

  He must have scared her, though Chelsea wasn’t the type to get scared over a kiss. He knew her better than that. And she knew him better than to think he’d hurt her. He’d give her a day or two, let both of them calm down, and then she’d be back.

  She couldn’t have been serious.

  He wouldn’t allow it.

  He couldn’t allow it.

  CHAPTER 1

  From Graeme’s Journal

  The Recessed Primal Breed

  The Primal Breed will know his mate, sensing her even without the benefit of Mating Heat. The recessed Primal will sense his mate, know her and find comfort and calm in her presence. Only Mating Heat will release his Breed genetics, though, and allow the Primal free of its cage—

  NAVAJO NATION

  PINON, ARIZONA

  Oh God!

  Oh God!

  She was just a baby.

  Tiny, delicate, a mop of tangled black hair and wide, shock-filled eyes.

  Rage clenched Chelsea’s guts, formed a layer of ice around her emotions and stilled her racing heart. Logic and training snapped in and she forced herself to move into position slowly.

  Horror. Terror.

 
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