Brianna had no clue of just how dangerous the man was that she’d been sent to seduce and capture until the rebels came and all hell broke loose.
Brianna’s excitement about being enlisted for a top secret project had already waned when she discovered her part was to seduce some man that had escaped a government facility. What kind of job was that for a soldier of her caliber? There was no ‘out’ once she was committed to the project, however, except maybe in a box and that certainly didn’t have any appeal!
Word Count: 42,719
Genre: Paranormal/Interracial Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Mariah LaMott, September 2013
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Erin’s penetrating dark blue eyes were focused on the woman in the red bikini. And it wasn’t entirely due to the fact that he hadn’t seen that much feminine flesh in a very long time, or such smooth, silken, café au lait flesh—or such a luscious figure for that matter—in longer than he cared to think.
They didn’t ‘fit’ and anything that didn’t fit always caught his undivided attention.
What the hell were they doing here, he wondered?
It was obvious they weren’t locals. Their swimsuits were a little too fashionable, their sunglasses a little too large, their fingernails a little too well manicured. Granted, the situation wasn’t completely transparent. They wore suits that had been fashionable two or three seasons ago—which suggested they might actually be tourists and not just playing that part. But their polished appearance still put Erin on edge—especially since there weren’t usually tourists in Santa Cruces, Argentina.
They certainly weren’t locals. In Santa Cruces, money wasn’t spent on such luxuries. It was more important to feed and clothe the family.
So, why would a group of gorgeous, classy women decide to ‘vacation’ in the equivalent of a third-world country, Erin wondered? Years on the streets had taught him and his brothers that the proof is always in the details. You had to know who you could trust and who you couldn’t. Often, the only way to tell was by looking at and listening to the details. Most people thought that there was a brotherhood or camaraderie among street kids, the name for homeless youth in the city. Truth be told, there were some small packs or tribes, but it was hard to break into them and even harder to defend yourself against them. There was always a territorial war going on, and you had to find out really quickly which urchins were family and which would rather kill your family than let them in. Often Erin and his brothers ran into ‘cannibals’, tribes whose sole purpose was to prey on other tribes, going so far as stealing, raping, and even killing—one less tribe to share an already small amount of property and food with. It was survival of the fittest when you were on the streets, and the cannibals were experts at luring others in, making them feel like brothers, and then stabbing them in the back, literally. But the details helped Erin know the truth. And while he’d always been observant, ever since escaping the Hatch, his senses could hone in on details faster and more accurately than ever before. It was almost as if the details manifest themselves to him physically. They glowed and glimmered. They practically said to him, “Hey—check me out. What do I tell you about this situation?”
That was what had happened with Grimm, a captivating young street urchin with the most intense golden eyes the brothers had ever seen, and they’d all fallen in love with her instantly in their own ways. But Curt landed her. . . or that was what they thought. At first, all was well and nothing was amiss. Curt and Grimm actually seemed to fulfill each other in every way. Before long, she was finishing his sentences and he was anticipating her questions and needs before she ever expressed them. Even their appearances complemented each of them. Curt’s intensely aquamarine eyes harmonized with the sunset in Grimm’s eyes. His near-white blonde hair with streaks of blue waves falling to his shoulders with fluidity contrasted with her short, amber pixie cut that shaped her angular features, somehow making her look masculine and feminine at the same time. There was no pairing ever so perfect. And that was why Erin’s relationship with Curt was so strained. Because he, Erin, had cost Curt the love of his life. It was the details—the slips in vernacular, the disappearances and downcast eyes that tipped Erin off. She wasn’t real. She wasn’t to be trusted. And one night a new metallic gleam thinner than her usual dog-collar spikes and railroad spike earrings caught Erin’s eye, and just as she pulled a stiletto from her back pocket, walking towards a sleeping Curt, Erin pounced on her, choking her to death and saving his brother’s life from a cannibal. But while those pictures were blurry, Curt’s sobs and disbelief was still as clear today as those many, many months ago. Erin could still hear Curt’s voice whispering, “I will never, ever forgive you. And if we are eternal, well, eternity is a long time, but I will hate you for all of it.” And so far, Curt had kept his word.
But there were some really great times that Erin held onto, times before Grimm came into the picture, times he hoped Curt remembered, too. He recalled a time, shortly after they had escaped ‘the Hatch’ as they called it and were hiding out in an abandoned parking structure. Ian was still struggling to control himself. It made sense. He was younger. While none of the brothers had any memories of what life was like before the orphanage (and only a few of the orphanage itself), there was an impression of parental guidance that Erin felt keenly while Ash and Curt occasionally sensed a feeling, almost like a type of déjà vu. Ian, though, had nothing. Because Ash and Curt were always playing tug of war with him, trying to convince him to side with them and thereby enhance their powers, Erin coddled him. He indulged his baby brother and made allowances as if he were making up for some sort of lost childhood.
The first night in that abandoned parking structure, Ian had zoomed up and down the tunnel-like building, skating faster and faster, creating a torrential whirl of wind that began drilling and ricocheting debris farther than the human eye could hope to see. Ash had been the only one to laugh, vicariously high with the sense of freedom Ian was feeling. Curt and Erin had both panicked. This type of behavior was surely going to alert someone in authority. Freedom tasted way too delicious to give it up so easily.
And that was exactly what Erin was thinking now as he watched the four women suspiciously. Even from miles away, Erin could see clearly that these four ladies were not your average ‘beauties’. There was a quality almost electric about all of them. But the one in the red bikini? It was as if she were some magnet, drawing him towards her metaphysically. He just couldn’t seem to control himself. A scrutiny of her details to get at the truth kept leading him back to the same picture--her bronzed body, naked and aglow as he softly brushed just below the waistband of her bikini-bottoms. He didn’t know why he couldn’t shake the image. The sense of tilting kept getting stronger and stronger—his internal signal that something just wasn’t right. But it was almost impossible to control the passion arising within him. And that worried him even more. “Details, details,” he warned himself, trying to refocus. He squinted as she threw back her long, chocolate-brown locks, flipping some stubborn strands over her shoulder as she laughed musically. In doing so, her back arched ever so slightly, allowing her creamy brown cleavage to rise. Erin began to swell. A quiet voice penetrated his thoughts. “What are we looking at?”
The question wasn’t innocent. Despite Ash’s attempt at hiding his amusement, Ash knew exactly what Erin was looking at. He just wanted to ruin the moment and let Erin know that he’d caught him in an almost-human condition.
“Something’s not right,” Erin mumbled.
“I’ll say,” retorted Ash. “I swear. You’d think that with all the extra experiments the government mules performed on you that you of all of us would have fewer human tendencies, but I swear you’re more human than the other three of us combined.” He laughed jokingly. He knew that his elder brother liked being alone with his thoughts, but Ash couldn’t resist. It was like looking at a locked treasure chest. He just had to know what was in it.
“Human,” Erin muttered, as if it were a problem he couldn’t quite figure out. A light flickered as his mind, transported him back to ‘the Hatch’, the government facility where he and his three brothers were held for years. He hadn’t asked for it. None of them had asked for it. None of them had deserved it. The government just couldn’t leave them alone once that idiot at the orphanage called the cops and reported them as being ‘armed and dangerous’.
They hadn’t even known what that meant. Erin had only been nine--the twins, Ash and Curt, were seven, and Ian barely six. Naïve enough to eagerly follow the agents taking them into the Hatch, the boys had actually thought that life was going to get better than it had been at the orphanage. They were outcasts there. None of the other boys wanted anything to do with the four brothers. Weird electrical shorts and the feeling of dizziness often struck one of the other orphans if they spent too much time around one of the ‘Beelzebub Brothers’ as they were called. One of the orphans, a severely mentally-handicapped twelve-year-old who still wore a diaper, often burst into maniacal laughter after hours of staring at the brothers, his gaze following them but the rest of him never moving. Then Mr. Owens would storm into the room with his trusty belt and begin the beatings, bound and determined to ‘beat the Devil outta you young’uns!’
When the agents had come to take the brothers, Curt was relieved. Erin could remember clearly the sense of relief he could feel from his brother, but he couldn’t embrace it. He, Erin, was the oldest. He was the protector. He met Curt’s hopeful aquamarine gaze and sent the thought, Just be aware. Don’t fall for anything yet. We don’t know for sure who they’re or what they want with us. But Erin had still hoped.
So they all walked into the Hatch with the anticipation that maybe this would be home. Getting new clothes and shoes and being told to take ‘these pretty pink pills’ was the first time Erin had felt the tilting sensation—and that was before the drugs. He hadn’t known then that whenever he felt the weird vertigo, it was because of his ability to sense a shift in atmosphere and energy. The auras and lights he noticed around people wiggled and pulsated with dark, razor-like rays.
Now he watched those same razor-like rays darting across a vivacious red-haired woman whose spring-like curls bounced with her as she giggled. “Too perfect,” Erin observed.
“Yes, they’re!” Ash mocked. “That’s the line you should use on them. Deliciousness like that is meant to be enjoyed, Brother. Shouldn’t we introduce ourselves? Give them a tour? Show them where the locals find the best seafood and the coldest beer?”
“Ha. Well, that line would be better than your last one,” Erin joked back. “Don’t you think it was just a bit too juvenile and. . . I don’t know. . . maybe. . . obvious?”
Ash gave his brother a wide-eyed, innocently questioning look. “I thought it would be poetically romantic. How many women can say that they have actually been serenaded? Everyone at that bar knew exactly how I felt about her.” He grinned.
“I just think ‘Come on, baby, light my fire’ was a bit beneath you. I would think you were more original than that.”
“But I was,” Ash argued. “She wasn’t expecting the bar to actually ignite while I was singing.” He laughed as he relived the shock on the faces of the patrons, not just at the spontaneous combustion but at the sight of this sultry-voiced, tattooed biker growing into a flaming essence of raw, visual power. His laughter was contagious in spite of Erin’s first instinct to shut him up.
“Damn, the looks on their faces. That night was priceless!” Ash wheezed. “Every time I remember. . .” And his laughter took his words.
Erin tried to calm his brother, reminding them that they were on a stake-out, but the gentle shaking of his shoulders indicated to Ash that Erin, too, was enjoying the reminiscing. “It’s been too long,” Ash said.
“What? Since you’ve destroyed a bar and literally scarred humans for life?” “You know why I did it. Yeah, she was gorgeous, and I did like that town. Thought maybe we were gonna be able to stay put for a little while. Felt good. And the lovin’ was super! But, she betrayed us. They all betrayed us.” Ash sobered suddenly with the pain of the memory.
“You just have to be careful. I know it’s who you’re, Bro, but you leap before you look sometimes.”
“Cut me some slack. It’s been ages. I was just a kid,” Ash protested. “True,” Erin conceded. “But we’ve got to be diligent. . . and careful. Too much to lose.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Ash acted like he was brushing off the nagging seriousness of his older brother, though he knew, he always knew, that Erin was right.
But right now in this surreal moment, Erin didn’t feel so sure about himself. Erin studied a creature who’d captured him like no other. How could someone so obviously a danger and threat have this magnetic power over him so easily? Did she know she had this power? Had the scientists at the Hatch actually been able to capture or develop some type of new weapon after years of experimenting on the brothers? Was she completely human?
Earth’s mind bolted from question to question, chasing thought after thought, and in spite of his efforts to maintain control, he began to feel his energy calm and descend down his body and into the very spot where he was standing. “Uh-uh-uh.” Ash waved a flaming finger at Erin. “I see what you’re doing there. Don’t start rooting because you’re interested in something with tits. There’s plenty of those out there. Those are nothing special.”
“Shut up,” Erin commanded, still feeling himself melting into the ground and penetrating deeper and deeper into the softness below. “It’s not her damn tits. It’s something else. I don’t know what. It’s like I can’t fully control my reaction. I have to force it to stop. It’s weird.”