Staring into glowing cat-eyes, while her attackers lay like broken dolls in the snow around her, shouldn’t have been a turn-on. But it was. She shouldn’t consider the man who killed to save her from her rapists a hero. But she does. She shouldn’t feel as if she belongs to that hero, mind body and soul, but there’s no way she can deny it. And the hardest part for Alyssa Aimes to get her head around, besides his extraordinary eyes: the knowledge that she’ll never see him again.
But four years later, Colton Blake does come back into her life, just as dramatically as he left it. And this time she’s determined to keep him there, even if she has to risk her recording contract and her life to do it.
For Colt, much has changed in four years. No longer a homeless drifter with a dangerous secret, he has found his place among the Scorpio Sons, an elite band of genetically engineered cloned warriors charged with bringing to justice a secret cabal that has been exploiting the world for millennia. But one thing that hasn’t changed during that time: his obsession with Alyssa, the stranger he met just once and can’t seem to forget. But now his mission has brought Alyssa back into his life. And with her comes a secret she doesn’t even realize she harbors; a secret that could bring not only Colt to his knees, but the whole band of the Scorpio Sons along with him.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I'm fascinated by the advances in biology, particularly DNA. The idea that man could be genetically modified using animal DNA to improve his traits is scary exciting, as is the idea of human cloning. I wanted to write a Shifter series that was based on science and explored the issues GM and cloning while still telling a steamy romance. Lots of food for thought.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My heroes are clones, so they are all physically identical. It was interesting to give each Son in the series a very different personality and background. The old nurture vs nature argument explored. I then had to decide what kind of woman would be perfect for each personality. Colton, for instance, is a street kid who grew up to be a vigilante. He is a highly protective bad boy type, moody and intense. To balance him I gave him a soft and gentle female who he could protect, but who had the power to calm and gentle him when necessary. As all the Sons' Mates also have an ability that is uniquely their own, to aid in the war, I gave Alyssa musical talent that the Sons could use to get them into their enemy's camp.
Colt was the last of the few stragglers to leave the College library as it closed its impressive oak doors for the night. His eyes automatically adjusted to the darkness and took in what his unknown, studious companions, buried deep in upturned collars, eyes trained on the icy paths beneath their feet, could not: The old fashioned lamps shedding meagre light on the paths that led to other parts of the campus; the full moon illuminating more of the building, but still hiding much in its shadows. From everyone but Colt. For him, nights like this were as bright as day. No insidious shadows could keep their secrets from him. He missed nothing.
For a moment, he paused to take in the winter scene before him, abnormal in so many ways for this part of the country. On a cold, unusually clear night like this the moon seemed huge and glowing. The day-old snow, a rarity on the grassed recreational areas, looked pristine in its light. Pristine, except for the shadows of leafless trees that seemed to leave elongated stains across that purity.
And just as those shadows left no true mark on the ground, neither did he leave any real mark on the human systems that governed his surroundings. Colton Blake was not a registered student on campus. There was no record of his existence, here, or anywhere else in the U.S.
Yet he could come and go without question because he looked as though he belonged. Decent, clean, casual clothes; shiny, sandy coloured hair that was probably a little too long and untidy for the preppy types that attended this high-profile college, but not enough to make him stand out or give an indication that he didn’t belong.
But he didn’t belong. Because he had no more existence than those shadows cast by the moon.
On nights like this he wanted to belong. Wanted to have a warm place to go home to, where he was welcomed and accepted. Instead, he prowled along the path that led to the Sporting Complex, where he slept in the basement in a sleeping bag on gym mats.
Suddenly his acute hearing picked up the sound of a struggle.
Not here. This is my sanctuary. This place is safe. Violence isn't supposed to intrude on me here.
But the female cry and the derisive male laughter was enough to have him turning in its direction. It didn’t matter if his sanctuary had been breached, he wasn't about to turn his back on someone in need, just to preserve what he’d created for himself.
He prowled through the shadows until his keen eyes caught sight of what his ears had identified. His nose picked up the coppery scent of blood. Not a lot. Yet.
Am I too late?
“Jarrod sends his love,” he heard one of the attackers say as he gave another cruel laugh.
“Jarrod? Jarrod Hastings? I don’t understand,” a soft, terrified voice replied. That voice belonged to a girl and it was so sweetly timbered that it sent goose-bumps up his arms.
“You’re not real bright are you? You couldn’t get the little messages he’s sent you before, so this time he's making it obvious. This time even a dumb bitch like you can get the point.” The young male voice became crueller and uglier as his words went on.
Colt threw caution to the wind and let his beast out. It didn’t matter if he lost his place here and had to be on the run again. No bastard was going to hurt a girl just so she got a message.
He moved faster, his feet barely touching the snowy ground. As he came upon the scene behind the hedge that separated grass from path, he took it in instantly. Two men had the girl pinned by the arms to the snowy ground while she struggled ineffectually. The third, probably the bastard doing all the talking, was unbuttoning his jeans, preparing to rape her.
In what would have appeared little more than a blur to the observers, Colt took down the standing man in one smooth leap. A loud grunt was the only sound he made as his neck broke.
Turning from his first prey, Colt grabbed the collar of the closest male holding the girl and ripped him backwards away from her. With the flip of Colt’s wrist, the youth – because he wasn’t much more than that – flew across the small clearing and crumpled against a nearby tree.
The third male let go of his prey and skittered backwards, desperately looking for a means of escape or defense. He wouldn't find either. Colt's blood was up. His vision was red. His beast wouldn't know satisfaction until this last attacker was dead or injured and no longer a threat.
With a growl, he launched himself on the frantic male and slammed him hard on the jaw with his closed fist. He heard a crack and the body went limp beneath him.
Only then did he turn to look at the girl. And felt the air burst free of his lungs in a huff of astonishment.
It wasn’t that she was anything special. There were hundreds of pretty girls on campus just like her. She was young, no more than a freshman. Her honey-blonde hair, which had been braided into a long plait down her back, was now loose and bedraggled, tendrils of curls forming a halo around her face. Eyes that were almost black in the darkness were too large for her small, pointed face. And though any normal person wouldn’t have been able to see them in the shadowy darkness, he could pick out every faded freckle on her upturned nose and flushed cheeks. Soft, full lips hung open in stunned surprise as she took in the devastation around her.
“You okay?” Colt hadn’t planned to talk to her. He’d planned to save her and go. Nothing came of making connections. Nothing good.
“Bruised and a bit shaky, but otherwise… Are they all right?” She sounded shaky. Her voice shook more now than it had when she spoke to her attacker. Why? She was safe. There was no need for fear now.
“Does it matter? You know what they were going to do to you, right?”
She let out a harrumphing sound and tried to clamber to her feet. Reluctantly, he offered her his hand. With barely a moment's hesitation, she took it.
Touching her wasn’t a good idea. His beast was still volatile. It could smell the blood and wanted more.
Letting it get too close to this unprotected girl was risky. She was too soft, too fragile. But he could no more withhold his hand than he could have walked away without a word.
Once she was on her feet, Colt drew his hand back quickly, rubbing it against the leg of his jeans, trying to get the feel of her off his skin. But the memory of that touch wouldn’t fade.
The back of her coat had to be soaked and she must be freezing, but except for brushing snow off herself, she didn’t seem aware of it. Her gaze kept returning to the three fallen attackers.
“I…I have to call 911. They’re hurt. They need a doctor.”
Running frustrated fingers through his untidy hair, Colt groaned and lifted his face to the sky. "Why? They’d have left you here to die. You would've, too, if you weren't able to drag yourself to shelter."
She looked at him for the first time, really looked at him. And he gazed back, despite his best intentions.
No she wasn’t anything special. But she was special to him. Something about her called to him, and he couldn't ignore that call any more than he could stop breathing in the icy air around him.
“I’m not them. I don’t hurt people and leave them to die.” Her wobbly voice undermined the determination in her words.
“Get somewhere warm, and then call 911. Shock’ll set in soon. You don’t want to be cold when that happens.”
“You'll stay here with them until the ambulance comes? You'll have to tell the police what… I mean… I'll tell them you were saving me. You won't be arrested or anything. ”
Colt laughed and leaned in so he could more effectively breathe in her scent. That had to be it. That had to be the reason she was different from any other female he’d ever met. It was crazy to tempt his beast as he was doing, but he just had to have this small part of her. To remember.
Her breath caught at his closeness. He expected to scent fear. After all, he was a stranger, taller by a head than she was, way stronger, and he’d just proven himself deadly. She should be afraid. Instead, he picked up the subtle fragrance of arousal.
And she hated it, he could tell. It confused her. She wanted to deny her body’s responses, just like she wanted to deny the simple justice of leaving these jackals where they lay.
“Who is this Jarrod Hastings? What message did he want you to get so badly that he set shitheads like this on you?” he growled into her ear. Her trembling increased and he was forced to steady her. Had he moved closer just so he’d get this reaction? Just so he’d be forced to hold her up? Feel how fragile she was, how soft.
“An ex. He didn’t like that I wouldn’t give him my virginity so he dumped me. But I didn’t…I didn’t think… I just thought I was unlucky…”
“Unlucky?” He breathed in her scent again. It was becoming more irresistible with every passing moment. If he didn’t get away from her soon his beast might claim her. And that would make him no better than the bastards he’d taken out.
“My car was keyed, my dorm room vandalised, I got heaps of threatening messages on my FB page, I failed my last paper because my professor said I didn’t turn it in. But I did. I… I can’t believe someone would do all this just because I said ‘No’.”
“Some people never take no for an answer.” He let his nose graze the soft tendril of hair at the side of her face. They were just as silky as he expected them to be, and they smelled of honey and almonds.
“Who are you? That’s a Canadian accent isn’t it?” The words were no more than a whisper, but they galvanised him into action. She couldn’t know who he was. He didn’t exist.
Slowly, he released her. Her legs took the weight and held. Stepping away, he turned to go.
“So you’re just going to leave? You're going to play Superhero and leave? Or is it vampire or werewolf? You can’t just stay and do what you have to do. Just be John Smith, a decent college student, who wanted to help?” Her tone was scathing.
“You have no idea how much I wish I was John Smith, decent college student. Good bye…?”
“Alyssa Aimes. I have no problem telling you who I am."
He smiled back at her sadly. “That’s because, Alyssa Aimes, you exist. I don’t.”
And before she could argue that point, he loped off into the shadows in the opposite direction to the Sports Complex. That place was closed to him now. Once the police started their search for the stranger who killed students on campus, every hiding place on campus would be searched.
No, his time here was finished. There was only one loose end that needed tying off and he would do that as soon as he could hack into the College servers and locate details on Jarrod Hastings. Guys who couldn’t take no for an answer wouldn’t stop until they were made to stop.
And that’s what he did.
Forced NO down their throats until they choked on it.
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