She’s in grave danger, but she doesn’t want his protection…
After a long and bitter world-war for pure human supremacy, humans and two sub-species the Eli and Crea reside on Earth in an uneasy harmony. One morning on a jog, Bliss Jacobs finds a murdered fellow Eli. She scents the killer on the body, but other evidence is washed away by a savage storm, leaving Bliss as the sole witness and the target of an assassin—and forcing her back into the world of the man who shattered her heart.
He believes she is his destined mate, but he knows there are no second chances…
Kaid Sinclair is chasing more than his best friend’s murderer. He wants Bliss in his bed and in his life, but after their relationship went south several years ago, he knows he has to tread carefully. So how can he keep her safe, while still proving to her that they are destined to be mates, and he doesn’t just want to control her? All he wants is for her to be safe—but with a killer who sees her as Kaid bait, Kaid may have to choose…his life or hers?
The assassin grunted, dropped the body, and then watched it roll and sprawl on its back. Empty eyes stared at the dark and cold Montana spring night sky. The assassin laughed.
He’d killed him.
He scratched at the chemical reactive burning inside his robotic chest. Hissed at the scald of the toxins pulsing in his neck and right arm veins. Silver and the metals that only resided in Eli—a race of humans who, along with the Crea, had taken refuge on Earth five hundred years ago when their own planet Ecreal died—merged with the contaminants in his body with caustic results.
At his veins, the silver he should see as a fine bright line, pulsed dull bronze—aged, corroded, diseased. The toxins tasted of rusted steel and burned his mucus membranes.
He kicked the body. “Fucker.”
Retribution was sweet, even if it had taken him fourteen years. He’d removed the male’s clothes so the trains and wildlife could more easily eliminate his father’s killer. No remains, no ritual burial. Sinclair deserved no such honor.
Here the body would be hacked into easy to eat pieces for the animals to feast on and, since nobody ever came near these tracks, Sinclair’s remains would never be found.
Bliss skidded to a halt on the clearing’s spring grass, tipped her face to the sky, and gulped air. Clouds, in an oppressive charcoal blanket, smothered most of dawn’s light. She grimaced. Ah damn, a storm. No wonder it’d been so gloomy in the forest. Time to cut her run short and take the train tracks home.
To add speed, Bliss edged out her Eli genetics. Many times the speed of an Earth human, she dashed through a wind whipped meadow. At the train embankment, she lunged up the steep gravel siding to the top then adjusted her stride so each step fell on a recycled cement and plastic cemeplas sleeper. A flash of blue light, a clash of thunder’s deepest bass exploded, vibrating the surrounding air. Eek, come on legs, go faster. She rounded Death Bend. What the hey?
Bliss stumbled over the dismembered body of a dead man. A scream ripping free, she spun and fell to her knees. Eli metal thundered in her veins, silver bloomed on her skin and swirled in her eyes.
Gene—oh my fates, Gene cut into slices as if laid out in macabre banquet portions.
At three hundred miles an hour, freight trains with six carbide wheels per axle tore along this trio of tracks. Crusted blood and the starkness of bones exposed by the severing suggested multiple trains travelling on differing tracks had sliced through his corpse in gruesome precision.
Bile seared the back of her throat as her metals formed a light exoskeleton over her human skin. Bliss flung herself sideways and vomited down the embankment.
She forced down her remaining stomach contents, calmed her Eli, and did what she didn’t want to do—turned back.
A neon blue flash highlighted the gore. She jumped as the clap of thunder thickened into a rue of pine and ions. With their blood ten percent liquid metal, lightening liked to strike Eli and Crea dumb enough to remain exposed. Being fried wasn’t high on her list of ways to die. She had to get home, out of the storm, and phone the sheriff.
She looked at Gene’s body. God, this was…dang—she couldn’t think of a word bad enough. Death Bend was so sharp, animals didn’t always have time to jump to safety. But an Eli with his enhanced senses—it made no sense.
Near the decapitated head she noted a sweet scent. Great now she’d have to see what that scent was. Feeling as if someone had wedged a shoe in her throat, she peeled her lips back, braced herself for what she was about to do to, leaned forward, and sniffed near the decapitated head.
Bourbon fumes wrinkled her nose. She turned into the cold wind to cleanse her nostrils of booze and death. Crap cakes. Had he come for a run, fallen, and been too drunk to get up? Fallen and knocked himself out then the train came? Drunk or not, why was he out here? His lodge on Eli Clan reserve was on the other side of Katoom, an easy twenty miles from this bend.
She blinked back more tears. “What happened?”
Yeah, she didn’t expect an answer.
She went to close the dead eyes, so unlike the laughing ones she remembered, and stopped an inch from contact. Oops, she better not contaminate him with her scent. Peter, the sheriff, would give birth to a bear if she touched the body before he’d processed the scene and gone through all the correct procedures.
Katoom’s small population was a mix of Earth humans and the alien Eli and Crea. This Subspecies cohabitation was rare. Even in large cities, the species tended to live in separate suburbs but, usually, the Eli and Crea preferred to live on large tracts of land.
All regions of coexistence were constantly scrutinized by the ever vigilant feds, the sensation hungry media, and the alien haters who wanted the return to old world wars and Subspecies genocide. They prayed for infractions and spied on all alien clans.
To keep focus on Katoom minimal, Peter crossed his T’s with precision to all laws. She hadn’t taken her personal link on her run so she had to wait till she was home to contact him.
She ran her palms along her cooling thighs and stared at the body. She went to stand to head home. Hang on. She half crouched and peered closer at Gene’s neck. Two inches above where his head had been severed from the rest of him, a jagged cut gaped and a large portion of flesh hung, joined to the whole by a thread of pale bloodless skin. She glanced at the other body pieces, and her chest ratcheted from tense to tenser.
The torso slices had been cut with almost laser precision. No torn flesh. No ragged edges. No chunks cleaved from the whole.
But the throat had been hacked and didn’t come near to separating that section of neck in two.
She gusted out a horrified gasp and dry heaved, flung her hand to her mouth and kept it there. She would not vomit on Gene. She peered closer and saw a windpipe and carotid artery. She flicked her gaze to the gravel to calm herself. That was odd. Gene was big, six-feet-seven tall, and two-eighty pounds of muscle. Yet, she couldn’t see much blood and barely any metal dust. Not much blood at all. Even little rabbits bled more than these few trickles.
Where the hell could all his blood have gone?
She rocked back onto her heels. A squall whipped her hip length hair around her body. Heart ricocheting around her chest like a well hit racquetball, she shot to her feet.
Shit, shit, shit. Gene hadn’t died here.
She swallowed hard and surveyed the surrounding tree line, flinched when a dark shadow moved, when the light shifted with the clouds.
Someone sliced his throat, bled him out, then moved and dumped his body.
Her metal rose so high, she tasted its metallic sourness on her tongue. She had to scent the murderer, to know who did this. She dropped to her knees again. Head close to the ragged wound, she inhaled deeply. From deep within Gene’s massacred throat, the faintest waft of a foreign scent bit at the back of her throat.
The killer? Of course, it’s the killer, stupid. What other scent would be inside Gene’s flesh? But why was it so weak? It hadn’t rained to wash it away. She shook her head, took another draw of air, rolled the aromatic molecules of the alien scent over her tongue and scent receptors, and sifted through the data of stored scents in her brain.
Please don’t be someone I know, please. No buzzing and no internal recognition. No one she knew, thank the gods. But now she’d be able to identify the scent’s owner if they came near. Forensics would use a scent collector to gather the killer’s scent then load it into the national database and seek a match.
She turned, ran for home, and prayed a killer didn’t watch or know she’d scented him.
About the Author:
Cassandra L Shaw writes Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, & Contemporary Romance. She lives in a small farm on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Her eclectic past includes fashion design, environmental science and years of drudgery as an office worker where she dreamed of NOT being an office worker. She discovered writing a few years ago and has decided that with its mix of art, writing craft, and study she’s at last found the career that suits her arty and academic mind.