Reaper had expected it to be an easy assignment. Break into a biotech facility with minimum security and rescue a group of immortals who were subject to deadly experiments and eliminate those who might try to fight back. But the moment he walked into the glass prison and spotted a human woman being held with the immortals, his mission changed.
She became his mission.
Before Reaper had a chance to explain that he was there to help her, she blinded him and the rest of his team and slipped away. Although she had escaped him, a protectiveness that he'd never felt washed over him, and he became determined to find her.
Ara has always depended on herself, but there was something about the shifter that made her want to trust him. She recognized him as someone who was capable of protecting her as well as understanding her secrets without turning her away, but before she could allow herself to trust him, she ran.
But with no resources and running out of ideas about how to protect herself, will she be able to lower her defenses and allow the shifter to help her?
All of his muscles locked down as he scanned her, making sure that she hadn’t been hurt. When he found her injury-free, he blew a sigh of relief. Comparing the last memory he had of her, he took note that she had lost even more weight from her time on the run. Her body, clothed in scrubs that were similar to the pair she wore close to a month before, hung loosely on her curvy frame.
Before he could rein it in, a low growl of disapproval slipped past his lips. Either too tired or determined to get into the house, she missed the noise.
He kept his gaze on her as she ran up the porch and hesitated a moment, before she waved a hand in front of the door. When the door unlocked, she pushed her way in and closed it behind her. He heard the distinct click of the lock sliding back into place.
Although he wanted to rush after her, scoop her up, and take her home while she would be too tired to launch him down the block, instinct told him to wait. If he found her, then someone else could’ve as well.
Less than five minutes after she entered the house, a figure emerged from the woods several yards from where he stood. Without disguising his movements, the man ran up to the porch and jiggled the doorknob. His amateur actions covered the noise of Reaper’s advance.
As Reaper stood feet away from eliminating the new threat, a male voice erupted through the man’s earpiece, making the asshole jump. Reaper paused and listened to the angry voice.
“Have you got her yet?”
Instead of answering, the stupid git removed the offending object from his ear and stomped on it. “I’m going to kill that bitch when I get a hold of her.”
Reaper waited until the man went back to his futile attempt at picking the lock before he unsheathed a knife from his thigh. Not giving his target time to make any more progress on the lock, he stepped forward and wrapped a hand around the man’s mouth and nose, silencing his shout of surprise. Rage filled Reaper at how close this man had gotten to her. So with precise movements, he drove the knife into the man’s chest to the hilt and twisted. The man was dead within a matter of seconds.
He hid the body on the side of the porch. The bushes would prevent anyone from the street happening upon him. After the woman was secured in his home, he would call for a cleanup crew to make the body disappear.
Reaper hadn’t been surprised that they caught up to her, and he knew that this one man’s incompetence didn’t mean that whoever chased her would make the same mistake twice. He had to rush before the man in the earpiece realized that his colleague lay dead.
Stepping up to the door, he placed his hands, several inches apart, and pressed until the locks gave way. He slid inside without a sound before shutting the door. Taking a deep breath to get a trace on where she might have gone, he was surprised because it seemed as the entire house smelled of her. Light and sweet.
He darted from room to room. They were running out of time before they were discovered. Desperation clawed at his chest as he found each one empty. At the top of the stairs, he paused when a faint cry reached him. Unsure of where the sound came from, he wandered farther down the hall, hoping that the sound would repeat.
Mumbles and whines of pain came through the door farthest away from the master bedroom. As he opened the door, the floor beneath him started to shake, which intensified the closer he moved into the room. Not knowing what had caused the house to move, his need to protect her ramped up.
His eyes snapped to the woman who lay curled in the corner of a tiny mattress, whimpering. After a minute, he realized that the louder her whines, the more the house shook. Sprinting toward the wall she had burrowed against, he scooped her up into his arms and tried to soothe her with unintelligible words that streamed from his mouth. He pressed her tighter to his chest when his words failed to reach her, and wondered how he could get her to calm down.
Valerie writes paranormal and contemporary romances with strong alpha males and brilliant, beautiful heroines. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab. She's addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character driven romances.