Shadow, стр. 1

Shadow

Laurann Dohner

Book 9 in the New Species series. While each New Species book is a standalone, the greatest enjoyment will come from reading them in series order.

Beauty resents being labeled Gift Species. Everyone is way too overprotective, males aren’t even allowed to speak to her and so far, true freedom eludes her. Then a big, sexy Species officer mistakes her for the enemy and takes her down—literally.

Shadow is dumbfounded. He has a Gift pinned beneath him—a big no-no. But Beauty is fascinated and wants to know Shadow a lot better. She’s full of newly discovered, unrequited passion and he’s just what she needs to satisfy her curiosity.

For Shadow, sex means pain and loathing. For Beauty, enslavement and ridicule. Two lonely souls who have never known a loving touch, together in a cabin in the woods. Every caress, every discovery brings them closer to a life they never thought possible…beyond even their wildest dreams.

Shadow

Laurann Dohner

Dedication

As always, a special thanks to Mr. Laurann. He’s an endless source of help in so many ways—wrangling kids to give me time to write, understanding the many hours I put into each book. And he’s the man who always has my back. He’s…MINE! LOL.

I want to thank everyone who reads this series. I began it a long time ago when I just had a dream of becoming published and an imagination when my spare time allowed. Thank you for seeing why I love New Species and how they could become an obsession for me. I hope to bring you many, many more stories about the males and females of the NSO.

Another special thanks to Ellora’s Cave and the entire staff that works very hard, but especially to Jaid Black and Patty Marks. They believed in me enough to publish this series. You guys all ROCK!

Kele Moon is the BEST critique partner ever. She’s always there to bounce ideas off and she’s become my best friend.

Last but not least, my editor, Pamela Campbell. She keeps me grounded and has taught me so much over the past few years. Every edit is a learning experience that helps me become a better author.

 

Prologue

Freedom

She wouldn’t be called Mud any longer. Beauty. She silently repeated the new name the woman had given her, determined to remember to answer to Beauty instead of Mud. That distraction helped her battle the confusion and deep shock she had suffered after being led out of her cage by the woman named Jessie. The chains were gone and she’d overheard her rescuers say her guards had been killed during the fight to free her.

Beauty would have stumbled but a firm arm around her waist helped steady her as they walked through the well-lit house. Jessie swore she was taking her somewhere safe, to others like her who had been locked away. The concept of such a thing seemed completely unreal. It had to be a lie, some kind of mean game of cruelty. Beauty glanced around and spotted the blood on the floor, which she could smell. Evidence that her guards were really dead.

A sense of hope filled her that the redheaded woman might be telling the truth. She would be free from Master. The promise of being able to see sunlight again seemed impossible. She only had dim memories of the rare times she’d been allowed outside.

Stars dotted the sky and a partial moon hung to her right. Fresh, wonderful air filled her lungs, and joy struck. I’m outside! She nearly tripped on her own feet, her body weak from lack of food, but the woman hugged her tighter to her side. A big man called Trey kept silently at their side, but she refused to look at his face. She could feel his glances but she tried to hide her fear. He hadn’t tried to touch her.

A large black thing with wheels waited close to the door. She balked a little but Jessie kept urging her forward. “That’s what will take us from here and then we’re going to do something really exciting. We’re going to fly in the sky to get you some medical help and you’re going to meet your family. They are going to be so happy to see you.”

“You won’t leave me?” Beauty was terrified the woman would abandon her to the group of men.

“No, honey. I’m going to hold your hand the entire time.” Jessie smiled. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

The seat was soft and comfortable in the big box. Beauty wasn’t sure about the belt that Jessie tightened around her body but she didn’t fight. It was supposed to be for her safety and she was just happy not to be shoved into the back, inside the hole with no light. That’s how they’d moved her to the house.

“I’ll sit right next to you and Trey here is going to drive us. He’s a very nice person.” Jessie checked the belt, leaned over to push Beauty’s hair behind her ear and smiled again. “He’s a good friend of mine and you can trust him too.”

She met Jessie’s gaze and her really bright, red hair shone in the lights from the big house. Her features were nice, pleasant. A sense of peace filled Beauty. She trusted this woman. She wasn’t sure why but she did.

“Everything is going to be fine, Beauty. I—” Jessie jerked once violently where she stood and her mouth opened. The sheer pain reflecting on her face sent terror through Beauty. She screamed, not sure what else to do. Jessie’s blue eyes widened before she suddenly threw her body into the vehicle. The impact knocked Beauty over on the seat.

“Sniper!” Trey shouted the warning.

“I’ve got you,” Jessie promised, her arms hugging Beauty tightly until she jerked again, her tense body becoming limp.

Beauty shrieked, too gripped with fright to do anything else. Jessie wasn’t moving. The smell of blood pierced her panic but she knew it wasn’t her own.

The box they were in shook, swayed, and the door closed. Another one opened above her head and hands dug between her body and Jessie’s. The weight gently eased and she halted her screams. She opened her eyes and watched as another man dragged Jessie off her body. They disappeared to the ground but another big man suddenly launched through the opening. He slammed the door and climbed over the seat in front, hunching down.

“The glass will protect us,” he panted, out of breath. “It’s going to be okay, Beauty.” He withdrew a weapon. “I’m Shane. Nothing is going to hurt you. Just stay down.”

The door in the front opened suddenly and another man leaned in. “The sniper is from the east. He can’t nail this side. Hand her over.” The one who spoke was older than the rest but not as wrinkled as Master. He was the one who’d dragged Jessie off her body.

“She’s safer here,” Shane argued. “I’ve got her, Tim. Take care of Jessie. How bad is she?”

“Bad. Trey is assessing her.” The door closed as the older man disappeared.

That left Beauty alone with Shane. Her terrified gaze met his where he crouched in the front seat.

“Stay down,” he ordered again softly.

Soft dings sounded and he cursed, suddenly climbing over the seat into the back with her. She shrieked when he grabbed the other side of the seat behind her, hanging his upper body over the top of hers. Only inches separated them and she felt trapped. She gasped in air to scream again but he released the seat to clamp a big hand over her mouth. It silenced her and her heart felt as if it would explode as his face drew closer.

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