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Opis ebooka Merrick’s Maiden - S.E. Smith

USA Today Bestseller! Merrick Ta’Duran is the leader of the Eastern Mountain Clan on the Prime world of Baade, and he feels the weight of responsibility as the males within his clan become desperate to find mates among the few remaining females. When word comes that a new species has been discovered, he knows he must do what is right for his people – even if it means traveling to a strange, alien realm to do it. While on Earth, he is injured, captured, and experimented on. After months of captivity, he fears his life will end here – until a chance encounter gives him hope. Addie Banks’ world has been one of silence since a devastating illness when she was sixteen. Now an adult, she goes to school during the day and works at night to put herself through college. It’s during her shift at Keiser Research that she stumbles across something she wasn’t supposed to see. Now she hears a voice in her head - and it is driving her crazy. Her only hope for peace is to help the creature talking to her escape from the men holding him. Internationally acclaimed S.E. Smith presents a new action-packed story full of romance and adventure. Brimming with her signature humor, vivid scenes, and beloved characters, this book is sure to be another fan favorite! Main Content: 197 (6x9) pages, 64,203 words

Opinie o ebooku Merrick’s Maiden - S.E. Smith

Fragment ebooka Merrick’s Maiden - S.E. Smith

Merrick’s Maiden

Cosmos’ Gateway Book 5

S.E. Smith

Contents

Acknowledgments

Copyright

Synopsis

Characters’ Relationships:

1. Six years before:

2. Present Day:

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

5. Cosmos Raines Industries: Houston, Texas

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Epilogue

A Warrior’s Heart

Sample of Gracie's Touch

Additional Books and Information

About the Author

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my husband Steve for believing in me and being proud enough of me to give me the courage to follow my dream. I would also like to give a special thank you to my sister and best friend Linda, who not only encouraged me to write but who also read the manuscript. Also to my other friends who believe in me: Julie, Jackie, Lisa, Sally, Elizabeth (Beth), Laurelle, and Narelle. The girls that keep me going!

And of course thank you Paul Heitsch, David Brenin, Samantha Cook, Suzanne Elise Freeman, and PJ Ochlan—the awesome voices behind my audiobooks!

—S. E. Smith

A Very Special Note: This story is for my dad who came down with Spinal Meningitis when he was 12 and woke up to a silent world. He was the best dad a girl could ever have and I miss him very, very much. Thank you, Dad, for being the best father a girl could wish for and for giving me so many wonderful memories. I love you~ Susan

Montana Publishing

Science Fiction Romance

MERRICK’S MAIDEN: COSMOS’ GATEWAY BOOK 5

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Smith

First E-Book Publication December 2014

Cover Design by Melody Simmons

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission from the author.

All characters, places, and events in this book are fictitious or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is strictly coincidental.

Summary: Addie Banks’ world has been one of silence since a devastating illness when she was sixteen, but now she’s hearing a voice in her head that belongs to a man who isn’t human, a man that needs her help.

ISBN: 978-1-942562-47-4 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-942562-11-5 (eBook)

Published in the United States by Montana Publishing.

{1. Science Fiction Romance. – Fiction. 2. Science Fiction – Fiction. 3. Romance – Fiction.}

www.montanapublishinghouse.com

Synopsis

USA Today Bestseller!

Synopsis:

Merrick Ta’Duran is the leader of the Eastern Mountain Clan on the Prime world of Baade, and he feels the weight of responsibility as the males within his clan become desperate to find mates among the few remaining females. When word comes that a new species has been discovered, he knows he must do what is right for his people - even if it means traveling to a strange, alien realm to do it.

While on Earth, he is injured and captured by a ruthless group of humans. Drugged and held against his will, he is the subject of experiments and testing as the humans try to discover where he came from and duplicate his strength and ability to heal quickly. After months of captivity, he fears his life will end on the strange world – until one chance encounter gives him hope.

Addie Banks’ world has been one of silence since a devastating illness when she was sixteen. Determined to stand on her own two feet, she goes to school during the day and works at night to put herself through college. It’s during her shift at Keiser Research that she stumbles across something she wasn’t supposed to see. Now she hears a voice in her head - and it is driving her crazy. Her only hope for peace is to help the creature talking to her escape from the men holding him.

Characters’ Relationships:

Teriff, Prime Leader of Baade - mated to Tresa:

four sons, J’kar, Borj, Mak, and Derik

and one daughter, Terra

Angus and Tilly Bell, humans – married:

three daughters, Hannah, Tansy, and Tink

J’kar ‘Tag Krell Manok mated to Jasmine ‘Tinker’ Bell:

twin daughters, Wendy and Tessa

Borj ‘Tag Krell Manok mated to Hannah Bell:

twin boy & girl, Sky and Ocean

Mak ‘Tag Krell Manok mated to Tansy Bell:

twin daughters, Sonya and Mackenzie

Terra ‘Tag Krell Manok mated to Cosmos Raines

Derik ‘Tag Krell Manok mated to Amelia Thomas aka Runt

Members of Cosmos’ security team:

Garrett

Avery

Trudy

Rose

Rico

Maria

Core mated to Avery

Lan mated to Natasha

Brock mated to Helene

Lal mated to Ava Raines

Merrick, Eastern Clan Leader, mated to Addie Banks

Gant, Western Plains Clan Leader

Brawn, Desert Clan Leader

Bullet, Southern Clan Leader, mated to Maria

Hendrik, Northern Clan Leader – Trudy Wilson

RITA (Earth) zapped by FRED

RITA2 (Baade) zapped by DAR

1

Six years before:

“Hi, Addie! Are you coming to the party this weekend?” Pam asked as she came up behind Addie in the hallway at Centennial High School in Portland, Oregon.

Addie Banks pushed her blonde hair back with a tired sigh. She hadn’t been feeling well all day, but didn’t want to miss the big chemistry test she had spent two days studying her butt off for. A shiver shook her thin frame as she gave Pam a smile.

“I hope so,” Addie said as she closed her backpack and slung it over her shoulder. “I’m not feeling so good. I’m not staying after school today. Ted said he would give me a ride home.”

Pam wrinkled her nose. Ted was Addie’s best bud, even if he wasn’t one of the ‘in’ guys to hang with. Honestly, she didn’t know what Addie saw in the guy except that he had lived next door to her since kindergarten. The guy was such a dork and had a face that looked like it had been put through a meat grinder since he turned thirteen.

“I don’t know why you hang out with Ted,” Pam muttered, turning and running her eyes appreciatively over a couple of the boys that walked by. “He’s such a dweeb. It’s just going to hurt your image if you are seen in his car, you know that, don’t you?”

Addie would have rolled her eyes at Pam’s self-centered attitude if her head hadn’t hurt so damn bad. Instead, she turned toward the doors leading out to the parking lot. She was just thankful the day was over and she could go home.

“Ted is a really sweet guy,” Addie replied, walking toward the exit. “His face isn’t that bad. He has a minor acne problem, but it is clearing up.”

“He has braces!” Pam retorted as Ted walked up to them.

“Which means he’ll have straight teeth when he gets them off,” Addie replied in exasperation.

“Hi Ted,” Pam mumbled, giving Ted a false smile.

“Hey, Pam,” Ted grinned as he reached for Addie’s backpack. “I’ll carry that, Addie. It looks heavy.”

“Thanks, Ted,” Addie breathed easier as she felt the heavy weight disappear. “I’ll talk to you later, Pam.”

“’K,” Pam replied. “Call me later.”

“I will,” Addie said, wincing and shivering. “Thanks for giving me a ride, Ted.”

“Anytime, Addie,” Ted replied, looking at Addie’s flushed face. “Are you okay?”

“I’m not feeling too good,” Addie admitted.

Addie waved as Ted pulled out of the driveway. She had told him he could just park at his house two houses down, but he had said it was no big deal to drop her off since she wasn’t feeling good. She didn’t want to tell him that that was an understatement. She was freezing and hurt all over.

Addie pushed open the front door and dropped her backpack on the floor. A low moan escaped her as she touched her head. Her forehead was burning up.

“Mom?” Addie called out, gripping the back of the couch as she stumbled. “Mom?”

“I’m in the kitchen,” her mom called back. “You’re home early.”

“I… Mom, I don’t feel so good,” Addie choked out as another wave of excruciating pain swept through her head.

“What?” Helen Banks said as she stepped into the living room. “Addie!”

Addie heard her mother’s cry, but it sounded as if it was from the end of a long tunnel. The pain in her head exploded and she felt her body falling. Fear and panic swept through her as her muscles suddenly began jerking by themselves. The cry for help was frozen in her throat as wave after wave of pain swamped her body before darkness finally overcame her.

Addie woke several times. She heard her mom’s pleas and her dad’s quiet questions, but they were disjointed and sounded strange. She was vaguely aware of flashing lights and blurred images of people around her frantically talking. The sunlight sent shafts of pain through her, sending her back into the darkness.

A little while later, she felt her body being lifted again. She tried to focus on what was happening, but the rapidly flashing lights overhead made her nauseous. Afraid, she closed her eyes. A silent tear escaped and slid down the side of her face.

I don’t want to die, she thought vaguely. I have so much to live for.

Four days later, Addie blinked sleepily. A frown creased her brow as she looked at a balloon floating by the bed. The words ‘Get Well Soon’ in a middle of the Teddy Bear's stomach confused her. Her eyes moved to the flowers in the windowsill.

She turned when she felt a movement on her right side. Her mom was standing up and leaning over her. A concerned smile curved Addie’s lips as she stared up at her mom. Tears were streaming down her mom’s tired face.

Addie tilted her head, puzzled. She saw her mom’s mouth moving, but nothing was coming out of it. Her head turned when the door opened. She blinked again when she saw a man in a white coat. Her eyes flickered to the name on it, . W. H. Harris.

“Hi, Addie, I’m Doctor Harris,” the man said as he came to stand next to the bed.

“She just woke up,” Helen said in relief. “Addie, how are you feeling, honey?”

Addie glanced back and forth as fear, panic, and confusion swept through her. She saw their mouths moving, but she couldn’t hear what was being said. Raising her right hand, she weakly touched her ear to see if there was anything covering them. Her fingers skimmed over her ear.

“Addie, what is it?” Helen asked, threading her fingers through Addie’s when she held her hand out to her.

“I can’t hear you,” Addie whispered, staring up at her mom. “Mom, why can’t I hear you?”

Helen Banks’ eyes widened in horror. Addie’s eyes jerked from her mother to the doctor as they stared down at her in concern. She saw him move his lips, but she didn’t know what he was saying. Tears of frustration filled her eyes as she stared back and forth. Why couldn’t she hear them?

Two months later, Addie sat in the back seat of her parent’s Honda CRV staring blindly out the window. She knew her parents were talking, but she didn’t bother trying to figure out what they were saying. They had just left another specialist, the fifth in as many weeks.

No tears burned her eyes this time. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t cry any more. She was tired of crying, it didn’t do any good. Since the day she woke up in the hospital, there had been too many. She had cried, ranted, and finally just pulled away from everyone.

At first, the silence almost suffocated her. She was used to always having some type of background noise on. She loved listening to music and talking with her parents and friends. Shoot, she even talked to herself when there was no one else to talk to!

Now, there was nothing. She was beginning to understand some of the things being said between the doctors and her parents by watching their expressions and picking out a few words on their lips.

This specialist told them the same thing as the others. It was very likely that she would never be able to hear again. The high, prolonged fever from the bacterial Spinal Meningitis she had contracted had silenced her world forever. They believed she contracted it from swimming at their cottage house the weekend before.

Addie watched dispassionately as a motorcycle stopped next to them. She couldn’t hear the rumble of it as the guy waited for the light to turn green. She placed her hand against the glass, feeling the vibration from it, instead. Closing her eyes, a deep sadness washed over her. Never again would she hear the sounds that she had taken for granted. A silent tear ran down her cheek. She let it.

Maybe there was room for one more tear, she thought as it finally sank in that she would never hear again. Just one more.

2

Present Day:

Merrick Ta’Duran gritted his teeth against the pain as he felt another blow to his back. He refused to release his grip on the male’s throat he held in his hands. His body suddenly jerked as a powerful bolt of electricity ran through it. Two probes, attached to long strands of wire, dug into his skin. With a last twist, he heard the satisfying sound of bone breaking.

“Shit! That’s the third guard he’s killed,” a voice yelled. “Hit him again!”

Merrick released the body, collapsing down onto the floor on one knee as another surge of electricity hit him. He fought against the debilitating assault, but one after another struck him. It took five this time to bring him down. He was building a tolerance to it. It was either that, or the rage and desire to finally be free of the constant pain was driving his resistance up.

“Chain him,” the voice of the male said in disgust. “And get rid of the body.”

“Are you just going to let him get away with killing Ray?” another voice asked in astonishment.

“Ray killed himself when he disobeyed a direct order not to enter the cell,” Weston Wright retorted in disgust. “We need him alive. Now, do what I ordered or I’ll lock your ass in here with him.”

“Fuck that,” the man grumbled as he pulled the chains toward Merrick as several men stood holding him down with long rods filled with an explosive charge. “I don’t fucking get paid enough for this.”

“You can always be replaced, Mr. Crawford,” Wright replied. “Everyone in here can be replaced except the creature you’re chaining, remember that.”

Bradley Crawford grunted a response. He knew what the word ‘replace’ meant. It meant dead, just like it had for Ray and the other two men.

Brad snapped the locks back around the wrists of the huge male lying on the floor. A shiver ran through him when the man’s eerie silver eyes turned to look at him. He swore it looked as if there were tiny flames in the center of them.

“He’s secured again,” Bradley said, tripping over Ray’s body as he tried to get away from Merrick.

“Get rid of the body,” Wright said turning away. “And hire another guard.”

“Damn it,” Bradley grumbled as he pulled Ray’s body out of the cell by the arms. “I fucking hate this job.”

Merrick watched dispassionately from where he lay on the hard, cold floor as the door to his cell was closed again. He had been moved to a new one late yesterday. This one had thick bars all the way around it, allowing them to see him visually without the use of their cameras. The only thing in it was a long, narrow bed bolted to the floor, a toilet, and a sink.

He had been moved from the one with solid walls after he broke loose from the chains holding him and destroyed the cameras in the old cell that were monitoring him. When the guards came in, he had been ready. He had killed two of them before the others rushed him with their stun guns and sedatives.

He had managed to kill this male when he came in alone. The male’s taunts had died on his lips as Merrick wrapped one of the chains used to hold him around the human’s neck. A nasty smile curved Merrick’s lips as he thought of the dead human.

“I’m going to beat the shit out of you,” Ray had promised as he tapped the metal rod in his hand. “You killed Bill. I liked Bill. I can’t kill your ass, but I can make sure you wish you were dead.”

Merrick had already wished that a hundred times over the past four months. He lowered his face to the cold floor and rested his cheek against it. His muscles were contracting and releasing in reaction to the powerful charges he had been struck with. Even his heart stuttered for a moment as it tried to find the correct rhythm again.

“Goddess, help me,” he whispered as he closed his eyes. “Give me the peace of death if you will not give me a way to release myself.”

It was not like him to wish for death, but the continued testing was slowly draining his resolve. His body and mind had been tested over and over. There were two men and one woman he would kill if given a chance.

Never in his life had he thought he would want to harm a female, but the old human was one he would not think twice about eliminating from this world if he got the chance. Teriff ‘Tag Krell Manok, leader of the Prime, might have thought that the human males were untrustworthy, but they were nothing compared to the female. The tests she ordered were far worse than the beatings he received from the males.

He had all but given up hope that he would be found. No… if he was to survive, it would be by his own resources. Pushing away his earlier weakness, Merrick twisted and pushed himself up on trembling arms. He forced himself up into a sitting position in an effort to push back the fatigue crushing him.

Wincing as he slid along the slick, concrete floor, he rested his back against the narrow bed frame. His eyes swept his new location. This one was different from the others. The room wasn't very large. The cage he was in took up almost a fourth of it.

There was a long, stainless steel table against the far wall and a row of cabinets on the far side with a sink. It looked like another exam room. This time, it might be his last one.

The humans holding him never stayed in one place for more than a few weeks. He had lost count over the past months how many times he had been drugged and awakened in a new holding cell.

Merrick closed his eyes and thought back to the night he had been captured. It had only been his promise to his clan, that he would find women capable of being bond mates, that had brought him to this world. Now… now, not only had he failed to help his people, he had endangered them by being taken.

He had been helping the human male, Cosmos Raines, try to protect Tansy Bell and two other Earth women. Tansy was an agent for her government. Personally, Merrick thought that Mak ‘Tag Krell Manok, the huge middle son of Teriff, should have just tossed the small female over his shoulder and returned to their world with her. The same thing should have been done to the other two women involved, as well. It was too dangerous to let the women who were bond mates to a Prime warrior be involved in such dangerous work.

Instead, Mak had allowed the female to continue on her dangerous assignment. His mind drifted, replaying the night once again as if it were just happening. He knew that Tansy was trying to protect her own leader, President Askew Thomas, from being assassinated by his Vice-President. Unfortunately, something had gone wrong during the mission.

Four months earlier:

“You shouldn’t allow the females of your world to take such risks,” Merrick muttered as he stared at all the equipment glowing in the van. “Mak should have tied Tansy up and taken her back to our world.”

Cosmos glanced over his shoulder with a raised eyebrow. “You saw Tansy. Do you really think she would have just stood by while Mak tried to tie her up? Hell, he would have been the one needing help. Tansy, Helene, and Natasha are not the kind of women you tie up unless they let you,” Cosmos replied with a twisted grin. “Shit, any one of them could take my ass out in a heartbeat before I even knew it and I’m no slouch when it comes to hand-to-hand combat.”

Merrick scowled. “Why do the women of your world take such risks? Why do the males allow it?” he demanded, folding his arms across his chest as he leaned against the inside wall of the van.

“Dude, didn’t you just hear what I said?” Cosmos asked in exasperation. “It’s not like this in every country, though we are working on it, but women have a right to make their own decisions and choices about their lives. Tansy, Natasha, and Helene chose to protect those that can’t protect themselves. They fight beside men and women around the world who are trying to make this a better place to live. Hell, I’m just glad we have the Tansy’s of the world. We sure the hell need more like her.”

Merrick frowned as he listened to Cosmos explain that Tansy’s work had brought down some of the major drug and slavery rings around the world. Helene, and her sister, Natasha, did the same type of work in Russia. Without them, many of the Organized Crime Gangs would have been impossible to infiltrate.

“If I found my bond mate, I would keep her safe,” Merrick muttered under his breath as he watched one of Cosmos’ men adjust a camera showing Tansy talking to a male. “I would never allow her to do something that was so dangerous.”

Cosmos glanced over his shoulder again and shook his head. “Why don’t you stretch your legs outside for a few minutes? You can scan the area for us as well to make sure it is clear. Just looking at you folded up in here is making my legs hurt.”

“Good idea,” Merrick grunted with a relieved nod as he reached for the handle of the door before he paused to look back at Cosmos. “I don’t know why you don’t just kill the men you are after. You know that they are trying to harm your leader. Wouldn’t that make more sense than endangering the women?”

“Yeah, it makes more sense. Unfortunately, our laws are a little different than yours,” Cosmos replied, before he turned back to look at Tansy smiling seductively at her target. “Not that Tansy gives a rat’s ass about that if she is given half a chance to take out the bad guys.”

“You live in a strange world, human,” Merrick muttered, shaking his head as he opened the back door of the van and stepped out.

He had barely closed it when two black vehicles suddenly appeared at the far end of the narrow alley. Men poured from the vehicles and began moving toward the van. He knew immediately that something had gone wrong.

“Cosmos!” Merrick growled in a low voice, jerking the door open again. “Men are coming down the alley.”

“Shit! We’ve been compromised! All units, take cover, we have been compromised,” Cosmos warned into the headset he was wearing before he jerked it off his head and nodded to the other three men in the van with them. “Keep Tansy, Helene, and Natasha in your sight,” he instructed one of the men. “How many?”

Merrick glanced around the side of the van. “Ten,” he replied. “I’ll take out the ones on the right. Can I kill them?”

“Leave one alive, if you can,” Cosmos responded, checking his gun as he climbed out of the van. “We need to know how they knew we were here.”

“I will try,” Merrick said before giving Cosmos a short nod of warning. “Now,” he muttered, turning and running toward the five men on the right side of the alley.

Gunfire had lit the night. He had taken three bullets, one in the arm, one to his upper thigh, and one had grazed his left side. While they hurt, none of them had been life threatening.

He cursed the primitive weapons Cosmos insisted that he carry. They were clumsy and unfamiliar in his hands. He had finally abandoned them. Chasing the lone man down the alley, he had rounded the corner only to find he had run into a trap.

He had fought, leaving more dead than alive as another group of men surrounded him. His eyes flickered open as he remembered the image of one man who stepped out of the darkness as he collapsed. The man had been shorter than him, but was thickly built. He carried a long gun that shot darts, instead of the pieces of metal the others used.

The darts contained an agent in them that paralyzed his muscles. The man, Markham, was the first man he wanted to kill. The ugly, but satisfied, smile on the male’s face burned through his mind.

“I heard the reports of an unusual man in Russia who had helped my target escape,” Markham had commented as he knelt beside him on the hard ground. “My employer wanted to know who could kill like that. It would appear the elusive Ms. Bell has more than her family and Cosmos Raines up her sleeve. I think my employer will be very interested in keeping you alive… for a short time, at least.”

Merrick remembered reaching out in a fit of rage to kill the man. The last thing he remembered of that night was Markham striking him with the butt of the gun in his hands. Since then, he had seen the man on three other occasions. Markham’s gloating gaze built his resolve to kill the man before he returned to his world or die trying.

He leaned his head back and stared up at the ceiling as exhaustion pulled at him, making him want to give into the need for sleep. Another shudder wracked his body as the after effects of the shocks he had been hit with ran through him. He desperately needed to escape.

His thoughts turned to his home world of Baade. Sadness coursed through him at the devastation that had been wrought by the declining birth rate of Prime females. Most of the eligible women on Baade were spoken for as soon as they came of age.

He and the other males were matched to their mates through a mating rite’s ceremony held twice a year. The ceremony was a gathering of all the unmatched males and females. They were presented to each other in small groups, rotating until the markings appeared, proving they were destined to be together. If in cases such as his, no match was made, the warrior was left with one of two choices; continue to attend the ceremonies in the hope he would find his bond mate or resign himself to a solitary existence.

The chemical change that occurred when a Prime male came in contact with a female genetically ideal to them, could not be fraudulently recreated. The powerful chemical caused a physical and emotional reaction in the male, that bonded him to a female. The males become overwhelmed with feelings of possessiveness, protectiveness, and sexual desire.

In addition a mating mark, a series of intricate circles denoting the unbreakable bond between mates, appeared on the palm of the male and the matching female when they came into contact with each other. Each mark was as individual as the bonded pair. It would not appear until the male and female reached the age of mating.

Procreation was impossible without such a connection. Their scientists discovered the chemical reaction was an evolution of their genetic makeup. As far as he knew, they had not found a solution to the problem. If a resolution wasn’t found soon, the Prime species was destined for extinction.

A reluctant smile curved Merrick’s lips as he thought of the unusual answer that suddenly appeared before his species in the form of a tiny human female. Jasmine ‘Tinker’ Bell had unexpectedly appeared on J’Kar ‘Tag Krell Manok’s warship through a Gateway connecting their two worlds. The Gateway, created by Cosmos Raines, had given his world and the men living on it hope for a future.

Merrick looked at his palms. Nothing showed on them and probably never would. It didn’t matter. He had not come to this world for himself, but for the men under his command. As the leader of the Eastern Mountain clan, it was his duty to guide them and do whatever he could to ensure their survival.

He and his cousin, Core, had journeyed to the capital of Prime after they captured a human male. The male had lied to them. It was the first taste of deceit from the humans that Merrick had experienced. His fingers rose to touch his ear as he thought of J’kar’s tiny mate. A small chuckle escaped him. She had been the first taste he had of a human female’s ferocious ability to protect those that she loved.

Tink had attacked him when he struck out at her mate. She had jumped on his back, covered his eyes, and bitten his ear with her smooth teeth. Her mother had kicked him in his groin while her sister had knocked him out with a planter. He shook his head as the memories flooded him.

No, not all humans are traitorous. Including the males, he reluctantly admitted as he thought of Cosmos and those working with him. There are those that can be trusted here just as there are on my world, and those that cannot.

His eyes flickered up as the door opened and Weston and three other men stepped into the room. Weston eyed him with a combination of consternation and hatred. Merrick returned the human’s stare.

“Knock him out,” Weston ordered. “Doctor Rockman wants another sample.”

Merrick surged up to his feet at the name of the female doctor. The roar he emitted loudly echoed in the room as Weston raised the syringe in his hand. It took three men pulling on the chains to get him close enough to the bars for Weston to inject him. It would have been impossible if he wasn’t still weak from his earlier fight.

Merrick slid down his hands and knees on the floor as the drug rushed through him. His arms trembled violently as he fought against it, but it was impossible. He slowly collapsed down to the cold floor again. For a moment, his heart stuttered and paused as the excessive amount of the drug they used flowed through his bloodstream.

Perhaps this will be the last time, he thought as darkness descended around him.

Chapter Three

Addie waved her badge at Ted and smiled. He smiled and waved back before pressing the button to lift the security gate. She lifted her foot off the brake and let her small dark blue Kia Sonata roll over the speed bump before depressing the accelerator. Turning right into the parking lot, she headed for the employee entrance.

She grimaced as she glanced at the clock on the dash. She was running a few minutes late. A silent chuckle escaped her and she rolled her eyes.

Who would give a rat’s ass that I’m not there to mop the floor or empty a trash can on time? she thought with a grin at the deserted parking lot.

It was almost ten o’clock on a Friday night. Everyone who worked at Keiser Research was gone for the weekend except the poor suckers like her, Ted and a few other security guards. A sigh escaped Addie as she pulled into a parking space up close to the back entrance and turned the engine off.

Grabbing her thick, long blonde hair in one hand, she wound a hair band around it and pulled it into a ponytail to keep it out of her way. She glanced around to make sure she had her badge to get in the building. She had only been working there a few days.

Opening the driver’s door, she checked that she had her car keys and small, leather wallet before locking it. Her eyes ran over the outside of the building. She hadn’t worked in this section yet. The email she received today instructed her to come to this building instead of the main office complex on the south side of the parking lot.

Swiping her badge in the security lock, she waited as the light turned green before she pulled the door open. At least this one had a light! The main complex didn’t and since she couldn’t hear the sound of the lock disengaging, she had to try to time when it would unlock. If she tried too soon, it didn’t work. If she tried too late, it didn’t work.

Addie sighed as the door closed behind her. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out the map of the building. She would need to check in with the guard in the front lobby first. Ted was supposed to have talked to the guy for her and explained that she was deaf.

Walking down the main corridor, she thought of Ted and Pam. It was hard to believe that Miss High and Mighty, ‘he-is-going-to-ruin-your-reputation Pam’, had fallen in love with Ted during the last half of their senior year! Ted was one of the few kids that had remained in contact with her after she moved to St. Augustine to attend the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. After she graduated, she moved back to Portland and began taking classes while working a wide variety of jobs.

When she had casually ‘mentioned’ a couple of weeks ago that she needed to get a second job to help cover the cost of her last class, he had helped her get the position on the housekeeping staff at Keiser where he worked nights as the gate security guard. Addie was trying everything she could to remain independent from her parents.

It had taken her the last two years to earn enough to move out into her own place while she attended college. A shudder went through her as she thought of her mom’s insistence that she remain at home where they could take care of her. While her parents had been the driving force of her going to St. Augustine to finish her schooling, they had been adamant about her returning home as soon as she graduated.

It had taken the combined forces of her five older siblings to get her parents to agree to her attending college. She had agreed to live at home for the first two years. What she hadn’t told her parents was that she had spent a lot of that time working several part-time jobs to save up enough money to move out. She loved her parents to death, but their over-protectiveness, especially her mom’s need to know everything she was doing, was driving her crazy!

No, if it meant mopping floors to help supplement my income while I finish the last class I am taking to get my certification as a licensed massage therapist, then, I’ll mop a hundred of them, she thought as she stepped up to the guard station.

Addie had one more test the following afternoon before she finished her degree. Once she got her license, she could quit working here and work as a Masseuse while she continued to work on her Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. Each step was leading to her dream of opening her own clinic one day. With a degree in both Massage and Physical Therapy, she knew she could make it without ever having to depend on anyone else ever again!

Addie drew in a deep breath and gave a brief, polite smile to the guard sitting in the chair with his feet propped up on the desk. A shiver of distaste washed through her when he ran his gaze over her. Ignoring the appreciative look in his eyes, she waited for the guard closest to her to respond to her presence. He seemed to have difficulty pulling his eyes from one of the monitors. Holding up her badge, she handed it to him so he could scan it when he finally looked at her.

“She’s a hot one,” the guard sitting behind the one scanning her badge said with a smooth smile. “Maybe she would be interested in a little nighttime organization of the supply closet.”

“Shut up, Josh,” Bradley muttered.

“Why? Ted said she’s deaf. She can’t hear what the fuck I’m saying,” Josh chuckled. “You can’t hear me saying I want to bend you over and fuck that sweet ass of yours, can you, sweetheart?”

Addie composed her face to have that ‘I’m blonde and clueless’ look on it. She had met too many assholes over the years to let him get to her. The one good thing about being deaf was that she had learned really quick who to avoid. One of the first things she had learned was to read lips and expressions.

Being aware of what was going on had actually saved her life on two previous occasions. Both times, she had read the intention of the guys. The first time had been when she had gone to the beach on a date during high school. The guy had slipped a drug into her can of soda. She would have drank it if he hadn’t bragged about it to his friend as he was handing it to her.

The second time was as she was leaving the bar shortly after her twenty-first birthday. There had been a guy in the bar watching her all night long. It wasn’t so much what he said, but the way he was looking at her that sent a shaft of warning through her. She had made sure that she was never alone. Three days later, she saw the guy on the news. He had attacked another girl after following her from the same nightclub.

“Just shut up,” Bradley muttered in annoyance. “Clean these areas.”

Addie looked down at the map the guard had printed out for her. He circled several sections and wrote the word ‘Clean thoroughly’ up at the top of the paper before handing it to her. Addie nodded her head and took the map.

“Hey, don’t go down to the third level,” Bradley called out to her as the phone rang.

“Asshole, she can’t hear you,” Josh chuckled as he watched Addie’s ass as she walked down the hallway. “Damn, I wouldn’t mind having a piece of that.”

Merrick jerked awake and rolled. He barely made it to the toilet before the contents of his stomach emptied. He didn’t know what they had pumped into him this time, but he could feel his body rejecting it. Heaving, he gripped the bars until the nausea passed.

Several minutes later, he slowly straightened. With a softly muttered curse, he released the bars and stepped over to the sink. He twisted the knob for the cold water. Bending, he washed his mouth out before washing his face. It took several minutes before he felt slightly better.

Standing back straight, he rolled his shoulders. The chains around his wrists rattled as he pushed his hair back from his face. The faint memories of hands on his body sent a ripple of distaste and rage through him. His stomach churned again, but this time for a different reason. He turned back to the bed and stripped the thin cover off of the mattress. Tearing a strip from it, he dampened it and quickly wiped his body down to get rid of the feel of Dr. Rockman’s hands on it.

He closed his eyes as his hands slipped under the waistband of the thin, cotton pants he wore. He cleaned himself as thoroughly as he could before tossing the cloth against the bars in fury. Throwing his head back, he bit back the loud roar that threatened to escape him. He would not give the guards the satisfaction of knowing how violated he felt.

His eyes moved to the door when he heard the sound of footsteps outside it. The lights were off in the room, but the darkness did not bother his vision. Moving to the side of the cage so the thick corner sections of it partially concealed him, he waited as the sound of the lock disengaging echoed in the cold room. Perhaps he would get the chance to kill another one of the guards.

A cold smile curved his lips as the door opened and the light came on. His eyes narrowed when the door opened wider and he saw a slender figure backing into it. Long blonde hair, piled into a messy ponytail, hung down the back of what had to be a female. He couldn’t see her face, yet. She appeared to be trying to pull a large cart into the room.

Amusement and curiosity reluctantly tugged at his lips when a low, muttered curse escaped her when the cart became stuck in the opening. He watched as the figure straightened and groaned as her gloved hands moved to her lower back. She rubbed it as if she was in pain.

A tired sigh escaped her this time and she leaned forward to grab something off the cart. He stiffened until he realized that she had turned to the counter. His eyes followed her as she sprayed foam on the countertop before wiping it down. She did the same to the cabinets and sink.

A soft growl escaped him when she bent over and opened the trash can to pull the bag out. The movement pulled the black cloth trousers she was wearing tight over her ass. Merrick frowned in annoyance. First, because he didn’t understand why his body was reacting to the female with such an unexpected intensity. The second reason was because he knew she must have heard the sound that escaped him, but she continued to clean the room as if he wasn’t there.

He watched as she pulled a long stick out of a yellow bucket. She pressed the strings until most of the water was removed before she started cleaning the floor. A frown creased his brow when he noticed she still hadn’t turned around to look at the cage. The need to see what her face looked like was beginning to grow to an irritating, but persistent ache.

The frown darkened as she tiredly brushed her cheek against her shoulder. It was obvious from her demeanor that she either had no idea he was there, or she was pretending. He rattled the chain on his arm against the metal bar to draw her attention. His brow furrowed suspiciously when she still didn’t turn around.

It must be another test, he thought as the murderous rage he had felt earlier swept through him.

Dr. Rockman had tried to ‘research’ his mating habits once before. She had a drugged-up woman brought in two months ago at the previous place they kept him. The foul smelling female had taken one look at him, licked her lips, and run her eyes over him as if she had been given something sweet to eat.