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Available January 1
Dr. Daphne Panetta is desperate to find a cure for a virus that turns its victims into zombie werewolves. Infected Konstantin Gevaudan should be nothing more than a test subject, but the only thing Daphne fears more than the beast within him is her own intense attraction to the virile man himself….
When the research facility where he’s being held goes up in flames, Konstantin has no choice but to take Daphne on the run with him. For the desire burning between them can mean only one thing: she is his true mate. But how can he claim her without changing her—forever?
Where the others were seemingly mindless killing machines, there was a self-awareness in his eyes. He was a predator, to be sure, as ravenous as the rest of them. What made him terrifying was his cunning, his obviously human logic.
And this one had a name—Konstantin Gevaudan.
Obviously aware of her scrutiny, he stepped forward, prowling toward the observatory as if she were the one on display.
The shadows fell away like a cloak, the bright sodium lights blaring down on his massive form. He stood, rising up bipedal and perfect, with none of the abnormalities of the others except for those eyes blazing that strange electric blue, like an LED bulb. Form followed function, each part of his body designed with the same purpose in mind—to be the most efficient killing machine. Thickly muscled, but his tread was light, graceful. His movements were fluid synchronicity. In fact, he was horrifyingly beautiful.
He knew it, too. The beast stopped under a particularly focused shaft of light, displaying himself for her. The sleek pitch of his silky pelt, the sculpted planes of his musculature so much like a human’s but still so alien, and the sly, knowing look in his eyes.
Daphne found herself almost hypnotized by the creature, unable to look away. Maybe he was somehow part King Cobra and he’d caught her in a death sway. Her rational, educated brain told her this was more information than they’d ever been able to gather before. No matter how uncomfortable it was, how ugly, or even how she ached for Bethany, she had to keep him engaged. The cameras were still recording.
Although, the primal, basic animal part of her brain screamed for her to break the spell, to flee. To hide away so his horrible eyes couldn’t dig down into the meat of her, into her fear. The faint beep from the lapel of her lab coat vaguely registered—she was excreting pheromones at dangerous levels. The infected could scent them even through all the barriers.
The throng of the deformed, snarling infected were suddenly in frenzy mode, throwing themselves against the electrified walls, their claws scraping down the enchanted glass as they struggled to get at her—prey.
A sound that Daphne first thought was an earthquake rumbled deep, until she realized it was coming from it—him—Konstantin.
His muzzle retracted in a snarl, revealing supernaturally straight white teeth that looked more at home on a barracuda than a wolf. She shuddered and his lips twisted farther. He turned his great head slowly toward the wolves, as if focusing the sites of a weapon.
The bass sound began to build, but it wasn’t until the space around him trembled with its might did the noise erupt from him in a deafening roar that was itself the hand of a vengeful god smiting the wretched masses.
Infected wolves yelped and whined as their ears bled and it seemed their nervous systems had been paralyzed by the sound. They dropped to their bellies, their yips quickly fading.
Daphne prayed to any gods that were listening they’d caught a digital imprint of the roar and could reproduce it. It could be the weapon they needed if they couldn’t synthesize a cure.
His attention snapped back to her, his appraisal blatant, intense, and obviously human. She refused to look away or back down, even though her adrenaline spiked again.
The beast lifted his nose to the air with purpose, his too sharp eyes still focused on her. As if that scent were some delectable sweet she’d prepared especially for him. He stalked forward closing the space, coming as close to the observatory bubble as any of them had ever dared.
That primal part of her screamed at her to run and the logical part agreed, but she stood her ground. She knew he could smell her fear like a perfume, but that was the difference between humans and beasts. Daphne refused to be controlled by her lizard brain. She was a rational being in charge of her own actions.
The only thing between them now was the glass. She swallowed hard, her saliva thick as a wad of cotton in her throat. Daphne’s fingers hovered over the button that would slam the panic protocol wall between the enclosure and the observatory.
His regard was as intense as it had been before, but instead of staring her down, he sized her up. His gaze lingered on her breasts.
Undeniably male, and human.
Suddenly where there’d been a beast, there was a man. She jerked back from the glass, unable to control the visceral reaction to the intrinsic need to put more space between them. If she’d thought the beast was horrifically beautiful, the man was even more so.
Daphne could see the beast looking out at her from underneath his skin.
What beautiful skin it was—smooth and unblemished, like alabaster. He was as pale as the moon, the silvery sheen of his flesh utterly surreal. His powerful body seemed compacted now, coiled and waiting to strike. This creature was still every inch a predator.
Her gaze was drawn down from his broad shoulders, his pecs, his defined abs, and lower still to that ridged triangulation of muscle that directed her study to the last place she wanted to look.
Yes, every long, thick, hard inch of predator.
Already high on adrenaline, her body responded in kind. Fear and lust induced many of the same bodily responses. Clinically, it was a simple matter of biology, as basic as breathing.
Only her breathing wasn’t basic. It shuddered out of her in staccato bursts, her lips plumped, nipples tightened, heartbeat thundered, and her thighs clenched hard against the electric jolt of desire that stabbed through her.
Daphne jerked her eyes back to his face—it looked like something that belonged in an art museum. Or maybe it was the face of the Devil himself, with those damned infected blue eyes staring back at her.
His mouth curved in a scimitar of a smile, lifting his head as the animal had done. Scenting the air—her desire.
Even though he looked like a man, he wasn’t. She knew the bio suit worked. He’d infected Bethany, ripped her humanity away from her not on instinct, not because no matter what he ate he was always starving, but because he simply wanted to.
Guilt flooded her again, disgust at her body’s reaction to the monster.
His head cocked to the side, as if he could hear her thoughts and found them strange. He splayed his hand on the glass, the electric current there having no effect on him. Or if he felt it at all, he demonstrated no reaction.
Her hand rose of its own accord, slowly like moving through water, and settled palm flat against the spot where his rested. She wanted to jerk her hand away, he was a monster. He was a test subject. He was the enemy.