Authors: Kimberly Kinrade
(Forbidden Trilogy, #2)
By Kimberly Kinrade
Published by Evolved Publishing
Copyright 2012 Kimberly Kinrade
Thanks to my teammates at Evolved Publishing:
Lane Diamond and John Anthony Allen for the exacting edit, and Sarah E. Melville for the epic cover art.
You may not use, reproduce, or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews. All rights are reserved.
To Dmytry, because I couldn’t have written this without you.
You are the love of my life and the most amazing man I've ever known.
The warmth of Drake's lips against mine sent butterflies spiraling through my stomach. His strong arms tightened around me just enough to make me feel safe without stealing all the air from my lungs. I rested my cheek against his chest and breathed in his unique scent—part campfire, part wind. Everything about that moment in our bed felt right... until the butterflies in my stomach turned into angry bees bent on killing me.
My legs itched as if unseen bugs crawled through them; I couldn't keep them still. Hot and cold, my body fluctuated between extremes as I opened my mouth to speak, but my throat refused to comply.
My mind called to him even as my body pushed away from his.
He held onto me and refused to let me crawl into my own misery. "Sam, what's wrong?"
I tried to speak out loud, but couldn't.
"I don't know. Something is happening to me. Something isn't... right."
Drops of sweat trickled down my forehead and stung my eyes. I shivered and clutched at Drake. My hands wrapped around his taut muscles as if trying to absorb their strength.
His hand dropped to my swollen belly, and he switched to our mind link.
'Is it our baby?'
My mental whimper made me cringe, but I couldn't help it. My body had been invaded by aliens. I wanted to tear my skin off and crawl out of myself. A ball of anxiety grew in my chest, smothering any of the peace I had felt just moments before.
"It's not my stomach, it's everywhere. Like a poison or... Ahhhh!"
The pain that ripped through me swallowed up all thoughts of words. If I hadn't already been lying in bed with Drake, I would have crashed to the floor. A vague need clawed at me—some unnamable craving that made no sense to my mind, but which captured the needs of my body.
was missing, and its absence sent my nervous system into chaos.
Drake covered me with a blanket, and pressed his cool hand against my head as he brushed long, sweaty strands of dark hair from my eyes. "I'm really freaking out here, Sam. You're pale, clammy, and you can't stop shaking. I don't know what to do. I think I should take you to the hospital." The skin around his blue eyes tightened in worry.
I spoke through chattering teeth. "You can't. Baby. Experiments. They might take me away."
I couldn't summon enough clarity to tell him why this was such a bad idea. I'd spent my whole life in a lie. The people who'd raised me as a paranormal spy, for hire to the rich and powerful, had given me everything any girl would ever need to live comfortably. Then they impregnated me against my will and held me prisoner.
If it hadn't been for Drake, I'd have never gotten out.
Drake and I met telepathically, after they kidnapped and imprisoned him at my school. We fell in love before ever meeting in person. Through him, I had learned not only to read minds, but to control them—a gift I often wished I could give back. But it had saved us.
We were free, but hunted.
We couldn't go to a hospital, where we might be reported or discovered. It was too risky.
I didn't realize he'd gone until he came back with a cool washcloth and pressed it against my forehead. "If you aren't feeling better soon, we're going to the hospital. I'll do whatever it takes to keep you safe and get you out of there, if it comes to that." He towered over me, his spiky blond hair disheveled from our recent make-out session that now seemed so long ago.
My body shuddered, and not just because of my symptoms.
Whatever it takes
could mean a lot of things to Drake, including—but not limited to—physical violence and total mind control. The darkness of his paranormal talents scared me and seduced me in equal measure.
Time held no meaning as my mind darted in and out of memories. Past and present collided to create a full-sensory collage out of my life: playing hide-n-seek with my best friends Luke—who always cheated by walking through walls when he was about to be caught—and Lucy; Mr. Caldrin critiquing my sketches and offering ideas to make them more realistic; targets changing faces, blending into the same person, their thoughts rippling through my mind like waves. Through it all, a demon stalked me from the shadows of my memories, never quite showing its face, but crouching, waiting.
And then I dreamed....
The needle plunges into me, tearing through skin in one small, sharp poke. Yellow fluid drains from the vial and into my veins.
I float outside my body, above a younger version of myself sitting on the hospital bed. My brown hair is longer, a child's cut with blunted bangs and pigtails. My blue eyes look brighter, more innocent. "Why do I have to get this all the time? What does it do?"
Dr. Sato also looks younger, though very old to my child-self, her Asian features smooth and pronounced, her white coat and stilted accent forever the same. "You not get it all the time. Only every three months. It vitamin. It make you strong and healthy. Make you feel good."
I struggle to slip into her thoughts, but they're all mumbo-jumbo, the sounds foreign and harsh to my young mind. I haven't yet learned many other languages, just one or two common ones. Her Japanese dialect is not common, and no amount of mind reading will change the fact that I cannot understand her words. Trying only gives me a headache.
Then it's okay. I don't mind not knowing, not hearing her thoughts. All is well.
Time slips forward and again I'm in a hospital bed, only this time I'm older... and unconscious. My legs are spread. My sleeping form does not move.
A male doctor I've never seen sticks something inside me—
I scream. And scream. And scream.
No one hears.
Fingers dug into my shoulders, pulling me from my dream fragments. Ghostly hands clawed at my mind and tried to carry me back into my nightmares, but Drake's hold on me didn't waver. His mind probed mine; my consciousness had no choice but to wake up and take control.
My throat cracked when I spoke. "How long have I been asleep?"
He sat at the edge of the bed and kissed my head. "A few hours."
"I feel worse than before I slept, like I ran a marathon with a hangover."
The right side of his lips curved up in his signature half grin. "You've never had a hangover, so how would you know?"
I smirked. "I don't have to get drunk to know the aftermath doesn't feel so great. Intelligent people learn lessons without having to make all the mistakes. Unlike some, who think that chugging beer through—what do you call those things? Beer hats?—is a genius thing to do."
"That's the last time I tell you any of my secrets."
"Uh... I can read your mind."
"True. Speaking of reading minds... yours was screaming at me while you slept. Then you actually screamed. What were you dreaming, Hon?"
Only bits and pieces of my dream remained–the terror, the invasiveness–but no real details. Something nudged at the back of my memory, though, an important piece of the puzzle that my subconscious mind needed me to remember.
"I think I'm hungry. Or thirsty. Or... something." What? What did I need to feel better? I resisted the urge to scratch the skin off my restless legs, but it was so hard. Everything ached. Everything had a wrongness about it.
Drake left to get me food. I forced myself out of our Queen-sized bed and made my way to the bathroom we shared with Brad. Sharing a bathroom with two men was not the highlight of my new life, but we were lucky Brad had a place for us at all. He'd even kept all of Drake's stuff when he left their old apartment and rented this one. I would forever be grateful to Brad for standing by Drake the way he had all these years.
I wiped down the sink with a piece of toilet paper, erasing evidence of men who brushed their teeth like children, and splashed warm water over my face. My symptoms were all so muddled–pregnancy and illness duking it out for supremacy in my miserable body.
Dizziness. Restless legs. Nausea. Anxiety. Shakiness.
Those all seemed new. Well, not the nausea, but what had once been run-of-the-mill had turned into a Code Red vomit fest. Not normal.
Time for Google.
When Drake returned with a turkey sandwich, a salad and water, I sat propped-up in bed with the laptop on my legs.