Authors: Madison Stevens
Tags: #romantic suspense paranormal romance
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents depicted in this work are of the author’s imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locations, or events is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Copyright 2014 Madison Stevens
No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author.
Lucius (Luna Lodge #3)
Hannah knew taking a job with the genetically engineered hybrids of Luna Lodge would be interesting. Unfortunately for her, the revelation of the hybrids’ true nature to the world and attacks by their creators, the Horatius Group, have left her living at a compound that really doesn’t need a party planner anymore.
Faced with the loss of her job, she comforts herself by trying to act as a kind ear to emotionally troubled hybrids, but she finds herself drawn to the scarred and stoic Lucius. He, however, seems more interested in getting rid of her than being with her.
As the acting head of security, Lucius knows he can’t lose focus, especially with their enemy having already struck at them twice. His attraction to Hannah both confuses and frustrates him. Even if he’s prepared to give in, he knows there’s no way she’d really want someone as messed up as him.
The past rarely stays buried. Soon, Lucius and Hannah confront a darkness that threatens to consume them both.
Hannah sighed and lifted her long, blond hair off the back of her neck. Although the hot summer had ended and given way to a cooler fall, her little storage room had very little circulation. She fanned herself with a magazine, trying to fight against the stuffy air. A conventional office space might have been more comfortable, but she didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that an event planner might not be needed, given the current situation.
The tension didn’t help. In recent months, it seemed like she spent more of her time playing the role of therapist then planning events for the lodge. Not that she was surprised given the events earlier in the summer.
Kate’s capture set the whole compound on edge. There was a general fear that it could happen to anyone. She shuddered thinking about what lie in the shadows, waiting for them. Kate told them about the hybrid men that were more cruel beasts than humans. Their leader was even worse. Just the thought of him made her stomach turn.
Romulus, like his men, was something more than man. The Luna Lodge hybrids suggested he’d pushed the genetic manipulation even further to include traits from other animals, including some reptiles. At least warm blooded animals were prone to attachments and affection. She had never known a lizard to be friendly.
She supposed it wasn’t something she was going to have to worry about. Titus had implemented a new security protocol until the situation was under control. A curfew for all non-hybrid and civilian staff was in place. Though she hadn’t been out late most nights anyways, it was still odd not to be able to go out when she wanted. Of course, she understood. After the betrayal of Dr. Fisher and an unknown gate sentry, they were all on high alert for any suspicious activity. It also made sense that all non-hybrids and civilians would have armed escorts to protect the compound.
Hannah walked around the small storage room and tried to calm her nerves. She had been driven to the women’s quarters many times, but this was the first time with him. A sigh floated out. Lucius. The dark brown-haired giant seemed to always occupy a little space in her heart even if he didn’t seem to notice her. There was just something about him that made her want to know more. Not that she would get the chance. The reclusive hybrid had been avoiding her like the plague since she first arrived. She wondered if it was the role she had been playing as pseudo-therapist. Still, she hoped that he felt something for her.
After months on the compound, she had witnessed the women around her have certain hybrids react to them. She didn’t quite understand the ins and outs of the biology, but there was an almost animal-like reaction between the two, more than mere attraction. It wasn’t something she had experienced herself though, as Lucius didn’t seem to be that interested in her. She really couldn’t say, but she still held on to the hope.
Hannah bumped the table as she walked in a daze. A stack of magazines she had piled up tumbled to the ground.
“Shoot,” she grumbled and bent over to grab them.
She froze when a rumble filled the small space. The hairs on the back of her neck raised as she slowly turned to look. Lucius stood in the door. Despite the jagged scar that ran from his brow across his eye to his cheek and the scowl that seemed to be permanently in place, he was the picture of everything male. At least, her picture of everything male: tall, large and with enough testosterone to fill a football field.
Hannah bit the inside of her cheek to keep from groaning.
“Oh, uh,” she stammered and looked back to the magazines as heat spread across her face. “I’ll just pick these up.”
“It’s time to go,” he growled more than said.
Her nipples tightened, and she cursed the thin, black lacy bra she had decided to wear. Her mama had always said that beauty started on the inside and worked its way from there.
She swallowed as she hovered, frozen, over the fallen magazines.
Lucius sighed and squatted down next to her. Her attention jumped to his giant hands as he scooped up the pile.
She stood with him as he placed the magazines back on the table.
It wasn’t often that she was able to be this close to him, and every time she seemed to forget just how massive he really was.
“You ready?” He cocked a brow. She felt her insides quiver.
Lord have mercy on her, but she was about seconds away from jumping him.
“I, uh,” she fumbled over her words. It wasn’t often that Hannah became tongue tied.
Lucius seemed to sense her unease and moved slowly away.
“If you aren’t ready, I can just have someone else come by,” he said and turned to the door.
Her pulse jumped into her throat as she scrambled to find the words.
“Wait!” she nearly shouted.
Lucius stopped in the doorway. She snatched her purse off the cluttered desk.
“I’m ready,” she said and hurried across the room to him.
He stared at her for a moment. The yellow of his eyes burned into her own. Her heart beat wildly as she continued to look at him. For just a second, she thought the rims of his pupils pulsed with light. She watched in fascination as he spun around and marched out of the room.
Hannah breathed in a sigh and locked the door to her make-shift office space. That was another new rule. All offices had to be locked when not occupied. It seemed like a silly rule to her since she didn’t have anything important, but luckily, there weren’t many rules set down for her. As it was, she felt lucky to still even have a job.
She turned around and found him waiting at the other door across the great hall. Her footsteps clacked against the polished wood floor. She felt self-conscious for about the millionth time that day. The sexy underwear was something she always donned, but, much to the urging of her roommate and resident doctor, Rachel, she had let herself be talked into the burgundy wrap dress. The material was thin enough to breathe but had three-quarter sleeves, so she wouldn’t get cold in the evening. It was a great dress, really. The only thing she didn’t like about it was the fact that it was on her. She preferred her skirts and blouses with more room to hide parts she wasn’t fond of.
Her breasts bounced as she moved. She frowned. If they were jiggling around, likely all the other parts were as well. She should have never let herself be talked into it. Putting herself out there like that just wasn’t something she was good at.
Hannah passed Lucius as he held the door open. She blinked. She could have sworn he sniffed her. The door slammed hard behind them, causing her to jump.
“Let’s go,” he said as he brushed past her. “We’ve still got to pick up Dr. Miller.”
She nodded to his back and followed quietly behind him to the car. Surprising her, Lucius went to the passenger side of the car and helped her in. It wasn’t something the other men had done when they picked her up. Not that she was complaining. After months of talking to these men, she knew most just really didn’t know how to interact with women. Of course, it wasn’t their fault. Being forced into life with the Horatius Group had meant only one thing: they had been at the mercy of some very sick people. She was amazed the Luna Lodge hybrids were as stable as they were considering the hell they had been put through.
“Thank you,” she murmured as she slid into the seat.
Lucius froze. The glare he cut her with made her blood run cold. He stepped back and slammed the door with such force the car rocked.
Hannah swallowed down several gulps of air as she tried to piece together what had just happened.
Lucius paced at the back of the car as he tried to calm himself.
“It’s not the same,” he growled to himself.
The crisp autumn evening helped to soothe the anxiety that bubbled up. He was already on edge from just being around her. Thinking about the past wasn’t going to help. He already was pretty spun up from his view of her from the office doorway, down on all fours with her ass in the air. It still made him hard just thinking about it.
Lucius shook his head. He couldn’t let himself be fooled. There was nothing in her smell that tempted him, and if the recent findings meant anything, for them to be compatible, she would need to not just be a Vestal but also react to his own pheromones. As far as he could tell, her smell hadn’t changed since he first met her. No matter how much his body might want her, it wouldn’t mean anything if she wasn’t meant for him.
A Vestal was precious on the compound, as they were the only way the hybrids could have children. Not every woman could be a Vestal, and not all Vestals would respond to the hybrids the same way, but one thing was certain, finding the right Vestal was an amazing thing. He had already witnessed two of his closest friends fall onto the path of a family this way.
He grunted. Starting a family was the last thing in the world he needed. He couldn’t care for someone given how fucked up he was. No, the best thing he could do was stay the hell away from the sexy blond, with her clingy dresses and sultry curves.
Calm now, he stepped back to the driver’s side of the car. When he hopped in, Lucius couldn’t help but glance at the quiet woman beside him. She sat with her hands folded neatly in her lap. His eyes followed the form of her body, and he nearly groaned when they landed on the gap in her dress, right where the layered V collected at her breasts. He could just make out the inside swell of her breasts and a peek of black lace. Lucius snorted and turned forward.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly beside him. He started the car but turned to look at her before driving. “They said not to wear scented things, but I just love pumpkin.”
He frowned. What the hell was she going on about?
“I know it can bother some of you, and it wasn’t very nice of me to just go ahead.” She stared at her hands.
“You’re wearing pumpkin?” It seemed curious to him that a person would choose to wear a food.
She winced at his harsh tone. “Just a little pumpkin spice lotion.”
Lucius breathed in deep and grunted. It was always the same with her, like smelling nothing at all. It bothered him. It was almost like the spray that was used by the Horatius Group infiltrators to block their scent in the woods. He studied her. She wasn’t someone he would have thought to be working for them, but no one suspected Dr. Fisher and that hadn’t gone so well.
“I don’t smell anything,” he said.
Hannah blinked at him a few times before smelling her own hands. When she looked back at him, her face was etched in confusion.
“Are you sure?” she said and held her hands up to him. “Because I can still smell it.”
Lucius stared at her hands and then back to her. It was clear he wasn’t getting out of there until he smelled her hands.