Authors: Christine Feehan
Tags: #Parapsychologists, #Romance, #Paranormal Romance Stories, #Scientists, #Suspense, #Occult fiction, #Fathers and daughters, #General, #Romantic suspense fiction, #Scientists - Crimes Against, #Gothic, #Occult & Supernatural, #Fiction
Praise for the novels of
"Just as I begin to think the romance genre has nowhere else to run, I get to read something that takes another giant leap down a totally unknown road. Romance, suspense, intrigue, and the paranormal… combined to make one of the most delicious journeys I have had the pleasure of taking in a long, long time… Definitely something for everyone."
Romance and Friends
"Feehan's newest is a skillful blend of supernatural thrills and romance that is sure to entice readers."
"If you are looking for something that is fun and different, pick up a copy of this book."
All About Romance
"With each book Ms. Feehan continues to build a complex society that makes for mesmerizing reading."
"This one is a keeper… I had a hard time putting [it] down… Don't miss this book!"
"The characters and twists in this book held me on the edge of my seat the whole time I read it. If you've enjoyed Ms. Feehan's previous novels, you will surely be captivated by this step into the world of Gothic romance… Once again, Ms. Feehan does not disappoint."
Under the Covers Book Reviews
the latest Carpathian novel from Christine Feehan and Jove Books.
Titles by Christine Feehan
DARK SYMPHONY SHADOW GAME
JOVE BOOKS, NEW YORK
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
Jove edition / September 2003
Copyright © 2003 by Christine Feehan
copyright © 2003 by Christine Feehan
Cover art by Cameron Davidson/Gettyone
Stepback art by Tamek Sikora/Gettyone
Cover design by Marc Cohen
Book design by Kristin del Rosario
All rights reserved.
A JOVE BOOK® Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
JOVE and the "J" design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
For my brother, Matthew King, many thanks for all the help with the research necessary for this book. And for McKenzie King, for her dynamite smile and her help in turning those book covers in the proper direction!
Special thanks to Cheryl Wilson. I have no idea what I'd do without you.
Be sure to write to Christine at [email protected] to get a FREE
exclusive Christine Feehan animated Screensaver and sign up for her PRIVATE book announcement list. She would love to hear from you!
CAPTAIN Ryland Miller leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes in utter weariness. He could ignore the pain in his head, the knives shredding his skull. He could ignore the cage he was in. He could even ignore the fact that sooner or later, he was going to slip up and his enemies would kill him. But he could not ignore the guilt and anger and frustration rising like a tidal wave in him as his men suffered the consequences of his decisions.
Kaden, I can't reach Russell Cowlings. Can you?
He had talked his men into the experiment that had landed them all in the laboratory cages in which they now resided. Good men. Loyal men. Men who had wanted to serve their country and people.
We all made the decision
. Kaden responded to his emotions, the words buzzing inside Ryland's mind.
No one has managed to raise Russell
Ryland swore softly aloud as he swept a hand over his face, trying to wipe away the pain speaking telepathically with his men cost him. The telepathic link between them had grown stronger as they all worked to build it, but only a few of them could sustain it for any length of time. Ryland had to supply the bridge, and his brain, over time, balked at the enormity of such a burden.
Don't touch the sleeping pills they gave you. Suspect any medication
. He glanced at the small white pill lying in plain sight on his end table. He'd like a lab analysis of the contents. Why hadn't Cowlings listened to him? Had Cowlings accepted the sleeping pill in the hopes of a brief respite? He had to get the men out.
We have no choice, we must treat this situation as if we were behind enemy lines
. Ryland took a deep breath, let it out slowly. He no longer felt he had a choice. He had already lost too many men. His decision would brand them as traitors, deserters, but it was the only way to save their lives. He had to find a way for his men to break out of the laboratory.
The colonel has betrayed us. We have no other choice but to escape. Gather information and support one another as best you can. Wait for my word.
He became aware of the disturbance around him, the dark waves of intense dislike bordering on hatred preceding the group nearing the cage where he was kept.
Someone is approaching
… Ryland abruptly cut off telepathic communication to those of his men he could reach. He remained motionless in the center of his cell, his every sense flaring out to identify the approaching individuals.
It was a small group this time: Dr. Peter Whitney, Colonel Higgens, and a security guard. It amused Ryland that Whitney and Higgens insisted on an armed guard accompanying them despite the fact that he was locked behind both bars and a thick glass barrier. He was careful to keep his features expressionless as they neared his cage.
Ryland lifted his head, his steel gray eyes as cold as ice. Menacing. He didn't try to hide the danger he represented. They had created him, they had betrayed him, and he wanted them to be afraid. There was tremendous satisfaction in knowing they were… and that they had reason to be.
Dr. Peter Whitney led the small group. Whitney, liar, deceiver, monster maker. He was the creator of the Ghost Walkers. Creator of what Captain Ryland Miller and his men had become. Ryland stood up slowly, a deliberate ripple of muscle— a lethal jungle cat stretching lazily, unsheathing claws as he waited inside his cage.
His icy gaze touched on their faces, lingered, made them uncomfortable. Graveyard eyes. Eyes of death. He projected the image deliberately, wanting, even needing them to fear for their lives. Colonel Higgens looked away, studied the cameras, the security, watched with evident apprehension as the thick barrier of glass slid away. Although Ryland remained caged behind heavy bars, Higgens was obviously uneasy without the barrier, uncertain just how powerful Ryland had become.
Ryland steeled himself for the assault on his hearing, his emotions. The flood of unwanted information he couldn't control. The bombardment of thoughts and emotions. The disgusting depravity and avarice that lay behind the masks of those facing him. He kept his features carefully blank, giving nothing away, not wanting them to know what it cost him to shield his wide-open mind.
"Good morning, Captain Miller," Peter Whitney said pleasantly. "How are things this morning with you? Did you sleep at all?"
Ryland watched him without blinking, tempted to try to push through Whitney's barriers to discover the true character guarded behind the wall Whitney had in his mind. What secrets were hidden there? The one person Ryland needed to understand, to read, was protected by some natural or man-made barrier. None of the other men, not even Kaden, had managed to penetrate the scientist's mind. They couldn't get any pertinent data, shielded as Whitney was, but the heavy swamping waves of guilt were always broadcast loudly.
"No, I didn't sleep but I suspect you already know that."
Dr. Whitney nodded. "None of your men are taking their sleeping meds. I noticed you didn't either. Is there a reason for that, Captain Miller?"
The chaotic emotions of the group hit Ryland hard, as it always did. In the beginning, it used to drive him to his knees, the noise in his head so loud and aggravating his brain would rebel, punishing him for his unnatural abilities. Now he was much more disciplined. Oh, the pain was still there, like a thousand knives driving into his head at the first breach of his brain, but he hid the agony behind the facade of icy, menacing calm. And he was, after all, well trained. His people never revealed weakness to the enemy.
"Self-preservation is always a good reason," he answered, fighting down the waves of weakness and pain from the battering of emotions. He kept his features totally expressionless, refusing to allow them to see the cost.
"What the hell does that mean?" Higgens demanded. "What are you accusing us of now, Miller?"
The door to the laboratory had been left standing open, unusual for the security-conscious company, and a woman hurried through. "I'm sorry I'm late; the meeting went longer than expected!"
At once the painful assault of thoughts and emotions lessened, muted, leaving Ryland able to breathe normally. To think without pain. The relief was instant and unexpected. Ryland focused on her immediately, realizing she was somehow trapping the more acute emotions and holding them at bay, almost as if she were a magnet for them. And she wasn't just any woman. She was so beautiful, she took his breath away. Ryland could have sworn, when he looked at her, the ground shifted and moved under his feet. He glanced at Peter Whitney, caught the man observing his reactions to the woman's presence very closely.
At first Ryland was embarrassed that he had been caught staring at her. Then he realized Whitney knew the woman had some kind of psychic ability. She enhanced Ryland's abilities and cleared out the garbage of stray thoughts and emotions. Did Whitney know exactly what she did? The doctor was waiting for a reaction so Ryland refused to give him the satisfaction, keeping his expression totally blank.
"Captain Miller, I'd like to present my daughter, Lily Whitney. Dr. Lily Whitney." Peter's gaze never left Ryland's face. "I've asked her to join us; I hope you don't mind."
The shock couldn't have been more complete. Peter Whitney's daughter? Ryland let out his breath slowly, shrugged his broad shoulders casually, another ripple of menace. He didn't feel casual. Everything inside of him stilled. Calmed. Reached. He studied the woman. Her eyes were incredible, but wary. Intelligent. Knowledgeable. As if she recognized him, too, in some elemental way. Her eyes were a deep startling blue, like the middle of a clear, fresh pool. A man could lose his mind, his freedom in eyes like hers. She was average height—not tall, but not exceedingly short. She had a woman's figure encased in a gray-green suit of some kind that managed to draw attention to every lush curve. She had walked with a decided limp, but when he looked her over for damage, he could see nothing to indicate injury. More than all of that, the moment he saw her face, the moment she entered the room, his soul seemed to reach for hers. To recognize hers. His breath stilled in his body and he could only stare at her.
She was looking back at him and he knew the sight wasn't very reassuring. At his best, he looked a warrior—at his worst, he looked a savage fighter. There was no way to soften his expression or lessen the scars on his face or shave off the dark stubble marring his stubborn jawline. He was stocky with a fighter's compact build, carrying most of his weight in his upper body, his chest and arms, his broad shoulders. His hair was thick and black, and it curled when it wasn't kept tight against his skull.
"Captain Miller." Her voice was soothing, gentle, pleasant. Sexy. A blend of smoke and heat that seared him right through his belly. "How nice to meet you. My father thought I might be of some use in the research. I haven't had much time to go over the data, but I'll be happy to try to help."
He had never reacted so forcefully to a voice before. The sound seemed to wrap him up in satin sheets, rubbing and caressing his skin until he felt himself break out in a sweat. The image was so vivid that for a moment he could only stare at her, imagining her naked body writhing with pleasure beneath his. In the midst of his struggle to survive, his physical reaction to her was shocking.
Color crept up her neck, delicately tinged her cheeks. Her long lashes fluttered, drifted down, and she looked away from him to her father. "This room is very exposed. Who came up with the design? I would think it would be a difficult way to live, even for a short period."