Authors: Leia Stone,Jaymin Eve
Hive Trilogy Book 3
By: Jaymin Eve and Leia Stone
Copyright © 2016 by Leia Stone and Jaymin Eve. All rights reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, live or dead are purely coincidental.
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What the actual fuck? I sat inside of the shipping container house that was now our new home and stared at Rebecca … the other unicorn ash. She was gorgeous in that nerdy adorable way and I was pretty sure she didn’t know it. Her black and silver eyes were hidden behind dark-framed hipster glasses and her blond hair was in a tight braid with an actual scrunchie holding the end. Yes, a scrunchie. I didn’t know they were still being made.
“I’m sorry,” I huffed. “I…” What the hell was I supposed to say? My glare turned on Sam; no doubt my eyes were screaming at him “You sneaky mofo. Liar extraordinaire!”
He had the decency to look nervous and I decided that I very much wanted to lash all of my anger out on him. Now.
Standing, fists balled, I let him have it. “I thought I was a freak. It’s been a struggle since day one trying to figure out what was so special about my blood before someone decided to kill me over it. You watched me get attacked and bitten by a vampire. And the entire time you knew! Or at least had some answers.”
Ryder and the boys were silent.
They knew he deserved this.
Sam was now in his quiet, stoic mode, no expression, although his eyes did look a little turbulent.
“Are there more, Sam? Are you hiding an entire fucking army of unicorns? What else are you hiding?” My rage was starting to wane; I was really hoping he’d fight back with me. He was just standing there not saying shit. Just taking it.
Becca stood timidly. “Don’t be mad at Sammy. He was trying to protect me, and he tried to get you out of there loads of times, but the timing wasn’t right.”
The boys and I shared a look. Sammy? I suppressed a grin. Sam was totally riding this unicorn.
Sam turned his unreadable expression on Rebecca and there was a softness there for a split second, but when she looked back at him it was gone. Replaced with his cold hard stare.
Finally, he decided to engage with me, stepping closer and holding both hands out to the side. “I’m sorry, Charlie. But how safe would this place be if it were crawling with vampires? I did what I had to do knowing that in the end both you and Becca would be safe. Hate me if you want, I don’t care. At the end of the day I’d never have let anyone hurt you. I always planned to get you out, it just wasn’t that easy.”
Then he stormed from the room. Dammit!
With a shuddering breath I faced Rebecca. She had taken off her puffy winter coat. The inside of this building was surprisingly well insulated and she was wearing a white lab coat beneath. Okay, so the cool nerd girl thing she had going on was starting to make sense. She was a scientist or something.
Time to cut the bullshit. “I don’t want to be lied to any longer. There’s some seriously bad shit going on back in our world. Ash are dying every single day, so I think you better explain exactly what this place is, and how you and I even exist.”
Her very dark, thick brows rose up and scrunched on her furrowed forehead. Her eyes, which were far less silver than mine, widened. She wasn’t used to anyone coming at her so bluntly. Well, get used to it, scientist princess.
She recovered quickly though. “I will tell you everything I know,” she said matter-of-factly. “My name is Dr. Rebecca Leander and I hold a PHD in genetics and molecular biology. I have been studying my own blood for many years, trying to work out what it is that created such an anomaly as a female ash. Was it a gene sequence? Was it an immune system response using the pathway—”
“Whoa!” I held up my hand to halt her. She was getting into some smart girl stuff here, which was awesome, but I needed other details first. “Maybe start at the beginning. Your life before being an ash and then how you got to here.”
Her expression morphed into something more human then, less robotic. “Oh, right. Of course. I forget sometimes how to talk to people, I’m so used to my computers.” She gave a laugh and I was having a hard time being mad at her. She was so damn nerdy and adorable.
I saw some of the enforcer guys exchange smiles. Jayden’s eyes were flat-out laughing. Clearly she amused them. But for the most part the males remained silent, letting me lead the questioning. My eyes locked onto Ryder, the only one not smiling. That one look was enough for my heart to clench tightly in my chest. His eyes were blazing silver, his dark gaze stormy. He was angry with Sam, and so much more, but for now he was containing that fury.
I spun back to Rebecca as she moved toward a large sofa. The room we were in was near the front of the strange square shipping container that made up this scientific research center. Or at least that’s what the logo on the side of the building said it was.
This particular space was set up as a living area, with a few sofas scattered around, and some other miscellaneous furniture. Everything looked cozy; a heating panel along the far wall was the reason for the warmth in here.
As Rebecca sat, she patted the seat next to her, inviting me to sit also. I cautiously made my way over to the sofa, leaving about a foot between us. The guys straightened and stepped closer. Their protectiveness was a little amusing considering Rebecca looked about as scary as a skittish bunny.
“So, I grew up in a small town in the countryside of England, born in 1964.” She had taken me seriously, starting her story right at the start. And considering she should be over fifty now, she didn’t look a day above early twenties. Got to love ash genetics. “Life was normal. Both of my parents were academics, and they worked in the local university. I was homeschooled and ended up finishing high school at fifteen, and by the time I was twenty I already had my PHD. I was going to be a leading researcher into genetic anomalies, and the way we are shaping our genome through the viruses which have swept through our world.”
“Let me guess,” I said. “You were focusing on the
She nodded twice. “Yes, it has been one of the major changes to the human race. It acts fast, killing many, and changing the rest into something which is no longer human. I found the subject utterly fascinating, and I was hoping to be able to present a thesis on it at the end of my research period.”
“So what happened?” Ryder’s voice was low and controlled, but I could hear the angry currents lacing each word. “There’s no record of a female ash before Charlie, so clearly you were able to hide your existence.”
Rebecca didn’t seem to even notice. “Yes, actually, it was a lucky set of circumstances which allowed for me to be saved. When I was twenty-two I decided to leave the lab for a few hours and visit the zoo. I have always loved animals, the way that their evolution can be as easily mapped as humans. It’s where I go to relax.”
Holy moly. This chick was the real scientist deal. I was kinda digging her smart talk. I loved to see badass chicks taking on the world with brains as well as brawn.
“I hadn’t been feeling that well, or more like I felt strange. For example, two days before I had stayed up forty-eight hours in my lab and never even realized. I was not tired at all. I also had not eaten anything, and every time I tried to drink it tasted bad, so I ended up sucking on a few ice cubes.”
Oh yeah, I remembered that all too well. That unquenchable thirst.
“I stayed at the zoo for an hour before my eyes and head started to hurt. I was dizzy and knew my lack of nutrition over the past week was starting to catch up with me. I tried to make it back to the bus stop, but must have collapsed before reaching it.”
Sam suddenly appeared. His deep voice washed across the room: “She fell at my feet, literally on top of them. It was almost like fate directed her to me, to make sure I could keep her safe.”
The dark-haired enforcer stood propped against the doorframe. I had no idea how long he’d been there, I’d been so focused on Rebecca and her story.
Sam continued: “I don’t even know why I went to the zoo that day. I was in England fleeing some trouble in the States. This was about fifteen years before I joined the Portland Hive, and for some reason the zoo drew me.”
“Which was lucky for me. Probably saved my life,” Rebecca said, a sweet smile lighting up her face. “Sam recognized what was happening to me, and for some reason decided to help me rather than turn me over to the authorities. This was the 80s. England didn’t take in ash. They just…”
He growled, low and slightly scary-like. “I couldn’t stand by and see them execute a female, or worse, experiment on her. If I brought her to the States, then they would have thrown her in the culling. I could tell right away that Becca wasn’t a fighter like Charlie. She’s an academic.” His eyes blazed. “They would have torn her apart.”
Hmmm, I might not have a PHD, but pretty sure Sam just called me stupid. Meh, whatever.
“Okay, so Rebecca’s just gone all ash, Sam happened to save her and ferret her off to his secret lair or something…” Jared’s Australian accent was mild as he summed up the story so far. “Then what happened? How did you end up in the ass-end of the icy wilderness?”
Rebecca and Sam exchanged a look, before the blond female started talking in her factual way again. “It was rough for a while there. Sam had to steal us blood, and I was stuck in hiding. My eyes would have immediately given me away, and contacts back then were not designed to hide the silver of our eyes. So even when I learned to control my hunger, I could never go back to my job. But I was determined to continue my research, and I now had the perfect candidate to test on. Myself.”
She let out a gust of air, sucking in another deep breath. “I knew of this abandoned research center out here in Alaska. It was used initially to study climate change, but then funding ran out and it got forgotten. So I applied for a permit to use it and was granted twenty years. No one cares what I do here, and no one checks up on me. My parents died several years ago, and basically I was forgotten.”
I leaned closer to her, our faces inches apart. “Have you figured out how there are only two female ash?”
Her eyes flicked up for a second to Sam, before they came back to me. “Yes, I figured that out quite early on. Helped in part by my family history.”
I nodded at her, waving my hand in a hope that it would hurry her up. I had been waiting for this information for months and she was the first person who seemed to have any answers.
“Well, the truth is there are no female ash. And there never will be. The facts are irrefutable. The X-carrying sperm do not survive the change.”
Well, then what the hell were we? This was the third option I kept trying to figure out.
I held my breath as she continued.
“You and I are not ash, we’re something different altogether.”
Pretty much what Lucas had told me when they first tested my blood. “So … if we aren’t ash and we aren’t vampires, then what are we?”
Tell me the damned third option!
“You’re what I like to refer to as an ashpire,” Sam said with a little twinkle in his eye.
The room got very silent then, and I knew more than one of us was confused.
Rebecca quickly started talking: “Basically, my mother was attacked when she was seven months pregnant with me. Vampires got her and would have torn her to pieces if a crowd of humans hadn’t jumped in and managed to pull them off her. It saved my mother’s life, but not before the vampires’ blood splashed all over her body. Over all the open wounds from the attack.”