Finding Chrissten: Legacy, Book 5

BOOK: Finding Chrissten: Legacy, Book 5
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Dedication

To all of my wonderful readers who wrote asking for Chrissten’s story.

Chapter One

Chrissten Lawton stared up at the twelve-inch crack that ran across the ceiling. The light flickered, adding no warmth to the barren space. The hum of the florescent bulb no longer annoyed her, and the perpetual cold had become a part of her.

Eighteen months and twenty-nine days. That’s how long it had been since the day her life had changed forever, since she’d been kidnapped.

She didn’t have to look around to be able to describe her surroundings. She’d catalogued them all within hours of her arrival, searching for any weakness, any vulnerability she could exploit. So far, she hadn’t found any.

The walls were thick concrete, the beige paint chipped and worn. The door was heavy and had two locks. Not that it mattered. She was too weak to do any real damage to it. There was no window.

There were never any windows.

Musty, damp air and perpetual gloom were her constant companions. She’d been a prisoner for so long she’d all but forgotten the feel of the sun on her face, the caress of the wind in her hair.

She’d been moved several times since Dr. Philip Morton had drugged and captured her, but this place was the worst she’d been held in so far. There was no bed. No bathroom either. Only a toilet and sink in the far corner of the room and they were far from clean. She had two blankets, but they weren’t enough to keep the cold and damp from seeping into her body from the concrete floor. She couldn’t even change into her werewolf form in order to keep warm. She was too weak from a combination of starvation, blood loss from all the Dr. Morton’s testing and being battered from her latest fight with Brian.

Brian. Just the thought of his name made her shiver. He was six-four and two hundred and thirty pounds. All of it muscle. He was a pureblooded werewolf and he was absolutely crazy. He thought he was her mate. And, technically speaking, he was. He’d taken her when she was in heat, claiming her in the way of their people, marking her with his scent.

Their people
.

Bitterness coated her tongue. She hadn’t known much about her half-breed werewolf heritage, other than what she and her two brothers had discovered over the years. And nothing they’d learned had included lessons on the female biology. She hadn’t realized she’d been going into heat when she’d been captured. That, in fact, it was her unique scent that had caught Brian’s attention. He’d captured her and taken her to the doctor.

Going into heat
. She hated the very idea of such a thing. It had weakened her, made her vulnerable. Her body had no longer been her own. Sexual cravings had all but suffocated her, taking her over until she no longer knew herself. She’d barely been attracted to men before the heat had taken her. Once it was upon her, all she could think about was having a man inside her.

The doctor had explained it all in clinical terms. It was simply biology, nature’s way of ensuring the continuation of the species. Going into heat was a sign that a female was ready to mate and would accept a male.

To Chrissten, it had been a living hell. Her skin had been almost too sensitive to touch. Her breasts swollen and tender. Her pussy hot and wet. And the gnawing ache inside her had been unbearable.

She’d been so scared. Alone in her prison, she’d paced and cried and yelled in rage. In the end, nothing she’d done had helped to ease the heat and pain of the sexual desire coursing through her body. Brian had come to her then. The arrogant ass had assumed she’d roll over on her hands and knees and accept him.

She’d fought.

She’d fought until her body was bloody and she’d been too weak to resist any longer. Brian had used his greater strength to take her. The worst part was by the end of it she hadn’t wanted to fight. All she’d wanted was relief from the days of torment. The feel of his thick cock inside her had stilled the longing and eased the sexual cravings. Brian had used that against her, taking her again and again for hours on end. Afterward, he’d tried to shame her, tried to break her confidence, telling her she was weak for giving in to him.

Biology. It was nothing more than biology. She hadn’t wanted him, not in her mind, but Mother Nature was a bitch and wanted the population of the species to increase.

Brian had marked her as his. She could smell his scent on her skin no matter how many times she washed. They weren’t married in a traditional sense. But in werewolf culture they were mated. It didn’t matter that she hated him, didn’t want him on any level. Because she’d been weakened that first time by starvation, hormones and beatings, he’d been able to join with her in the mating ritual of the werewolf species. It had enabled him to mark her as his. The only way out for either of them was death.

She bared her teeth and snarled. She was more than ready for a quick divorce.

She refused to think of herself as mated to him and fought him at every turn. Brian might think he was entitled to her body because they were mated. To Chrissten it was rape.

The mating had released her inner wolf, allowing her to shift for the first time in her life. That was another difference in the male/female biology. Males shifted naturally in their early twenties when they reached maturity. Females needed to mate for their wolf to be released. Totally unfair, but that was life.

The experience had been painful—due to her injuries—exhilarating and scary as all get out. But it had strengthened her as well, enhancing all her skills. It had allowed her to keep fighting these long months. But now she was no longer strong enough to call on her wolf.

The only bright spot in her whole ordeal so far was the fact she hadn’t ended up pregnant, for which she was profoundly grateful. She couldn’t begin to imagine what Doctor Morton would do with a baby if he had one to experiment on. The man had no scruples.

Dr. Philip Morton was crazy. He was trying to discover how half-breeds differed from humans and pureblooded werewolves. Half-breeds were the product of a mating between a pureblood werewolf and a human that resulted in a child. And they were very rare.

He worked tirelessly to isolate the genes that made them what they were. He was obsessed with discovering where they got their preternatural senses, their ability to shift, their strength and their long lifespan. He wanted it all for himself.

In return for Brian’s help acquiring test subjects, the doctor had promised to help create more female werewolves if he was able to uncover the genetic secret. Chris knew females were in short supply in the werewolf population. From everything she’d learned about the species, most purebloods wanted nothing to do with half-breeds, would rather kill them than mate with them. On the other hand, some of them thought any mate was better than none. Brian was the liaison for a small pack of pureblooded males who all wanted mates and didn’t care how they got them. Chrissten had only seen Brian, but she’d smelled several other males from time to time.

The sound of footsteps echoing in the distance pulled her from her dark memories. Her heart raced and sweat dotted her flesh. She dragged herself up into a seated position, tugging her blankets around her like a shield. Even that was difficult. Her body was giving out. Too much stress and not enough nourishment had weakened her. She wasn’t healing as fast as she used to. Bruises still covered her body from her last fight with Brian and that had been several days ago. By now she should be fully recovered.

The footsteps faded and she gave a sigh of relief and closed her eyes, trying to escape the sense of hopelessness permeating her.

Her brother, her twin, was searching for her. She’d caught Quinn’s scent the last time they’d moved her. She’d been so close to freedom. Bethany, the other half-breed female who’d been her cellmate for several weeks, had escaped. Chrissten just wished she’d been able to go with her.

Now she didn’t know where she was or even if she was still in the same city. Quinn wouldn’t give up his search, but Chrissten was afraid it was too late for her. She might never get beyond these walls. There was a very good possibility she would die here.

She eased back down onto the unforgiving floor and lay there, unable to summon up enough strength to even care. Her mind drifted back to the day her brother had almost found her. There’d been another scent in the air. This one darker. Enticing.

She sniffed, trying to remember it. But it was nothing more than a dream.

A single tear rolled down her cheekbone.

Chrissten closed her eyes and let the lethargy take her into darkness.

 

Hank Brewer lay with his hands stacked behind his head, staring at the plaster ceiling. The sounds of the city drifted in through the window. Chicago never slept. There was always traffic and people, sirens and horns. He’d gotten used to it, but that didn’t mean he liked it.

He’d come a long way from the Iowa farm where he’d grown up. He’d been a foster kid and had been treated well enough by the family that had taken him in. He’d had plenty of food to eat and clean clothes to wear. His days had been filled with school and chores. But he’d never felt as though he fit in and had lit out on his own when he was only sixteen. He’d spent two years on the streets before joining the army in the hope it would give his life some direction, some meaning.

The discipline and the camaraderie had helped, for a time. But he’d gotten out after six years and three tours of Iraq.

“Fuck.” He scrubbed a hand over his face and tucked those memories in the steel vault at the back of his mind. Even though it had been almost six years, he didn’t want to think back to those days—the god-awful heat, the choking dust, the icy edge of fear that never left, the echoes of explosions and the screams of death. Those days were behind him, but he was still at war. Just a different kind.

Hank rolled out of bed and paced to the window. He was naked, but he didn’t feel the cold seeping up from the floorboards.

He was a werewolf. Well, a half-breed one. It was still strange to accept, to believe, even after all these years. He’d thought he was going crazy for a while, delusions brought on by post-traumatic-stress disorder. He’d been living alone, wandering the streets most days searching for some kind of peace when Meredith had found him.

One corner of his mouth kicked up in a brief smile. Meredith Cross, Meredith Striker now, he corrected himself. He’d been sitting in one of the city parks by himself, a brooding, dangerous man. She’d walked past him, stopped and sniffed the air.

He’d thought she was nuts when she turned around, came back and sat down next to him. Then she’d asked him his name. Before he’d known it, he was spilling his guts to her, telling her about his delusions, his fears he was losing his mind. After all, what man believes he can morph into a wolf whenever he wants to?

Only thing was, Meredith hadn’t laughed at him, hadn’t thought he was crazy. In a matter-of-fact way, she’d explained to him what he was. A half-breed werewolf. He’d thought she was the one who was nuts.

Hank shook his head as he watched a garbage truck rumble down the street, belching out exhaust as it went. Even from this distance his preternatural sense of smell picked up the stench of the garbage mingled with the odor of gasoline. Not pleasant. He closed the window he’d left cracked an inch last night, shutting out some of the noise and smells.

He rested his hands against the window frame and pressed his forehead against the cool glass. Meredith had been persistent and somehow had convinced him to go home with her to the bar she owned in Wicker Park—Haven. The name was apt. It had become that to him and more. That had been a little more than five years ago. He’d never left. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for her or the family he’d found here at Haven.

He hadn’t been crazy at all. What he’d been was a half-breed werewolf who had no idea about his heritage. But he knew now and he embraced it.

A noise alerted him to the fact he was no longer the only one awake on this floor. He cocked his head to one side and listened, allowing his enhanced hearing to filter through the sounds around him. Kevin was still sleeping on the sofa in the living room. No, the noise was coming from the apartment down the hall.

They were all on alert since Bethany Morris had come to them with her claims of knowing where to find Quinn Lawton’s missing sister. Bethany had stayed and she and Quinn had been drawn to one another. It was great to have a newly mated pair in their small pack, but with it had come a heap of trouble. That was okay. They were good at handling trouble.

BOOK: Finding Chrissten: Legacy, Book 5
3.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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