New Species series
Tammy Shasta had experienced fear plenty of times in her twenty-eight years of life but this made all those other times pale in comparison. She’d known her job might be dangerous. Everything these days held a bit of risk. Driving on the highway could be perilous, someone crossing a street could be struck by a car, and even cleaning windows could be hazardous. After all, someone, somewhere, had accidentally broken a window, ended up badly cut, and had bled to death while on the job.
Shit happens. It had become her motto in life. She’d just never believed her job would really be treacherous. Not really. What really bad thing could happen, serving food and drinks? She had mentally gone over the list. She could slip and fall or get burned if she spilled hot food. The worst case scenario she’d ever thought up was perhaps being shot at if she ever catered a party for the mob but the chances of them ending up living in a small town in Northern California were slim to none. Yet…here she faced the kind of terror she never thought she’d experience in real life. Not in a million years had she seen this kind of situation coming, even with her wild imagination working overtime.
She stood frozen, no matter how loudly she inwardly screamed at her body to turn and run for her life. Nope. Not happening for me. Her body refused to respond. All her best-laid plans of being tough, prepared for anything, had fled with her courage. She wasn’t superhero tough. She mimicked a lawn statue instead or a mime locked in horror.
Her mouth hung open but the scream wasn’t forthcoming. She couldn’t even muster a whimper. Nothing. Her heart beat so rapidly she wondered if it could take flight right out of her chest and still no sound passed her lips. She couldn’t even breathe and she really needed air. Maybe sucking some in would promote a scream but…no. This sucks!
She’d always heard that someone’s life passed before their eyes when they knew they were about to die. She wasn’t seeing images of her past flashing through her mind. Nope. Her wide-eyed gaze remained fixed on the huge man-beast who growled at her.
He was a man but not quite since no regular guy had sharp teeth or could scare her nearly to death with that horrible sound that rumbled from deep within his throat, mimicking a vicious animal. He appeared both beautiful and ferocious at the same time.
If a guy pumped up on steroids he’d resemble the massive man who terrified her. He had to be about six-and-a-half-feet tall. His arms were extremely muscular and his wide chest reminded her of a mountain. His skin had tanned to a golden tone but it was his hair that made him beautiful. It was the color of an autumn leaf—reddish-orange with thick strands of blond streaks running through it. It hung shoulder-length and parted slightly to the side of his face.
One really scary part about him had to be his face because he almost looked human but not quite. His eyes were the color of melted gold and they were shaped like a cat’s, only with super-long eyelashes. His nose flared wide and flatter than anyone she’d ever seen. His cheekbones were prominent and dominated his face but they complemented his strong, square chin. That brought her attention to his really full, nearly pouty lips, and at the moment, they were parted, revealing some extremely white, pointed teeth. Again, not the kind of teeth normal people had.
“Back up, Tammy.” It was her boss, Ted Armstrong, who yelled at her. “Don’t make any sudden movements and come toward me. Do it now.”
Back up? He expects me to move? She realized she had started breathing again when her lungs stopped hurting from lack of oxygen. She had the urge to turn her head and glance at Ted to give him an are-you-kidding-me look but she couldn’t. She also couldn’t force her terrified gaze away the huge man-beast slowly stalking closer, glaring at her with those large, oddly beautiful catlike eyes. His face was scary-angry and he growled at her again.
“Damn it, Tammy. Back up slowly right now. Just look down at the ground and come to me. You can do it.”
She wished that were true but her body still refused to listen as she silently screamed at it to follow orders. Nothing moved but her chest as her heart hammered and air passed between her parted lips. She blinked, which was progress, but that was it.
“Valiant!” another man called out loudly. “Calm down and back away from the female. She isn’t challenging you. She’s just scared shitless.” The new voice had a strong, deep pitch and he sounded angry.
The man-beast growled again when he took another step closer to Tammy. She wanted to run but her legs seemed rooted to the ground. She tried to tear her gaze from the golden eyes staring back at her but just couldn’t break the connection.
Everyone had heard about the New Species. Anyone would have to never have read a newspaper or owned a television not to know they were humans who’d been secretly experimented on by Mercile Industries. The pharmaceutical company had funded secret testing facility for decades for some messed up research supposedly done to find cures for diseases. The story had broken when countless numbers of survivors from those testing facilities had been freed.
Shit, she thought. This is obviously a New Species. She knew they’d titled themselves that, those surviving men and women who had been physically altered with animal DNA inside those places.
The man-beast stalking closer was obviously one and they’d really done a number on him since he sure didn’t appear normal in any way. Tammy had never seen anything similar to him before and didn’t want to ever see it again. He looked like a man…but not. That made her wonder just how much of his animalistic traits ruled him.
“Someone get a tranquilizer gun.” It was a woman and she sounded scared. “Now. Move it.”
“Valiant?” It was the man again with the deep voice. “Listen to me, man. She didn’t mean to trespass into your territory. She got lost when someone screwed up the maps and it led her here. You know Justice is having a party and he hired caterers. She is just a terrified female who came here to serve food. It’s not a challenge. She can’t look away from you or leave because she’s frozen with fear. Calm down and just back off. She can leave once you do.”
Justice North was the appointed leader of the New Species Organization. He’d bought up the closed-down old resort and all the land around it for his people to live on and turned it into a New Species enclave called Reservation. He was also their spokesperson who did all the television interviews. He’d hired Ted’s catering service to host their first party at Reservation and that’s how Tammy had ended up in the wrong place.