He was a shadow, ever shifting and insinuating, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. The elusive ideal conceived and created by the Genetics Council, he went by just as many names as he had identities ? the last one being Gideon. Now calling himself Graeme, he hides in plain sight, terrifyingly close to his goal. A rogue Bengal Breed, he has loyalties to no one but himself. And he has a need for vengeance that surges hot and swift through his veins.
Lora Leigh lives in Lexington, KY.
Praise for Lora Leigh's Breed novels "I'm a huge fan of Lora Leigh's Breed books."--Nalini Singh, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Psy/Changeling Novels
"When it comes to this genre, Lora Leigh is The Queen."--Romance Junkies
"[A] highly erotic saga."--Fresh Fiction
"Lora Leigh doesn't disappoint when it comes to sexiness, intrigue and an added little bit of humor."--Bitten by Love Reviews
"I'm a diehard fan of this series!"--Smexy Books
Chapter One Thirteen years later Window Rock, Arizona The world called her Claire. Once, her legal name had been Fawn. Neither was actually her true name. Where it counted, to whom it counted, she was Cat, a carefully hidden, maturing, restless feline Breed ready to pounce. A tigress growing slowly impatient with those around her and the machinations being played against her. She''d been growing tired of it for quite a while. The farce of living as a woman who had actually died as a young girl years before, of pretending to be quiet, studious, and without backbone, had worn her patience away. She had backbone. Once, a geneticist and a Bengal Breed named Gideon, one she had called G, had ensured it. She had a backbone of steel and it was getting ready to lock into place. "Claire should return to protective custody. With the proof that''s come to light of her father''s crimes against his family as well as the Breed community, she''ll become a target." Jonas Wyatt, the director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs, addressed the group gathered in the conference room of the Navajo Suites Hotel just outside Window Rock. He wasn''t wrong, exactly. What he neglected to mention was the fact that she had been a target since the tender age of twelve. It was nothing new to her. For some reason, this Lion Breed had decided she was his favorite project, though. Since learning that her father, Raymond Martinez, had been behind his own sister''s abduction by the Genetics Council and later her death, the Breed was like a shadow she couldn''t shake. Not to mention the fact that she was the only bait he had to draw out a creature he still had yet to learn was far too dangerous to play with in such a way. Jonas didn''t address his concerns to her, though. They were addressed to Claire''s family members. His freaky silver eyes swirled with concern amid the expression of sincerity that creased his sun-bronzed face. He was about as sincere as the German shepherd that pretended to smile at her each morning. That bastard would take a bite out of her hide at first opportunity if she dared allow it. Not that Jonas wanted to see her harmed, unless it was for the greater good. He was just more concerned with that greater good. "It would seem to me that decision should be Claire''s." The new director of the Western Division of the Bureau of Breed Affairs--a hell of a mouthful there--Rule Breaker, the real Claire Martinez''s uncle, spoke up at that point. Claire had a Lion Breed for an uncle. Whoopee, wasn''t she lucky? Lifting her gaze from her hands where she''d folded them atop the table, she directed it to the black-haired, blue-eyed Rule and wondered how much he suspected, how much he knew. Quite a bit, she was certain, though she doubted he''d been told everything. "I agree." Her grandfather, Orrin, spoke up. "She''s the one who would be confined for the period of time required. She should decide if this is what she wishes." Oh, this was about to get really good. Orrin never agreed with a woman making her own decisions about her protection. Not since his teenage daughter had disappeared over three decades before. If she had needed confirmation that she was silently being pushed out of the Martinez family, then Grandfather Orrin had just given it. The ache in her chest grew sharper, the heavy weight of grief sinking deeper inside her. "I think Claire knows the risks," Jonas suggested as though he could read her mind. Perhaps he could. It was said he had some mad Breed powers going on. Who knew what he could actually do. "And those risks would be?" The newcomer to the group, a Wolf Breed, Lobo Reever, asked the question with such arrogance she had to bite back a sneer. "Why don''t you explain them before we''re asked to lock a young woman away, a young woman who, it appears, has known nothing but restraint all her life, Director?" This was so good, such a classic G--oh, excuse her, Graeme--maneuver, that she''d seen through it the moment Reever stepped into the meeting. As though she hadn''t known where the Bengal was for months now. That he was working right beneath Jonas Wyatt''s nose, posing as some Lion Breed security manager for Reever''s estates. Graeme Parker, her ass. A Lion Breed? Really? How the hell had he managed to pull that scent off? To mask his Bengal scent with that of a Lion''s was such a stroke of biological and genetic genius that she could barely comprehend it. She''d always known he was too damned smart for his own good, but that one surpassed even her expectations of him. Jonas wasn''t happy with the objections. His expression went from concerned to blank so fast Cat wondered if she''d blinked. "Claire? It would seem your opinion is required here." The subtle mockery in Jonas''s drawl made the decision for her. He expected her to just agree. To do as Claire had always done and agree with the decisions made for her protection. He was certain Claire still lived . . . No, he knew she wasn''t Claire. He''d known from the beginning and he''d simply been patronizing her, using her to draw out a Bengal he was determined to find. She turned her gaze to the two men who had tried to protect her for the past thirteen years, Orrin and Terran. The men Claire had called Grandfather and Uncle. How she wished they were truly hers to claim. How she wished someone, somewhere, was hers to claim. The sensible thing to do, the smart thing to do, would be to agree with him. Breed protective custody wasn''t so bad. It was simply incredibly boring and impossible to slip away from. It was confining to the point of being smothering. "She''s not a child, Jonas." Lobo spoke up, his wild green eyes narrowed on the director. "I''m certain she doesn''t appreciate being spoken to as one either." Jonas slid his gaze to Lobo, a slight smirk to his lips before turning back to Claire. The arrogant confidence on his face had her teeth clenching. He actually thought she would be so easy to control, that he could force the truth from her. She''d already decided her course here, he could force nothing. "Not a child, Lobo, but I''d say definitely tired of being under her father''s thumb." Confidence gleamed in his odd gaze, so certain she''d fall into line, his line, and do as he wanted her to do. He knew who she was, what she was, and he believed she was weak. She''d allowed him to believe she was weak, just as she had allowed others to believe it. The time for that was past. It was time to stop pretending she was Claire, and be the person, the Breed, she''d grown into. It sucked. She hated it. And it was going to cause her more trouble than she wanted to deal with at the moment, but this farce had gone on too long as it was. "I''m neither Raymond''s puppet nor yours, Mr. Wyatt." Standing to her feet, she faced the men, men, who had come together to decide on her protection, as well as her future, for her. As though she didn''t have the ability to do it for herself. She''d had enough of that before she''d turned eight. And though the need for caution was uppermost, no doubt, her ability to feign submission no longer existed. "I never imagined you were a puppet, but I think you and I are both aware of the fact that Raymond''s association with the Genetics Council is more a threat to you than you''re willing to admit." It was a reminder. A reminder that her past was known by Raymond as well as Jonas, her real identity a weakness she couldn''t escape. And one Raymond had no doubt already reported to those willing to supply him with the funds he believed would aid in exoneratinghim on the charges the Breeds had brought against him. The list was extensive. "Child." Orrin rose as well, his wrinkled face, gray braids and frail body a reminder that age was taking him from so many who loved him. "You must do as your heart, as your spirit, guides you, not as those who love you would have you do. But the danger is not something you will face alone," he told her. His voice was gentle, but still, he was encouraging her to face this without the family she''d depended upon as Claire Martinez. "You will never face that life, or any danger that would find you, alone." Another reminder, one he''d given her thirteen years before. There were those who watched out for her, who would never see her harmed if they could deflect the danger first. In all the years she''d been protected beneath his granddaughter''s identity, she''d never asked them for help either. "Orrin, respectfully, that''s bullshit," Jonas objected sharply, anger snapping in his voice with such strength that he drew the attention of the entire room. Silver eyes seemed shot with mercury as they obscured the black pupils, swirling with a primal, primitive rage that would have affected her if she hadn''t been used to such a look long before she''d come to this desert land. "Perhaps, Director, you are the one full of bullshit," Orrin suggested smoothly, by no means intimidated by the Lion Breed either. "This is her fate, not yours. The questions you claimed to have when you came here have been answered. You have what you assured us you were searching for, the answers to your daughter''s health. You can leave now. The safety and protection of our own, we can handle." Orrin''s deliberately arrogant claim filled the air with anger. With Wyatt''s anger. "But she isn''t yours, is she? No matter how much she claims to be. When do the lies stop?" His hands smacked on the table as he leaned forward, the sight of blood-tipped claws now protruding from the tips of his f
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