Federal Paranormal Unit Bundle: Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance (26 page)

BOOK: Federal Paranormal Unit Bundle: Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance
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Clara left the kitchen for a moment. Hopefully, whatever she found could be of some use in the search for Roxy.

“Here you go, Cici.” She placed an album next to Cyn.

A family photo album. Not exactly the kind of breakthrough she’d been hoping for.

“You’re probably the only person that still calls me Cici since grandmom. You can call me Cyn, Clara.”

“What?” Clara screeched from behind her.

Cyn smiled, glancing at the first photo in the album, a sweet picture of Roxy as a newborn.

Cyn’s cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her pocket. Tonya. She’d give her a call in a few.

“I said you can call me Cyn. Most people do.” She flipped to the next photo, Roxy and her parents. A much younger and slimmer Clara stared dazedly at the baby.

“And are you?”

“Am I what?” she asked, confused. She glimpsed at the next shot. Toddler Roxy, playing with an old raggedy doll. The smile slid off her face. It was the doll. The same one from her dreams.

“Are you sin?”

She had a hard time concentrating on what Clara said when she flicked photo after photo to see Roxy growing with the raggedy doll in most shots.

“Is this doll Roxy’s?” she asked, wondering what it meant for her to have dreamt about the doll.

“No. It’s mine,” Clara replied.

“Oh.” That didn’t really help her.

Her phone rang again. “Hi Tonya, sorry I’m kind of busy right now.”

“Cyn, where are you?” Tonya asked in a rush. “I had a vision, of you.”

“Are you?” Clara asked again, her voice rougher than before behind her.

She was having a hard time keeping up with both women talking at once. “I’m at Clara’s, hang on.”

“Cyn, no!”

“What was that Clara?” She glanced over her shoulder, but was too slow to move out of the way of the frying pan traveling to slam against the side of her face. Pain blasted through the side of her skull, down her jaw, and up to her temple. Another whack with the heavy metal, and her head hit the table. Her vision swam. Fear and distress turned her blood ice cold. She slid off the chair, fell to the floor, her face throbbing in pain. The phone fell right out of her hands.

White spots danced before her eyes. She lifted a hand to the side of her face. Something wet and sticky dripped down the side of her temple, matting her hair in wet clumps. She had trouble focusing on her fingers, but she could tell there was blood all over them.

“Clara?”

Her aunt stood over her, watching her with angry eyes. She lifted the frying pan again. “Not Clara, Mercy. Clara went away for a little bit. I’m sorry, Cynthia. We can’t have sinners in our house.”

The frying pan came down on her head again. Everything went black.

 

* * *

Brock watched the Olde Towne PD remove Sheriff Kemp from Luis Gomez’s hospital room. His attention focused on the man rushing down the hall toward him.

“Galvez. What are you doing here?” he growled.

“Relax. I came here to make sure Cynthia was okay.” He glanced behind Brock, waiting for her to appear.

“She’s not here. She went to her aunt’s place.”

Galvez’s eyes widened, real fear in them. Palpable dread drifted from him. “You let her go there alone?”

Why wouldn’t he? “That’s her aunt. It’s her family.”

Galvez cursed and rushed down the hall. Brock caught up to him quickly, his steps eating the marble floor in the hospital. “What is it?” he asked. “Why shouldn’t she see her aunt?”

“It’s a long story.” Galvez pressed the elevator button but gave up and ran for the stairs.

Brock grabbed him by the arm, stopping him mid-stride. “Tell me!”

“Clara is sick. Very sick.”

Brock’s heart took a nosedive. “How sick?”

“She suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. When she’s feeling nice, she’s Clara. When she’s not, she’s psychotic. She becomes a completely different person, Mercy.”

“Multiple personalities? How do you know this?”

“Because,” he rushed out, the scent of fear soaring to an all-time high. “I’m Cynthia’s father.”

The words sucker-punched Brock harder than anything he’d ever been told in a long time. Not only did Cyn show clear dislike for Galvez, but she looked nothing like him. No matter what he wanted to think, the reality was Galvez wasn’t lying. He’d know.

“How?” he choked out.

They continued running down the stairs while Galvez hurried through the story. “I met Iliana, Cynthia’s mother, when she was twenty-one. She was going to college, and we fell in love.”

They ran out of the building to the parking lot, rushing into Galvez’s car. Sirens wailed around them of ambulances arriving with emergencies.

“We’d been together a few months when she confessed to having had a child, but her mother took care of her so Iliana could attend college. Her daughter was four at the time.”

Brock watched emotions play out over Galvez’s normally unmoving features. “What happened?”

“About a year into our relationship, she started showing signs of mental illness. Hallucinations. Hearing voices. She’d be happy one minute, then angry the next. Not just regular hormonal altered states, no. Violent outbursts followed by extreme depression. But she refused to get help.” He shook his head and then slammed on the brakes when they found themselves stuck in traffic.

“With time, she got worse, not better. Her daughter started showing signs of the same disease. Not as progressive, but enough to need full-time care. Cynthia’s grandmother couldn’t handle a sick daughter and a sick grandchild. She had a sister who adopted the girl and changed her name to Clara. Under heavy medication, Clara would be able to have a pretty normal life.”

“I get the feeling that’s not what happened.”

Galvez combed shaky fingers through his hair. “No. When Iliana and I broke up because of her illness, I didn’t know she was pregnant. I didn’t find out about Cynthia until her mother passed about ten years ago, and I showed up at her funeral.”

“You didn’t know you had a daughter?”

“No.” Galvez pressed the horn, the sound ear-splitting above the other people doing the same. As if that would get the line of red tail lights moving. He glanced at Brock, his eyes full of misery. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have left her behind to be raised by her grandmother surrounded by the shadow of Iliana’s mental problems.”

“What happened with Clara?”

“Once I found out about Cynthia, I kept tabs on the entire family. Clara wasn’t really Cynthia’s aunt as you can imagine. She was her sister.”

Brock sensed the turmoil inside Galvez over his failure toward Cyn. “And Clara?”

“As I said, Clara would have done okay if she would have taken her medication, and for years she did. She married and had a daughter, but once her husband died, she chose to shift her focus into religion and became so entrenched in it that she gave up her medicine thinking to be cured by the power of her parish.”

“Only that didn’t happen.”

Galvez shook his head. “No. She’s been spending the past year getting worse. I always worried she’d call on Cynthia, and so I tried to keep tabs on where Cynthia was at all times. It was my way of protecting her. Making sure she was safe.”

Brock nodded, his fear turning his muscles stiff. “Why do you think she’s hurt Cynthia?”

“A few days ago, I got a report from Roxy’s, Clara’s daughter’s, school counselor, informing me that she showed signs of physical abuse. When questioned, Roxy said her mother had a bad temper when she disobeyed.”

“Why didn’t anyone do anything to help her? To protect her?” he demanded.

Galvez sighed. “This is a small town, and the sheriff didn’t give a crap, nobody did anything. I’d already arranged to come here next week.”

“If Clara’s disease causes her to turn violent, can she also forget having done things?”

“Yes, it’s very likely she’s the one who caused her daughter’s disappearance during one of her episodes. She could have blacked it out and not remembered. She could have killed her and not remembered.” Galvez met his gaze with his own worried one. “She’s a ticking time bomb that can go off at any moment. If Cynthia pushes her too hard, she could explode.”

Fucking hell! 

The traffic line started to move slowly. Too slowly for his peace of mind. Meanwhile, he dialed Cynthia’s cell but got no answer.

“Is this mental illness hereditary?” he asked, thinking of the woman he loved and how she could cope knowing her mother and other family members suffered from mental disease.

“There’s a blood test that can check for the bio markers of Schizophrenia, which is what Iliana and her father suffered from. I don’t know if Cynthia has ever done it, but it’s probably a good way to rule out the disease could show up in the future.”

“What are the chances she could have it, though?”

Galvez pursed his lips, weaving his way through traffic. “Iliana showed signs in her early twenties. Clara showed signs as a child. Cynthia’s medical records don’t show any signs of any kind of mental instability. But like anything, if it’s hereditary, it can show up at any time.”

Brock growled, punching the call button repeatedly only to be sent into Cyn’s voice mail.

They took the shoulder and rushed past the slow-moving vehicles. Within moments, they were rushing down the main street to turn at the dirt road the led them to Clara’s old house.

Brock jumped out of the car before Galvez had a chance to stop, focused solely on finding Cyn.

He kicked the front door open, rushed inside but there was no noise. The scent of blood smacked him at the kitchen entrance. His chest almost caved at the sight of the puddle of blood on the table, dripping down to the glossy wood floor.

The beast inside him pushed out. Power danced over him, shaking the house to its foundation, everything around him a hazy red.

“Brock, is she—” Galvez stopped, his gun drawn, and his expression tight with anger.

Brock lifted a hand to stop Galvez from talking further. It was time to find Cyn. A loud growl rolled from within his lips. Then he heard it, the voices. Distant, but still inside the house. He pushed his power out, searching for his woman. He jerked to his right, darting at an inhuman speed to the door leading down to the basement.

“Now, Cynthia, I’ll help you rid yourself of those sins you carry,” a woman whispered. “It’s no good to live in sin.”

“Clara, stop,” Cyn mumbled. “Look at your daughter, Clara. She needs help. You need to get her to a hospital.”

“I already told you, my name is Mercy. I will have mercy on your soul and save you both,” she sing-songed.

Cyn’s pain and fear urged him to her. To rid them of the danger.

He took the steps softly, his gaze intent on his target. Clara. The moment he could visually connect he’d be able to push into her mind.

“Clara, what are you doing?” Cyn screamed.

The sound further prompted him to reach her. Cyn sat on the concrete floor, bleeding from the side of her face. The other woman, Clara, stood above her, a large kitchen knife in her hand.

With a single mental command, he shoved the raging woman away from Cyn and hurled her against the wall. He held her there. Trapped with his power.

“Who are you?” she screamed, her body contorted, struggling to move. “Get out of my house!”

No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t stop the invisible binds holding her trapped to the wall.

Brock rushed forward to Cyn. His heart almost stopped at how swollen and bruised the side of her face was. He felt her for other injuries. She winced at the long gash and knot on the side of her head.

He cut her loose from the metal bar Clara had tied her to.

“Galvez? What are you doing here?” she asked glancing at the foot of the stairs.

Galvez marched forward and released Roxy from the binds holding her hostage.

“I had a feeling you might need my help,” Galvez muttered, cutting the rope from Roxy’s legs.

“Thank you.” She bit her lip, brow furrowed in worry. “She needs a hospital. Clara had her down here all this time, days.” She glanced at an unconscious Roxy. “I don’t know if she’s fed her at all, but it’s clear she hit her.”

Cyn threw her arms around his neck, holding him tight. The ache in his chest loosened, though he had a hard time stopping the shaking in his hands.

“You need a hospital too, love.”

“I’m okay.” She sighed into his neck. “I have you.”

TWELVE

 

Cyn glanced at Roxy’s pale bruised body lying on the hospital bed. She had been given heavy painkillers to help with the broken leg her mother had given her.

The door pushed open. Galvez walked in. Brock had left the room to speak to Ramirez.

“How is she?” he asked.

She turned to face him. They’d never been close. When he told her he was her father, she’d refused to acknowledge him as such. She’d spent her entire life believing he hadn’t wanted her. Only to find out as an adult he just hadn’t known she existed. It could mess with a person’s self-esteem to think that for years she hadn’t been wanted by her parents. So she refused to allow him into her life. Until he offered her the job that would bring her to James.

“She’ll be okay. They were able to reset her leg and don’t think she’ll have a visible limp.” She winced remembering the doctor telling her they’d have to break Roxy’s leg again before they could try to fix it. “She was dehydrated, but they think in a few days she’ll be fine.”

“I’m sorry about Clara,” he said, as he shoved his hands into his pockets and rolled his shoulders.

“It’s okay. I didn’t realize she was my sister. I thought our resemblance was mostly due to being related.”

He shook his head. “No, she’s older than you by around six years.”

“I knew I saw photos of my mother at Clara’s house that caught my attention.”

“Yeah, that was your mother when she was expecting Clara and with Clara as a baby,” Galvez said.

She gasped, things finally falling into place. “That’s what struck me as strange. I couldn’t figure why the photo was different. When I went through my baby album, mom had long hair in her pregnancy photo and in my baby pictures. In the one of her pregnant with Clara, she had really short hair and looked like a little girl.” She sighed. “Thanks for filling me in on everything.”

It was hard. Much harder than she’d thought it would be to acknowledge the disease eating her family’s mental health. It was the reason she wouldn’t, couldn’t stay with James.

“I should have told you before. I just wanted to see you succeed without this hovering over you.”

“You should give Brock his job as lead.” She met Galvez’s dark gaze. “He deserves to be in charge. We both know that. Besides, I don’t think I can work with him anymore.”

Galvez lifted a dark bushy brow. “Why? You’ve been at the job for all of a week and you’re ready to quit?” He glanced at Roxy then at Cyn. “I didn’t take you for a quitter.”

Fuck. “I’m not a quitter, but he and I…” She sighed, not wanting to but having to admit things to Galvez of all people. “We have a history and I’m not sure I can lead this group, work beside him and keep it professional.”

“Cynthia, this team is different than others,” he explained. “They’re all special, remember?”

She nodded, her own words being repeated to her. “I know that.”

“That means there are certain rules we don’t enforce with the paranormal unit. Like fraternizing.” His lips curved in the first smile she’d ever seen on his face.

“Fraternizing?”

“Yes. Buchanan and Villa are married and will continue to work together on this team. If you’re concerned about having a relationship with Brock, don’t be. Wheeler has specifically stated this group is different than all others. We don’t have enough paranormal units that we can make rules and force anyone out of the team. As such you aren’t bound by the same limitations the rest in the department are.”

Nice to know but that wasn’t her problem. She shook her head. “I have that in my blood,” she said. She knew he understood. “That same illness that runs through the family. The same one my mother had.”

“You don’t know that for sure,” he said sternly. “You can get a blood test to be sure.”

She’d thought about it. But the truth was she’d been afraid of finding out if her worst nightmares might actually come true. She turned to glance at Roxy’s pale bruised features. She and Cyn had a resemblance, but Roxy’s hair was much lighter than Cyn’s.

“What’s going to happen with her?”

Guilt squeezed at her gut. This was her niece. She should do something to try to help her.

“She’s going for medical evaluations to see if she’s got the same problem as her mother. She’s then going to be sent for physical and mental rehabilitation.”

She bit her lip. “And then?”

“Her late father’s mother would like to get custody of her.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “They’re nice people, Cynthia. I’ve had them checked out. They lost touch with Clara and Roxy when Clara stopped taking her meds almost two years ago and refused to have anything to do with them.”

“Her father’s not around?” She blinked back tears for the girl. Her mother was going to be locked in a mental institution for a while, possibly forever.

“No, he died in a car crash two years ago. But she knows her father’s family. She called them from time to time to speak to her grandmother. She’ll be okay with them.”

Cyn nodded. Still, she wanted to be a part of Roxy’s life. It was not her niece’s fault their genes were screwed up.

Then there was James. God. It hurt to think of how much she loved him and what she’d do for him. One of those things would be to leave. She knew he’d want forever. He’d want a family. When his parents died working for the government, he’d been left all alone. He’d always told her he wanted children. And she couldn’t give him that.

Her heart clenched. She loved him too much to put him at the risk of being with her and the possibility she might end up sick. Or worse, for them to have children with the same illness. She could handle a lot of things, but putting the man she loved in the position to deal with a sick family was not one of them.

“Give James his job back, Martin.” She called him by his first name for the first time ever. “I’m going to request a transfer.”

Galvez shook his head, rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “I’ll give you a few days to think it over before I bring it up to Wheeler. He was very excited to have you lead the team. Your record with extractions is impeccable.”

“Thanks, but sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself to ensure the happiness of the people you love.”

* * *

The lights in her house flickered. She’d just walked in the door when she noticed the dimness. Just what she needed, a power failure. She should call Tonya and let her know she was okay. After her friend tried to warn her about seeing Cynthia in danger, she’d been very concerned for her. She tried to reassure her constantly, but Tonya was such a lovely friend that she still called to make sure Cyn was okay.

She flicked the lights on and off, but they continued to stay dim.

“Great.” She’d been saved from having to spend time with the team for the past few days. Out of town meetings with superiors and possible cases had her taken away from them. She’d ignored all of James’s calls. It hurt to do it, but she needed to start distancing from him. To help him cope when she finally transferred from the team.

She kicked her heels off and shoved her luggage next to the sofa, the wheels squeaking with the push. Exhaustion pulled at her muscles. She’d been traveling for two days straight, and she needed a hot bath. She shoved down the suit pants as she walked, almost tripped on her own feet and headed for her bedroom. With a few wiggles, she kicked the pants away and tugged the silky blouse above her head. She stopped in her tracks when she noticed a pair of cuffs locked on to the wooden bars on her headboard.

Her breathing increased in speed. She padded next to the bed. There was nothing different than the last time she’d been in her room. Only the cuffs attached to her headboard.

“What the hell is this?”

A gust of wind pushed her forward. Instinctively, she grabbed on the headboard so as not to fall on her face on the mattress. Metal clinked. Her vision swooped down. The cuff was securely attached to her wrist.

Another burst of wind and she landed on her back on the bed, one arm pulled above her head.

“This isn’t funny, James!” she growled. “Get out here already!”

He stepped out of a darkened corner of her room. The bastard had been standing there that whole time.

“Let me out of these you jerk!”

She probably could have said that nicely, but she was tired, hungry and needed a damn shower. She wasn’t feeling very nice at that particular moment.

Instead of loosening the cuff, her loose hand pressed against the bars, as if it had a mind of its own and the second set of cuffs locked her wrist into a secure hold.

“James!” she screeched his name, no longer with any trace of patience. Frustration had become a constant inside her since she wasn’t near him. She missed him, damn it.

“No,” he said softly. He took slow steps toward her, stopping at the foot of the bed to roam his gaze up her almost naked body.

Embers sparked inside her, spreading down to her pussy with the intensity of a forest fire.

“What.” She swallowed past the knot in her throat. “What are you doing here?”

She watched him remove his shirt, his muscles contracting with every move.

“I came to take back what’s mine.”

Uh-oh. “And what’s that?”

“You,” he said, his eyes glowing bright gold. “You’re mine. Don’t bother denying it because you have the mark to prove it.”

“James, we aren’t going to get back together,” she mumbled, her eyes glued to the hand undoing his jeans. If life really loved her, he’d take those pants off asap.

“I wasn’t aware we’d broken things off again.”

The zipper hissed on its descent. She licked her lips and stared as the denim slid down his legs to reveal his fully erect cock.

“Well.” She blinked. It didn’t do any good. She couldn’t will her eyes away from his erection. In fact, her only thoughts centered on tasting him.

“If that’s how you want to begin, I’ll be more than happy to bring my body to you.”

Hell yes!

He grinned. “You’re projecting. I find your enthusiasm over my being naked incredibly refreshing.” He wrapped a hand around his stiff length and jerked. Her throat went sandpaper dry. “Not to mention it’s fucking hot to know you want to suck my cock until I come down your throat.”

Yeah, among other things.

“James, you…” She took a breath and squeezed her legs tight. Her pussy leaked her need for him, and she knew he smelled how hot she was for him. “I…we can’t.”

He crawled up the bed by her feet. He curled his hand around her ankles and spread her legs apart. He inhaled.

“Ah, yes, there’s that sweetness that drives me crazy.”

“James, I quit the team,” she blurted out.

His finger trailed up her legs to her thighs. She couldn’t stop the muscles under his palms from trembling.

“You can do whatever you want, love. I’m not going anywhere.” He tugged down her panties, carefully removing the damp bit of lace to then return to her wet folds. He scooted down, until he was laying between her legs and glanced up. “What you need to understand is that no matter what job you have, or what team you lead, I’m not going anywhere. You’re mine. And you’re staying mine.”

“James…” She took short puffs of air, watching him place tiny kisses in her inner thigh. “I can’t be with you. Can’t give you what you want.”

He rubbed his cheek on her thigh. “And what is it I want?”

“More than I can give,” she mumbled, breathless.

“Right now, all I want is the taste of you coming on my face,” he said with a steadfast determination she had come to know as solely his.

Oxygen froze in her chest as his lips slowly brushed her inner thigh to reach the center of her pleasure. With a single-minded swipe, he licked her from ass to front. Groans tore up her throat without a hiss of warning. “James!”

He pressed closer, lips encompassed her clit and laved the tiny nerve bundle with quick flicks. Her legs pressed him closer, his lips and tongue working her entrance. In. Out. Faster. Harder. Then he added a finger, and her whimper turned into a moan for more.

“God, please…”

She tugged on the cuffs to no avail. There was no getting free until he let her. He controlled the situation. Along with her body. His unwavering licking and finger fucking drove her to near breaking in seconds. She thrashed on the bed, curled her fingers on the wood bars she was strapped to and let her body race toward release.

“James, God, James…” Her legs shook, her belly quivered. Her entire focus shifted to the impending orgasm. She hovered just above the ledge, ready to take flight.

She took a breath and lost it. He sucked on her clit, grazing blunt human teeth on the throbbing bit of flesh. Tension unraveled fast, and she soared. Her body floated on the wave of release, her scream for him choked and breathless.

Her lungs felt ready to cave in. She blinked to try and get rid of the spots dancing before her eyes.

“James, let me loose,” she moaned and met his fully black gaze.

“Why should I?” His lips tipped up in a dark and sexy grin.

“It’s my turn to taste you.” She watched him sit on his heels, his cock fully erect, a slight sheen from his aroused state coating the head.

BOOK: Federal Paranormal Unit Bundle: Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance
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