Authors: Milly Taiden
Tags: #Paranormal Erotic Romance
It was a week later when Sophia walked into Mrs. Winchester’s office for her delayed meeting. In the past, the sweet old lady had been so busy she’d never been able to meet with Sophia at her office. Their meetings always ended up taking place outside the research facility at some restaurant where they would have lunch and catch up.
Since she was never in the lab, this was only the second time she’d visited Mrs. Winchester’s office. The first time had been as new lab head after having gotten the offer to lead the genetics research. Making her way toward the center of the room, she noticed that it was decorated in warm and inviting tones.
Victoria, or Tori as she preferred to be called, was sitting at her desk. She glanced up and smiled softly at Sophia, motioning for her to take a seat. Tori Winchester looked amazing for her age. She was short, slim, and so petite she made Sophia feel like an Amazon at five foot three. Her short silver bob hugged the curve of her neck and was coiffed to total perfection. She wore a forest-green suit that screamed wealth. Tori’s emerald eyes were filled with life. The older woman was alert and sharp as a tack, which had allowed them to have some incredibly intellectual discussions in the past.
“Sophia, it is so good to see you. I was starting to get worried after your message about being sick. Are you feeling better now? Never mind, I can probably answer my own question since you look fabulous.”
Sophia knew she looked more like she’d been on vacation than sick, but that was all thanks to her new genes. Her gaze roamed the credenza behind the older woman. The last time she’d been there, she’d been unable to see the pictures on it clearly. With her poor vision and her need for constant squinting, even while wearing her glasses, the images on the credenza had been blurry. Now that she was able to, her gaze took in everything on the large mantle.
“I feel so much better now. I think I just needed some time off after burning the candle at both ends of the stick. In fact, I—” Her eyes focused on a framed photo of two men and a woman.
There was a dark-skinned, good-looking man, a young woman, and another much uglier man. Her heartbeat slowed to a crawl when she recognized the dark man in the picture as the same one whose throat she’d ripped open.
“Dear, are you all right?” The older woman’s previously warm voice forged itself into sharp steel.
Sophia’s eyes snapped to Tori and then back to the picture.
Tori opened a drawer and reached in, but Sophia was too stunned to notice what she pulled out. Recognizing the second male as the rat-man Chase had torn apart made her eyes widen in shock.
Tori’s expression of a warm, soft, elderly sweetheart slipped to show a hard and bitter face. The edges around her eyes deepened, and her lips compressed into a straight line.
“I’m…I’m sorry, I guess…I’m not feeling as well as I thought. Maybe it’d be best if I came back at another—” Sophia stopped short when she noticed the gun pointed her way.
“No, I don’t think that would be best.” The woman’s no-nonsense voice filled Sophia with dread.
Her hands folded protectively over her belly. She frantically tried to think of a way out of this situation. She couldn’t help but gape at the previously sweet Mrs. Winchester and wondered what the hell was going on.
“I see you noticed the photo of my beautiful Nichola,” she sighed sadly. “She was a beauty, wasn’t she?” The angry question required an answer as Tori’s extremely steady hand held the gun up toward Sophia’s face.
“Yes, she was quite lovely.” Sophia darted another look at the photo, taking better stock of the woman in the middle. The girl in the picture was young, probably a teenager in the shot. She had a wide smile and blonde hair parted in the center with the ’70s trademark feathered waves. The girl was clothed in bell-bottom jeans and resembled Farrah Fawcett in
Hoping to buy some time, Sophia decided to ask the obvious question. “What happened to her?”
Tori seemed to gauge the sincerity of her question before she answered. “It was quite tragic, the story of my Nichola.”
Outwardly calm, Sophia screamed out for Chase in her mind, knowing he waited for her in the car and might not hear her in his human form. She hoped that even though the call would be faint, he’d still be able to sense something was wrong.
“She fell in love with a wolf. Oh, don’t look at me like you don’t know what I’m referring to. Your sister is married to one of them.” Tori spat the words as if they were burning her tongue in distaste.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t understand what you’re talking about,” she said, hoping the woman would elaborate on her bizarre tale.
“Well of course you wouldn’t, I haven’t told you the whole story yet. As I was saying, she fell in love with one of those wolf shifters. I tried to explain to her how dangerous those animals could be, but she refused to listen to me. She was obsessed with becoming one of them so she could be her lover’s mate. She turned to the wolf she fell in love with for help.” Her eyes grew distant. “Her entire life lay before her, and she wanted to waste it on that…that animal! The shifter bit her, but her body couldn’t handle the change and it killed her.”
“I’m…I’m so sorry for your loss.” She hoped Tori would put the gun down if she showed her some sympathy.
“Yes, well, it was a long time ago. Do you know the worst part? The animal, the sick bastard that killed her, went on to meet one of his own kind, mated her, and had a family, while I’ve been mourning the loss of my Nichola all these decades!” She yelled, her rage bubbling over.
“Oh my God.” Sophia sat completely still, unwilling to push the obviously disturbed woman over the edge and have her pull the trigger in her craze. “How…how long ago did this happen?”
“Forty years ago.” Tori’s enraged features made it seem like it had just happened.
“But, how old was she?” Sophia tried putting two and two together, only she was coming up with more than four.
“She was barely sixteen and still just a baby in my eyes.” The woman’s temper seemed to be cooling.
Sophia’s mind raced. She processed the information. “But…she couldn’t have been your daughter. You told me you’re sixty years old.”
Tori’s green eyes glowed with rage. “She wasn’t my daughter, she was my baby sister.”
Shocked speechless once again, Sophia was quiet on the outside while inwardly screaming out to Chase.
Tori lowered the gun. It pointed at the middle of Sophia’s chest.
“Those two young men in the pictures, they were her best friends before that wolf killed her. I’m sure you remember becoming acquainted with them recently.” Tori stood, continued to point the gun in Sophia’s direction and walked around her desk. Sophia wondered how she never noticed Tori’s insanity before.
Tori stopped in front of Sophia and motioned with the gun hand for her to stand. “Sadly, they weren’t as successful as they anticipated in retrieving those samples from you for me. Now that I have you here, you’re going to hand them over so I can finally put an end to the shape-shifting gene. Get up.”
Sophia stood and continued to fold her arms over her belly.
Tori cocked her head toward the door. “Let’s go down to that lab of yours and get those samples before I lose my patience.”
Sophia turned to walk to the lab, and the pointy steel was pushed into her back.
Chase was restless. His wolf was hounding him again. Pushing to take over and shift out of his skin. His hands gripped the steering wheel. He looked around the deserted parking lot.
Sophia was meeting with a facility director. After her meeting she was supposed to destroy the samples in storage and meet him back in the car. He glanced around and realized there were no other cars in the lot. Other than his SUV, the parking area was empty. Unease settled over him.
It was the end of the day, the sun was setting, and it was too goddamned quiet. He concentrated on calming his distressed animal until he recalled the last time that had happened. He decided not to wait around for Sophia.
Opening the door to walk into the facility, the urge to run and ensure her safety overwhelmed him. There was no guard at the entrance, which made his discomfort level rise. He followed Sophia’s scent down the hall.
He heard her soft voice. She was speaking to someone and heading toward her lab. Cautiously alert, he moved with the grace of the predator he was.
When he neared the entrance to her work place, Chase could see Sophia and a woman who was standing a few feet behind her. The woman held a gun to Sophia’s lower back.
Sophia unlocked her cold storage and disabled the security on the file system, then moved a few steps away.
“Pull them out of the storage and place them on this table for me,” the woman ordered.
Sophia walked into the storage room and moments later walked out with vials and files. She walked back to the table the old woman indicated and put the research down.
“Now, I’m sorry I have to do this Sophia, I really like you. You’re so intelligent. No one ever came even half as close as you to the results you’ve achieved in the past six months, which makes this really difficult. You should have just handed them over the first time I sent someone for them. It would have saved us all so much wasted time, and could’ve kept you from this type of end.” She lifted the gun toward Sophia’s chest.
Anger surged inside Chase, and he removed his clothes in a rush. He let the wolf loose and shifted out of his skin, muscles and bones popping too slowly for his liking. The only thought consuming him was to destroy the woman who was holding a gun on Sophia. He growled and launched his body like a missile at the woman. Having heard his growl the woman tightened her grip on the weapon. His jaws bit into her neck. Her hand squeezed on the trigger repeatedly. Sophia scurried and crouched behind a table.
Loud screaming filled the air as Chase’s wolf mauled at the woman’s throat. Blood spurted. Her shrieks were soon cut off, and her delicate flesh lay torn open, bleeding on the floor.
Slipping back into his skin, Chase rushed to put on his pants and then ran over to the side of the table that Sophia had ducked behind. He found her curled into a small ball on the floor, passed out. Her hands were protectively covering her womb.
He turned her over and noticed blood covering her chest. His heart stopped. His hands shook when his eyes found the small bullet hole on her right shoulder.
Lifting her unconscious body carefully off the floor, he ran for his vehicle. He placed her in the backseat and called the shifter doctor to ensure she was ready when he arrived. Right after he spoke to the doctor, he got in the car and made a call to River while he headed to the hospital. He asked his brother to remove the data and samples from the lab before anyone else could get their hands on it.
His nerves stretched taut. She lay pale and limp on the seat behind him, bright red blood trickling from her gunshot wound. Driving like the devil was on his tail, he brought her to the small private clinic reserved for his pack members.
He carried her inside in a frantic rush. The pack doctor met him at the entrance in her operating gear. He followed her to the surgical room and lay Sophia on a bed. After that, he was dragged outside to allow them to work.
His wolf was quiet and sad, seemingly mourning his mate and his children, something Chase refused to do. Sophia was going to be fine, she had to be, or his life would end right along with hers.
* * *
Sophia opened her eyes and winced at the burning in her shoulder. She squinted until she could see clearly. She turned to scan the room and came face to face with a sleeping Chase.
He was sitting on a chair, his hand holding hers, keeping them connected even while he slept. She smiled at the sight of her mate. God, she loved that man. Moving her fingers in his hold, she squeezed his hand, and he jerked awake. He looked like shit.
“How are you feeling?” His voice was hoarse. His other hand lifted to brush a lock of hair behind her ear.
“Thirsty. Little ones?” She tried to talk past the sand in her throat.
Her hand traveled to her tummy, feeling the bump that hadn’t been there before. Her smile widened, knowing she was still nurturing their two precious bundles.
“They’re good, healthy.” He sat beside her on the bed and helped her take a sip of water. Then he fixed the pillows behind her back, allowing her to sit up.
She watched him swallow.
“I almost lost you. I-I can’t lose you.” His voice broke. “I love you.”
She smiled and pulled him down for a soft kiss. “I love you too. So much sometimes I think I’m going even crazier than I normally am, but I wouldn’t trade my feelings for anything in the world.” She looked into his eyes solemnly. “I’m not going anywhere.”
She grinned, and he hugged her tightly, carefully ensuring her injury wasn’t bothered.
She smiled to herself. Who would’ve thought she’d end up with her very own FBA, man-candy Chase? Apparently fantasies did come true, even for geeky scientists.
~ About the Author ~
Milly Taiden was born in the prettiest part of the Caribbean known as the Dominican Republic. She grew up between New York, Florida, and Massachusetts. Currently, she resides in New York City with her husband, bossy young son, and their little dog Speedy.
She began writing when she learned to put words together and her first book consisted of two homeless dogs living in a park for her second grade English class. She didn’t win a prize, but she acquired a love for writing that never went away.
When she’s not working full-time, texting with her best friend Heidi in England, chastising her son for pulling the dog’s ears, shopping with her sister Jewel, or watching scary movies with her husband, she can be found writing on her laptop. She’s addicted to shoe shopping, chocolate, Dunkin Donuts coffee, and all Jimmy Thomas covers.
A major reader when she can get her hands on a good book, she loves reading all Mina Carter, Cynthia Eden, Cynthia Sax, Dianne Duvall, and Laurann Dohner among others.
Find out more about Milly Taiden here: