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The Mating Project

BOOK: The Mating Project
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2014 Doris O’Connor



ISBN: 978-1-77130-791-8


Cover Artist: Sour Cherry









WARNING: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All
names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.






To all my
lovely readers.
Thank you for your encouragement and most of all thank you for reading.




The Projects, 3


Doris O’Connor


Copyright ©




Chapter One


Ten years prior


"No, no
bleeding way. He's old enough to be my father."

This couldn't be
happening to her. No bloody way was she having this discussion now. Maria
looked to her mother, but for once her mum didn't look at her. Only Mum's clenched
jaw and fists were any indication of her feelings on this. Clearly this was one
of those occasions she would stand by Dad, no matter how ridiculous the notion

Fuck the blasted
mating project, and fuck you, Dad, and the council.

There was no way
Maria could utter those words out loud, though. But, dammit, he couldn't expect
her to just lie back and think bloodlines when her whole future was at stake

"And you're
of age, and need to do your duty." Her father ignored her outburst and
carried on speaking. She knew that face. His mind was made up, and there was no
arguing with him when he was like this. "Maria, you know the rules as well
as I do. The council has decreed Anton is your mate, and it is your duty to
submit to him."

"Well, I
won't do it. You can't make me." She stomped her feet and crossed her arms
over her chest to hide her emerging claws. Her cougar almost foamed at the
mouth to be let free. Not that it would do her much good. Her father's animal
was larger and stronger than hers, and she could see his beast pace behind his

"I have no
intention of making you, Maria. I
you will your duty." There
was such absolute finality behind those words, that Maria almost missed the
shadow that crossed her father's features. He shook off the hand that his wife,
Judith, had put on his tightly curled biceps, and stalked from the room. The
deliberately careful way with which he shut the door to his study behind him
spoke volumes.

you've got to talk to him. He'll listen to you. He can't make me do this."
Maria blinked back tears, and her mum pulled her in for a hug.

"I'm sorry,
darling. His hands are tied. You're a pure blood cougar, and you have to mate
with another pure blood. Those are the rules. You know that."

"Well, I
don't give a flying fuck about the rules. Why can't I choose my own mate? It's
not fair. Carter and Jake don't have to put up with this shit. They're out
there screwing whatever they can find, and no one tells them they have to

Her mum
tightened her hold on her and then stepped back. Maria slapped a hand over her
mouth, half expecting her mum to drag her away and wash her mouth out with
soap. Swearing was not something Judith Anderson tolerated in her house, and,
sure enough, disapproval radiated off her in waves.

distraught, so I will let that language pass for now. You know full well it's
different for males and, trust
your brothers are
doing their bit. If they actually manage to impregnate anyone, they will find
themselves mated so fast their head will spin."

A smile lit up
Judith's face, and Maria rolled her eyes. Why were mums always in such a hurry
to get grandchildren? Not that Jake and Carter would oblige in that regard.
Maria's brothers might be womanizers extraordinaire, but they had no intention
of settling down anytime soon, had even less inclination to become parents, and
they were always careful. In fact one of their presents to Maria for her
eighteenth birthday last week had been a box of condoms with a note attached.

Have fun and
make sure whoever you're having fun with uses one of these. Or we'll be forced
to take his head off, and you know that's just too messy.

Maria had
bright scarlet and spirited that box away, before
anyone else noticed. Carter and Jake had smirked at her every time they had
seen her since.

Yes, her
brothers might be seen to do the council's bidding, but in reality they did
their own thing, which was exactly what Maria was going to do. How the hell was
she to achieve that goal when she was mated to Anton de Souza?

An involuntary
shudder went through her, and her cougar hissed her annoyance. Her animal liked
the look of Anton even less than Maria did. She couldn't even begin to explain
to herself why she disliked him so much. She just did.

"It won't be
so bad, Maria. Not once you get to know him, darling. Your father would never
have agreed to this, if he didn't feel you two would make a good match."
As though her mum had read her thoughts, Judith came straight to the heart of
the matter. "He's an experienced man and a powerful cougar, and he's an
original. Mating with him will guarantee a safe future for you and any cubs
you'll hopefully be blessed with. He's also steady and reliable and will keep
you out of trouble."

Maria snorted at

"He's boring
in other words, and will order me around, you mean. I wasn’t born yesterday,
Mum. And if he's so powerful, why didn't he mate years ago, and get a houseful
of cubs? I don’t like him, and the thought of sleeping with him gives me the
chills. There, I said it."

Maria knew she
was pouting like a petulant child, but she couldn't help it. Instead of being
annoyed, Mum merely smiled.

only natural, my lovely. I was a nervous wreck the day I mated your father, but
it all worked out all right."

"Well, of course
it did. You and Dad are true mates, and you love each other. If I have to be
mated that's what I want, not something forced on me by the council in an
effort to keep the bloodline pure. I'm not a fu—I mean I'm not a brood

Maria stopped
herself from swearing in the nick of time, and Judith's smile deepened.

"Have I
ever told you how I met your father, my dear? I mean the real story, not the
one we tell at dinner parties? Well, I know I haven't, but let's just say you
remind me of me at your age. I was just as headstrong and full of ideals, and
there was no way on earth I was going to be mated to the man the council chose
for me. Oh no, not this cougar, so the first time your dad and I were alone in
a room together, I let my cougar out and have at him. I didn't win, of course.
Your dad humored me for a bit and then overpowered me, and well…" She
grinned, and Maria made gagging noises.

, spare me the details, Mum. Those are mental
images I do not need right now, and that doesn't make any sense. You two are
good together. You do that whole mental connection thing that only true mates
have, so how … Oh."

Judith patted Maria's arm.
"I'm not
going to say that will happen with you and Anton, because, quite frankly it
might not, but every one of my friends had their mates chosen for them, and
even if they're not true mates, they have grown to love their partners. Take
Aunt Constance, for instance—"

settled, you mean." Maria interrupted her. "Don't tell me Aunt Connie
is happy. You can't want that sort of life for me, Mum. Surely you want to see
me happy with a partner of my choosing? I want to go to
damn it. I want a job and a career, not change nappies, and
lorded over by Anton de Souza."

Judith shook her
head and sighed.

"It really
wouldn't be like that, and I know for a fact that Anton has agreed for you to
stay on in education and to pursue your career. Once you've graduated there's a
place for you on the Mating Project."

An ice cold fist
closed around Maria's throat, and she forced her next words out past that

"So I can
be held responsible for matching up genetics and forcing young women into
they don't want? I don't think so, Mum."

An uneasy
silence fell between them, and Maria shivered in the cool breeze that came in
through the open French doors.

The outside
called her, and her beast strained to break free. She needed to run, to push
her body into exhaustion, to hunt down prey on her father's estate and kill.
And if the unsuspecting deer she killed happened to have De Souza's face in her
mind, then who was there to blame her?

BOOK: The Mating Project
4.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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