Authors: Tatiana Caldwell
“Jaxon, please,” the voice was louder this time. And more aggressive. “I said slow down!”
Every bone and muscle in his body wanted to continue, but he froze. He looked down at her, saw fear in her eyes for the first time since the day he transformed, and his heart ached. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, his dick still throbbing, his hands still gripping her waist, but he didn’t move. It took everything he had not to lift her hips at an angle and thrust into her, to not do what his body cried out to do, but he recalled the fear in her eyes and he held steady. “Tranquilize me.”
“I don’t think you need it. You’re doing okay. Just—just take a few deep breathes and let me go –”
“Shoot me, Celise. Now.”
He watched as she wriggled herself from underneath his rigid body enough to reach the tranquilizer gun stashed under her pillows, and shot him in the arm.
“Again,” he commanded when he felt his body resisting. She landed a second shot in his shoulder, and a third at his request, and only then did he feel he had enough of the drug in his bloodstream. Then they waited, staring at each other awkwardly with her still trapped beneath him as slowly, slowly, the monster retreated.
“I’m so sorry,” he mumbled, as he released his grip on her hips at last.
For a few long, agonizing moments, she didn’t respond. In the quietness he worried she hated him now, was no longer interested in helping him now that she finally realized she could not trust that she would be safe in his presence while he was like this.
But the voice that broke that silence didn’t sound angry, hateful or fearful at all. If anything, she sounded surprised, subdued, and if he wasn’t mistaken … aroused. “It’s okay, really. I didn’t necessarily want you to stop … just to slow down a bit.”
Jaxon sighed heavily, shaking his head as he rolled off her and positioned himself back on his edge of the mattress. “I could’ve hurt you, Celise”
“But you didn’t. You stopped yourself. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Shit, yeah it was, he thought as he attempted to fold himself up, as if to make himself as small as possible, as he began to lose consciousness. Celise had no idea just how hard.
Leaning against the lab table with one hand, Celise turned her head away and covered her mouth with the other as she tried in vain to stifle a yawn. For nearly an hour and a half after he’d lost consciousness, Celise had lain in that bed with him, wide awake in more ways than one.
It was now two-hundred percent clear to her that what he was suffering from, far more than his physical transformation, was his overwhelming senses and emotions and his difficulty in tampering down. Poor Jaxon. Now that Celise was beginning to fully understand the extent of his trauma, her empathy for him increased. She’d figuratively understood what he was saying before, but last night she’d
it. The intensity of his lust, that titanium tube of an erection that he pressed against her, and that insanely epic kiss which made her feel as if he were marking her, punishing her and thanking her all at once.
How was a woman supposed to sleep after being on the receiving end of a passion like that? The bigger question, actually, was how could a man who’d experienced that level of passion deal with it? Considering he’d begged her to tranquilize him, she guessed she had the answer to that question—he didn’t. She snorted and shook her head at herself for thinking a treadmill and punching bags would actually put a lid on
She glanced over at where Jaxon sat now, perched on a stool in the corner of the lab like a giant gargoyle. His body appeared stiff and his mouth was in a tight frown. He had been sulking as such since the moment he laid eyes on Victor and Sri when he followed her into the lab that morning. She’d warned him they would be here, but he’d insisted on not leaving her side until he was ready. So he’d sulked in the corner, visibility struggling to maintain his cool.
His thick arms were in front of him, displaying how he was now built for power and strength, and his big hands gripped the rim of the seat between his thighs. He’d said he hated what he looked like now. But Celise didn’t mind. She wasn’t even sure if it mattered what he looked like—the man was sexy, period, whether just normal-large or extra large.
Their eyes met and her heartbeat accelerated. His reptilian eyes were dark, hungry, the lids heavy. His lips were parted ever so slightly as he watched her, like a snake about to jump at her and wrap itself around her body. She could almost feel the lust rolling off him in waves.
And off herself. The magnetic attraction between them was definitely mutual. Damn, she was
hot from last night. The man could kiss. And work his hands. Her body burned just with the memory of his thick, hardness pressed against her. It had felt so big, so hard, it startled her. But oh—what a pleasant way to be startled.
Celise shook her head to regain her composure. Seriously, what was wrong with her? She didn’t fantasize during the day, especially not while working. The inadequate amount of sleep she’d gotten had to be the blame.
“Belderon, are you okay?” Sri’s voice snapped her out of the trance Jaxon’s gaze had her caught in.
Victor glared between Jaxon and Celise. “Maybe Wentworth really shouldn’t be in here while we’re trying to work.”
Celise shook her head. “He deserves to stay, watch and listen. This impacts him more directly than anyone.”
“He’s obviously an unproductive distraction.”
A threatening growl emanated from Jaxon’s throat. Celise turned just in time to see him stand up, his posture menacing, his fists clutched tight, and his eyes narrowed into thin slits. “You haven’t seen me do
yet. Let’s see how well you concentrate if you’re dead.”
Victor’s face flushed and he scowled at Jaxon, raising a scalpel. “Are you threatening me?”
Celise moved in front of Victor to still him, her arms slightly outstretched as if to hold him back. “Relax doctor, just give him a moment,” she said. Then she turned her head to visually scold Jaxon. “Please, calm down. May I remind you that all of us are trying to help you? Try to use that knowledge to practice maintaining control.”
Jaxon scowled and folded his arms across his chest, but he blinked long and slow and gave a single obliging nod of his head as he sat back down.
Victor backed down, but he cut a last warning look over at Jaxon before turning his attention back to Celise. “You seem a bit unlike yourself today,” he whispered to her, palming her lower back. The tips of his long fingers splayed slightly over the top of her butt. “Did he frighten you at all last night? Are you really all right? Maybe you should let me be the one on Neanderthal watch today.”
“Dr. Morhamer, please remember that because of your efforts, even when you’re whispering, he can still hear
you.” Celise pinched her lips together as she glanced at Jaxon out of the corners of her eyes, who was again rising to his feet at that very moment.
“Well, I think I better go and let you guys get to it.”
“Didn’t mean to offend you,” Victor muttered with a smirk.
“I couldn’t fucking care less about anything you say anymore. It’s what you do –” Jaxon snarled as he briefly eyed Victor’s hand, still touching Celise. “And what you don’t
do that concerns me. Like fixing me.”
“Much easier for us to do without you scowling in our faces. Shall I escort you back to your old cell?”
“I’m not going back in there.”
“You must. We’re busy here, we need all hands here. Celise can’t –”
“I don’t need a chaperone.”
“Like hell you don’t.”
“Dr. Morhamer, please,” Celise sighed. “It’s not as if he can leave the building while we’re on lockdown.”
“True, but he –”
“Where will you go, Wentworth?”
“The gym. Or the pool, perhaps. I could use some cooling off.” He glared coolly at Victor.
Victor dragged his eyes from Jaxon, to the others in the room, then back to Jaxon again. The scientist attempted to meet the cop’s stare head on, but he removed his hand and backed away, trembling, when Jaxon’s upper lip curled upwards into a menacing growl. She watched as Jaxon marched out of the room, his fists clenched with the stress of keeping his temper within his grip.
“I don’t like that man roaming the building.”
Sri clacked his tongue against his lips. “Then let’s hurry and get to work, so we can quickly determine what went wrong when we gave him the formula.”
“I’m still not so sure it was the formula,” Victor grumbled.
Celise peeked into the microscope, examined the genetic material swirling underneath the lense there, and sighed. The original formula had worked successfully. The chimp they called Bebo was transformed a few weeks before they tried it on Jaxon. With her arms folded, she studied the chimp as he sat in the large cage he shared with two other chimps. The female chimp, Mimi, whom he’d mated with before, appeared to be in heat and was taunting Bebo with glimpses of her flushed sex organs, and enticing shimmies of her pheromone-laded butt and tail near his nose. But she was completely ignored. Bebo chowed through a bundle of apples, but barely paid attention to the lady chimp attempting to seduce him. Celise narrowed her eyes in thought as she watched Bebo yawn and stretch lethargically after finishing his snack, and curled up in a casual ball, covered his ears and went to sleep. He didn’t even seem to notice when the other male chimp in the cage began to pay a lot of special attention to the parts of Mimi that were exposed.
“Dr. Ashni, does Bebo have the exact same strain of the formula as Mr. Wentworth?”
“Well, of course not
the exact same. Human and chimpanzee DNA are very similar, but not identical. It’s been tweaked slightly to work for humans by using Wentworth as the control. But the modifications made wouldn’t account for such wild differences in behavior.”
“Is the chimp on anything else?”
“No, nothing. Why do you ask?”
Celise looked at the chimp. Like Jaxon, it was taller, bigger and stronger than it was before the trial. She hadn’t tested it for enhanced senses, but she suspected that it was affected in that way as well. What disturbed her, however, was its behavior. “This chimp isn’t acting like a super soldier. There’s no added aggression or any emotion at all, like with our patient. In fact, this chimp seems sedated, almost.” She picked up the folder that contained the chimp’s medical and experimental records and began thumbing through the files.
“Completely unlike our Wentworth,” Sri noted.
“See,” Victor said. “The chimp’s behavior is as expected, and his transformation wasn’t instantaneous. The formula is fine. There must be something off about the human subject, not our formula.”
“Could be…” Sri said, then trailed off in thought.
“This was all I needed to see,” Victor went over to his silver laptop and began clicking and typing. “I’m backing up the data and our findings and sending it to the boss.”
“Perhaps we should also ask Carrington for more funding to obtain new human subjects? We should verify that this instance is indeed an anomaly, and not a potentially recurring unintended side effect.”
“Perhaps we shouldn’t tell him anything that could risk our getting paid.”
“I know, I know, the ethical dilemma,” Victor scoffed. “I’m not suggesting we ignore it. I just think the formula works well enough to tell Garrett that Cyclone Industries can produce and sell it. If these issues come up again, we can act as if it were the first time we’d experienced such results, and then look into it after the fact. Perhaps even get paid
fee to diagnose and contain the situation.”
Celise folded her arms tightly and shook her head. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Celise paused at one of the chimp’s charts. “I think we could be getting misleading results from this chimp. It mentions that he was used in anti-depressant clinical trials. Did either of you bother to take note of the fact that this animal had large doses of serotonin reuptake inhibitors?”
“Yes, I saw that,” Sri nodded. “But that was over eighteen months ago.”
“Too far back to have an effect on our efforts now,” Victor added. “It’s fine.”
Celise shook her head. “It doesn’t seem fine. Bebo was one of the liveliest chimps in here. Look at him now, he doesn’t seem like himself at all. It’s like he doesn’t care about anything. If there isn’t any remaining SRI in his system, then –”
“No, it’s fine. Titan Formula is
to make him calm,” Sri explained. “Bebo isn’t suffering some lasting effect from the antidepressant trial. He’s exactly the way he is supposed to be due to the SRI in the Titan Formula.”
“Subdued.” Victor added absently as he typed. “Open to being commanded.”
Celise arched a brow. “Commanded?” She cut a look at Victor, then Sri, then back to Victor. “Commanded by whom?”
Victor sighed. “Whoever’s got the rank to, of course.”
“I thought the purpose of Titan Formula was to create a human with superior, regenerative physical health and strength?”
“Then why tamper with their temperament at all?”
Victor looked up at Celise then and snorted. “How else would you propose one would regulate a military or police force with regenerative superior senses, physical health and strength?”
“Hmm, I don’t know … I suppose maybe mutual
Victor looked at her blankly. “No. It wouldn’t.”
“I’ve been assisting you guys with this experiment for over half a year. Why am I just learning about this?”
“There’s many details we purposely refrained from sharing with you, Celise. The only reason we’re telling you now is because we’re in a bind and need all the brain power we can get to figure this out.”
She blinked in disbelief and tried to keep her mouth from gaping open. “ Are you even interested in really trying to correct anything? To fix Jaxon at all?”
“Of course, yes,” Sri said, throwing Victor a cutting look when their eyes briefly met. “Morhamer’s ego may be preventing him from admitting something has gone wrong here, but it has. We acknowledge what Jaxon is emotionally suffering is the exact opposite effect intended, and we do not know why.”
Celise snorted. “And so what you mean is Jaxon’s experiencing hypersensitivity to his emotions when, in reality, you expected him to feel –”
“Almost none at all.”
Celise felt her teeth grinding together as she glared at both men, snatched off her plastic gloves and tossed them upon the table. “I believe I am done here for today. If you’ll excuse me.” She headed for the door, paused, and turned back to look at the scientists. “And I suggest you both put your over-inflated egos to the side for a bit and consider the possibility that your formula is not working as planned, and that the only reason this chimp is not a one seriously angry monkey is because he still has some remnants of SRIs in his system from a previous experiment that actually
work,” she said. Then she exited, slamming the door behind her.