Authors: Tatiana Caldwell
Dr. Victor Morhamer paced the lab with one hand pressed against his temple. His head pounded with conflict. In just twenty-five hours, Garrett Carrington—the founder and CEO of Cyclone Industries—was going to be looking for an update on the status of the Titan Formula Project. But the only human test subject was an uncooperative mess, his partner Dr. Sri Ashni was being disagreeable, and all he had to show for nearly a year of hard work was a lethargic monkey.
Victor wanted to tear his own hair out. Too bad he didn’t have much to grab onto.
He pulled at the skin on his lips as he contemplated what to do. Garrett wasn’t exactly the kind of boss that you could casually deliver disappointing news to. Sri may not be so concerned about how the impact of rubbing Garrett the wrong way could have on one’s career, but Victor wasn’t an old man nearing retirement. His career was still just beginning, and the acclaim, recognition and recommendation from one like Garret would go a long way to guaranteeing his success. Not to mention the bonus pay that came along with this experiment being completed successfully and on time.
It wasn’t like the formula was incomplete. It was, and it worked. Bebo the chimp was living proof. Jaxon himself was the volatile one, probably overreacting to his physical and physiological changes with a form of depression, mental instability or hostility. Such was the risk in working with simple-minded people as such. Victor would have been much better off testing the formula on someone of his own mental capacity. Or even on himself.
Yes, of course, he could test it on himself! Why hadn’t he entertained the thought before?
It was unorthodox, sure, but not unprecedented for a scientist to use his own body as a test subject. He was pretty confident that his formula worked—he’d checked it and rechecked it. Even with the rapid transformation and unexpected side-effects, Jaxon was alive and well and intellectually the same, for what that was worth. So not only would Victor obtain increased size, strength, speed, and enhanced senses and regenerative abilities, he’d still retain his superior intellect. Garrett would be pleased, Sri would get off his back, Celise would be impressed and enamored and Jaxon would no longer be able to bully him. Victor may even be able to grow hair on the top of his head again, too.
He couldn’t come up with any drawbacks if he’d tried.
He locked the door to the lab and paused to contemplate the method of insertion. He and Sri had sedated Jaxon before they injected him, so he would not be conscious for the pain that accompanied the formula’s initial transition into the body. But Victor couldn’t administer the drug to himself if he was sedated, and there was no way Sri or Celise would agree to the course of action he’d decided upon. Victor was on his own, and therefore had to take the injection lucid. But it would all be so worth the pain.
Damn near giddy with anticipation, Victor fitted a rubber band around his arm, filled a syringe with the same version of the Titan Formula they last used on Jaxon, and injected himself in the arm. The next instant he was on his knees, gripping at the edge of the table, gritting his teeth as he tried to refrain from crying out in agony. The formula was coursing through his veins, changing his DNA, and it felt like a nuclear reaction was ripping through him.
Three long, torturous minutes went by before the pain dissipated enough for him to be able to stand up. He dragged himself over to a chair and plopped down in it with a huff. He doubled over with his arms hugging his waist, dry heaving into the air. The retching sounds coming from his throat were so loud, it startled him. Then he noticed the ticking of the clock. Had it always been that loud? The monkeys in the cage sounded and smelled like an entire zoo full of animals. Victor briefly considered how unnerving it all was, and he could see how a lesser man like Jaxon could lose a bit of sanity experiencing all of this so suddenly.
Then he felt his ligaments stretching, his muscles inflating, his body twisting and transforming, and he forgot all about the discomfort of his newly enhanced senses. Suddenly his shoes, shirt and slacks were becoming increasingly too small, and he quickly stripped out of his clothes before he burst through them. The burning in his eyes, though, was the most unnerving, and what seemed like minutes went by before his vision was clear again. He looked over at himself in the mirror in awe at his new physique and orange-ish reptilian eyes … and then up at his visibly returning hairline.
Other than the slight physical discomfort and the hypersensitivity to everything happening around him, Victor felt just great. Maybe even better than great.
The clomping sound of Doc Martin’s out in the hall alerted Victor to Sri’s arrival moments before the man even reached the room. Being that he was now standing there wearing nothing but boxers, Victor went to the closet and found a smock. He was draping it over himself when the older scientist opened the door to room. With his hands up in a peaceful gesture, he took small, careful steps towards his lab partner, making every attempt to appear docile.
“Who—wha—what is this? Morhamer? Is that you?”
The dark wrinkles on Sri’s face twitched. “Please tell me you did not inject yourself intentionally.”
Sri’s thick brows knitted together. “Why? Why would you do such a foolish, reckless thing?”
“To prove that experiment works.”
“That’s what the
is for, Morhamer! We’re not even certain where we erred, or what was flawed. Wentworth-”
“Jaxon was an anomaly and he’s a lost cause. There are no flaws. I’m good.”
“But Wentworth –”
“Why do you keep bringing his name up?” Victor felt his mouth twist into a snarl. “He’s worthless, always has been. We don’t need him anymore. I can demonstrate the results myself now. This is a good thing, Sri.”
“And if you too become uncontrollably hostile and volatile?”
“I won’t!” The bite with which Victor’s reply came took even him by surprise, and he turned his head away in case his anger showed on his face. He couldn’t let Sri think he was losing it. Which he wasn’t. He just needed a moment to collect himself.
Behind him, Sri sighed. “Belderon may not want to use her emotional suppressant on Jaxon, but at least now we have it in case it becomes absolutely necessary for either of you.”
Victor’s head snapped around. “Such a thing wouldn’t be necessary, but what exactly are you talking about?
“The emotional suppressant Belderon and I have been working on for the better part of this day. She had already done most of the work last night, I only helped her to create a supplement to the Titan Formula. We needed to determine the strength and amount of dosage necessary to not dilute or taint the Titan Formula while simultaneously correcting the flaw –”
“You told me you were going to work on treating Jaxon today, you said nothing about going behind my back to build an unnecessary supplement.” Although he tried hard to keep his voice calm and even, Victor found that it was loud, foreboding, and lined with a dangerous edge. “As I’ve told you repeatedly, my Titan Formula works fine.”
“Our Titan Formula.”
“It stopped being
when you started doubting it, and sneaking behind my back to try to replace it.”
it, Morhamer, we are trying to fix it! We are a team, and have been for nearly a year. I have just as much of a vested interest as you in seeing this through.”
“Right. Whatever you say.” Victor gritted his teeth and shook his head briefly, trying to make the irritation go away. But he was growing increasingly agitated. “Where’s Celise now?”
“Still in the lab, eating late lunch or early dinner, whichever you may call it.”
“A lab on the second floor.”
“Which one? What’s the room number?”
Sri shifted his eyes to the side. “I don’t recall the number.”
Victor narrowed his eyes. “You lie. To protect them, I suppose, because you mistakenly think I’m not in my right frame of mind. Fine, how about you come with me then? I’ll show you that you’re wrong.”
Sri’s bottom lip quivered a bit before he answered. “Maybe we should wait until you’re somewhat calmer first, before we make a visit.”
Victor leapt forward and snatched Sri up by a fistful of his shirt. “I
calm. Lead the way.
A pounding in his head matched his thudding heart. Victor could feel the jealousy and suspicion at being left out of further developments—and then the anger that accompanied it—consuming him like a corrosive element.
“You seem like you distrust what Belderon and I have done,” Sri said as they stopped to enter the elevator. “But just stop and think about it for a moment, Morhamer. We are a team, and we both benefit if one of us succeeds and we both suffer if just one of us fails. We need each other.”
Sri was right. They had
been a team, and had needed each other. But Victor no longer needed Sri. He no longer needed anybody. In fact, it would be a waste to have to share the profit of his genius at all. There was no point in keeping Sri around. Or any of them.
For a flickering moment, panic fogged over him, as he realized that the formula
flawed, and that he was being completely irrational and overreacting. He was aware that he was quite possibly worse off than even Jaxon; Victor was losing his mind. Somehow, he had to stop it before someone got seriously hurt.
But then the moment of clarity was gone …
“You’ve been quiet all day. How are you feeling? Are you okay?”
Jaxon flashed his teeth at Celise. Hours had gone by without a single thought of breaking something or someone crossing his mind. “I’m freaking fantastic.”
“Fantasic? Wow,” her eyes opened wide, sparkling to match her smile. “Well, I’m glad to hear that.”
Jaxon pushed the thick sub sandwich into his mouth and bit off a huge chunk. While chewing, he watched Celise as she raised her sandwich to her lovely mouth and daintily nibbled off a bit. A few crumbs rested on her plump, bottom lip for a few seconds before she cleaned it off with her tongue.
His dick twitched at the memory of all the wonderful things she did to him with that mouth and tongue last night.
After Celise brought him to climax, he’d had the best sleep he’d had since his transformation. The best sleep since before that, actually. All day he’d been feeling more like his normal self, and completely in control. Well, almost complete control. He couldn’t seem to control his fluctuating heart whenever his eyes met with Celise’s, or the overwhelming sense of admiration as she concentrated on work. Not to mention the-off-the-charts desire he felt every time he got a strong whiff of her, or watched her move.
Was it the formula that was making him feel all of this so strongly? Or was it simply the way he felt about her?
Did it matter? Either way, he was sure he didn’t want it to stop.
“Perhaps you’re finally getting used to the effects of the Titan Formula.”
“Honestly, I think it’s getting used to the effect
have on me that’s the big help.”
Her cheeks went red and she looked down into her bag of chips. “Well, I definitely suppose a good orgasm will help anybody with anger management issues.”
“That’s not the only effect I was referring to.”
She met his eyes. “How else am I affecting you?”
“I enjoy spending time with you. Really enjoy it. You’re a welcome distraction from everything else that’s usually going on in my head.”
She rolled her eyes and snorted. “Well then. Good to know I’m a distraction.”
“I don’t think I’m saying it right. See, it’s my feelings for you that have me distracted.” He groaned inwardly. He wasn’t coming off as very smoothly at all. As much as it worried him, he had fallen hard for this woman, and all he wanted to do was express that to her. But he was making a banged up job of it.
However, her expression softened as she looked at him. “Jaxon, what are we, exactly? In your mind, at least.”
That, he wasn’t prepared to answer. “I don’t know. I want to be with you. But –”
“I don’t think it’s a smart idea for you to be with me right now. Not while I’m like this.”
She shrugged. “Like what? You’re perfectly yourself right now.”
“Right now,” he snorted. “But what happens when the bliss runs out, and I’m a monster again?”
“Then we do it again, of course.”
“What?” The question was rhetorical, but she answered it anyway.
“Have sex again. And again, if necessary.”
He stared at her, his libido on a dangerously fierce upswing.
“Listen, I want to be with you, too,” she continued. “Even if we can’t transform you back, because really you’re still you, just in an altered package. So as long as you can live with it, I can too.” She laid her hand upon his.
Jaxon’s heart pounded in his chest, and his stomach twisted in knots. Damn he loved this woman. Maybe he
live like this, if this is what it would feel always feel like.
“So long as as…” she started, but then her voice trailed off.
He kept his gaze on her hand. “So long as what?”
“So long as we can be sure what you’re feeling truly are your feelings. That anything you may be feeling for me isn’t temporary, or falsely inflated.”
He moved his eyes from her hand, up her arm and shoulder, to her mouth, then to her eyes. Eyes that burned him with their vulnerability, strength, intelligence and emotion. Then he returned to her mouth. Reflexively he licked his lips, then the next thing he knew, he had her in his lap, crushing his mouth against hers, devouring her lips, her breath, her tongue. He gripped her shoulders tight as he held her against him and kissed her until he felt his senses begin to slip away.
He paused with a gasping breath, just long enough to get out six raspy words. “Did that feel false to you?”
She shook her head, face flushed. “No. The evidence lends to the contrary, in fact.”
“Good.” Instead of admitting to how much he’d needed to hear her say that, he attacked her once more with his mouth. He was reaching for her lab coat, prepared to strip her naked, shove the crap off the table and take here right there in that lab, when the door flew open so hard it hit the wall with a loud, reverberating bang.
They both jumped and looked up in time to see Sri stumbling into the room with someone big, scary and angry-looking storming in behind him.
Someone almost as big, ripped and crazy-eyed as Jaxon himself, yet who oddly reminded him of Dr. Morhamer. His reptilian eyes seemed tinted with an orange hue. “Take your hands off her Jaxon, before I rip them off!”
“Morhamer, please wait, you need to remain calm.” Sri put up both hands at the big guy, as if to try to pacify him with gestures.
Victor! Jaxon wasn’t certain of what the hell was going on, but he sprang to his feet, ready to for a fight.
Celise scrambled out of her chair and stood just in front of Jaxon. “Dr. Morhamer, you need to calm down. Jaxon wasn’t doing anything I didn’t want him to.”
“I saw it! He had his hands all over you! Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you anymore. I’m just as strong as he is now.”
“Jaxon hasn’t hurt me at all. He’s—he’s my … we’re seeing each other.”
Monster Victor looked between Jaxon and Celise, his face twisted with his perplexity. Then his brows and nose wrinkled in disgust. “You intentionally choose to be intimate with
? That intellectually inferior cop of a man, who can’t even handle his feelings while on the formula?” Victor shook his head. “He must be forcing. Get away from him.”
“Victor, please. You’re not listening.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Celise. Get away from him now!” Victor picked up a chair that sat nearest him, and flung it towards where Jaxon and Celise stood. It flew over their heads and crashed loudly behind them into the unbreakable windows that lined the wall. Jaxon understood it was only meant to be a warning, but he didn’t like the chosen method of communication. He could feel all of his internal restraints slowly snapping loose.
“Morhamer, stop this,” Sri demanded. “We can help you. Belderon has a serum that can suppress-”
But Sri did not get to finish his statement. With one swing of his giant fist, Victor sent the older man up into the air, flying several feet further into the room and landing with a distressing thud upon the floor.
“No! Dr. Ashni,” Celise cried as she scurried over to help the man.
“Leave him be,” Victor bellowed. He leapt at Celise and jerked her by the arm so roughly, her head snapped the side.
“Let go, Victor,” she cried. “You’re hurting me.”
“Maybe I want to hurt you,” he hissed. “You’d be better off dead than with that cop, anyway.”
Jaxon went still. Every sound, every smell, every visual in the room vanished until there was nothing but the ringing of rage in his ears, the pheromones of Celise’s fear and his own anger, and a haze of red that overtook all of Jaxon’s senses.
With one focused thought, he lunged up and towards Monster Victor, just as his wall of sanity came tumbling down.