Charming the Beast Page 19

“You know I do.”

Want. Lust. Need. That wasn’t enough for her.

“I want you, too.” She would hold nothing back. “But the thing is…I think I could love you.”

His expression didn’t change.

She held her breath and asked, “Do you think you could love me?”


“Someone told me…” Her voice was too brittle but she forced herself to continue. “That maybe we all deserve the chance to love and be loved. I want my chance, Connor. I want it with you.”

His expression became even harder. “You want us to run away together.”

“I want us to try having a life! I want the white, picket fence and barbecue nights! I want laughter and little league!” All of her dreams tumbled out right then. Dreams she’d had as a sixteen year old girl, before her life had turned into a living hell. Dreams that she’d thought were dead and buried.

But, apparently, nothing about her could stay dead. Not even those pesky dreams.

“I can’t give you that.”

Her heart hurt.

“I can’t ever give you any of that.” He shook his head. “Because you know what, Chloe? I am a monster. I have been from the time I was a child.”


“And that is who I will always be. I can’t give you what you want.”

She hurried forward and grabbed his arms. “I want you to love me.”

“Baby, I don’t know how to love.”

His words sank right through her.

“I know how to kill and how to hurt. There’s not much more to me than that.”

“You’re wrong.” But he was hurting her right then. Crushing her. Turning her faint dreams to dust. “Give us a chance. Please, Connor, I’m begging you.” Because she knew this was it. Her chance. Their chance. “Let’s leave here. Let’s go together, now, and leave everyone else behind. Let’s—”

“I’m not leaving.”

His words were so cold and so…final.

Her hands fell away from him.

“You’re safe here, Chloe. You have my word on that.”

And Connor never lied. She did. She lied often.

But I didn’t lie about the way I feel. She was falling for him. Apparently, he was just f**king her.

“Now I need to go check in with Holly and Shane. Stay settled up here, and I’ll be back to check on you soon.”

Then, without another word, he just left her. The door closed softly behind him.

Chloe stared at the door. How could he not see it? There weren’t bars on the room, but she was in a cell. She’d been captive most of her life.

I’m going to be free.

She wasn’t going to be the weak one anymore. The one who was pushed around and hurt. She wasn’t going to wait for someone else to decide her fate. Those days were over—and all she’d gotten for her trouble was blood, pain, and life as a semi-werewolf.

She rolled back her shoulders. She was getting out of this place. And she’d be getting out that day.

Good-bye, Connor. Because she would miss him. Always.

But she wouldn’t give up her life for him.


Connor shoved open the door to Holly’s lab. He wasn’t particularly surprised to see the crowd that had gathered inside. “Looks like the gang is all here,” he muttered.

Holly stood a few feet away, garbed in green scrubs. Duncan was at her side, like the guy always was. But if Eric was really going to have Holly run tests on Keegan, Connor had been sure that he’d find his brother in the room.

Shane was there, too. The vamp’s expression was carefully schooled, but his body was tight. He might not look worried, but Connor knew the fellow was.

Olivia paced a few feet away. Nervous energy rolled off her body.

“Did you all know that Eric was bringing the bastard in?” Connor demanded.

“No,” Duncan said immediately. “I didn’t.”

Shane shook his head. “I’m not in the loop anymore.”

Holly sighed. “Eric thinks he doesn’t have to answer to anyone.”

“He’s wrong,” Connor said flatly.

Holly glanced back toward the door. “He’s going to be bringing Keegan in any moment. I don’t…I don’t think you want to be here for this part.”

“Hell, yes, I do.” But that was a lie. He actually wanted to be on a motorcycle, with Chloe holding tight to him, as they rode hell-fast out of there.

So why am I here?

Chloe’s image flashed in his mind. Her eyes had been so blue, her expression so stark. Do you think you could love me?

He didn’t know anything about love. He knew about hate. About rage. About possession and obsession.


Hell, did it even exist?

“How’s Harris?” Connor asked as he tried to shove the image of Chloe from his mind.

Duncan approached him. “He made it through the night. That’s something.”

Yeah, it was.

“But you know Eric. He wanted the guy put in a cell, just until the full moon passed. With it coming tonight, he didn’t want to take any chances.”

Connor had already felt the pull of the moon.

“Connor, if you’re going to attack Keegan, you know you can’t stay in here.”

Connor cracked his knuckles. “I’ll play nicely…”

“Are you sure you know how?” This came from Shane.

Connor gave him a hard glare. “I’ll play nicely…as long as he stays under Eric’s control. If the bastard makes an attempt to attack, he’s done.” Because Connor couldn’t allow Keegan to threaten Chloe again.


The woman was haunting him right then. She’d been so hopeful, but he truly wasn’t the barbecue and picket fence type. His instincts were too dark. Too dangerous.

Chloe hadn’t seen the real Connor, not yet. She thought he was one of the good-guy agents. She just didn’t get it.

And maybe I don’t want her to get it. Maybe I want her to keep looking at me with that light in her eyes.

Because when she really saw him for the beast that he was, Chloe wouldn’t think that she could fall in love with him. Chloe would run as fast and as hard as she could—as she tried to get away from him.


Chloe’s fingers slipped beneath the mattress. When Connor had stormed into Eric’s office late last night, she’d tagged along. And while Connor had questioned Eric, she’d helped herself to one of Eric’s precious keycards.

So maybe she had some sticky fingers. Maybe she’d had to escape the guards her father had put on her over the years.

She’d stared right into Eric’s eyes as she’d palmed the keycard off his desk. For someone who was supposed to be so savvy, Eric had sure not even noticed her little theft routine.

Her hand curled around the keycard. She’d been watching closely each time she was led through the facility. So she should be able to get back down to the lower level, using that keycard at all the right intervals, no problem. Then she’d find her way out and vanish.

She wouldn’t see Connor again. She wouldn’t see Olivia.

She’d be on her own.

Would she change into a wolf again? Chloe didn’t know, but she did know that she couldn’t stay in that base. She wanted a life, and she’d take it.

She opened her door. No guard stood on the other side. Connor must have really thought that she was fine with being a prisoner at that place. Pain gnawed through her.

Why couldn’t he have come with me? But more, it seemed as if the real question was…Why couldn’t he have chosen me? Because she felt as if it had been a choice for him.

Her…or the Para Unit.

She slid into the hallway. She could hear voices coming from the stairwell. Squaring her shoulders, Chloe took a deep breath. This was it.

She kept a tight grip on that keycard and headed down the stairs.


“Keep him sedated,” Eric ordered the guards as they strapped Keegan to a gurney. “I don’t want this jerk getting any chance to slip away from us.”

The guards dosed Keegan again. Good. Eric nodded. Then he turned on his heel. He had to make sure that Holly was ready for her latest patient. As he swept out of the general containment area, his gaze slid to the right. Harris Grey was there, watching him. The silver collar seemed to glow around Harris’s neck.

Eric paused. “The collar is just for your protection.” And for the protection of every staff member in that base. “After the full moon passes, we’ll know that you control your beast.”

Harris was sitting in the middle of the cell. “And if the beast controls me…what then? You going to put me down? Ship me off to Purgatory?”

“I’ll deal with you.” That was all he’d say because the last thing Eric wanted to do was hurt a loyal agent.

He marched out of the area. Hell, he sure hoped Holly was ready for Keegan. Because they had to figure out how the guy had become a cross-over.

No one else can be allowed to change.

Cross-overs were far too dangerous.


The drugs were filling his veins. Cold, like ice that chilled him from the inside. The guards had strapped him down on the gurney, securing him so tightly. Too tightly, but they hadn’t cared.

Now they were wheeling him out of the cell. His head sagged to the side, and he knew that he looked as if he were barely conscious.

Appearances could be so very deceiving.

They took him past his men. Werewolves locked down in their collars. He muttered as he past them, his voice no more than a whisper.

It was a good thing werewolves had such wonderful hearing.

The guards took him past another cell. One that was far away from the others. Ah…and there was someone in that cell, too. The agent he’d slashed…and bit.

When he saw Keegan, Harris jumped to his feet and ran forward with a yell.

“Easy, man, easy,” one of Keegan’s guards said.

“You bastard!” Harris yelled. “You damn, sick—”

“Get Chloe,” Keegan murmured. He knew his words would be too soft for the human guards to hear. Luckily, Harris wasn’t human any longer. “Kill her.”

But when Chloe died…

Will you come back again? He was sure that she would, and he’d be ready.

Her death would be all the distraction he needed.

Harris’s face went slack with shock. His furious gaze iced over, all emotion vanishing in an instant.

If he could have, Keegan would have smiled. It was really true what folks said about vamps and compulsion.

A little blood could go such a long way.


Eric burst into the lab.

Connor tensed when he saw the guy—and, yeah, Eric tensed when he saw Connor, too.

Eric pointed at Holly. “Are you ready for this?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she muttered back.

Eric’s gaze swept the room. “Everyone, stay at attention. He’s drugged, but we don’t want to take any chances with him, got it?”

Oh, Connor definitely had it.

The doors opened again and guards wheeled in Keegan.

Connor took an instinctive step forward.

“Don’t.” It wasn’t Eric holding him back this time, it was Olivia. She’d snuck up on him. Not many people—including strong paranormals—could do that. “Just let Holly take some samples.” Her worried stare was on Keegan. “I don’t like this. The whole set-up gives me a bad feeling.”

You and me both. That was why he was there. Why he’d left Chloe even though it had felt like he was walking on nails with every step he took away from her.

Holly approached Keegan with a syringe in her hand.

And, even though he was sedated, Keegan laughed. “Don’t you just…want to drink from me…? Would you like that…more? I know about you, pretty vamp.”

How the hell did he know Holly was a vampire?

“Know about…all… of you,” Keegan said, his voice slightly slurred.

Duncan stepped to Holly’s side.

Keegan’s bleary stare landed on him. “Don’t look…like him…” Keegan said. “Your brother…does…”

That bad feeling of Connor’s got worse.

Because Connor knew exactly who he looked like. Unfortunately. He was the spitting image of his father.

I became a cross-over. Duncan is a cross-over.

But their father hadn’t been able to harness that power. He’d tried, by his own admission, but the guy had died only as a werewolf. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Holly sank a needle into Keegan’s arm.

The bastard smiled weakly at her. “I’m going…to kill you…soon…” Keegan promised.

“The hell you are,” Duncan swore.

Chapter Twelve

She’d made it to the main floor. Her heart was about to break out of her chest. Chloe grabbed for a lab coat that had been left out on a desk and she slid it on, hoping the coat would make her blend in a bit better. Then she scooped up a clipboard and pretty much buried her nose in the thing. The less attention she attracted, the better.

Chloe came to the first barred door on the main floor. She figured this door had to lead to one of two places…sweet, wonderful freedom…or down to containment.

This wasn’t the way Eric had taken her when he’d so annoyingly locked her up, so she was betting this path led to freedom.

She lifted the keycard up and swiped it. The light on the control pad flashed green.


The bars slid back and the door opened. Chloe hurriedly stepped through that doorway. An armed guard was up ahead, but when he saw her, he just gave a curt nod.

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