Eve Bradley was undercover looking for a story, not a cause. But something about the man they called Subject Thirteen got her involved. The scientists said he was a devil, and they had a decent case: Terrifying power. A bad attitude. And looks that could lead anyone to sin. . .
Cain O'Connor knows the minute he catches her candy scent that Eve could drive him wild. But she's a threatin a way no one has been for him in years. She's safer away from him, too. But with a powerful conspiracy determined to shut Eve up for good, there's no time to argue. All they can do is trust their instinctsand their hearts. . .
Praise for Cynthia Eden's novels
"Cynthia's on my must-buy list." Angie Fox
"A fast-paced, sexy thrill ride you won't want to miss." Christine Feehan on Eternal Hunter
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BURN FOR ME
By CYNTHIA EDEN
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Cindy Roussos
All rights reserved.
The first time Eve Bradley saw Subject Thirteen, he was in chains.
She froze in front of the glass wall that separated her from him—a wall that, to Subject Thirteen, would look just like a mirror. The two-way mirror let the doctors and observers watch his every move. Not that the guy could do much moving when he was chained to the wall.
"I-I thought ..." Eve tried to fight the tremble in her voice. She was supposed to look like she belonged here. Like she fit in with all the other researchers who were so eager to experiment on the test subjects. "I thought everyone was here voluntarily."
Dr. Richard Wyatt turned to face her, his white lab coat brushing against her. "The chains are for his safety." His tone implied she should have realized that obvious fact.
Was she really supposed to buy that line? Being chained up—that equaled safety in what mixed-up world?
"Dr. Bradley ..." Wyatt's dark eyebrows lifted as he studied her with an assessing gaze. "You do realize that all the subjects here are far, far from human, correct?"
She knew the spiel. "Yes, of course, I do. They're supernaturals. Here to take part in experiments that will help the U.S. military." So all the fancy guys in suits had told the media when the Genesis group started their recruitment program last fall.
Not that she believed their story. It had taken her months, months, to set up this cover and get inside the research facility.
If she'd been on her own, she never would have passed clearance. But, luckily, Eve had managed to make a few powerful friends over the years.
Friends who wanted to know the truth about this place as much as she did. They all had an interest in Genesis.
Some reporters really could smell a story. Right now, Eve's nose was twitching.
She glanced back at Subject Thirteen. Everyone knew paranormals were out there, living in the midst of humans. About ten years ago, the first supernaturals had made themselves known. They'd come out of their paranormal closets. And why not? Why should they have been forced to keep hiding? Always hiding in the shadows had to suck. Maybe they'd just gotten tired of living a lie and decided to force the humans to see what was right in front of them—or what was living right beside them.
Since the big revelation, things had changed for the para normals. Some were hunted. Some turned into instant celebrities. The reaction from the humans, well, that was mixed, too.
Some humans hated the supernaturals. Some feared them. Some really enjoyed fucking them.
Eve didn't necessarily fall into any of those categories.
Subject Thirteen was staring right at her. A small shiver slid over Eve's body.
His eyes were dark. They looked almost black—as black as the thick hair that hung a little too long as it brushed over his broad shoulders. Thirteen was a handsome man, strong, muscled—definitely muscled—and with the sculpted bone structure that had probably caught plenty of attention from the ladies.
High cheeks. Square jaw. Lips that were hard, a little thin, but still sexy ... though she could have sworn that mouth held a cruel curve.
Her heartbeat began to pound faster. Thirteen's eyes were sweeping over her body. A slow, deliberate glance. "Can he—can he see through the mirror?" His gaze felt like a hot touch on her skin.
"Of course not" was Dr. Wyatt's instant response. The doc sounded annoyed with her.
Her shoulders relaxed.
Subject Thirteen smiled.
Damn. Her shoulders tensed right back up again.
Wyatt checked his notes and then told her, "Go check his vitals before we begin the procedure for today."
Right. Vitals check. Her job. Eve nodded. She'd done two years of med school before realizing the gig wasn't for her, so she could pass muster with these guys, no problem. Only part of her résumé was fake.
The good part.
Eve walked slowly toward the metal door that was the only entrance and exit to Thirteen's holding room. A guard opened the door for her. An armed guard—which brought up the next question. Why did volunteers have to be guarded?
Oh, jeez, but this place was creeping her out. Volunteers, my ass.
Sure, she'd seen a couple other subjects during her time at the Genesis facility. Not many, though. Her clearance wasn't high enough to get her past level one. Or it hadn't been ... until today.
Until she'd been told that Dr. Wyatt needed her services for his latest experiment. Dr. Richard Wyatt was Genesis. A former kid genius, the guy had a couple fists full of degrees, and currently was the leading expert in the field of paranormal genetics.
He was also a hard-ass who gave her the creeps when his cold green eyes locked on her. Maybe he was a fairly attractive guy, but something about him made her blood ice.
The guard waved his hand, indicating that it was clear for Eve to proceed. When she walked into Thirteen's holding room, Eve saw the slight flare of the man's nostrils. Then his head turned toward her slowly, the move almost like a snake's as he sized her up.
He didn't speak, but his powerful hands clenched.
Eve opened her small black bag. "Hello." Her voice came out too high-pitched. She drew in a steadying breath. The guy was chained. It wasn't like anything could happen to her. She needed to get a grip and do her job. "I'm just here to run a few quick checks on you." No machines were hooked up to him. No monitors. Wyatt wanted these checks done the old-fashioned way—hell if she knew why. Eve pulled out her stethoscope and stopped a foot away from Thirteen. "I-I'll need to listen to your heartbeat."
Still nothing. Okay. Eve swallowed and offered a weak smile. Obviously, she wasn't dealing with a chatty fellow.
Eve slid closer to him. Her gaze darted to the chains. They held his arms trapped at his sides. Even if he'd wanted to grab her—don't grab me, don't!—he couldn't move.
What if Wyatt was setting her up? The guy was chained and that had to mean he was dangerous, right? Those were some seriously thick chains. They looked like something right out of a medieval torture chamber.
"I won't hurt you."
She jumped at the sound of his voice; and what a dark, rumbling voice it was. When the big, bad wolf from that old fairy tale talked, Eve bet the beast had sounded just like Subject Thirteen.
She exhaled and hoped she didn't look rattled. "I didn't think you would."
His lips twisted in the faintest of smiles—one that called her a liar.
Eve put the stethoscope over his heart. She adjusted the equipment, listened, and glanced up at him in surprise. "Is your heartbeat always this fast?" Grabbing his chart, she scanned through the notes. Fast, but not this fast. His heart was galloping like a racehorse.
Eve put her hand against his forehead and hissed out a breath. The guy was hot. Not warm, not feverish, hot.
And she was so close to him that her breasts brushed his arm.
Subject Thirteen's heartbeat grew even faster.
Oh ... just ... oh. Hell. She hurried backward a bit.
"I need to draw a sample of your blood." She also wanted to take his temperature because the guy had to be scorching. Just what was he? Not a vampire, those guys could never heat up this much. A shifter? Maybe. She'd seen one of those subjects on her first day. But the shifter had been in a cozy dorm-type room.
He hadn't been shackled.
Eve put up the stethoscope and reached for a needle. She eased closer to Thirteen once more and rose onto her toes. The guy was big, at least six three, maybe six four, so she couldn't quite reach his ear as she whispered, "Are you here willingly?"
Eve began to draw his blood. Thirteen didn't even flinch as the needle slid into his arm.
But he did give a small, negative shake of his head.
Shit. She eased back down and tried to figure out just how she could help him.
"I'm Eve." She licked her lips. His gaze followed the movement. The darkness in his stare seemed to heat. Everything about the guy was hot. "I-I can help you."
He laughed then, and the sound chilled her. "No," he said in that deep rumble of a voice, "you can't."
Eve realized she was standing between his legs. His unsecured legs. His thighs brushed against hers, and she flinched.
The smile on his face was as cold as his laughter. She'd been correct when she thought she saw a cruel edge to his lips. She could see that hardness right then. "You should be afraid," he told her.
Yes, she was definitely getting that clue.
Eve pulled out the needle. Swabbed some alcohol over a wound she couldn't even see. Then she stepped back, as quickly as she could.
"Don't come back in here," he told her, eyes narrowing. A warning.
Or a threat?
Eve turned away.
"You smell like fucking candy ..."
She stilled. Now her heartbeat was the one racing too fast.
"You make me ..." His voice dropped, but she caught the ragged growl of "hungry."
And he made her afraid. Eve slammed her hand onto the metal door. "Guard!" Her own voice was too high. "We're done!"
The door opened and she all but fell out of the room. Even though she was afraid, she risked one last look back. Thirteen was staring after her, his jaw locked tight. He did look hungry. Only not for food.
The door slid shut and she remembered how to breathe. She sucked in a deep breath as she looked up—right into Dr. Wyatt's too sharp green gaze.
"Problem?" He asked softly, the barest hint of a southern drawl sliding beneath his words. Since the Genesis facility was hidden away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, many of the folks working there had a slight drawl that spoke of roots in the South.
The guards, anyway. Thirteen hadn't possessed any accent that she could hear.
Yanking back her control, Eve shook her head and pushed Thirteen's chart toward him. "No problem at all, sir."
She could still feel Subject Thirteen's stare on her body. Worse, she could feel him.
"Good," Wyatt said, "because it's time to begin."
Uh, begin? She'd rather thought her job was done.
He motioned to the guard. She'd already learned that guy's name. Mitchell. Barnes Mitchell. As Eve watched, he pulled out his gun and checked the clip.
"The first shot shouldn't be to the heart," Wyatt instructed as he cocked his head to the side and pursed his lips. "We want a comparison shot. Wound him first," he said with a nod, "then go for the heart."
But Barnes just nodded and headed back into Thirteen's room with his gun ready.
Eve lost the breath she'd taken as horror nearly choked her.
Cain O'Connor drew in a deep breath. The air smelled of her. A light, sweet scent. He could almost taste the woman—and he wanted more of her. So much more.
What were the bastards thinking? Sending in a little morsel like her. Didn't they know what he could do to her? What he wanted to do? After all these months ...
Maybe they'd wanted to tempt him. He pulled on the chains, testing their strength. They weren't made of any metal he'd ever come across. Reinforced with who the hell knew what. The Genesis pricks thought they were so smart with their inventions. "Supernatural-proof" as that ass Wyatt had gloatingly told him when he'd asked about the chains.
The chains wouldn't hold him forever. This prison would end. Their nightmare would begin.
The door of his cell opened. He caught a glimpse of her—Eve—as she glanced back at him. Her blue eyes were wide, afraid. She should be afraid. She should run as fast as she could from this place. Before it was too late for her.
It was already too late for the others. He'd marked them for death. Especially that bastard Wyatt. The doctor got off on torture.
How will you like it when you're the one screaming, Wyatt? Will it be so much fun then?
The guard stepped inside. He smelled of sweat and cigarettes. The door closed behind him. No more Eve.
But Cain could hear her footsteps. Hers and Wyatt's. His senses were far more acute than he'd let on. Why give the enemy any advantage?
Why give them any fucking thing at all?
The guard, a stocky bastard with shifty eyes and a definite taste for torture, had his weapon out. Cain's jaw locked. He knew what the gun meant. This time, they were going to try old-fashioned bullets.
Would they take a heart shot? Or a head? Maybe the guard would shoot him right between the eyes and blow his brains out.
"What are you doing?" Eve's voice. Drifting lightly to his ears like a whisper. They thought they'd soundproofed his room.
They were wrong. He couldn't hear the voices perfectly, but he caught the whispers. Knew so much more than the not-so-good doctor realized.
Cain glanced toward the mirror. He saw right through the reflection and into the room. All it took was a little focus, a slight push of power ...
There she was.
Her dark hair was pinned at the base of her neck. Her face—so damn pretty. Glass-sharp cheekbones, red, plump lips that made him think of sin and sheets.
And her eyes ... fucking lethal.
Perhaps one of the few things that could be lethal to him.
"Why does the guard have his gun out?" Eve demanded, and he heard the fear shaking in her words.
He didn't like the sound of fear in her voice. Didn't like the smell of it on her, either. When Eve had gotten close to him, she'd been afraid.
Poor Eve. She probably didn't know who she should fear more ... him or Wyatt.
Cain looked at the gun that Barnes held. "Hardly seems fair," Cain muttered, "shooting me when I'm chained."
"You're gonna let the guard shoot him?" was Eve's immediate cry.
Ah, she was definitely not like the others. That could be a problem. When hell came calling, and it would be calling soon, he'd have to make sure she didn't get burned.
Not too much, anyway.
The intercom clicked on. "Proceed with the test," Wyatt's annoying drawl ordered as it drifted through the speakers and into Cain's cell.
Dammit. Cain tightened his muscles. He hated for the woman to watch this, but perhaps she needed to see just what these bastards were capable of doing. She'd signed on for this, so she should understand just how psychotic her boss truly was.
"He can't proceed—" Eve shouted, her words tumbling through the intercom—
Just as the guard fired.
The bullet drove right into Cain's side. Tore through flesh and muscle. Blood spattered. Agony had his body shuddering.
But he didn't make a sound. That was a pleasure he wouldn't give the sadistic bastard watching.
"Silver bullets can pierce the subject's flesh," Wyatt's cool voice rattled off as if the guy were talking about the weather.
Cain's hands clenched into fists. The next shot would be to a vital organ. He knew the drill. Wyatt liked to play at first. Torturing SOB—
Cain glanced up. Eve was pounding on the glass. The mirror was shaking beneath the force of her fists. "Guard, get away from him!" she yelled, the desperate words echoing through the intercom system. "Drop the weapon!"
Not like the others.
Wyatt grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her back. Anger pulsed in Cain's blood. The doctor shouldn't be touching her.
"Proceed." Wyatt's order.
Eve shrieked and twisted in Wyatt's arms.
Cain saw her break away from the doctor. She ran for the cell door. Yanked it open.
"Proceed." Ah, now Wyatt sounded pissed.
Eve was rushing inside. "Get away from him!" she yelled at the guard. "Drop your weapon and just—"
The guard fired.
The bullet drove right into Cain's heart. He heard the thud as it tunneled into his flesh. Felt the sharp tear as it ripped through his heart. One instant of time. Two.
His gaze met Eve's. Her eyes—so blue—widened and her lips parted in a scream he didn't hear.
Too late. Cain was already dead.
* * *
Blood bloomed on Thirteen's chest. The bullet had blasted right into him—straight into his heart.
Eve ran toward him, ignoring the gun that the guard was slowly lowering. Fucking killer. Shooting a chained man. Yeah, that was fair.
Thirteen's legs had given way, but the chains had stopped him from crashing onto the floor. His head sagged forward, hanging limply.
Her hands slid under his jaw, and she tilted his head back. Oh, damn. His eyes were closed, his lashes casting heavy shadows on his cheeks. Her breath whispered over him. "I'm sorry." She should have moved faster. Knocked out the guard. Done something to save this man.
Instead, she'd just watched him die.
Excerpted from BURN FOR ME by CYNTHIA EDEN. Copyright © 2014 Cindy Roussos. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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