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I am more beast than man, a genetic creation by human scientists. A product of the Apocalypse and the near destruction of mankind. But my kind are their only hope – their savage hope in a world where humans are barren. Yet, there are those in the Order who will stop at nothing, hunting until we are extinct. Only one woman; a human and my intended mate can stop the madness.
I am a scientist’s daughter, a privileged woman required to follow the rules. But I refuse to succumb to the tyranny that is the new government. Until I am thrown into the lottery, a game created to give people hope. I must select beasts as mates or mankind will perish. I see the truth. I know the end. Lies and deceit have carved the way. Only one man, a powerful white tiger, my lover and protector, can provide salvation.
If it’s not too late…
Publisher’s Note: This post-apocalyptic romance offers adventure, danger, mystery suspense, explicit scenes, and ménage themes. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.
And the meek shall inherit the Earth…
United States, 2175
Destiny Donovan stood at the window, squinting due to the blazing sun streaming into the cracked, filthy glass. People had filled the street, the majority headed for the arena, the lottery. The damn game she loathed. She glanced at the few furnishings she’d managed to purchase for her dingy apartment and sighed. No running water. Limited electricity. Little security. But she was free, allowed to live outside the sanctioned compound owned and operated by the Order, the government which ruled with an iron fist.
Barely twenty-five, she’d lived too many lifetimes. A single horrendous memory would never leave the girl who’d dreamed of all things beautiful. The end of the world came on July 31, 2160 – the apocalypse.
She’d just turned ten but there had been no time for a birthday party. Her family had scrambled to secure the remaining scientists inside the protected compound. The chosen ones were ushered into seclusion. They were the only ones who could bring back the lives of humans who had no clue what they faced. The majority of those on earth died, either burned in the first wave of bombs or later, after the white ash began to fall. The survivors had lost all humanity, murdering for food or shelter. The rest were threatened by a disease slowly feasting on human flesh.
What few would ever know was how desperate the scientists had become. Their work, once thought noble, was now centered on one aspect – fertility. Every man and woman surviving the war was barren – except for a select few in a control group, one decided long before the fateful day. The truth was kept locked away, buried along with what was left of any hope for the future. What the Order had spouted was lies. Until the lottery. Until the beasts had been created, their genes perfected after years of experimentation. The man responsible for the breakthrough?
Her father, renowned genetic scientist, James Donovan.
Beads of perspiration trickled down the back of her neck from the intense desert heat. She knew living in the dirty city among criminals and the sick was dangerous, but in her mind, this had been the only option. She’d refused to remain a part of the experiments, even if her medical degree in large game gave her an advantage of being privileged. She also knew enough details about how the beasts had been created to have her imprisoned for telling the truth to anyone outside of the Order.
Destiny could tell by the sun that it was almost time to go. Today of all days, the day of the lottery, she’d been summoned to the compound to see her father. Serum to keep her healthy and disease free had been administered to both her and her sister since the post apocalypse. Going today meant she’d be forced to experience the game, a group of the highest quality beasts paraded in front of thousands, all screaming for a selection to be made. One woman chosen from the control group would request three of the dozen. The goal? Mating. Clear and simple. Produce children. And how?
A shiver trickled down her back. The beasts were originally animals, lions, bears, wolves, tigers and other large game. They’d not only survived the damning war, their genetics intact, they’d thrived, becoming stronger, faster and impervious to human diseases. After years of testing, genes from humans and these magnificent creatures had been successfully spliced together. The outcome was truly impressive. They were by all rights human, from their looks and intelligence, but their instincts were decidedly animalistic, savage. They were beasts after all.
However, they were the only future mankind would know. If they succumbed to continuous experiments… To date, there had yet to be a successful breeding and humans were becoming enraged, disillusioned at the prospects. Chaos would ensue if a birth didn’t occur soon. The lottery was now brutal.
She knew she couldn’t wait any longer. After securing what little she considered precious in a hiding place, she walked outside, padlocking the door, and began the walk toward the bus that would take her to see her father. Today, she was apprehensive.
“Monsters will rule the world! We must stop them!” the man screeched as he held up a sign, the crimson writing strings of fresh blood. “Death and damnation is upon us!”
The sentiment was shared by a growing group of solders, men specially trained to keep the breeds in line. The words echoed in Destiny’s mind as she walked by, turning once to gaze on his beaten and bloodied face. He stared straight at her, as if looking through to her very soul. When he mouthed the words ‘help me’, she turned around. The man could be no more than thirty-five but because of what he’d endured during the last ten years, he appeared to be in his seventies.
“Beasts will eat your soul.”
Shuddering, she pushed her hands against her ears, willing the ugly words into a black hole, yet she knew the truth hovered just under the surface. She continued her brisk pace, fearful of looking at anyone directly. Direct confrontation could result in a bloodbath. Beasts. The true monster remained, the very men who’d destroyed the earth decades before.
The afternoon sun shimmered down, highlighting the desolate streets, debris that remained after the great war. She fanned her face and kept her pace brisk, both due to the oppressive heat and fear of the attackers. Desperate men and women continued to fight for every scrap of food, clean drinking water and medicine to keep them from getting sick.
Wherever she went, she realized she had a target on her back. There were many who would stop at nothing to abduct or slaughter her, all in the name of humanity, including several of beast breeds. Stories revolved around those who escaped and the bloodshed of the aftermath. None of which, she believed to be true.
“Hey, honey, come here. I’ll give you some sugar.” The voice was haggard, guttural.
Swallowing hard, she picked up her pace, now nearly sprinting.
“Do you have any food?”
“I can fuck that sweet twat of yours.”
The comments came fast and furious, ugly reminders of the horrific life they were all forced to live.
As she passed by storefronts and makeshift bars, hands reached out, haunted faces begging for any help. This wasn’t a part of town that she normally walked, but it was necessary for the bus ride. Life was nothing but treacherous.
Suddenly, she was yanked into an alley by a strong pair of hands. Shoved against a brick wall, the wind was knocked out of her.
“Look what we have here,” the man snorted as he flicked open the blade of a knife.
“Pretty little thing shouldn’t be out on her own,” the second man said then made a slurping noise.
Destiny glanced down the darkened alley, her adrenaline kicking in. “Get away from me, boys and I won’t have to hurt you.”
“Hurt?” The first man laughed as he placed the blade under her chin, cupping and squeezing her breast with the other hand.
“We just want to play with you.” The second man’s eyes beamed as he slid his hand between her legs.
She kicked out, catching the second man in the balls as she slapped her hand around the wrist of the first, twisting. Throwing a hard punch, she caught the first man in the eye.
He was pitched backwards, howling as he swung the knife.
Jumping to the side, she issued another hard swing, catching the second man in the kidney. She took off running, her legs pumping as she headed back into the light and down the dilapidated sidewalk. They wouldn’t follow, not in the light. She’d seen their faces. They were afflicted with the nasty sickness. Only when she was four blocks away did she slow down, wiping the dirt from the man’s dirty hands off her arm. This was the very reason her father had forbid her from living in the city. Too bad she hadn’t followed orders.
Shoving her hands into her pockets, she waited on the corner, studying the area around her. Eyes were watching her, debating. One day, they would hunt. She was prepared, enough so she was no longer afraid of killing. When the bus finally came, she found the only open seat and slid down, praying to God no one recognized her. Anonymity was the only thing keeping her alive.
“God, this is so exciting!” Shrieking, the girl plastered her nose to the inside of the glass, tapping her foot against the metal floor.
Destiny eyed the twenty-something, frizzy haired girl before scanning the bus full of hopeful people. Cringing, she listened in on the happy conversation between the two fresh-faced girls and shook her head. How naïve they all were. Her eyes settled on the second girl. The older, bleached blonde wore the tattoos of the outsiders, allowing her access to the compound.
“I wish our number would have been selected, Tara,” the bleach blonde squealed.
Destiny resisted reaching out and slapping both women. They’d bought into the bullshit propaganda and had no clue what they were talking about.
“I hear they can go all night long,” Tara cooed.
“I bet they are well hung too.”
She pressed her hands over her ears, filtering out their ridiculous conversation, concentrating instead on the din of the others whispering about the glory the day would bring. Glory? Not in her mind.
The bus pulled to a screeching halt outside a complex of dense buildings. She waited as the volume of people raced to leave the humid and sticky space. As she stood in the glare of the afternoon sun, realizing it was barely one in the afternoon and the crowd that had formed was already overwhelming, desperate for a match, she shook her head. The debilitating dread was the single focal point that flowed through her mind. It was difficult not to look at the eager faces of the crowd and feel nothing but disgust or a self-loathing prophecy perhaps.
Shivering involuntarily, Destiny stared at the intricate complex of buildings surrounding the stadium. For some reason, she couldn’t believe the thousands of people who were already hovering in the stadium for a six o’clock event. The power of the ugly game was the only entertainment left for her scarred people. Cringing, she glared at the electric billboards as they flashed the faces of what she considered to be the damned, the ones hoping to be selected during the lottery. Not that she considered them lucky. Yet, those who had escaped had bounties on their heads.
She trembled as she made her way through the pulsing crowd. God, did these people not know what was happening? Truly happening? Were they so blind and stupid? Had humanity been shattered as their world was pushed into Hell?
Destiny knew the damning answer. They needed hope even if it meant savage hope. There was little else to give them in their wretched long days. Standing silently, she gazed across the pool of teeming people, hungry for something that no one could attain, and few could afford. “Poor bastards.” Wouldn’t her father be proud of the groupies who wanted more? Exhaling slowly, she forced herself to push the ugly thoughts aside.
The crowd clapped and screamed around her.
Fortunately, she was going to the lower complexes where the space was cool and free of the rules of the game. Buried deep within the bowels of the earth, the span of underground buildings kept the select group of humans safe and alive during the apocalypse. The place had been her home for far too long. Sighing, she waited with little patience for the cranky elevator and heard the loudspeaker shouting over the din of the audience, enticing the electric famished crowd into a frenzy so early.
“Tonight, June twenty-first of the year twenty-one seventy-five, the Lottery! Come and join as three are selected. The creation of the world will begin again!”
She entered the dimly lit elevator, praying the doors would close quickly just as the masses of people started screaming in anticipation of the fateful, disgusting event. They were desperate for a mating that was less than human. The dingy doors slammed shut and she closed her eyes. Thank God, for small favors. She swallowed hard, loathing every second of being in the confined space. Yet it had been her home for too many long, dark years. Balling her fists, she pounded the wall of the tight confines wishing for so much more. Hell, she endured viewing the first lottery months ago and that single event sent her into reclusion. She growled, hating the ride down to the bottom floor.
Every part of her body ached due to the horrific memories. She fought the tears welling within, thinking about the end of civilization. Panic had turned into calamity and random acts of violence as the plight of their damnation had been too much to bear, especially for her sister. Her father had been in a rage on the fateful day when he had grabbed her and her sister and forced them into a crowded elevator. The doors had barely closed when the first sonic boom hit just outside of Las Vegas and nearly every other densely populated area throughout the world. There would have been nothing left of the human race had it not been for a group of scientists working together and foreseeing the future. While they’d saved those deemed worthy, so many lives had been lost.
Destiny shuddered, remembering the terrible years of never seeing sunlight and not being allowed to play with her friends. After the catastrophe, the groups of humans had spent almost four years deep in the middle of the earth safe from the outer world. The effects of the bombs destroyed the air and poisoned the land and seas. The scientists had calculated everything well, or so they thought anyway. A minimum of two years to clear the air and allow the sunlight to find its way through the poisoned haze was ordered and mandated by the ones in charge.
Another twelve to fourteen months for the earth to even begin healing itself before any human life could venture outside. They’d all remained sequestered for several additional months in the complex, locked away waiting and making certain the dangers had passed. With sadness, she remembered how she and her sister had counted every second of the tortured time. Not that they were alone. The powers that be had assembled an amazing group of scientists, doctors, technicians, poets, musicians, teachers and many other admirable citizens who’d won their own lottery of sorts to live among the privileged.
She placed both hands on the wall of the elevator and resisted beating her fists against the ugly steel. Why did the painful memories always flood her when she returned to the bowels of hell? She chortled. Lies, that’s why. “What now, Father?”
James Donovan was given top priority and clearance to continue his work. He and his family were afforded the cushiest of apartments and his children given the best education. They had food when others didn’t and were allowed toys and games while others weren’t allowed to play. Still, they were terribly lonely during those days. While everyone wanted to believe in the future, the ugly facts about their own bodies proved to be damning.
The instant the world opened up to her again, Destiny had begged her father to go outside. He refused to allow her out of his sight until she reached twenty-one. On that glorious day, she’d left the complex and never looked back.
Except to care for her sister. Hope was the frail one and always had been. Only two years younger, she’d remained childlike after the death of their mother. Destiny had offered Hope a place in her apartment on the outskirts of town, but Hope continued to remain with her father. The stunning wisp of a woman was a loving daughter who had learned to follow in her father’s footsteps.
The rattling of the claustrophobic elevator brought her back momentarily. Why had her father called her? Destiny was not due for a vitamin-enriched shot for two more days. Damn it, he knew she counted those down every month as well. She hoped there wasn’t some political need for her to view the latest contest. There was no possible way she could stomach seeing the poor creatures auctioned off. That was all the entire population seemed to be thinking about lately.
Calming her nerves, she watched the numbers on the dingy panel as they reached fifteen. Thank God, there was only ten more to go. She had finally asked, only after the creation of the lottery, why the whole lot of them hadn’t harvested eggs for the purpose of procreating. From what she’d been told, they had and most of the supposedly safe labs were targeted and destroyed. At the time, there’d been no idea all males would be completely barren of sperm either. No doubt, the ugly realization had been a tough break for the human race. “Stupid fuckers.”
She sighed, wondering which family was going to lose that night to the games and to the lottery. Who would lose to the beasts in order to allow one to mate with their daughter? The ravaging thought was too damning to continue mulling over. The clanging of metal against metal meant she was near her destination, her father’s office. Such as it was. Twenty-eight days had gone by since she had seen her father or Hope for that matter.
The elevator finally settled with a slight boom and the doors opened revealing her father standing alone, his arms crossed.
“Father.” They locked eyes and Destiny immediately sensed something was off.
“Destiny. God, I’ve missed you.” James held out his arms, beckoning her. “You’re hurt.”
“Not at all. I fell on the way to the bus.”
He gave her a curious look but accepted the lie.
She noticed easily enough he seemed to have aged in the last days since she’d seen him. Granted, times were tough for everyone. Gas was limited for cars and public transportation was the best means of getting around the city or anywhere for that matter. Food was sometimes scarce although they’d long since developed alternative means for nourishment. Worst of all, there were factions that wanted to take over the government, such as it was.
Her father was still considered vital to the development of the future but with the lack of children being produced, there were some who didn’t believe in his abilities any longer. That fact alone had aged him.
“Father. I’ve missed you as always.” Destiny eased into his arms. They weren’t as strong as they once were, but they were comforting nonetheless.
“Come, my daughter, let’s go ahead and get your vitamin shot out of the way early and then I’ve had Darla prepare a late lunch for us.” He took her by the arm.
“Two days early?”
“You want to come back in two days?”
“No, thank you very much. No offense, Father but being here today is excruciating. You know how I hate the lottery,” she said quietly.
James eyed his daughter. “I know, my dear but the development was necessary. This is an old argument and one best for a bottle of cognac and a long winter’s day. Besides, we have some things to discuss. Important things.”
There was something about the way he said the words that terrified her. Apprehensively, she followed behind him as they wandered through the residential area to his office. Her father never took her to the medical compound for the shots. He knew how she hated to go there. There were too many painful tests she and her sister had endured during those long years to dare remember. “How’s Hope?”
“Hope is doing much better. She’ll join us later. She’s been working on several new projects for the Order and they’re quite pleased with her.”
“I’m glad to hear that she’s doing well.” The information was not something Destiny wanted to hear at all, but she couldn’t persuade her sister to leave the compound or the Order. Unfortunately, the aged members of the Order had control of just about everything. They walked in silence as they moved down the last corridor.
“Come, my dear. Let’s get this over with.”
She studied her father realizing he was always the pragmatist. For some reason, fleeting thoughts of her mother entered her mind. James had taken her death horribly. She was a little girl, barely six when Mother died, and she’d never really understood why someone so young had passed so suddenly. Her beautiful and usually vivacious mother hadn’t been sick at all that they could remember, but one day her heart had simply given out. As she walked toward the stool in front of the small lab area and sat down, she noticed the tray held two syringes instead of the usual one. “Two shots today?”
“For living outside of these walls and my protection, my dear.”
She nodded. With everything inside of her she loved to live among the real people who were nothing more than hungry peasants in search of a better life. Their vibrant spirit kept her alive and searching for an easier way of life. In truth, they were more like the animals. The event earlier was a clear reminder. Yet, she wanted to be with them.
“Always my stoic child.” James chuckled as he injected first one arm then the other with the serum. “All done. I think Darla has created a feast for us today.”
She rubbed her arms as she jumped off the stool. “Is she keeping you in check?”
“You know her. She fusses over me constantly.”
“Obviously, not enough. You look tired, Father.”
He darted a glance in her direction as they left the lab. “I’m fine. After we get through this lottery event, I can rest for a while. Darla has been taking good care of me.”
She mused over the brash woman with the booming voice. Darla had been with the family since they’d entered the complex all those years ago. “Well, it’ll be wonderful to see her.” Gazing at the eager blond man in the hall, she nodded in respect. The boy held a crush and would never be allowed to date her. Dating a soldier was out of the question.
“Sir.” The young man lowered his head, but not before glancing up and down the length of Destiny’s body.
James nodded. “Nice to see you, Tray. I hope your mother is doing well.”
“She is. I’ll tell her you asked after her.” Tray smiled, his eyes glowing with admiration. “Nice to see you again, Miss.”
“You too.” Destiny couldn’t help but blush from the soldier’s reaction as they walked down the hallway. Her father was well respected still after all the years. He had once been a fighter pilot in the great war of twenty fifteen. There was no one that didn’t know him and certainly that didn’t greet the two of them with a smile and a respectful nod. They had to. There was no other choice. Today, was no exception. Excitement was in the air even with the scientists because of the formulated game.
“He’s a good man,” James said quietly.
“Yet you wouldn’t allow me to date him.”
“You know the rules.”
“Another reason I left,” Destiny breathed.
“There are reasons for rules, dear daughter. And some even keep you alive.”
Assorted people walked the length of the damp hallways, their conversations lively.
“How is living outside these days? I’ve heard stories of fighting.”
Shrugging, she brushed her hand through her damp hair. “No more than in other months. I think the Outsiders worry about the approaching winter.”
“Of course. Food is getting scarcer.”
Destiny wondered why the sudden concern. He never asked and never showed any signs of interest.
They walked up a ramp to another floor toward their private residence. The sparse location was not hers any longer, but she still kept her childhood memories nestled in stiff cardboard boxes, as if waiting for a day that her own children would learn about their damning past. Such as the bitter memories were. Boxes of books, CDs and movies still stood against the walls. She realized she hadn’t gone through them as she’d promised. The teachers who remained had brought certain items from the past as mandated by the Order as memories of the past.
“Thinking about the olden days?” James asked as he patted her back.
She smiled. “You could always tell.”
“You were always my dreamer.”
“I guess I just want to experience what I’ve always hungered for.”
“Perhaps you can have all that you want soon enough,” James said, keeping his eyes pinned on the crowded hallway.
Destiny wondered what in the hell he was getting at. His behavior was certainly different than normal. She opened her mouth to reply but as they rounded a corner, her keen senses caught a fluster of activity that grabbed her attention away from the burning question. A larger than normal crowd was dead ahead. She froze as goosebumps rose as a series of electric jolts all over her body. The scent she knew so well floated around them. The beasts. What were they doing on this floor? There was something else hovering in the dense space as well, a heightened level of testosterone she wasn’t used to and flustered the hell out of her mind and her pussy. “Are they supposed to be here?”
“Goddamn it!” James yelled.
Her heart fluttered as a surge of heat rose from her breasts to her face. Why was she having this kind of reaction from the savage men who walked with distinct purpose? Jesus. She blinked several times as an unwelcome hunger began to gnaw at her stomach.
“No, they’re not! I will have somebody’s job for this.” Her father pushed her against the corridor wall as the group made its way toward them. “Blasphemy. Beasts aren’t allowed here.”
“Father!” The shackled beasts were the night’s intended contestants. From what Destiny knew, they’d developed at least fifty men who could possibly be fertile enough. She gazed at the handsome group as her blood sizzled.
“Who’s in charge here?” James walked closer, his tone demanding.
For some reason, she now wanted to know everything about the dazzling creatures. She squirmed sensing their intense stares gazing down the length of her body. Prickling sensations rushed through her body as she shivered. As her eyes darted from man to man she wasn’t sure what she had expected, but their stunning appearances shocked her. Inching forward, she was drawn to one in particular and suddenly, there was no one else in the room.
Striding down the hall in formation and in chains surrounded by guards were twelve of the most gorgeous men—not beasts—men that Destiny had ever seen. Each handsome God like creature was well over six feet tall with extremely broad shoulders and tight, muscular stomachs. Their washboard abs alone were enough for a wet dream in her nefarious imagination. She sucked in her breath as she studied their long hair and nearly feral looks shimmering across their intense faces.
“This is outrageous. Why are they here? Captain, you’ll pay for this indiscretion.” James demanded, snarling at the guards who kept the contestants at bay.
“Sorry, sir,” the captain said through clenched teeth. “The service elevator is broken and there is no other way of getting them topside.”
Her father yanked her arm, pushing her out of the way as if the beasts would harm them both. Destiny jerked away from his hold, straining for a better view. “Father, stop,” she pleaded.
“They could hurt you.”
“Then why are you contemplating having a female take not one but three of them as a mate?”
“Requirements. You’re my daughter,” he stated.
Turning her head, she glared into his cold eyes. “Ridiculous.” Defiantly, she stepped forward. “I refuse to be afraid.” She gazed at the one stunning hunk who’d caught her attention. He was utterly captivating. The dangerously sullen look encapsulated his entire being as if he called to her. He stood at least six feet six with waist length, white blond hair and eyes that were the bluest she’d ever seen, teeming with hints of lavender and flecks of gold dancing in a tenuous fashion. His long legs nearly overpowered the captain’s seemingly frail stance. He struggled against hands that were manacled together with a length of chain that kept all the creatures locked together.
“I can’t believe this,” James snarled.
“Let it go, Father.” Destiny inched further forward, allowing her eyes to gaze down the length of the captive’s body. The supposed loin style clothes barely covered what God had given him. And the laboratory Gods had been more than kind to the man who gazed at her with a verve she’d never seen. He was without a doubt the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on.
His dazzling eyes bored a hole through her as the group moved closer. Then he turned away, his look accentuating boredom, as if she were nothing but fodder that day.
Destiny quaked as moisture trickled between her legs into her thong. How could one man, one beast have this effect on her? Pursing her lips, she blinked several times and couldn’t help but stare at the growing bulge between his legs.
Just then the beast turned toward her, his actions slow and deliberate as he sniffed the air. There was no doubt he could tell she was aroused. Because of him. He cocked his head as his eyes sparkled, showering flecks of gold. Emitting a low growl, he eyed her cautiously before he licked his lips and gave her a look that stated clearly that he hungered for her body.
He could tell what she was thinking. An intense connection between them grew stronger as he entered her mind, reading her thoughts, her desires. Suddenly, unable to hear anything but a buzzing noise filtering around her, Destiny tilted her head and stared directly into his eyes.
She read his mind as the breathtaking visions of what he wanted flashed across the periphery of her vision. I will have you in my bed, princess. You’ll be mine and I’ll make you come until you scream out my name. You’ll succumb to all of me. While it didn’t surprise her that she could read his mind, her gift gave her an ability she’d pushed away. It was the way his feral hunger flowed through his body and into his thoughts that stilled her, the visions dancing in the far reaches of her mind. At that moment, she could vividly see them in bed together, his cock sliding in and out of her aching pussy. Holy shit. The connection weakened her knees.
He turned to stare at her, the smile more prominent as they walked by. There was no doubt he knew exactly what she was thinking.
Blushing, Destiny shivered, fighting the urge to reach out and touch him.
“Jesus Christ. I should have that creature banished from tonight’s proceedings,” James snarled and eased in front of her.
“No! No, Father. He alone is worth seeing the event. I never knew or understood what you helped to create.” She willed her body to stop betraying her and covered her breasts with her arms, hoping no one noticed how uncomfortable she was.
The blond turned, rattling his chains and smiled. You will be mine.
She watched him walk away with purpose in his step, challenging all that held him captive. Slowly, she let out a long breath and shook her head. “Amazing.”
James exhaled slowly as he led them past the doors of his home. “You act as if you didn’t anticipate what they looked like.”
“I didn’t. I guess I never paid any attention.”
“You thought they were truly beasts.”
“Well, aren’t they? You certainly throw the fact in their faces.” Suddenly, she felt a slight headache creep from the base of her skull. The creature’s pull was strong. She’d never experienced anyone who could draw on her power the way he had.
“Is there something wrong? You look pale.” James asked.
“No. Just tired.” Yet she remained tethered to the barbaric blond just enough so that she felt his rage building. There was something odd that she couldn’t put her finger on. Why did she feel so strongly about him?
“The vitamin shot will help.” James guided her into the dining room. “Sit, my dear and we’ll talk. There are things you need to know.”
Destiny glanced down at the food, her stomach in knots. Normally a light soup and possibly a salad would be served at their luncheons. The feast in front of her was unexpected. She was instantly suspicious. “What is all this?”
“A surprise for you, my love.”
She sat down carefully. “Why?”
“We never celebrated your birthday. I had Darla make you a cake and your favorite foods.” He gestured to the sideboard.
What appeared to be a chocolate cake with rich icing set uncut. Chocolate was a luxury few had ever had and even fewer could afford. The basics of survival were what the community was allowed. Blinking furiously, she couldn’t take her eyes off the tall cake as if it were an apparition. “Why? I don’t understand?”
“I’ll even allow you to have a piece before lunch.”
Destiny tilted her head, her suspicions growing. “What’s really going on, Father? I’m not a child any longer. You know how I hate being around on the days of the lottery yet here I am and for chocolate cake? However delicious Darla’s baking is, I know you have an ulterior motive.”
James said nothing as he served her a salad complete with blackened chicken. “It’s time, my daughter, for us to talk.”
“What about?” The farm-raised chicken was another delicacy. What in the hell was going on?
“Your destiny.” He pushed the salad in her direction.
“What does that mean exactly?”
“Of course, Father but you’re not getting off that easily. Whatever you have up your sleeve, spill it. You remember I do know you too well.” A moment of real fear trickled down her spine.
“You are so your mother, defiant. Ballsy.”
“Do not bring her up right now.”
James poured two glasses of cabernet as he sighed. “Do you understand why we’ve produced a genetic alternative to breeding?”
“Of course. Because humans can no longer conceive, and these creatures are our great hope for the future. What does that have to do with me?”
“But you don’t approve?”
“How could I? Humans mating with animals? That’s barbaric to say the least. Genetically it’s possible, although we don’t know what the children will have to endure. They could be animals as well and, in our lifetime, all civilization as we know it could be lost. You do realize that?”
James cut into his salad and took a bite, chewing slowly before turning his solemn face to gaze into her eyes. “Did those men appear to be animals to you?”
Destiny hesitated. “No, but I’m sure there is a reason for that.”
“Yes, my dear. While you’ve been fighting your calling and your profession, we’ve been perfecting the anatomy of the genetic assignments. The breeds are now completely ready to mate with humans. They are well trained and educated with every aspect of a human male. And what is more important, Destiny. They produce active sperm.”
“Interesting, Father. So, why haven’t the other women gotten pregnant then?” The question had been burning in her mind for months. Would her father lie?
“Unfortunately, because we didn’t count on the fact that most of the women were adversely affected by the drugs given to them as children.”
“What exactly does that mean?”
“Most of them are also barren.”
Destiny was caught off guard. What? All the years of testing and our glorious scientists just figured this bit of damning news out? “Father, you didn’t know that? How could you not? I don’t understand.”
“There was no way of knowing until about a year ago.”
“No way of knowing? What in the hell are you talking about? The lottery. Why? Why does it go on? Why is it still the center of our wretched universe?”
“Please lower your voice,” he stated as he toyed with his salad. When he finally placed his fork gingerly on his plate, he looked up and narrowed his eyes. “Honestly, part hope and partly because many years ago I kept a second control group of girls who were born in almost complete secrecy. I gave them fertility drugs from the time they were children.”
What? This was news to her. “And the women from the earlier lotteries?”
James sighed. “I’d hoped the drugs would help but some of the group either didn’t receive the right amount of the drugs or their families wouldn’t allow me to administer the dosages throughout the years. In a sense, the women from the earlier lotteries were tests to see if the limited amount of fertility drugs still produced children. Yes, it was a gamble, but one we had to take.”
“And they’ve been tested. Haven’t they?”
“The tests are mostly inconclusive as to the reasons why, but they don’t seem to be able to conceive, no matter what species of beast they breed with. It’s been a terrible blow to all of us.”
Destiny tried to fathom exactly the ramifications of what he was saying. “But especially to you, right? You’ve put your experiments and your reputation on the line and nothing is working. That’s why you look so very tired.”
“I can’t hide anything from my beautiful daughter. Yes, the Order is getting dicey about the entire operation. If a child isn’t conceived soon, the funding will end, and the program disallowed. Then I fear for the entire future of the human race. There are no other choices. None.”
Growling, she shook her head. She’d never really thought about how much work he had put into the experiment process because she had never believed in what he was doing. She’d been trained to work alongside her father in preparing the genetic breeds for mating and she couldn’t stomach the work. Now, her father was in trouble. “But the last experiment was only two months ago. I know Marta and she was strong. Shouldn’t you give her additional time before you call it a failure?” The chosen girl had been so fertile, so alive. At least from what she’d been told.
“She’s dead, Destiny.”
Destiny dropped her fork. “What?”
“Killed by her mate. Everyone is under tremendous pressure right now.” James took a long sip of his wine.
Paling, terror trickled down her spine. “Why haven’t I heard about this along with everyone else?”
“Do you really think we’d let the information about her death out to the world, Destiny? Not a chance. Did you hear the crowd up there today? They need hope for the future. They need to believe a child can and will be conceived. Besides, Marta’s death was a complete accident. From what I understand, her mate was trying to protect her from the other creatures and things got out of hand.”
Things got out of hand? Blinking furiously, she eyed her father. Where had the entire makings of humanity gone to? Suddenly not hungry in the least, she pushed her plate out of the way. “Okay, Father. So, tell me. Why am I here?”
James methodically cut and ate several bites of his food, remaining silent and stoic.
He sighed and wiped his brow with the linen napkin. “Because, my dear, it’s time for you to begin the next phase of your life and it is the most important undertaking you will ever have.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, my daughter, you’re the next contestant.”
Stryker stood staring out the window, feeling very much like the animal they intended him to be. His shackling was mostly for show, yet the guards relished lording their superiority over the breeds. He gazed with disdain at the angry group of men wandering the area below and wondered what the night would bring. The game was insidious. From where he’d been forced to wait, he could see the stadium below. Hundreds, if not thousands of spectators were already in their seats, waiting. Hungry for the lottery.
He bristled as one of the beasts was brought into the arena, his feet dragging, and he could tell that the creature’s head was hanging low, as if he’d been beaten. He’d heard that there had been an escape attempt and knew exactly what was going to happen. As the man was secured to the metal cross like structure, he snarled, his beast dangerously close to the surface. This would be the pre-event. Everyone needed to know exactly what happened when an escape attempt was made.
The man would be bullwhipped.
Fury rattled his already tense system, creating spots in front of his eyes. He dared not challenge now or he’d be eliminated, cast out of the pack or worse. He had to follow this through.
“That’s what happens when one tries to get away.” The guard laughed.
Stryker inhaled and clenched his fists. Control. You must have control. He didn’t respond, only took a step away.
“What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?” the soldier taunted.
“Leave him alone. He’s one of the prizes tonight,” another man said. “We have work to do.”
He exhaled as the door was slammed shut. There was nothing he could do to help the man below. He’d taken on the Order and lost.
Shaking his head, his thoughts drifted to the woman he’d seen in the hallway. The entire group had a firm understanding about her level of importance. Destiny Donovan was a creation from God. He knew the stunning woman had been aroused because of him. Oddly enough, she hated every second of being around the complex or the Order. The woman was beautiful but was no doubt dangerous. The uncertainty remained to be seen and he had only a few hours to wait to see what fate had in store.
While he hated what was happening to him and to the members of his breed, this was necessary to keep their life going, at least until they could make the move. He growled and thought about the lovely girl. There was something almost familiar about her as if she truly was meant to belong to him. The rest of his pack was unhappy with every recent decision he’d made about the pack’s future, but he remained convinced the daring abdication was the only way for his kind to survive.
The concept was the lie he had to tell himself. Stryker prayed he would be selected on this sticky sweet night. He allowed himself a smile. If his and Destiny’s sexual chemistry was anywhere close to being accurate, he would be tasting her sweet honey tonight. Brushing his hand down from his neck to the painful bulge pressing against the tight confines of his pants, he enjoyed the delicious sensations of stroking his cock. He savored the tingling sensation as he watched the comings and goings of the patrons outside.
The thought of the stunning blonde fueled his blood, forcing trickles of perspiration to skim down both sides of his face. He was as hungry for a body as he’d ever been. Issuing a low frequency, keening growl, he freed his cock and stroked down his shaft, fervently wishing his fingertips were her voluptuous mouth wrapped around the bulbous head. He closed his eyes and imagined the sensuous act with the beauty on her knees, taking the entire length of him into her hot mouth.
“Jesus!” Sensations roared through Stryker’s body as he cupped his balls and squeezed. As he pulled his dick roughly between his fingers, he imagined the lilt of her voice as she purred under him the moment he drove the entire length of his dick deep inside her tight pussy. Rapture blindsided him and for a full minute he leaned his head against the glass, panting. He needed her. He craved her. And he could claim her.
As the climax roared from the center of his swollen balls, racing up his shaft, he tipped his head back and howled, praying he could take her like the beast dwelling within.
When the climax was finally done, he opened his eyes, studying his reflection in the window. This was either going to mean the beginning of something wondrous or the end of his kind.
Palming the glass, Stryker allowed himself the fantasy of her before the sadness about what was truly happening settled in. Would any of them actually survive the hell they must go through?