Friday, December 04, 2009

Untamed Hunger by Aubrey Ross (Paranormal, Action/Adventure, BDSM, Shapeshifters, Alpha Colony Series)

Untamed Hunger

by Aubrey Ross
cover art by ReneƩ George

ISBN: 978-1-60521-354-5

Genre(s): Paranormal, Action/Adventure, BDSM

Theme(s): Shapeshifters

Series: Alpha Colony

Length: Novella


Major Sasha Young has been stationed at Alpha Colony for the past three years, part of an elite military team assigned to maintain order and resolve conflicts between the shapeshifters. She has watched the hostile morphs, secretly fascinated by their predatory grace and animal magnetism. The colonies were established to protect defenseless humans from these genetic anomalies. So why does she feel like the morphs are the ones being victimized?

Grayson Evans, a rare white-tiger shifter, is frustrated and appalled by how little their human keepers understand the average "morph." After an especially violent altercation between leopard and tiger shifters, he decides it's time to educate them. He's had his eye on Sasha ever since she arrived and introducing the feisty beauty to the full potential of a felidae-morph is going to be his pleasure -- and hers!


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A shrill scream rang out through the crisp autumn night. Sasha jerked her head toward the sound and activated night vision with a precise mental command. Leaves rustled in the breeze and a menu appeared on the right side of her visor: thermo imager, topographical map, data search, comm center. Disregarding each function for the moment, she peered into the darkness, searching the forest for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing moved. Nothing explained the sound.

“Should we check it out?” Eric stepped up beside her, pulse rifle positioned against his shoulder. Dressed in protective gear similar to hers, the youngest member of her team seemed eager for action.

She hesitated, continuing her visual search. “We only interfere as a last resort. Their mating rituals can seem savage if you’ve never seen them before.” Another scream changed her mind. “That didn’t sound playful. Come on.”

They left the path they’d been patrolling and headed deeper into the trees. Leaves crunched under her boots, and snapping twigs echoed through the unnatural stillness. Something was definitely wrong.

Shutting down night vision, she activated her suit’s illumination. Eric quickly did the same. Often their approach was enough to break up an altercation. The morphs had their own system of justice and the Department of Morphological Affairs, or DOMA, allowed them to resolve their own conflicts as often as possible.

A feline growl guided her toward the disruption. The responding roar was deeper and louder, a different breed of cat. Director Darman and his cronies could identify the breeds by sound. She was still struggling to sort them out by sight.

They emerged in a clearing, and Sasha shot three pulses into the air. “Break it up!”

Tigers and jaguars wrestled in a twisting mass of stripes and spots. Eric flanked her, rifle aimed at the center of the brawl. Blood scented the air, acrid and unmistakable even to her human nose. Beyond the combatants stood a scattering of morphs in human form. Their eyes gleamed in the darkness and excitement twisted their features.

Sasha discharged her rifle again. “Stand down or I’ll dispatch a riot squad!”

A pale blur drew her attention to the trees. Leaping between two of the spectators, a massive white tiger bounded into the clearing. Grayson. Her pulse kicked up a notch and unwanted flutters erupted in her belly. She’d only seen him in cat form once before, but he was the only white tiger in the colony.

He announced his presence with a savage roar. The combatants paused, glancing toward the new threat. Grayson growled, teeth bared, then let out another roar.

Cats scattered and observers melted into the shadows, until only three cats remained. A large orange faced off with the white over the motionless body of a jaguar. The tigers circled, heads down, exchanging growls in a menacing language that required no translation.

The jaguar transitioned into human form as the morph lost consciousness. Shock sent chills down Sasha’s spine. The jaguar was female. She lay on her side, torso rotated toward the ground. Claw marks furrowed her back and her shoulder was obviously dislocated. Her thighs were smeared with blood. That son of a bitch! Transformation repaired all but the most severe wounds. This woman was in serious trouble.

Sasha activated her comm link and triggered an emergency beacon that would dispatch backup to their location. “Medic to sector five. Jaguar female, condition red.”

Grayson leapt over the female and caught the other tiger by the throat. Shit! Strangulation was a tiger’s favorite tactic, their chosen means to kill.

“Grayson, stand down!” She had to cut through his bloodlust. If he killed, even in retaliation, she’d be forced to shoot. Feral cats must be put down. There was no exception to the rule.

Tearing off her helmet, she moved closer and shot into the ground. His pale gaze connected with hers and she tried again. “Let go. I’ve got this.”

An endless moment passed; then she heard the orange cat growl. It required air to make the sound. Grayson must have loosened his grip.

To her astonishment, Grayson released his hold and head-butted his opponent in the shoulder. Now that wasn’t a typical tiger move. With a parting growl the orange turned and shot off into the forest.

Grayson swung his head toward her, eyes glowing for a moment as they caught the light coming off her suit. He crouched, a low sound rumbling in the back of his throat.

She needed names, and an explanation of what had triggered this brawl. Would he transform so she could talk to him? His subtle hints and tidbits of information had proved invaluable down through the years. He had no interest in being an actual informant, but he’d always been willing to cooperate with her investigations.

The other cats appeared to have retreated into the trees, but she sensed them, waiting beyond the circle of light. She couldn’t put him on the spot, wouldn’t endanger his standing with the others.

As she knew he would, Grayson turned and darted into the darkness.

“Stay here until the medics arrive,” she told Eric. “I’m going to see if anyone will talk to me.”

Eric motioned toward the unconscious female. “Was she the reason for the fight or did she just get in the way?”

“That’s what I hope to find out.”

Flipping his rifle around, he thrust it through the loops on his back as he moved closer to the victim. “Major, with all due respect, I think it would be wiser if you waited for backup. You shouldn’t be out there alone. It’s too dangerous.”

“They trust me.” Sasha stowed her rifle as Eric had done and picked up her helmet. She appreciated Eric’s concern, but she’d been stationed at Alpha Colony long enough to know how things worked. Cats didn’t attack humans without provocation, and she had no intention of provoking them. “I’ve worked hard to make sure they don’t perceive me as a threat.”

Eric made a sound suspiciously like a snort. “They don’t perceive you as a threat because you’re not one. Any of them could rip out your throat before you squeezed the trigger.”

“And they’d pay for their actions with their life.”

“You’d still be dead.”

Compassion warmed his tone, so she didn’t take offense. “It’s my job to investigate, to prevent situations from escalating. This has potential explosion written all over it. The longer I wait, the less chance I have of finding out what this was about. I’ll meet you back at base.” She motioned toward the female with her helmet. “Guard the girl.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The tension in his response accentuated his objection. Even so, he moved into position as Sasha took off in the general direction of Grayson’s departure. She didn’t want to be too obvious. Still, she didn’t want Grayson to get away.

Dreading the result, Sasha deactivated her suit’s illumination. The night closed in around her for a moment before her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Her helmet’s night vision would make her job easier, but Grayson wouldn’t approach if he couldn’t see her face. Everyone looked the same behind their visors.

She moved deeper into the forest, each step careful and quiet. Would he accept her silent invitation? A sudden jolt of fear clenched her stomach and sped her pulse. What if someone else accepted instead?

Grayson wouldn’t hurt her. He might not tell her what she wanted to know, but she’d be safe with him. She couldn’t say the same about many of the other cats. Especially the aggressive orange Grayson had challenged.

Her steps faltered as she reconsidered her strategy. Maybe Eric was right. This was dangerous. Daylight wouldn’t make the situation less risky. Most cats preferred seclusion regardless of the time of day. But another person would… end any hope she had of finding someone who’d actually talk to her.

Strong fingers closed around her upper arm, and she was yanked into a dense cluster of trees. A large hand covered her mouth, muffling her startled gasp. Even in the moonlight, Grayson’s pale blond hair was unmistakable. She exhaled, tilted her head, and stared up into his shimmering eyes. The night concealed their color, but she knew they were powder blue.

His head lowered, and he inhaled deeply as he urged her back against a tree. Holding her in place with the press of his body, he knocked her helmet to the ground and jerked her rifle out of its holder, tossing it a short distance away. Awareness arced between them, hot and electric.

“Eric’s right.” His breath caressed her lips, warm and inviting. “You shouldn’t be out here alone.”

“I’m not alone.” He’d never touched her before. Their gazes had locked countless times, each knowing what the other was thinking, imagining. Still, he’d always kept his distance, always remained professional. “We need to talk.”

“You might need to talk. I need… to be inside you.” Even through her protective suit his erection was obvious. He was naked and fully aroused. He needed to fuck, needed a release from the bloodlust humming through his system.

His fingers pushed into the hair at the base of her neck. His thumb stroked across her cheek as he stared into her eyes. A moment’s pause was all the warning she got before he pounced. Then his lips ravished hers with ruthless purpose and unquestionable skill. His tongue teased and soothed, easing his way deeper with such tender care that she didn’t realize she was being claimed until he thrust in and out of her mouth, an unmistakable parody of sex.

She had to stop him, unless she wanted to wrap her legs around his waist and take him deep into her body. Excitement tingled down her spine and gathered between her legs, a teasing foreshadowing of the pleasure to come.

“Will I be your first morph?” He used her braid to urge her head back, then nibbled his way from her chin to her earlobe.

“You say that as if it’s a foregone conclusion.” She panted, unable to steady her breathing or stop her hips from grinding against his hardened cock. “Maybe I don’t want to have sex with you.”

His free hand skimmed over her breast, his thumb effortlessly finding her nipple. “How often do you come with my image in your mind? I think of you so often it feels like we’ve been lovers for years.”

No matter how much she wanted him, sexual interaction with morphs was strictly prohibited. In fact it could be dangerous. The semen of some morphs was highly toxic to humans. “Grayson, this isn’t going to happen. Back off.”

She kept her hands fisted at her side, refusing to touch him. His sculpted body was a blur in the darkness. Thank God. If he looked half as good as he felt pressed against her, she might damn the consequences and play out her fantasies.

His lips returned to her mouth, hovering and teasing. “So we won’t fuck. Just touch me and let me touch you.”

He reached for the clasp at the top of her suit, and she caught his wrist with both hands. “I can’t. You know I can’t.”

Moving his hands to the tree above her head, he closed his eyes while his chest heaved. “I’m not sure I can talk myself down. I’m… crawling out of my skin.”

Of course he was. The fight had been interrupted. He was locked in the throes of bloodlust.

A wicked idea took root in her mind. Perhaps she could indulge herself just a little…

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