Dive into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind—and none of the heart…
In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was….
Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…
This advance excerpt is in two parts, the prologue, and Lucas & Sascha's first meeting.
In an effort to reduce the overwhelming incidence of insanity and serial killing in the Psy population, the Psy Council decided, in the year 1969, to instigate a rigorous program called Silence. The aim of Silence was to condition young Psy from birth. The aim of the conditioning was to teach them not to feel rage.
However, the Council soon discovered that it was impossible to isolate that one emotion. In 1979, after a ten year debate over the millions of minds in the PsyNet, it was decided to change the aim of Silence. Its new mission was to condition young Psy to feel nothing. Not rage, not jealousy, not envy, not happiness and certainly not love.
Silence was a resounding success.
By the year 2079, when the fifth or sixth generation of Psy are being conditioned, everyone has forgotten that they had ever been any other way. The Psy are known to be icily controlled, inhumanly practical and impossible to push to violence.
They are the leaders of government and business, eclipsing both humans and changelings, races which allow their animal natures to rule them. With mental capabilities running from telepathy to foresight, telekinesis to psychometry, the Psy consider themselves a step up the evolutionary ladder.
In keeping with their nature, they base all their decisions on logic and efficiency. According to the PsyNet, their mistake rate is close to nil.
The Psy are perfect in their Silence.
Sascha looked up at the sound of her mother's voice. And found herself within touching distance of the most dangerous male she'd ever seen. There was no other word to describe him. Well over six feet tall, he was built like the fighting machine he was in the wild, pure lean muscle and tensile strength.
His black hair brushed his shoulders but there was nothing soft about it. Instead, it hinted at unrestrained passion and the dark hunger of the leopard below the skin. She had no doubt she was in the presence of a predator.
Then he turned his head and she saw the right side of his face. Four jagged lines, reminiscent of the claw marks of some great beast, scored the muted gold of his skin. His eyes were a hypnotic green but it was those slashing markings that grabbed her attention. She'd never been this close to one of the changeling Hunters before.
"Ms. Duncan." His voice was low and a little rough, as if caught on the edge of a growl.
"This is my daughter, Sascha. She'll be the liaison for this project."
"A pleasure, Sascha." He tipped his head toward her, eyes lingering for a second longer than necessary.
"Likewise." Could he hear the jagged beat of her pulse? Was it true that changeling senses were far superior to those of any other race?
"Please." He gestured for them to take seats at the glass-topped table and remained standing until they'd done so. Then he chose a chair exactly opposite Sascha.
She forced herself to return his gaze, not fooled by the chivalry into dropping her guard. Hunters were trained to sniff out vulnerable prey. "We've looked at your offer," she began.
"What do you think?" His eyes were remarkably clear, as calm as the deepest ocean. But there was nothing cold or practical about him, nothing that belied her first impression of him as something wild barely leashed.
"You must know that Psy-changeling business alliances rarely work. Competing priorities." Nikita's voice sounded utterly toneless in comparison to Lucas's.
His responsive smile was so wicked, Sascha couldn't look away. "In this case, I think we have the same ones. You need help to plan and execute housing that'll appeal to changelings. I want an inside track on new Psy projects."
Sascha knew that that couldn't be all of it. They needed him but he didn't need them, not when DarkRiver's business interests were extensive enough to rival their own. The world was changing under the noses of the Psy, the human and changeling races no longer content to be second best. It was a measure of their arrogance that most of her people continued to ignore the slow shift in power.
Sitting so close to the contained fury that was Lucas Hunter, she wondered at the blindness of her brethren. "If we deal with you, we'll expect the same level of reliability that we'd get if we went with a Psy construction and design firm."
Lucas looked across at the icy perfection of Sascha Duncan and wished he knew what it was about her that was bugging the hell out of him. His beast was snarling and pacing the cage of his mind, ready to pounce out and sniff at her sedate dark-grey pantsuit. "Of course," he said, fascinated by the tiny flickers of white light that came and went in the darkness of her eyes.
He'd seldom been this close to a cardinal Psy. They were rare enough that they didn't mingle with the masses, being given high posts in the Psy Council as soon as they reached any kind of mature age. Sascha was young but there was nothing untried about her. She looked as ruthless as the rest of her race, as unfeeling and as cold.
She could be abetting a killer.
Any one of them could be. It was why DarkRiver had been stalking high-level Psy for months, looking for a way to penetrate their defenses. The Duncan project was an unbelievable chance. Not only was Nikita powerful in her own right, she was a member of the innermost circle--the Psy Council. Once Lucas was in, it would be his job to find out the identity of the sadistic Psy who'd stolen the life of one of DarkRiver's women...and execute him.
No mercy. No forgiveness.
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