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I jerked my hand back. “How could he have opened this door?”

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Jaxon shifted impatiently on his feet. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. We need to get inside. This conversation can wait.”

No. No, it couldn’t. A slight breeze caressed my neck, a breeze that held the subtle fragrance of Onadyn. I spun to my left. Saw nothing amiss. I spun to my right. Again, saw nothing amiss. Yet I knew,
Kyrin was inside this room with me.

“Mia, damn it,” Jaxon said. “Let’s do this.” He stepped forward, reaching out, waiting for me. We had to do the fingerprint scan together, or the door wouldn’t open.

Just before his palm hit the sensor, I closed the distance between us and grabbed his wrist. “Kyrin is inside this room. I don’t know how, but he’s here.”

“What are you talking about? He’s not here. He’s—”

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“There’s no way he could have opened this door. I think—” Another breeze, this one so close I felt a wave of heat brush my cheek. I didn’t finish my sentence as I released Jaxon’s hand and pivoted on my heel. I pressed my back against the cold steel door, dialed my weapon to stun, then pointed the barrel straight ahead.

Jaxon finally caught the truth of my words. Without another protest, he moved out of my way and stood beside me, his weapon trained, as well.

Open the door,
Kyrin said, the words whispered next to my ear like a lover’s entreaty. His voice was low, a menacing growl. Strangely, I wanted to obey, though I did not feel phantom fingers inside my mind trying to bend me to his will. The most feminine part of me simply wanted to help him.

“Do you hear that?” I asked Jaxon, keeping my eyes straight ahead.

“The alarm?”

“The voice.”

He shook his head.

I forced my ears to block the screech of the alarm and my head to block the seductive rhythm of Kyrin’s timbre. I willed my breathing to slow and concentrated on the movement my physical senses could not detect.

Up ahead, a lightning swift rustle blurred my vision, and in that instant, a tingle of languid awareness rippled through me. Another blur, this one to the right. Then another, this one to the left.

“I’m not opening the door,” I said to the air in front of me.

I felt Jaxon’s silver gaze level on me.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Kyrin had already slipped past this door, and I was an idiot for not storming into the cells and stopping him. But I believed in trusting my instincts, and to do that, I was willing to take a chance.

“I don’t care how long the alarm blasts or what happens beyond this room,” I said. “I’m not moving from this spot.”

In the glass panel of the far entrance, I watched as Jack and several other agents sprinted toward the enclosure. Damn, I didn’t need their interference right now.

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I had to stop their progress. They might unintentionally—or intentionally—ruin everything I was struggling to do.

“Lock the entrance,” I told Jaxon.

After only a slight hesitation, he darted across the small area and disabled the wires that allowed passage in and out. When Jack reached the portal, he hit the steel beams with a thud. I watched his mouth move swiftly in a stream of curses as he attempted to pry open the door with a solid kick, then with a punt of his shoulder. No luck. He shook a fist at us, his hand arcing wildly through the air in an attempt to wave me over and threaten at the same time.

I gave one, swift shake of my head.

“Reveal yourself,” I shouted to Kyrin.

He didn’t, of course.

“Stay alert,” I told Jaxon. He didn’t appreciate the warning, but I offered it anyway. He hadn’t seen Kyrin slash a knife down one palm, hadn’t seen the wound mysteriously close as if it had never existed. He hadn’t seen the way Kyrin could move, so swiftly the human eye was unable to detect it.

Hadn’t felt his unnatural strength. “Keep your pyre-gun on stun.”

Jack disappeared for several long heartbeats, and when he returned, he and several other agents held a battering ram. How soon before they beat their way inside?

“Reveal yourself, Kyrin,” I shouted again. “I’ll help you leave this place unscathed. Let’s help each other, like we did before.”

Again, he ignored me. I saw a hint of a shadow dancing close to me, then misting away before I could fire. How could he move like that? Frustration ate at me as I floundered to lock on him.

“I’m your only hope of escape,” I said.


A whoosh of air rippled. Before I could even react, Jaxon’s features contorted in pain. He grunted, then collapsed onto the hard blue tile, his chest continuing to rise and fall as he drew in oxygen.

Shocked, I stood frozen for a single tick of time, staring down at him.

In the next instant, my gun was swiped from my hand. I watched, horrified, as the firearm sailed through the air, only to thud next to the far wall. Fury acted as kindling in my blood, heating quickly and lethally, ready to explode.

I had managed a single step toward the wall when four feet in front of me, the air began to liquefy, becoming a dappled, upright pool of majestic azure. Mist swirled and curled like a dainty ribbon, prancing up to the ceiling. I blinked, only a sweep of my lashes, but when I refocused, Kyrin was there.

Completely visible, a looming tower of danger. His scent wafted all around me, warm and exotic, with a hint of Onadyn thrown into the blend.

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Black leather pants and a black shirt, much like the clothes of a hunter, hugged the thick muscles of his thighs and chest. His white hair fell loose about his shoulders, with two braids framed against his temples. War braids? I wondered. That only added to his appeal, the infuriating bastard.

“How did you do that?” I demanded. Whatever he’d done, he hadn’t used his molecular transport ability. Had he?

His violet gaze pierced me with purposeful intent. “Do you truly plan to kill her?”

I raised my chin a notch and remained closed-mouthed, refusing to answer. If I said yes, he might resent me for lying about her death in the first place. If I said no, I would lose any advantage I might have gained.

The alarm screeched to a halt; someone must have switched the code to silent. My ears continued to ring, and my gaze remained cinched on Kyrin’s.

“You know and I know that I need you alive,” I said, tempering my voice to match the abrupt quiet, though all I wanted to do was scream. How could my plan have backfired so quickly? “Leave with me. Help me, and I help you. It’s that simple.”

“I am as safe here as anywhere,” was his only reply.

I arched my brows. My attention flicked toward the door, toward Jack and the agents clamoring beside and behind him. “If those hunters break past that barrier, they will not stop to ask you for an introduction. They will kill you. They do not know who you are, that we need you for our case or that I need you for Dallas. They only know you are an alien, and you are in a restricted area.”

His lips edged up in a slow, decadent smile. “To kill me, they would have to catch me. And as you have found, that is impossible.” Steps precise and carefully measured, he moved slowly toward me. “You never answered my question, Tai la Mar. Do you plan to murder my sister?”

“An alien execution isn’t considered murder. We at A.I.R. like to consider it a public service.”

A muscle jumped to life in his temple, and he ran his tongue over his teeth. “Does Dallas mean so little to you, that you are willing to destroy your only bargaining power?”

I softened my tone—for Dallas, I assured myself, not because I hated to see this man troubled.

“Your sister can help our case; she can help us save human lives. She is safe enough for the moment.”

“I could force you to open her cell,” he said softly.

“Two agents are required, Kyrin. Two. I doubt you could subdue me and prop up Jaxon at the same time.”

“I cannot allow you to hurt her, Mia. Do you understand that?”

“Then let’s work something out. Tell me what you know about Atlanna and the abductions. Tell me where to find her. I know you’re not the killer, but I also know you’re involved somehow.”

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He stilled, surprise darkening his features. “What exactly do you know about me?”

“That you had contact with each of the victims. That you were dating Rianne Harte.” I paused.

Very carefully, I flicked a glance toward my gun. Ten steps, and I’d have it. I’d stun him and force him to my will. Simple. Easy. Yeah, right. I inched to my right, trying to appear casual. “I know that fertility is at the heart of the matter. Is Atlanna trying to make babies and sell them?”

He tangled a hand in his hair and blinked up at the ceiling.

I took another step.

His gaze swung back to me, colliding with mine. His expression was unreadable. Silence wrapped around us like a blanket, thick, heavy, and oppressive. From the corner of my eye, I saw an agent hand Jack some sort of tool. Jack crouched, and I heard the grind of steel against steel. He was going to dismantle the hinges. Desperation struck me.

Another step. Another. “Kyrin—,” I said.

He waved me to silence. “I refuse to cooperate with A.I.R.,” he said, and before I could utter another word, he disappeared again. There was no warning, no flash of light or mist. He simply vanished from my line of vision.

Something…tart burned in my nose. I flinched from it. Tried to wave the smell away. Grew dizzy.

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Inky fog drifted through my mind, breaking my thoughts apart. I fought against the mist’s heaviness, but a strange lethargy seeped into my bones, and I floated down, down, down.

But I never hit the cold tile. Strong, comforting arms surrounded me and scooped me into a warm, male embrace. I should have been afraid. I wasn’t. I should have tried to protest. I didn’t.

“Sleep, angel,” Kyrin whispered, his sweet, heated breath fanning my cheek.

And I did.


awoke tied to a bed.

My wrists and ankles were bound to mahogany bedposts by thick straps of pink silk. My weapons were gone; I didn’t feel their weight. My clothing felt too airy, but I knew some sort of material draped me. Slivers of light seeped into the room, yet somehow that slight bit of luminescence only increased the darkness, giving way to more shadows.

My heart tripped inside my chest, and fear sank sharp claws inside my stomach. I struggled against my bonds, trying to kick my legs, trying to loosen my hands. I only managed to tighten the restraints, and with each movement, the buttery soft silk sliced deep into my skin. Oh, God, I couldn’t escape. With the knowledge came panic. Consuming panic.

A sob bubbled to life in my throat.

Air became ashes inside my lungs, burning. Couldn’t…breathe. I couldn’t breathe. My throat swelled, constricted with terror. A cold sweat trickled between my breasts and shoulder blades.

Childhood memories of dark closets and horrifying aloneness spilled into my mind. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, trying to block the electrifying terror. Please, I tried to scream. Someone please help me.

Had I been left here to die?

Death did not frighten me; but I did not want to die this way. Not here. Not alone. I
fight my way out. I screamed as I bucked against the bonds.

My heart was beating so rapidly, I feared the pathetic organ would soon explode past my ribs.

Even though my eyes were closed, I felt the room tilt and spin. Faster and faster. Shallow pants I recognized as my own echoed in my ears. My struggles increased, frantic. So frantic.

“Be at peace, Mia,” a man whispered.


Kyrin was here.

Have to breathe, I thought desperately. Another scream tried to burst from my mouth, a scream so deep and intense my vocal cords strained together, raw from exertion.

“You are unharmed,” he said in that ever-calm voice.

“Fuck you,” I snarled, my voice hoarse and broken. “Cut the bonds. Cut the fucking bonds.”

“You are unharmed,” he repeated, caressing his fingertips over my fevered brow, my cheeks, and my chin. His touch was gentle, like pure, liquid heat and sensation, and somehow, the simple feel of him penetrated my panic.


I was at last able to suck in a great gulp of precious air. Once, twice. As I breathed, I smelled a gentle rain—Onadyn. The fragrance invaded my senses.
I’m not a child. I’m not imprisoned inside a
small, dank closet
. My heartbeat slowed gradually, and my terror ebbed as realization settled inside my mind. I was inside a bedroom, and Kyrin was here beside me.

Little by little, I ceased my struggles. I opened my eyes. Kyrin loomed over me, his gaze boring into mine. His eyes were a lighter shade of violet than ever before, and they swirled with a life all their own. Concern etched the lines around his frowning mouth.

Our fingers were intertwined, I noticed, our palms flat against each other. The skin on his hands was not smooth but rough and callused, the bones thick and strong. Heat and energy flowed through me, calming me even further. Sunlight dappled through brilliant sapphire curtains covering the large window on the far wall.

“Light,” I said raggedly. “I need more light.”

“Three shades lighter,” Kyrin said. Instantly glowing bulbs dripped like crystal tears from an overhead source, brightly illuminating the spacious room. My gaze circled my surroundings. I lay atop a large, decadent four-poster bed, a crimson velvet canopy cascading around each edge.

Ebony-framed mirrors with gold-plated boundaries hung at each midsection of the wall. Bright pillows of turquoise, emerald, and ruby were scattered across a plump lounging dais, and thick floral carpet draped the polished cherry wood floors. Beside the window, a cobbled hearth devoid of any embers glistened, clean and inviting.

A place of depth and blatant sensuality, most assuredly, but at the moment, it was merely a prison.

I glared up at Kyrin through the haze of my lashes. “Release me,” I snarled. My teeth were clenched so tightly, I feared my jaw might snap. Now that my fear had abandoned me, fury bubbled white-hot in my blood.

Watching me, Kyrin grinned languidly and released my hands from his grip. He eased back on his elbow and traced a fingertip over my thigh. “There. I am no longer holding you.”