With: Paige Tyler
Series: X-Ops, #4
The woman tensed. As anger and fear ricocheted across her face, her eyes changed from red to green to brown in a dizzying display like nothing he’d ever seen.
Every instinct in Angelo’s body screamed at him to lunge for his weapon. Instead he set his feet for impact, blocking her slashing claws. Unbelievably, after a few moments of struggling, she went still, all the fight gone…
Minka isn’t sure she should trust the sexy Special Forces soldier who found her. Subjected to horrors, on the run from scientists set on locking her in a cage, Minka is terrified of the monster she’s becoming…and somehow, Angelo is the only one who can calm the beast inside her and make her feel safe.
But can she trust the way he makes her feel when she’s not even sure she can trust herself?
Available for Pre-Order (Releases March 1st)
© Paige Tyler, 2016
Southern Tajikistan, Present Day
It was early morning, the sun barely peeking over the mountains. Darkness still clung to the deserted, dilapidated buildings around Minka Pajari as she slunk
through the village. She was only one rugged mountain pass away from home. Four or five hours of walking,and she would be back with her family and this
terrible nightmare would be over.
But when she heard the men who had been following her for the last ten minutes break into a run, part of her realized that the nightmare wasn’t over yet.
Another part insisted the nightmare would never be over. Not for her. Not after what she had become.
Minka wanted to run, but the beast inside her demanded that she turn and fight. She was so tired, and really didn’t want to do either of those things. She’d
been going for so long without food and barely any water. All she wanted was to be left alone. Instinct told her they wouldn’t leave her alone.
Minka had escaped her captors weeks ago, or at least it felt like it had been weeks. Getting home to her village had been much harder than she’d thought it
would be, though. It had taken her many days to even figure out where she was, then many, many more days to slowly traverse the mountainous terrain
between where she’d been held and the small farming village near Khorugh where she lived with her parents. This part of the country—the Gorno-Badakhshan
Autonomous Region—was very rugged and rural. Strangers, especially women traveling without male companions or money, weren’t treated with kindness,
and she’d been forced to dig for food scraps in piles of garbage and sleep in caves or abandoned buildings. What she’d endured during her captivity taught
her that she no longer had to fear these minor, momentary forms of discomfort, though.
No, the only thing she truly feared now was the beast the doctors had unleashed inside her. During her slow journey home, she had learned that the creature’s
appearance was hard to predict. At the slightest provocation, her claws and teeth would extend and her sight
would change, making nighttime seem like daytime and daytime painfully bright.
If she was frightened, startled, or threatened, the changes went even further. Her muscles would throb with power, and her face would change. She’d seen her
reflection once in a stream and been startled to see that she looked almost catlike.
Sometimes the changes came on for no other reason than because she was sad or lonely or afraid. Those times truly terrified her, for with a curse like this,
she couldn’t imagine a time when she wouldn’t feel those things.
Worse than the physical changes was what she felt happening to her soul. Where once she’d been a calm, compassionate person, now all she ever felt was
anger and rage.
She had taken to traveling only at night, seeking cover in wooded areas, and avoiding villages and people whenever she could. While she feared being
attacked or mistreated by people, she feared what the beast inside her would do to those people more.
Now, Minka wasn’t sure if she’d be able to keep from hurting someone. She’d wanted to go around the village,but it was squarely in the middle of the path that
headed toward the mountain pass. Two of the men following her had swept around, to get ahead of her, and she had to turn into the village to avoid them.
Minka said a silent prayer,hoping she could pass through without incident, but she feared her prayers weren’t even being heard anymore.
She was so busy second-guessing herself that she didn’t see the men who’d arrayed themselves in a line along her path until she was almost on top of them.
Her heart beat faster at the ugly expressions on their faces.
She stopped and slowly backed away from them, but it didn’t matter. Two more men closed in from behind.
Minka didn’t scream as they converged on her, afraid it would only spur the men to do something even moreviolent than what they already had planned—and
afraid it would bring out the monster inside her. So she just stood there.
Two of the men grabbed her and lifted her off the ground while a third grabbed her ankles. As they carried her toward an abandoned building, she begged
them in Tajik and in Russian to leave her alone, but they only laughed and called her horrible names. The man on her left shouted at her for being out alone
without a male chaperone.
Inside the building, she tried to shove them away and get her back to a wall, but they continued to taunt her. When one man tore at her tattered shirt until it
completely ripped away, they grew silent, their eyes latching on to her nearly naked body. She moved back against the mud wall behind her, trying to cover her
bra with her arms.
But Minka knew her hands wouldn’t stop these men from getting what they were after. After all the pain and suffering she had already endured, she was going
to die just a short distance from her home in total disgrace and humiliation. She was never going to see her family again. That might be for the best, though.
She didn’t want her parents to see what she had become, what she was turning into even now.
The men didn’t notice the change. Not at first, anyway. They were too interested in other things. But they noticed when the first man tried to kiss her and she
sent him reeling back, his chest ripped open to the bone.
Minka thought for sure the rest of the men would run then. But they only cursed and came at her all at once. They threw her to the ground, one of them kicking
her while the other two pulled out knives.
She hadn’t wanted to hurt them, and if they had killed her quickly, she would’ve almost been grateful. But it was clear they wouldn’t get around to killing her for
a while. They would toy with her the way thedoctors’ guards had toyed with her, making her scream in pain.
But the beast inside her would never let her be tortured again.
Minka was off the floor in a flash, slashing and biting, pushing the men back to give her space to move. For a moment, she saw the door, clear of attackers
and open to her escape, but she ignored it. The beast wasn’t interested in running now. It was interested only in tearing and ripping and killing.
The men’s shouts of pain and terror got louder as they ran for the door and scrambled toward the windows. But their cries only made her anger flame hotter,
driving her into a fury she’d never felt before.
Minka desperately tried to rein in the beast, but it was like she was on the outside of the abandoned house looking in. She knew she was the one tearing the
men apart, but she was no longer in control. She wasn’t sure she ever would be again.
Paige is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy romantic
suspense and paranormal romance. She graduated from The University of
West Florida with a degree in education in 2000, but decided to pursue a full-
time career as a writer in 2004. Since then, she’s written over fifty books in
several genres, including paranormal, contemporary, western, sci-fi and
erotica. She loves writing about strong, sexy, alpha males and the feisty,
independent women who fall for them. From verbal foreplay to sexual heat, her
stories of romance, adventure, suspense, passion and true love will leave you
breathlessly panting for more.
She and her very own military hero (also known as her husband) live on the
beautiful Florida coast with their adorable fur baby (also known as their dog).
Paige graduated with a degree in education, but decided to pursue her
passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines
who fall in love with them.
When not working on her latest book, Paige enjoys reading, jogging, P90X,
Yoga, Pilates, going to the beach, watching NFL football, watching movies and
hanging out with her husband (not necessarily in that order!)