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    FOREWORD

    They were created, they weren’t born.

    They were trained, they weren’t raised.

    They were taught to kill, and now they’ll use their training to ensure their freedom. They are Breeds. Genetically altered with the DNA of the predators of the earth. The wolf, the lion, the cougar, the Bengal; the killers of the world. They were to be the army of a fanatical society intent on building its own personal army.

    Until the world learned of their existence. Until the council lost control of their creations, and their creations began to change the world.

    Now they’re loose. Banding together, creating their own communities, their own society and their own safety, and fighting to hide the one secret that could see them destroyed. The secret of mating heat. The chemical, biological, the emotional reaction of one Breed to the man or woman meant to be his or hers forever. A reaction that binds physically. A reaction that alters more than just the physical responses, heightening the sensuality. Nature has turned mating heat into the Breeds’

    Achilles’ heel. It’s their strength, and yet their weakness. And Mother Nature isn’t finished playing yet. Man has attempted to mess with Her creations. Now She’s going to show Man exactly how She can refine them.

    Her males are strong. They bend, they never break. They are the pinnacle of strength from birth. Built to fight, to survive, to protect.

    To protect their females, be they lovers, mates or sisters. And it is their sisters who suffered far more than they. Females created by men as objects, as little more than tools to kill, and to satisfy their own

    craven, horrific lusts. And it is these females who suffer the most enduring pain. The females who must, now that freedom has been attained, rise above the nightmares to become mates. Mother Nature will accept nothing less. And their hearts flow with the blood of the greatest creatures on earth: the female, the Amazon, the lioness, the cougar, the giver of life, the caretakers and the hunters. It is these females who must now face the nightmares, the fears and the burning memories of pain to find the life Mother Nature intended for them all along.

    Man created them. But God has adopted them. And now Mother Nature will see to their ultimate survival.

    PROLOGUE

    BREEDSANCTUARY

    BUFFALOGAP,VIRGINIA

    TEN YEARS AGO

    Seth Lawrence stepped into the office the Breed Enforcer directed him to and stared back at the Breeds gathered together. He knew them, not well, but well enough. He backed them, his companies supported them. His father would have betrayed them all as well as the sister that now lived among them. The sister Seth had never known he had, but loved anyway.

    Callan Lyons, pride leader. He stood by the window, the late evening sunlight spearing through the heavy mane of hair that fell to his shoulders and cast his expression in shadow. Beside him was Seth’s brother-in-law, Taber Williams, who watched him with quiet anguish, a look in his eyes that had Seth tensing, preparing for the worst.

    Kane Tyler, brother-in-law to Callan Lyons and Sanctuary’s head of security, was resigned, somber. And Jonas Wyatt, the arrogant, forceful enforcer who had been steadily moving up the ranks of Security, stood at a scarred desk.

    “Is she okay?” Seth asked the question, his voice gruff, fear squeezing his heart. Shewas Dawn. Dawn Daniels, the little Cougar Breed female that he couldn’t get out of his mind, that he couldn’t forget. She had been wounded when Seth’s chauffeur had attempted to kidnap a Breed child, Cassie Walker, and Seth’s half sister, Roni, months ago.

    She was too tiny, too delicate to be as reckless and fearless as she was in battle. To be so haunted when touched by a man.

    In the few glimpses he had managed of her in the past months, she had looked haunted. And Seth wanted nothing more than to wipe those dark shadows from her eyes.

    “She’s fine, Seth,” Kane answered after glancing at the others, his ice blue eyes flickering in indecision.

    “Then why am I here?” He crossed his arms over his chest and stared them down. If they had brought him here to warn him away from Dawn, then they were wasting their time. Nothing, no one, could change the course he had set for himself. In all his life no one had belonged to him. He hadn’t loved anyone since his mother’s death, until Dawn.

    “I won’t be part of this.” Taber suddenly stiffened his shoulders and shook his dark head. The Jaguar Breed was tall, leanly powerful and obviously not in agreement with this meeting.

    “Taber.” Callan kept his voice low. “None of us like it, but it has to be done.”

    “Then let’s get to the damned point,” Seth demanded coldly, his voice sharp, brisk. “I’ll assume this is about Dawn?”

    Callan almost snarled. Taber jerked his head to the side and Kane rubbed at the back of his neck.

    “Mr. Lawrence, we’ve only met briefly.” Jonas Wyatt, with his weird silver eyes and savage features, stepped forward to lean against the front of the desk, a television remote control in his hand.

    “I remember you,” Seth answered, his voice clipped.

    “Dawn concerns us,” he said then, his voice gruff, arrogant. He was one of those men that other men naturally never get along with. They might respect him, might admire his power and cunning, but he wasn’t a man others could be comfortable around.

    Seth knew the type. He was the same way. Control and power came with an innate arrogance that naturally didn’t fit well when it came in contact with those who were similar.

    “Dawn concerns me as well, Mr. Wyatt,” Seth informed him. “For some reason I’ve been barred from seeking her out, and no one wants to talk to me about her. Damned inhospitable, if you ask me. Considering the aid Lawrence Industries has offered to the Breeds.”

    “Dawn isn’t for sale, Lawrence,” Callan growled then, the sound rumbling in his throat.

    “I didn’t ask to buy her.” Seth sent him a cold smile. “I believe I made my intentions clear to you, Lyons.”

    “And that’s why we’re here.” With a flick of his hand toward them, two silent enforcers slid the heavy curtains over the windows, leaving the room in shadows.

    Seth noted the movement, a part of him, an instinctive part of him, warning him that what was about to come was something he didn’t want to know.

    “I’m out of here.” Taber’s growl was more animal than man and had Seth tensing for action. Seth caught the other man’s arm as he passed, ignoring the flash of dangerously sharp canines as Taber turned to him.

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