think. Her body had become lead. It was an effort to lift her arm, make a fist, pound on his back. She was dizzy and sick. His emotions were swamping her, a wild swirling of dark danger beating at her. She had never come close to feeling such overwhelming emotions. They welled up like a volcano, explosive, violent, very intense. She sensed something wild and untamed, a predator without equal. Her neck throbbed and burned and she wondered what manner of demon she had unleashed.

She actually felt the strength gathering in him. Felt it. A seething cauldron of enormous power. It built in him and seemed to spill out of him, out of his pores, bursting from his masculine body so that the building frame shook and creaked ominously, until the very air was so filled, the walls actually bulged outward in an attempt to contain such power. Juliette clutched at the tattered remains of his shirt, her fist bunching the material in her palm, needing something, anything to hang on to.

'My sister might be in here.' She managed to whisper the words, terrified Jasmine would be caught in the massive destruction of cement and mortar.

'No one is in the building but us,' he assured. He moved then, his speed so incredible everything around her blurred. Juliette squeezed her eyes shut tightly to prevent the dizziness from overcoming her. Her stomach lurched and she clung grimly. She could feel the powerful muscles bunching beneath her, the rush of air over her body. She could have sworn at one point they left the ground, moving through space so quickly they were flying.

Chapter 2

Fear amounting to terror tore at Juliette. She had no idea what she was dealing with, but he was a powerful predator and from the condition she found him in, his anger was justified. She could feel a controlled rage simmering deep within him. Shockingly, they seemed linked together, she feeling his emotions, he feeling hers. She summoned her courage, her eyes still held tightly shut to keep dizziness at bay, keep from being overwhelmed with fear and the rush of wind in her face as they raced through the chamber of horrors. She needed all of her senses working if she was going to escape. She had to be alert for that one moment, that one chance when he would momentarily be distracted. She tried to gather her strength.

It seemed a monumental task in the face of being upside, her stomach rammed hard against his shoulder. He held her with one arm tightly across her buttocks, easily, casually, as if he barely remembered she was there. Her stomach rebelled and she was weak and light-headed. But his touch seemed familiar, intimate even. His fingers were splayed across her bottom, absently caressing the roundness of her muscles even as he was striding quickly through the building. Almost as if his touch remembered her body, knew her intimately in some way. Juliette couldn't focus properly no matter how hard she tried, aware of his fingers more than she would have liked.

The very foundation of the building shook; wrenching apart, the earth beneath them buckled and rippled violently. Sparks began to snap and crackle around them as the wiring popped from the beams, cracking and splintering overhead. Light fixtures swayed precariously. Fissures appeared in the floor, along the wall, great, ominous cracks.

There was a roaring in her ears, loud and insistent. The man locking her to him moved smoothly, fluidly, a certain poetry to his motion, not jarring her badly knotted stomach. Breathe. She heard the word as a soft whisper in her mind. Almost a caress, intimate. Breathe. As if warm air from his mouth was breathed into her ear. As if his lungs moved for her lungs. Her body still felt leaden, her arms hanging heavily down his back. She tried to concentrate, tried to gather her strength to wait for her moment, but that single word had disturbed her. Changed her. Breathe. It whispered through her body, swam in her bloodstream, spread insidiously throughout her body so that her very heart beat the rhythm of his heart. And the word was in her mind, not spoken aloud.

As the building vibrated, he took stairs three and four at a time. He leapt from the crumbling cement wall, a good twenty feet in the air, landing easily on the balls of his feet, still careful not to jar her. Flames were licking at the blocks of concrete, trying to find fuel, greedily looking for something to devour as he took her into the shelter of the jungle.

At once the dark green leaves enfolded them, swallowed them, a haven of rich, lush vegetation. The darkness was nearly inpenetrable beneath the heavy canopy of foliage overhead. The fallen trees and thick shrubbery didn't slow him down. He moved as one born and bred in the jungle, silent and deadly, protecting her with his body as he raced through the darkened interior, putting distance between them and the crumbling laboratory. He seemed to know exactly where he was going, when most were disoriented deep within the forest. Before he had run with speed and power, now he began to falter, his legs shaking as if he were suddenly weak. Blood still ran from his wounds and trickled down his body from the many lacerations.

Juliette flexed her fingers, grasping his tattered shirt. She didn't have the energy to cry out a protest, limp and lifeless, hanging like a sack over his shoulder, but she was certain he was half-mad with pain. All at once they were back on the edge of the trees where civilization had hacked the jungle back to build small townships and villages. The jungle, as always, was creeping forward to reclaim what had been taken, providing cover all the way to the very edge of the village.

He stopped near a thick tree trunk, a shadow in the darkness. She felt his stillness, his gathering of information, scenting the wind. Her heart began to pound in anticipation, a loud, terrifying beat. He was hunting prey. Deep within her very soul, she knew he was hunting human prey with her leaden body draped casually over his shoulder. She wanted to struggle, to scream, to warn his victim. No sound emerged; her body refused to obey her. Her heart nearly exploded in her chest, wild and frightened.

Breathe. It came again. A soft command in her mind-gentle, intimate. A caress she felt on her skin, a stroke she felt in her hair. On her bare breast. Air moved through her lungs, through his, and her heart found the steady, natural beat of his.

She heard the padding of footsteps, the murmur of voices carrying in the night. Coming closer. Closer still. Who would be so foolish as to wander near the jungle this late at night? There were many predators in the forest. He moved then, shifting her into his arms, cradling her close to his chest, his black eyes burning deeply into hers for a long moment. She could only stare helplessly, half mesmerized, half paralyzed. Slowly he lowered her feet to the ground, keeping his arm around her to hold her to him. To hold her up. She was dizzy and weak.

His dark examination was the most intimate thing she had ever experienced. The connection between them was growing. His gaze drifted over her body, touched her exposed breasts with the heat of a flame. Juliette couldn't summon the strength to button her blouse so she stood swaying and vulnerable in front of him. As if reading her mind, her captor drew the edges of the material together and slipped the buttons in place. His knuckles brushed against her skin, sending a shiver of awareness down her spine. He bent his dark head toward her, a slow, almost seductive movement. Her heart thundered in her ears as his sculpted mouth came close to hers. A whisper away, no more. Mesmerized, she could only stare at him, waiting, forgetting to breathe. Abruptly, he turned his head toward the small group of houses.

Juliette saw two men moving toward them, walking straight as if on a path, yet they were walking through dense shrubbery. Neither spoke, nor looked right or left. Neither seemed to be aware they were close to the jungle where predators lurked. Juliette tipped her head back. It fell against his chest, too heavy for her to hold up on her own. His arm tightened, locking her even closer to him so that the heat of his body seeped into the cold of hers.

She could only stand there helplessly as the two victims walked closer and closer. There was a stillness in her captor, the coiling of a snake. She felt him gathering his strength, holding it in place while his prey came closer. The two men walked right up to him as if drawn, as if programmed. A shudder ran through her as one tipped his head back, exposing his throat. Her captor bent his dark head in that same, unhurried, almost casual manner, and sank his fangs deep and drank.

Juliette's heart pounded frantically, adrenaline racing through her bloodstream. They cannot feel. They are not afraid, why should you be afraid for them? I am not hurting them. You always forget to breathe. There was the merest hint of amusement in his melodic voice, an intimacy that took her breath away.

Her entire body clenched, searing heat touching her in places like the stroke of fingertips. Her breath caught in

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