New Species #3 - Valiant - Laurann Dohner Page 0,1

her chest as her heart hammered and air passed between her parted lips. She blinked, which was progress, but that was it.

“Valiant!” another man called out loudly. “Calm down and back away from the female. She isn’t challenging you. She’s just scared shitless.” The new voice had a strong, deep pitch and he sounded angry.

The man-beast growled again when he took another step closer to Tammy. She wanted to run but her legs seemed rooted to the ground. She tried to tear her gaze from the golden eyes staring back at her but just couldn’t break the connection.

Everyone had heard about the New Species. Anyone would have to never have read a newspaper or owned a television not to know they were humans who’d been secretly experimented on by Mercile Industries. The pharmaceutical company had funded secret testing facility for decades for some messed up research supposedly done to find cures for diseases. The story had broken when countless numbers of survivors from those testing facilities had been freed.

Shit, she thought. This is obviously a New Species. She knew they’d titled themselves that, those surviving men and women who had been physically altered with animal DNA inside those places.

The man-beast stalking closer was obviously one and they’d really done a number on him since he sure didn’t appear normal in any way. Tammy had never seen anything similar to him before and didn’t want to ever see it again. He looked like a man…but not. That made her wonder just how much of his animalistic traits ruled him.

“Someone get a tranquilizer gun.” It was a woman and she sounded scared. “Now. Move it.”

“Valiant?” It was the man again with the deep voice. “Listen to me, man. She didn’t mean to trespass into your territory. She got lost when someone screwed up the maps and it led her here. You know Justice is having a party and he hired caterers. She is just a terrified female who came here to serve food. It’s not a challenge. She can’t look away from you or leave because she’s frozen with fear. Calm down and just back off. She can leave once you do.”

Justice North was the appointed leader of the New Species Organization. He’d bought up the closed-down old resort and all the land around it for his people to live on and turned it into a New Species enclave called Reservation. He was also their spokesperson who did all the television interviews. He’d hired Ted’s catering service to host their first party at Reservation and that’s how Tammy had ended up in the wrong place.

She swallowed, grateful her mind still worked and knew all that information. She could at least follow the conversation that her life might depend on. It seemed to her that this would be her last job for Ted otherwise. Hell, it might be my last day doing anything ever again.

“Do you hear me, Valiant? Do you know how pissed Justice is going to be if you maul someone he hired? We’re supposed to be throwing this dinner to make the people living in town feel comfortable with us being here. It’s going to really set everyone off if you attack one of them.” The man with the deep voice sighed. “Let me come get her. Is that all right, man? Can I come into your yard to take her away?”

“No,” the man-beast snarled. He threw back his head and an earsplitting roar shattered the wooded area.

Tammy moved finally but it just wasn’t in the direction she wanted to go, which would have been toward her work van and closer to the help that had arrived to try to save her on the other side of the gate she’d walked through. Her knees collapsed under her. She hit the grass but didn’t totally fall flat. She remained kneeling.

He had to be a lion or tiger of some sort. She recognized the sound he’d made. He had a pretty distinctive roar. She studied his coloring, his wide nose, and finally those sharp teeth. Shit. He’s definitely some kind of big-cat mix. She guessed lion. She stared up at him and wondered if her bladder would let loose from sheer terror. It wouldn’t surprise her in the least. It wasn’t as if her day could get any worse.

“Remain calm,” the deep-voiced man demanded. “I won’t come in. Talk to me, Valiant. Otherwise someone is going to tranquilize your ass and I know how upset that’s going to make you.”

Man-beast had a