“Only Sherra and Dawn will be left.” He shrugged. “I’ll kill Taber and Tanner myself.”

Merinus laughed at him, shaking her head as Callan moved closer. She had to keep his attention on her.

“You won’t get within a mile of any of them,” she told him mockingly. “They’re smarter than you are—”

“Callan wasn’t,” he denied. “I caught his woman.”

“Have you?” she asked, jerking back, falling to the floor as Callan’s roar sounded through the room. She scrambled around the chair as she heard the scream that erupted from Dayan’s throat. The gun went flying when Callan tackled him. Merinus grimaced as it flew in the opposite direction of the chair. Breathing roughly, watching the struggling men carefully, she began to crawl around the room. Feral growls filled the room, crashing furniture, flying fists. Dayan was like a savage animal, but Callan more so. With feet kicking out, fists hammering into flesh, the two men fought around the room, vying for supremacy. As Merinus reached the gun, she heard a scream of resounding pain that sent a chill down her back.

Callan had managed to tackle Dayan, maneuvering the other man in front of him, his arms locked around his neck. As Merinus’ eyes widened in horror, Callan gave a final, savage wrench. The sound of the other man’s neck breaking had bile rising from her stomach. Dayan’s eyes were wide with surprise and defeat, horror washed over his dying expression as Callan allowed him to drop slowly to the floor. Merinus raised shocked eyes to her lover. He stared at her, his expression cold, brutal. He never blinked, he offered no apology, but she saw the misery and grief in the glitter of unshed tears in his eyes. He was covered in blood. His bare chest marked with the scratches of Dayan’s longer, sharper nails. He wore only a pair of blood splattered sweat shorts. His feet were bare, his legs marred with ugly cuts and bruises, splayed apart, the muscles still tight, taut with the danger that pulsed in his body. Merinus was breathing harshly, her heart pounding in her chest, her hands clutching the forgotten gun.

“Fuck, you need another shower now,” she whispered as she swallowed tightly, then grimaced at the inane comment. “Oh God, Callan—”

Her hand went over her mouth as she fought the sickness rising in her throat. Dayan stared at her, his eyes vacant, wide in that last second of horror as he stared at her. She dropped the gun, her body shaking so hard she could feel her bones trying to rattle.

“Merinus.” Suddenly he was kneeling beside her, not touching her, his voice broken with his grief, his regret. “Did he hurt you?”

She shook her head desperately, fighting her tears.


“Oh God, how do I help you?” She turned to him, heedless of the blood that marred his body. His blood and Dayan’s.

His arms came around her hesitantly as she threw herself in his arms.

“Help me?” he whispered, his voice rough as he touched her hair, her back, as though frightened to embrace her. “You’re safe now, Merinus. It’s okay.”

She shook her head against his chest, the tears finally falling from her eyes, humiliating her with her weakness in the face of danger. She was such a wimp, she thought. He had saved both their lives, scarred his soul with the necessity of taking his brother’s life, and she needed his comfort. She should be comforting him instead.

“I’m so sorry,” she gasped through her tears. “I’m so sorry. I’m so weak, Callan. I’m so weak.”

She clutched at his shoulders, too weak to stand, fear still echoing through her system, the horror of the violence quaking through her system. As Callan tightened his arms around her, the sharp sound of the front door splintering tore them apart.

Merinus screamed as the door flew inward. Callan shoved her towards the chair, his sharp order lost amid his growl of rage as he dove for the gun Merinus had dropped.

“Merinus. Callan.” The harsh voice of her brother had her swinging around in time to watch Callan come up in a lithe, graceful move to his knees, the pistol gripped in both hands, his face a mask of rage.

“Callan.” She fell toward him; terrified he wouldn’t stop in time. He was ahead of her. The gun went up, his finger falling quickly back from the trigger. Dazed, breathing hard from shock and reaction she watched the way he crouched as the room began to fill with the presence of others. Her brothers and father, even her uncle, Senator Samuel Tyler was there, along with the vaguely familiar near dozen men who followed Kane. Taber and Tanner, Sherra and Dawn and Dr. Martin brought up the rear. Everyone but the Senator and the good scientists were armed to the gills, weapons showing, bodies taut and ready.

“God. Talk about fucking testosterone overload,” Merinus groaned as she collapsed on her ass, staring around as her brothers and Kane’s military group swept through the room, upstairs, making certain of security, she assumed. Shit, she didn’t know what the hell those black clad strangers with hard cold eyes were doing, let alone her brothers.

“Don’t touch her.” Suddenly Callan turned furious, feral eyes on whoever had dared to move behind her.

Merinus glanced up in time to see Kane raise his hands and step away quietly. Callan moved across the space of only a few feet and jerked Merinus in his arms. His body was blazing with heat, his muscles tight with tension.

“Give him a few minutes to cool off.” Dr. Martin moved among the men commandingly. “Get away from them. Get Dayan’s body to another room away from him now. Let him settle down or he’ll never find his control.”

Merinus looked back at Callan. His face was flushed, his eyes closed as he held her close.

“Callan?” she whispered.

“I could have lost you,” he answered, his voice ragged, harsh. “If it had been Council soldiers, if it had been anyone else, I would have lost you.”

His hold tightened as he fought for breath. “God help me, Merinus, I can’t lose you.”

Merinus breathed out deeply. She struggled to turn in his arms, finally succeeding as he loosened his grip only marginally. Her arms went around his shoulders, her head cushioned on his heaving chest. Around them, people moved, spoke, asked questions and demanded answers.

“How were we found?” Callan suddenly jerked his head up, his eyes blazing in suspicion as he looked at those around them.

“Kane had a tracker on Merinus’ cell,” Sherra answered him coolly. “I didn’t know, Callan, until this morning when he tried to call and his readout indicated the phone had been destroyed.”

Vaguely, Merinus remembered seeing the broken remnants of the phone on Callan’s desk. Dayan must have destroyed it, thinking he would keep them from calling for help. Callan had no phones in the house. No way to track any communications he made.

Callan took a deep, steadying breath. Merinus felt his control slowly reassert itself. His body relaxed marginally.

“Callan, you need to get cleaned up.” Kane stood several feet from them, staring down at them broodingly. “We’re going to call the police in on this one, do some damage control. Uncle Sam,” he nodded to the Senator, “came out here on the midnight flight to personally escort you back to the Senate hearings on genetic altering and DNA engineering. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Callan rose slowly to his feet. His arm wrapped around Merinus, refusing to let her go.

“Merinus can stay here with us,” Kane told him forcefully.

“I don’t think so.” Merinus didn’t trust the cold smile Callan sent her brother. “Merinus stays with me, Kane. Period. You can talk to her after we both clean up.”

Merinus rose to her feet alongside Callan, watching the two men stare each other down, both intent on having his way. They were like two pit bulls getting ready to fight over the same bone, but for different reasons. Kane wanted to hoard her, keep her a child, his innocent sister forever. Callan wanted the woman he had made and he was damned determined to keep her. Kane opened his mouth to speak. Merinus knew whatever came out of it would only make the situation worse.

“Don’t start, asshole,” she bit out, seeing the mockery that flashed across his eyes, an indication that something stupid was getting ready to come out of his mouth. He flashed her a dark look. Merinus took a deep breath.

“I need another shower, anyway, and so does Callan. Do whatever you guys have to do to get things ready to go. I can’t deal with it right now.”

Her mind was too dazed, shock and fear and fury still running through her veins. Adrenaline overload was turning into a bitch.

“At least try to hurry.” Kane raked his fingers though his short hair, impatience tightening his body. “We have to get a story together and get things started here, Merinus. I need you for that.”

He speared her with a commanding look.

“You’ll just have to wait,” she told him, accepting the arm Callan wrapped around her as her legs trembled beneath her. “I can’t right now, Kane. I just can’t.”

She was aware of the concerned, worried looks on the faces of her family. She should have been more eager to reassure them then she was to find a moment alone with Callan, to soothe the beast that still fought for release.

“Come on.” Callan turned without addressing the other man again and drew her from the room. When they reached the stairs, he didn’t make her climb them herself. He picked her up in his arms and carried her to the big bathroom off their bedroom. He didn’t speak, his expression didn’t soften. But he was hard. His cock was like a poker, steely and hot against her hip. His eyes blazed with lust. He locked the bedroom door behind them, then with a simple jerk at her pants, bared her from the waist down.

“I can’t wait.” He backed her up to the wall, lifting her, pushing her pants free with one foot. He spread her legs then plunged his cock deep. Merinus gasped, unaware how ready she had been for him. Her vagina clasped his erection with a hot, slick grip as tight as a fist as he buried himself inside her. Her head fell back against the wall, her hands gripping his scratched bloody shoulders as he bent, buried his head in her neck and began to pound into her. He was groaning with hoarse pleasure with each thrust. His erection was hard, scalding hot, driving her into a passion as natural and as deep as love itself. Heat and fire seared her body, pleasure rushed over her in a tidal wave of sensation, sweeping away any doubt, any residual fears left in her. His hands gripped her hips, her thighs clasped his and his cock buried itself over and over inside her. Stretching her, he filled her, burned her with his need. This was no hormonal demand, no kiss to encourage the heat, no preliminaries, just hard, honest passion. His teeth bit at her neck in the place he had marked as his own. His rough tongue stroked her. Callan grunted harshly as Merinus’ moans rose in intensity. She could feel her climax building, gathering inside her, the explosion only moments away.

Fighting for breath Callan increased the pace of his thrusts. Wet flesh slapped together, her cunt made suckling sounds as his cock slid easily inside her over and over again. Then she trembled, shook, she fought her scream, and managed to keep it down to a loud cry when she felt the barb emerge, lengthen, harden until it locked him deep inside her. That hot caress sent her careening over the edge. Her orgasm struck hard and deep, tightening her body as she felt him spurting his release inside her, distantly wincing as his satisfied roar echoed around them. Boy, Kane would definitely have problems with this.

Below, Callan’s sexual roar was clearly heard. Sherra grimaced as eight men flushed with anger, glancing at the stairs, their bodies stiffening with outrage.

“She’s not a child,” she informed them all. “You may as well get used to it now.”

John Tyler turned to her with a fierce frown.

“Young lady, that is my child,” he bit out.

“No sir, right now she’s Callan’s mate,” she argued tightly. “Her life was nearly lost and his DNA demands he reassert his claim. Get used to it, get over it before he gets down here, because if all of you crowd him, with your male pride all upset, you will merely force his instincts to the forefront. He’s just claimed her, let him get used to that before he has to deal with your possessiveness.”

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