LUST UNDONE by Desiree Holt
Returning to her home state of Maine to investigate a possible Chupacabra killing, Sophia Black meets Clint Beaudine, lean, dark and sexy. The heat between them is incendiary, the sex erotic and the pleasure beyond her imagination. Clint fulfills all her fantasies and teaches her ways to please him. The Maine air might be cold but in Sophia’s motel room it’s beyond boiling.
Clint helps her with her case, using his knowledge of the area in which he grew up. As they learn each other’s secrets it’s obvious to both of them that they are meant to be together. Mated. But the Chupacabra is out in the snow, hunting human prey.
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An Excerpt From: LUST UNDONE
Copyright © DESIREE HOLT, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
“I’d like to propose a toast.”
Craig Stafford raised his champagne flute and looked at the people gathered around him.
“We look entirely too somber for a wedding party.”
“You’re right,” Logan Tanner, a former Montana deputy sheriff, chimed in. “This is an important occasion and we should be celebrating it.”
“To Chloe and Mark.” Craig smiled at the couple standing near him. “Sunshine in darkness. May you have a long and happy life together.”
The others echoed him and then lifted their glasses to drink to Mark Guitron and Chloe Hansen. Mark’s arm was tight around the shoulders of his very new bride, the gesture both loving and protective.
This very specialized group of people called Night Seekers was all standing on the patio of Desolation Ranch. Set up as their headquarters, the ranch had been purchased by Stafford, the reclusive billionaire who was dedicating his life to the eradication of the Chupacabra. The devil beast.
The name of the creature inspired a combination of rage and frustration in every one of the eight members of the Night Seekers. Each of them had lost at least one person close to them to the beast that killed in a horrendous way. Victims’ throats were punctured, blood drained and internal organs ripped from their bodies.
Twice now, in two different locations in Texas, the members of the team had thought they’d killed the Chupacabra, only to have a report of new killings pop up not long after that.
Each time the team was sure it had killed the murderous creation, Stafford maneuvered to get the body whisked away to his secret lab. There his scientists did their best to identify where this abomination had derived from. For years, before Stafford became involved, other scientists had operated on the theory that it was the result of two distinct species mating. Now they were slowly coming to the realization that, while that may have been the origin, it was much more than that. Possibly even the result of human genetic engineering.
There was no readily identifiable DNA. And circumstance had led them to also believe the creature was some sort of shifter, able to assume other forms, not just human.
The legend of the Chupacabra was one that had been handed down for decades, the stories stretching from South America to North America. Sightings were recorded in many places and it had been written about and speculated over extensively. Sophia Black, a former detective with the Maine State Police, had read all about the ranchers who swore they’d killed it only to have it turn out to be a mutated goat or coyote.
But the killing spree continued—animals and humans alike. Was it a wild animal of some sort because of the way the bodies were mutilated, sliced open with the entrails pulled out? Or a vampire, as some thought, because each body had puncture wounds at the neck and was drained of blood? Talk about your way-out-there theories. And each time someone was sure the beast had been killed it turned out to be a false alarm, just as it had for the Night Seekers in Maverick and Zapata Counties in Texas. Because the killings continued and the bodies piled up.
And the legend continued to grow.
Every member of the team was frustrated by the inability to track the beast to its actual lair. Since the Night Seekers had been formed there had been nine more killings—three in Georgia and six in Texas. A depressing thought for everyone. Twice now they’d thought they’d had it, only to learn it was still loose. Or another one like it. And that was an even scarier thought. That someone, somewhere, was breeding these creatures which could assume different shapes at will.
If there was a bright spot in all the pain, it was the knowledge that on the first Night Seekers mission, in Maverick County, former FBI agent Jonah Grey had found Dakota Furcal, now Dakota Grey. An herbalist, among the things she grew were the special herbs that six members of the group needed to maintain their genetic balance. The six who themselves were shapeshifters. Wolves.
The most recent mission had brought Chloe and Mark together and she had returned to the ranch with him when he finished in Zapata County.
The event tonight should have been a joyous one. Weddings were supposed to be a time of festivity and filled with merriment. But an underlying sense of anguish gripped everyone and unfortunately took the edge off the celebration. Subdued the happiness.
Mark Guitron and Chloe Hansen stood in the fading sunlight, accepting the good wishes of their teammates.
It wasn’t difficult, however, to read the sadness in Chloe’s eyes. Despite the best efforts of the team her friend Melinda was still missing. Her disappearance in Zapata County in Southwest Texas on the Mexican border had been too coincidentally close to new Chupacabra killings not to tie them together.
While no one except Chloe wanted to say it out loud, they all suspected that if humans were behind the latest evolution of the devil beast they had captured Melinda for their own devious purposes. That her fate might be worse than death.
Stafford, standing to one side of the patio, put down his empty champagne flute. Everyone knew the story of his wife and child, killed by the Chupacabra when they were all vacationing in Mexico. Now he dedicated his life and his billions to wiping the beast off the face of the earth. Night Seekers had been his idea. All the members, from various states and various law enforcement agencies, had been specifically chosen by him.
“I hate to bring this up at a wedding party,” he began, “but I think we need to put something on the table that everyone’s thinking and no one wants to say.”
“I’ll say it.” Chloe removed her hand from her husband’s arm and stepped forward. “It’s my wedding—well, Mark’s and mine—and my friend everyone’s thinking about.” She glanced over her shoulder at Mark who smiled and stepped up beside her. He put his arm around her and pulled her into his side.
“Everyone’s thinking it,” she repeated, “and so am I. It’s obvious there are more of these creatures out there than anyone ever suspected. So either they’re crossbreeding with other species or someone’s screwing around with genetics. And Melinda’s been taken to wherever this hellhole is.”
“I think we’re all aware,” Craig agreed, “that we’re seeking something far beyond what we originally thought when we started this project. It’s not only impossible for one creature to be in so many far-flung places, but we’ve killed two and yet the destruction still continues.”
“I can’t imagine what kind of deranged human being would breed creatures like this.” Logan Tanner, the former Montana deputy sheriff, had seen more of the Chupacabra death trail when Craig sent him to check out bodies in Georgia. The horrific pictures he’d brought back were now scanned into the main file on the computer. “And to what purpose?”
“To kill,” Craig said. “To destroy. Think of the power someone would have if they had an army of these devil beasts.”
Jonah Grey swallowed the last of his champagne. Next to him stood his wife Dakota. Now he linked his fingers with hers.
“Those of us who are shifters know that around the world there are others like us who live only for power and control, and are driven by a bloodlust. It’s obvious one of them has decided to harness that power and enhance it.”
“Are you sure it’s a shifter?” Chloe asked.
Jonah nodded. “I’d say that odds are weighted in that direction. A shifter who knows the power he or she controls would want to crossbreed and enhance it. With an army of shifter killers at his or her disposal that person could wreak havoc on society.”
“You’d be amazed at what some people will do,” Logan agreed. “Or maybe not. In Montana we had a bunch of what you’d call mountain men. Guys who lived at the back of beyond and thought civilization was a dirty word. Three brothers, for example, used to kidnap people and take them up on the mountain they owned and chase them for sport. With rifles. And kill them.”
Ric Garza, the de facto leader of Night Seekers, refilled his champagne flute. “So it seems someone’s decided to create their own wild animals. Shifters, maybe with human DNA if they can achieve it. And what? Turn them loose?”
Craig shook his head. “Sell them. Look at any of your Third-World countries with vicious dictators. Think what they could do with a pack of these devil beasts to exert control over the people. And if they can assume not just human form but that of domestic animals, people would never know when there was one in their midst.”
Everyone stood quietly absorbing the enormity of that statement. The silence was broken only when a cell phone played The Maine Stein Song. Sophia Black’s phone. A former investigator with the Maine State Police, she used the state song as her ringtone. Everyone looked at her as she pulled it from the pocket of her slacks and pressed talk.
“This is Sophia.”
They all watched as she listened, the color slowly leeching from her face. Her twin nephews had been killed by El Chupacabra and she was viciously dedicated to its eradication. She’d been one of the first to be convinced that, rather than migrating to other states from Texas and the South American countries, there were indeed more than one of the creatures. Now, with the increased number of killings all over the country, the entire team was convinced.
“All right. I’ll get back to you shortly.” She disconnected the call and shoved the phone back in her pocket. She looked around at everyone. “That was my sister Rebecca. Sorry to break up the party but there’s been another killing. Up in the woods in northern Maine. And as before, no one there seems to have a clue what they’re dealing with.”
“There’ll be plenty of time to celebrate when we bring this to an end,” Mark said.
“And when we find Melinda,” Chloe added. “I’m for anything that brings us a step closer.”
“Then let’s go into the command center,” Craig said, “and see what we have.”
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