Bengal's Quest: A Breed Novel by Lora LeighBengal's Quest: A Breed Novel by Lora Leigh

Bengal's Quest: A Breed Novel

byLora Leigh

Mass Market Paperback | February 2, 2016

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The #1 New York Times bestseling author of Rule Breaker returns to the “highly charged and carnal” (Fresh Fiction) world of her Breed novels as two Breeds discover that it’s vengeance that stirs the mating heat.

He was a shadow, ever shifting and insinuating, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. The elusive ideal conceived and created by the Genetics Council, he went by just as many names as he had identities—the last one being Gideon.
 
Now calling himself Graeme, he hides in plain sight, terrifyingly close to his goal. A rogue Bengal Breed, he is loyal to no one but himself. And he has a need for vengeance that surges hot and swift through his veins.
 
Graeme plans to wage an extreme and ruthless vendetta against those who wronged him—Breed and human alike. All will suffer his wrath: those who created him, those who pretended to love him, and those who betrayed him.This includes the one at the center of it all: a seductive, enigmatic woman helpless against the man whose desire is just as desperate as his need to destroy. And he’s tracking her scent...
Lora Leigh is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Breed novels, including Rule Breaker, Stygian’s Honor and Lawe’s Justice, the Nauti Boys series including Nauti Deceptions and Nauti Intentions, and the Nauti Girls series including Nauti Temptress and Nauti Siren.
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Title:Bengal's Quest: A Breed NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 6.75 × 4.25 × 0.82 inPublished:February 2, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0515153990

ISBN - 13:9780515153996

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bengal's Quest He was a shadow, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. He’s a rogue Bengal Breed hiding in plain sight. He has a need for vengeance and he has the scent of the seductive enigmatic woman who’s at the center of it all in this thrilling paranormal romance. Cat is helpless against the man whose desire is just as desperate as his need to destroy and the reader can’t help but get caught up in the electrifying and seductive story as Cat and Graeme fight their way through the mating heat. The sizzling chemistry and fiery tempers between Cat and Graeme has sparks flying but this relationship is an emotional roller coaster as circumstances and the past has a colossal grip that won’t let go which has lots of emotional turbulence flowing from the pages and capturing the heart of the reader even causing a few tears. These strong, vibrant characters demands readers attention while they seduce you with their story while the fast paced, smooth flowing plot thrills readers with lots of suspense, excitement, turmoil and romance. Manipulations, intrigues and suspense keep readers on their toes with pulse pounding excitement building as Graeme puts his plans in motion and schemes take on a whole new meaning and adding to all that excitement is the unexpected twists that surprise readers throughout the story. The scenes are well written with vivid details that make it easy for the reader to become immersed in the characters’ lives as they live their story. Jonas is up to his usual games but by adding Graeme into the mix, things just got more complicated and more intriguing because there is no way that I could guess to just who was what up to what and what the outcome of all their scheming would be and Cat lives up to her name and gives as good as she gets which really made me chuckle a bit. Once again, the Breeds held be spellbound from beginning to end and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Date published: 2016-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bengal's Quest He was a shadow, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. He’s a rogue Bengal Breed hiding in plain sight. He has a need for vengeance and he has the scent of the seductive enigmatic woman who’s at the center of it all in this thrilling paranormal romance. Cat is helpless against the man whose desire is just as desperate as his need to destroy and the reader can’t help but get caught up in the electrifying and seductive story as Cat and Graeme fight their way through the mating heat. The sizzling chemistry and fiery tempers between Cat and Graeme has sparks flying but this relationship is an emotional roller coaster as circumstances and the past has a colossal grip that won’t let go which has lots of emotional turbulence flowing from the pages and capturing the heart of the reader even causing a few tears. These strong, vibrant characters demands readers attention while they seduce you with their story while the fast paced, smooth flowing plot thrills readers with lots of suspense, excitement, turmoil and romance. Manipulations, intrigues and suspense keep readers on their toes with pulse pounding excitement building as Graeme puts his plans in motion and schemes take on a whole new meaning and adding to all that excitement is the unexpected twists that surprise readers throughout the story. The scenes are well written with vivid details that make it easy for the reader to become immersed in the characters’ lives as they live their story. Jonas is up to his usual games but by adding Graeme into the mix, things just got more complicated and more intriguing because there is no way that I could guess to just who was what up to what and what the outcome of all their scheming would be and Cat lives up to her name and gives as good as she gets which really made me chuckle a bit. Once again, the Breeds held be spellbound from beginning to end and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Date published: 2016-01-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Bengals quest I waited quite a while to read Gideons story and it left me with a feeling of frustration it could have been so good but was a rousing disappointment .the story was lack lustre and boring maybe the writer should pick up a new hobby! I have read almost all of her books and I find them getting worse and worse do not waste your money!
Date published: 2015-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Love lora leigh. I couldn't put the book down. I love the characters in this series. I can't wait to get the next one
Date published: 2015-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Begal's Quest The breed novels make you laugh, cry and want to fight all injustice in the world. Another great story! Looking forward to the next.
Date published: 2015-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best yet As time goes by these books get better and better. I was drawn in by the premise and a bit put off by the graphic sex when I first started reading these novels, but as time goes by the writing gets better and better and the story more intense. I still prefer less explicit sex scenes but find the author depends on them less to control the story and uses them more as a side feature.
Date published: 2015-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bengal heat Love this series. Can hardly wait for the next. Perhaps it will be about Cullen which would be good.
Date published: 2015-06-27

Read from the Book

 Chapter OneThirteen years later Window Rock, ArizonaThe world called her Claire.Once, her legal name had been Fawn.Neither was actually her true name.Where it counted, to whom it counted, she was Cat, a carefully hidden, maturing, restless feline Breed ready to pounce. A tigress growing slowly impatient with those around her and the machinations being played against her.She’d been growing tired of it for quite a while. The farce of living as a woman who had actually died as a young girl years before, of pretending to be quiet, studious, and without backbone, had worn her patience away.She had backbone.Once, a geneticist and a Bengal Breed named Gideon, one she had called G, had ensured it.She had a backbone of steel and it was getting ready to lock into place.“Claire should return to protective custody. With the proof that’s come to light of her father’s crimes against his family as well as the Breed community, she’ll become a target.” Jonas Wyatt, the director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs, addressed the group gathered in the conference room of the Navajo Suites Hotel just outside Window Rock.He wasn’t wrong, exactly. What he neglected to mention was the fact that she had been a target since the tender age of twelve. It was nothing new to her.For some reason, this Lion Breed had decided she was his favorite project, though. Since learning that her father, Raymond Martinez, had been behind his own sister’s abduction by the Genetics Council and later her death, the Breed was like a shadow she couldn’t shake.Not to mention the fact that she was the only bait he had to draw out a creature he still had yet to learn was far too dangerous to play with in such a way.Jonas didn’t address his concerns to her, though. They were addressed to Claire’s family members.His freaky silver eyes swirled with concern amid the expression of sincerity that creased his sun-bronzed face.He was about as sincere as the German shepherd that pretended to smile at her each morning. That bastard would take a bite out of her hide at first opportunity if she dared allow it.Not that Jonas wanted to see her harmed, unless it was for the greater good. He was just more concerned with that greater good.“It would seem to me that decision should be Claire’s.” The new director of the Western Division of the Bureau of Breed Affairs—a hell of a mouthful there—Rule Breaker, the real Claire Martinez’s uncle, spoke up at that point.Claire had a Lion Breed for an uncle. Whoopee, wasn’t she lucky?Lifting her gaze from her hands where she’d folded them atop the table, she directed it to the black-haired, blue-eyed Rule and wondered how much he suspected, how much he knew.Quite a bit, she was certain, though she doubted he’d been told everything.“I agree.” Her grandfather, Orrin, spoke up. “She’s the one who would be confined for the period of time required. She should decide if this is what she wishes.”Oh, this was about to get really good.Orrin never agreed with a woman making her own decisions about her protection. Not since his teenage daughter had disappeared over three decades before.If she had needed confirmation that she was silently being pushed out of the Martinez family, then Grandfather Orrin had just given it.The ache in her chest grew sharper, the heavy weight of grief sinking deeper inside her.“I think Claire knows the risks,” Jonas suggested as though he could read her mind.Perhaps he could.It was said he had some mad Breed powers going on. Who knew what he could actually do.“And those risks would be?” The newcomer to the group, a Wolf Breed, Lobo Reever, asked the question with such arrogance she had to bite back a sneer. “Why don’t you explain them before we’re asked to lock a young woman away, a young woman who, it appears, has known nothing but restraint all her life, Director?”This was so good, such a classic G—oh, excuse her, Graeme—maneuver, that she’d seen through it the moment Reever stepped into the meeting. As though she hadn’t known where the Bengal was for months now. That he was working right beneath Jonas Wyatt’s nose, posing as some Lion Breed security manager for Reever’s estates.Graeme Parker, her ass.A Lion Breed? Really?How the hell had he managed to pull that scent off? To mask his Bengal scent with that of a Lion’s was such a stroke of biological and genetic genius that she could barely comprehend it. She’d always known he was too damned smart for his own good, but that one surpassed even her expectations of him.Jonas wasn’t happy with the objections. His expression went from concerned to blank so fast Cat wondered if she’d blinked.“Claire? It would seem your opinion is required here.” The subtle mockery in Jonas’s drawl made the decision for her.He expected her to just agree. To do as Claire had always done and agree with the decisions made for her protection.He was certain Claire still lived . . . No, he knew she wasn’t Claire. He’d known from the beginning and he’d simply been patronizing her, using her to draw out a Bengal he was determined to find.She turned her gaze to the two men who had tried to protect her for the past thirteen years, Orrin and Terran. The men Claire had called Grandfather and Uncle. How she wished they were truly hers to claim.How she wished someone, somewhere, was hers to claim.The sensible thing to do, the smart thing to do, would be to agree with him. Breed protective custody wasn’t so bad. It was simply incredibly boring and impossible to slip away from. It was confining to the point of being smothering.“She’s not a child, Jonas.” Lobo spoke up, his wild green eyes narrowed on the director. “I’m certain she doesn’t appreciate being spoken to as one either.”Jonas slid his gaze to Lobo, a slight smirk to his lips before turning back to Claire. The arrogant confidence on his face had her teeth clenching. He actually thought she would be so easy to control, that he could force the truth from her. She’d already decided her course here, he could force nothing.“Not a child, Lobo, but I’d say definitely tired of being under her father’s thumb.” Confidence gleamed in his odd gaze, so certain she’d fall into line, his line, and do as he wanted her to do. He knew who she was, what she was, and he believed she was weak. She’d allowed him to believe she was weak, just as she had allowed others to believe it.The time for that was past.It was time to stop pretending she was Claire, and be the person, the Breed, she’d grown into.It sucked. She hated it. And it was going to cause her more trouble than she wanted to deal with at the moment, but this farce had gone on too long as it was.“I’m neither Raymond’s puppet nor yours, Mr. Wyatt.” Standing to her feet, she faced the men, men, who had come together to decide on her protection, as well as her future, for her. As though she didn’t have the ability to do it for herself. She’d had enough of that before she’d turned eight.And though the need for caution was uppermost, no doubt, her ability to feign submission no longer existed.“I never imagined you were a puppet, but I think you and I are both aware of the fact that Raymond’s association with the Genetics Council is more a threat to you than you’re willing to admit.” It was a reminder.A reminder that her past was known by Raymond as well as Jonas, her real identity a weakness she couldn’t escape. And one Raymond had no doubt already reported to those willing to supply him with the funds he believed would aid in exoneratinghim on the charges the Breeds had brought against him. The list was extensive.“Child.” Orrin rose as well, his wrinkled face, gray braids and frail body a reminder that age was taking him from so many who loved him. “You must do as your heart, as your spirit, guides you, not as those who love you would have you do. But the danger is not something you will face alone,” he told her. His voice was gentle, but still, he was encouraging her to face this without the family she’d depended upon as Claire Martinez. “You will never face that life, or any danger that would find you, alone.”Another reminder, one he’d given her thirteen years before. There were those who watched out for her, who would never see her harmed if they could deflect the danger first. In all the years she’d been protected beneath his granddaughter’s identity, she’d never asked them for help either.“Orrin, respectfully, that’s bullshit,” Jonas objected sharply, anger snapping in his voice with such strength that he drew the attention of the entire room.Silver eyes seemed shot with mercury as they obscured the black pupils, swirling with a primal, primitive rage that would have affected her if she hadn’t been used to such a look long before she’d come to this desert land.“Perhaps, Director, you are the one full of bullshit,” Orrin suggested smoothly, by no means intimidated by the Lion Breed either. “This is her fate, not yours. The questions you claimed to have when you came here have been answered. You have what you assured us you were searching for, the answers to your daughter’s health. You can leave now. The safety and protection of our own, we can handle.”Orrin’s deliberately arrogant claim filled the air with anger. With Wyatt’s anger.“But she isn’t yours, is she? No matter how much she claims to be. When do the lies stop?” His hands smacked on the table as he leaned forward, the sight of blood-tipped claws now protruding from the tips of his fingers an assurance that the primal genetics he possessed were rising hard and fast inside him. “Do you take me for a fool? Do you imagine I don’t for a second who and what you are?”He stared at her, knowledge and demand burning his gaze. He was her genetic superior, that gaze seemed to remind her. She would submit. She would follow his lead. She would . . . tell him to go to hell if he kept trying to intimidate her in such a way.“I take you for a bastard!”Before she could restrain the urge, the tigress that resided inside, normally silent and well hidden, slipped its leash. Her own claws emerged before her hands slapped to the table as well. She could feel the markings at the sides of her face shadowing her flesh, feel the incisors at the sides of her mouth dropping lower, feel the animal infused in her genetics merging with the human.Shock filled the room. Satisfaction filled Wyatt’s gaze. Did he truly believe he’d maneuvered her so easily? That she hadn’t considered the consequences to what she had just done.“You are an unregistered Breed female,” Jonas snarled, his voice a lash of icy dominance. “You will do as you’re told by the only alpha claiming you.”The only alpha claiming her? He was as insane as he believed the Bengal he was chasing to be.Thankfully, being claimed didn’t count if she didn’t want it to.Lobo eased to his feet, though not in fear, not even wariness. Sharp interest definitely, and a hint of concern for her, not of her.“You are no alpha of mine, Director,” she assured him, her tone sharp, melodic, rather than rough as many males’ voices were when their animals slipped free. “That scent of demand, that look of furious command, has no effect on me. My alpha marked me years ago and no other will usurp his place no matter how hard they may try.”She had accepted her alpha freely when the tigress inside her first showed itself. The mark of that acceptance, not just by her but by the animal inside her couldn’t be wiped away, no matter how she’d already attempted to erase it.“An alpha who wants you dead.” The reminder was given with a baring of sharp incisors and a flash of fury.Well, he really didn’t have to throw that one in her face, now did he? Not that she believed Graeme wanted her dead, but it was the impression he’d given other’s searching for her. She didn’t consider that nice of him either.“Is that what you believe?” She let a low, amused hint of laughter free. “Trust me, Director, if my alpha wanted me dead, then dead I would have been the night he found me when he first got here. You roused the monster, Director, in your search for me and Honor. Now you’ve found us. But believe me, he found us first, and nothing you do, no plans you make, no matter how deep you bury me, will keep him from me.”She’s always known that, always accepted it. There was no hiding from the Breed that had, in essence, created her when he’d developed the genetic serum that saved her life.“Do you think he intends to allow you to remain alive? Have you fooled yourself into believing he actually felt anything for you when you were a child?” He sneered back at her as she straightened, glanced at her claw-tipped fingers and slowly retracted the sharp extensions until her seemingly perfect manicure was in place once again.Blood still dripped from the director’s claws to the table. Two perfect scarlet teardrops.Lifting her gaze to him, she clenched her teeth, forced her incisors back and with a low, deep breath, restrained the genetics that surged free at his demand.It was an ability she was rather proud of. In past years she’d learned how to push that part of her so deep that even Breeds couldn’t smell the mutation of her DNA or she could call it forward until the scent of the Bengal Tigress all but overwhelmed the scent of her humanity.There wasn’t a Breed in the room that could sense the Bengal female that had faced them moments before, it was so completely recessed now. Though, it was becoming harder and harder to achieve that little trick with each passing month.Muttered curses met the phenomenon, though Jonas remained silent, glaring at her, the scent of strength and demand still trying to exert itself over her. Alpha’s were marked by their ability to lead and their strength. Those two qualities had a way of merging into a particular scent that could encourage other strong willed Breeds to follow, or force those of lesser will to do so. Cat wasn’t a Breed he could force until she wanted to allow him to believe such a thing.She really wasn’t in the mood to play that game though.“I think it really doesn’t matter,” she assured him. “I’m not hiding any longer. I’ve suffered for the cure those bastards injected in my veins only days after my birth. I suffered, as did Honor, Judd and Gideon. I won’t suffer further by trying to hide from my fate. One doesn’t hide from Gideon, Director. That only pisses him off, didn’t you know that? You face him, spit in his face and pray you’ve amused him enough that he has mercy when finally gets around to killing you.”“Can you get any more overdramatic?” he sneered, glaring at her. “You have no alpha. That places you under my protection as well as my command. You are unregistered, without the protection registration and an alpha or pride affords you. You do not have the choice of denying any Alpha’s claim.”She shook her head slowly. “I’m a Bengal tigress, Director. Even in the wild no lion would dare try to intimidate such a creature. I’m no submissive to your demands. I suggest we call this one a draw.”“A good idea,” Lobo injected, obviously not in the least pleased with the directors attempts to force his will. “If the Alpha mark even I sense within her isn’t enough to encourage you to heed her wishes, Jonas, then I’ll back it with my own standing as an Alpha and that of my pack. She doesn’t stand alone against her enemies, or your deliberate attempts to force her into accepting your arbitrary decisions.”Jonas’s sneer only deepened as he shot the Wolf breed a glare. “Your agreement with the Breed Tribunal and the Bureau of Breed Affairs doesn’t extend to countermanding any decisions I make, Wolf,” he informed Lobo with cold distain. “This isn’t your fight.”“There’s no fight involved,” Cat injected, finished with the damned male posturing and the pissing contest in which the two Breeds were becoming involved. “I make my own decisions. I neither want nor need an man to back them, rather he be Breed, human or something in between.” She shot both men an imperious look, determined to make her point clear. “I am fully capable of making decisions on my own, without all your manly, Breed arrogance if you don’t mind.”Jonas turned back to her slowly, the look he turned on her one known to shrivel confidence in Breeds far stronger than she was. Thankfully, the genetics that would have forced her compliance with such a look were so deeply buried that only a hint of trepidation spoiled the mocking arch of her brow in return.“Think yourself my equal, do you, little cat?” he scoffed, the scent of his contempt, of his prejudice, so clear it nearly choked her. Prejudice. No different from that which the humans felt against the Breeds. She wasn’t a Breed created before birth as other Breeds had been created. Yet he forgot it seemed, she wasn’t the only one.She shook her head again. “You’ve always known who I was and what I was, Director. I knew that. Be careful how you handle this from here on out, though, because the day will come when your daughter may well draw conclusions you don’t want in how you handle a female who was born human then made into a Breed, rather than simply created. I can smell your hatred of what I am. I hope she never has to feel it as well.”Turning, she stalked from the room before his shock could turn to rage and the animal genetics surging beneath his human skin slipped free.He could decimate her and she knew it.His training, his strength, was far superior to hers. She’d always known that and she’d remained in the shadows because of it. Remained there, hoping to protect one who didn’t need her protection, and trying to deny the truth to herself.G—Graeme now, rather—had deserted her years before. He’d left her and Judd to be run down like diseased dogs by the Genetics Council and their soldiers. Forced her to hide in a way that had only hurt her and in a way that left Judd completely alone.Graeme was her alpha; he owed her his backing, his strength. Instead he’d abandoned her and was determined to destroy her. He’d left her to face maturing alone, without his guidance, to becoming a woman alone with no one to lean on, and he’d left her to face a life pretending she was someone she’d never been intended to be. She had fought alone for thirteen years, refusing to ask for help, and only one person realizing she sometimes needed help. The quiet shadow that slipped in and out of her room occasionally to deliver a healing salve, a splint for a broken bone, or a sweet treat when she’d felt lost amid the hatred she faced each day. He rarely spoke to her, she’d rarely known he was there until she awoke and found the gifts.Dane Vanderale, Breed ally and supporter, the heir to a fortune that defied belief, an enigma, even to those he helped. Especially to Cat, because she’d never understood why he’d helped.He’d done what her alpha should have done, what the Breed known as Graeme should have done. He’d been there when she needed help the most, and he’d helped rather than attempting to destroy her.And that was exactly what Graeme was doing, destroying her. From the moment he’d found her, each move, each carefully calculated maneuver was to reveal who and what she was, to take every last vestige of protection she’d found over the years. To ensure she was as lost and as alone as she felt.Once he’d learned through Jonas’s search for her that she was still alive, the maddened creature he’d turned into had been on the hunt. As long as she’d been left alone, as long as she’d remained hidden, he’d been content.But she hadn’t remained hidden to everyone. The Genetics Council had begun the search for her, and they’d known the general area where she’d disappeared, but they’d never identified her, despite Raymond’s threats. Those heading the Brandenmore research center, even after the owner’s death, was hungry for her return, she knew that. Jonas Wyatt had done more than just focus on her last known location though. He’d parked himself in Window Rock and began a concentrated search for a rabid Breed that he’d known wasn’t there, one he knew would draw the Bengal Breed there though.Jonas had known that directing any search related to the Bengal once known as Gideon, would draw the Breed there and no doubt he’d known both Cat and Honor’s identities would be revealed as well, forcing Gideon to reveal himself.He hadn’t revealed himself though. He’d found a way to hide in plain sight and then he’d begun stripping Cat of every defense she possessed.He’d taken not just her protection though—he’d stolen her illusions, her belief in belonging, and in herself.Her alpha may well want her dead. But at this point, she owed him the same coin. It was now just a matter of time before they likely destroyed each other.“You don’t have to go.” Terran Martinez stood at the open door of the bedroom that evening, watching her with somber, dark eyes, his expression heavy as she packed.He’d played the part of her uncle, even protecting her from the man who had sworn to treat her as a daughter. For thirteen years she’d let herself pretend she had a family, a place to belong, only to realize she had no such thing.Terran didn’t ask her not to go. He didn’t tell her it didn’t matter that she wasn’t Claire, he only said she didn’t have to leave.Once, she’d been a part of the extensive Martinez family. Her cousins, Isabelle and Chelsea, had visited often after she’d moved in with Terran several months before, after Raymond, Claire’s father, was indicted on crimes against Breed Law.Claire’s mother, Maria; her father, Raymond; and her brother, Linc, whom Cat had been genuinely fond of, had turned their backs on her within days of charges being officially by the Breeds and a date set for a hearing in front of the Breed Tribunal.Maria and Raymond both had known she wasn’t really Claire. They had been there the night she had taken their daughter’s identity, had participated in the cover-up. Linc, though, she was never certain what he knew and what he didn’t.“I know, Terran,” she answered quietly as she placed her clothes in the suitcases she’d bought after leaving the meeting with Jonas Wyatt. “It’s better this way.”Not that Terran and Orrin both weren’t aware of who she had been all along as well. Everyone knew. But no one had wanted to admit that the real Claire was gone, despite their knowledge.Terran had lost his treasured younger sister to the Genetics Council when she was only sixteen. He and his father—and, he’d believed, his older brother, Raymond—had search for thirty years for her, only to learn of the horrific death she’d suffered while still a young woman and, with her death, the disappearance of several of her Breed children. One of which had been a girl. And he’d lost his niece, Claire, at fifteen to drugs and a tragic car accident.This family had already suffered so much.“Better for who? For you?”His question surprised her. She paused in placing her jeans in the suitcase and considered it before turning back to him.“The cat’s out of the bag, literally,” she reminded him, the overwhelming sadness that she could no longer pretend to be the person they loved weighing at her heart. “I can’t pretend anymore. I can’t put my head down and be nice and quiet and sweet while raging inside. My maturing genetics just won’t allow it.”The frown at his brow grew heavier. “We didn’t demand that you take Claire’s personality as well as her identity when the ritual failed.”?”The ritual. That otherworldly episode that had given her so much of who and what Claire Martinez was. Lying amid the steam and the scents of earth, dampened herbs and life itself, she’d felt the spirit of the dying girl whisper through her, determined to protect her with her own identity, with everything she was. Cat had felt herself drift then, into a sleep so deep, so dark, she’d immediately railed against it.When she’d awakened from that sleep it was to find that spirit still there, watching over her, protecting her when other breeds were there by effectively hiding any scent or realization to breed senses of her true identity. For years Claire Martinez had protected her. Until Gideon’s return. Now, the awareness of the spirit that had watched over her was gone.“Claire’s gone. The change was too sudden.” Frustration ate at her now, rising from a well of painful realizations that refused to be hidden. “I lost too much too fast and now I have to figure out where to go from here. I won’t endanger the rest of you while I do that.”She wasn’t Claire.Her genetics would begin adapting now that the maturation of her Bengal genetics was beginning. The tigress that had merely lurked within her, only coming out when she called it, was now beginning to merge with her human genetics in a way she may not be able to hide for much longer.“So you’ll face it alone?” The scent of his anger began to fill the air. “And you expect us to simply accept that?”She swallowed tightly, her fists clenching in the clothes she’d retrieved from the bed as she turned to him.“I’m not Claire,” she reminded him, desperate to hear him say it didn’t matter. “I don’t have the right to ask any more than that of you.”His lips thinned. Something bleak and filled with rage flashed in his gaze before it was gone as though it had never existed.Rather than speaking the words she needed to hear, he shook his head, pushed his fingers through his graying black hair then turned and headed back to the front of the house.Cat clapped her hand over her lips to hold back a cry, a shattered sound of disillusionment. She’d been so certain he’d tell her it didn’t matter that she wasn’t really Claire. That she was family anyway. She’d been his acknowledged niece for thirteen years, he’d been part of her protection for just as long. But he couldn’t tell her it didn’t matter.Because it did matter.She’d always known when push came to shove, that it did matter.Shoving the pain to that place where she’d shoved the other broken promises and disillusioned realizations, she fought back her tears and finished packing. Three suitcases contained her life. Twenty-five years and so very little to show for it.A small collection of knives she’d found each year on her birthday for the past years. Just as many small crystal dragons. They were her only keepsakes. Presents over the years had included gift cards and clothes. Terran had given her his older model pickup when the one she’d bought last year had been repossessed within weeks of her losing her job as a receptionist at the tribal headquarters.Raymond had ensured it was repossessed, she’d known that.Lifting the largest suitcase in one hand, she slung the strap of the overnight bag on her opposite shoulder and picked up the smaller case.Over the years she’d acquired a few things herself. Weapons she’d hidden, cash she could access. It wasn’t much, but it was enough that she didn’t have to worry about the fact that no one would hire her since she’d moved from Raymond’s house.Either employers were put off because of the charges brought against her supposed father or, if that wasn’t it, they weren’t hiring her because Raymond had specifically asked them not to. For whatever reason, the position she was left in was precarious at best.She did seem to have a place to live, though.Surprisingly, the voice text that had come through from Lobo Reever just after she left the meeting was an offer of a rental house he owned just outside his huge estate in the desert. A nice little place with a pool, adobe walls surrounding nearly an acre of property. It was private, easy to secure and, she hoped, safe.She was certain Lobo hadn’t been behind the offer alone, though. Graeme was quite good at getting the very influential Wolf Breed to do his bidding. She just hadn’t figured out how he’d managed it yet.She wasn’t going to look a gift wolf in the mouth, though. It was a place to live. She didn’t have to force herself on the Martinez family any longer, nor feel as though she were some orphan relation to the Breeds.Jonas may pretend to want to be her new best friend but in the few seconds that her sense of smell had been at its peak, she’d scented the truth.Contempt, distaste, arrogant superiority. They’d all filled him. He didn’t see her as human nor as Breed but as some inferior in-between without worth.Which didn’t bode well for the daughter she knew he adored.How a man, or a Breed, could hate one and love another of the same genetic mutation, she didn’t understand.She didn’t intend to spend much time trying to make sense of it either. She had other problems, much larger problems. One in particular, a big, muscled Bengal Breed posing as a Lion and determined to destroy her.If only she could make herself just as determined to destroy him.“I don’t like allowing her to leave like this.” Terran watched the pickup until it was out of sight.The anger in his voice matched that of his scent, the tinge of regret and sorrow filling the early evening air.“I know,” Cullen assured him. “These are decisions she has to make alone, Terran, we’ve always known that.”“Not like this,” the Navajo argued. “It doesn’t matter if Claire still protects her or not. I accepted her as my niece the night she took Claire’s identity. Whether or not Claire’s spirit survives to shield her has nothing to do with it.”“Graeme and Orrin are the ones you should be arguing with,” Cullen sight, pushing his fingers through his hair as he blew out a hard breath. “They decided this was how it had to be, not me.”The old Navajo had guided Cat this far, Cullen could do nothing but trust in Orrin’s visions now and pray Cat survived the coming realizations she had to face. As for Graeme, there were complications there that Cullen had no desire to consider at the moment.“That brother of yours is a menace to Breeds and human’s alike,” Terran muttered. “And I don’t trust him. He should have come to her, faced her . . .”“There is nothing on the face of this earth that will stand between him and Cat.” Cullen turned to face the other man fully now, staring at him intently, willing him to understand, to know, that Graeme would never tolerate it for an instant. “Do as Orrin instructed. Let Cat face what’s to come, encouraging her to hide from who and what she is now, could get her killed.”It could get all of them killed. And life might not be exactly what he’d envisioned sometimes, but he still had things to do, dying before he completed those tasks wasn’t something he wanted to face.“She’s been deserted all her life, Cullen,” Terran snapped, the scent of his anger growing. “Even by him. And by God following suit with everyone else in her damned life doesn’t sit well with me.”Turning Terran stomped back into the house, leaving Cullen to turn and stare into the desert, the weight of Terran’s words weighing on his shoulders. Because he was right. They’d all deserted her in one form or the other, to save her. But in ensuring her physical survival, what had they done to her heart?

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Lora Leigh’s Breed novels   “I’m a huge fan of Lora Leigh’s Breed books.”—Nalini Singh, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Psy/Changeling Novels   “When it comes to this genre, Lora Leigh is The Queen.”—Romance Junkies   “[A] highly erotic saga.”—Fresh Fiction   “Lora Leigh doesn’t disappoint when it comes to sexiness, intrigue and an added little bit of humor.”—Bitten by Love Reviews   “I’m a diehard fan of this series!”—Smexy Books