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by Jamie Craig
Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica/Romance
Description: Their love knew no shape, no limit, no boundary. Until someone destroyed their trust. Scientist Joshua Ames committed the unforgivable sin. He fell in love with his research subjects, shapeshifters Cameron and Sara. Despite the taboo against humans mingling with shifters, Josh left his life behind and moved into theirs without regret. Then Sara disappeared. When Josh and Cam finally find her, she is unconscious, emaciated and shackled. They thought the hard part was living without her. But as soon as Sara wakes, they realize the hard part will be putting their lives back together. Sara barely remembers life with Cam and Josh. All she remembers is a monster, a shifter who wore Cam's face, who tortured and tested her for two long years. Without a home, conditioned to fear her own abilities, Sara struggles to start over. Solving the mystery behind Sara's kidnapping is the key to her recovery, because whoever destroyed their relationship is hunting her, intent on getting her back. The truth could bring the three lovers peace--or send them spiraling apart. Product Warnings Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex including m/m and m/m/f, graphic language, violence.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2007
eBookwise Release Date: December 2010
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [369 KB]
Reading time: 245-343 min.
Josh hesitated for only a second before opening the basement door, but it was a second too long for Cam. Sara wasn't the only thing he could smell; Josh reeked of adrenaline and sweat in the small space. From the corner of his eye, he saw Josh put his hand down, as though he wanted to touch him again, but he paused, his fingers hovering just above his head before pulling away. Cam realized he probably looked more than a little intimidating, and Josh's more basic instincts to avoid large, tense, dangerous dogs had probably kicked in at that moment. Especially since Josh wasn't accustomed to seeing him in canine form.
He pushed the door open and stepped aside, allowing Cam to race past him.
The first bound almost made him tumble down the rest of the flight of stairs, but he recovered well enough to get to the bottom on his own four feet. Where he'd expected an open room, indicative of any other normal basement, Cam found himself staring down a narrow hall lined with closed doors leading to unknown rooms. It was an obvious construct, probably done after the fact, but he didn't care about why. She was behind one of those doors. He tensed, ready to go bolting forward to nose out which one, when a flashing light above made him pause.
He tilted his head back, aware of Josh descending the stairs behind him. Just because he couldn't see red in this form didn't mean Cam couldn't recognize an alarm going off when he saw one.
A man sprung from a nearby door, gun drawn, the barrel pointed at him. Cam barely had a chance to adjust before a shot exploded in the small corridor, reverberating off the walls and making his skull vibrate. He ducked his head automatically as the man in front of him fell face first to the ground, and fresh blood obscured the trail he had been following to Sara.
Cam spun around to see Josh slowly lower his arm, his face blank in the revolving light. "Hurry," was all he said.
Fear there would be more men spurred Cam to run. His paws slipped in the blood pooling on the cement floor, and he skidded several feet before he realized her scent was growing fainter. Whirling, he backtracked, but the instant he saw the door opening, he leapt into the air.
His powerful jaws sank into the man's neck before the would-be assailant drew his gun. Cam's aim was true, and blood spurted from the jugular to coat his muzzle. Though they fell to the ground, the man's attempts to dislodge Cam from his throat grew weaker with each passing second, until they stopped completely, his thready pulse disappearing altogether.
Josh's thin form stepped between the dead man and the wall, his shoulder pushing the door open to reveal a brightly lit room. Cam forced his way past Josh and barely noticed the way he slumped against the wall, as if somebody had punched him in the chest.
The room was nearly devoid of furniture. There was a chair near the door with a discarded Sports Illustrated next to it and a low table bolted to the opposite wall. But Cam didn't see the furnishings. He saw the thin form stretched out on top of the table. He saw the slack hand resting at its side, the steel cuffs chafing around the wrists to restrain it. He saw the strong jaw, and the dark hair spilling over the pillow, and the steady rise and fall of her breasts as she slept.
He saw Sara.
On the first step toward her, he changed, almost unknowingly. His need to touch her, to know she was real, superseded the need for the dog guise. The air was cool against his bared skin, but Cam didn't care. He didn't care about anything until he'd crossed the room and stood at her side. Then he saw what had stopped Josh inside the door.
"Oh, my God," he murmured.
Josh circled to the other side of the table, meeting Cam's eyes over Sara's prone body. The woman in front of him and the woman who lived in his memories were not the same person. This version of Sara was pale, drawn and gaunt, the thinnest shadow of her former vibrant self. The hospital gown barely covered her thighs, but her legs, arms and face told a story of torment, pain and every nightmare he had during the past two years.
Josh reached out to touch her, gently brushing his fingers against her cheek. His hand looked much too large, much too strong, against her fragile skin--her stained and bruised skin. The blood covering her wasn't fresh, it was merely a pink stain, like they couldn't be bothered to clean her properly. A recent wound on the inside of her thigh slowly seeped blood.
"We need to break through these chains," Josh said, his words matter-of-fact but thin.
Cam knew Josh expected him to do something, but the shock of seeing her like this had turned his muscles to lead. It was the embodiment of everything he'd feared; the fact she was still alive was the only thing saving his sanity.
"What did they do to her?" The words were barely a whisper. "How could they do this?"
"Cam." He didn't look up or acknowledge Josh. "Cameron." The unexpected sting in Josh's voice caught his attention. "I know. I know. But I can't get her out of these chains by myself. We need to keep it together right now."
Keep it together. Right. The important thing to focus on was that Sara was alive, and they were here, and they were going to take her home. Where she belonged.
Cam took a long, shuddering breath before grasping the cuff around her nearest wrist. Gritting his teeth, he poured all his strength into it, wrenching the metal until it began to scream and beads of sweat popped out on his brow. Josh reached across her body to hold her arm, and as soon as the cuff had been stretched enough, he slipped her hand through the opening. Neither of them could do more than glance at the raw patches where the steel had worn against her skin.
They repeated the process with her other wrist and both her ankles, until they freed Sara of all the restraints. Cam panted from the exertion, but she hadn't moved, not even a muscle. Tenderly, he brushed his fingertips over her cheek.
"They've drugged her," he said. "How are we going to get her out of here?"
Josh pressed the back of his hand against his mouth and took a deep breath. "I'm going to have to carry her out. You're going to need to shift again."
"Can we wake her up?"
He looked up, and Cam saw his own pain reflected in Josh's brown eyes. "I don't think we should spend any more time here than necessary. We can wake her up when we're somewhere safe."
Cam nodded. Josh was right. Always the voice of reason in the face of a crisis. He had been Cam's rock for the entirety of the past two years.
Turning away, he prepared to shift to the shepherd again only to hesitate and glance back at Sara.
"But she's alive. That's what counts."
"That's all that counts," Josh agreed softly, lifting her into his arms. He held her like she didn't weigh any more than a doll, cradling her close to his chest. "She feels so cold."
Sara would not survive the Nevada winter dressed as she was. It took only a moment for Cam to march back to the men in the hallway, and only a few more to strip them out of the clothes. They were too big for her and stained with blood, but they would protect her for now.
Josh set her on the edge of the table, holding her in an upright position as Cam layered both shirts and both pair of pants on her tiny frame. She looked like nothing more than a child, completely swamped by the outfit. Even the belt Cam cinched around her waist didn't do much to keep the clothes in place.
"When we get her home--" Cam started.
"We're not going home," Josh said, cutting him off. "Not now. Maybe not for a long time."