Dawn’s Awakening

Breeds Book 14

The runt of the lab she was created in, Dawn Daniels endured years of torture by her pride brother and the council soldiers. Finally freed from her torment, she’s now a Breed Enforcer, in control of her own life. Until she’s assigned to protect the one man destined to be her mate—and realizes it’s far too easy to lose total control…One of the Breed’s most important supporters, Seth Lawrence has spent years trying to forget Dawn, knowing that her lost innocence has made it impossible for her to get close to anyone. But suddenly neither of them can find the strength to fight the overwhelming passion between them. At least until the most brutal tormenter from Dawn’s past reappears—and threatens to destroy their newfound love, along with their lives…

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Seth Lawrence stepped into the office the Breed Enforcer directed him to and stared back at the Breeds gathered together. He knew them, not well, but well enough. He backed them, his companies supported them. His father would have betrayed them all as well as the sister that now lived among them. The sister Seth had never known he had, but loved anyway.

Callan Lyons, pride leader. He stood by the window, the late evening sunlight spearing through the heavy mane of hair that fell to his shoulders and cast his expression in shadow. Beside him was Seth’s brother-in-law, Taber Williams, who watched him with quiet anguish, a look in his eyes that had Seth tensing, preparing for the worst.
Kane Tyler, brother-in-law to Callan Lyons and Sanctuary’s head of security, was resigned, somber. And Jonas Wyatt, the arrogant, forceful enforcer who had been steadily moving up the ranks of Security, stood at a scarred desk.

“Is she okay?” Seth asked the question, his voice gruff, fear squeezing his heart. Shewas Dawn. Dawn Daniels, the little Cougar Breed female that he couldn’t get out of his mind, that he couldn’t forget. She had been wounded when Seth’s chauffeur had attempted to kidnap a Breed child, Cassie Walker, and Seth’s half sister, Roni, months ago.

She was too tiny, too delicate to be as reckless and fearless as she was in battle. To be so haunted when touched by a man.

In the few glimpses he had managed of her in the past months, she had looked haunted. And Seth wanted nothing more than to wipe those dark shadows from her eyes.

“She’s fine, Seth,” Kane answered after glancing at the others, his ice blue eyes flickering in indecision.

“Then why am I here?” He crossed his arms over his chest and stared them down. If they had brought him here to warn him away from Dawn, then they were wasting their time. Nothing, no one, could change the course he had set for himself. In all his life no one had belonged to him. He hadn’t loved anyone since his mother’s death, until Dawn.

“I won’t be part of this.” Taber suddenly stiffened his shoulders and shook his dark head. The Jaguar Breed was tall, leanly powerful and obviously not in agreement with this meeting.

“Taber.” Callan kept his voice low. “None of us like it, but it has to be done.”

“Then let’s get to the damned point,” Seth demanded coldly, his voice sharp, brisk. “I’ll assume this is about Dawn?”
Callan almost snarled. Taber jerked his head to the side and Kane rubbed at the back of his neck.

“Mr. Lawrence, we’ve only met briefly.” Jonas Wyatt, with his weird silver eyes and savage features, stepped forward to lean against the front of the desk, a television remote control in his hand.

“I remember you,” Seth answered, his voice clipped.

“Dawn concerns us,” he said then, his voice gruff, arrogant. He was one of those men that other men naturally never get along with. They might respect him, might admire his power and cunning, but he wasn’t a man others could be comfortable around.

Seth knew the type. He was the same way. Control and power came with an innate arrogance that naturally didn’t fit well when it came in contact with those who were similar.

“Dawn concerns me as well, Mr. Wyatt,” Seth informed him. “For some reason I’ve been barred from seeking her out, and no one wants to talk to me about her. Damned inhospitable, if you ask me. Considering the aid Lawrence Industries has offered to the Breeds.”

“Dawn isn’t for sale, Lawrence,” Callan growled then, the sound rumbling in his throat.

“I didn’t ask to buy her.” Seth sent him a cold smile. “I believe I made my intentions clear to you, Lyons.”
“And that’s why we’re here.” With a flick of his hand toward them, two silent enforcers slid the heavy curtains over the windows, leaving the room in shadows.

Seth noted the movement, a part of him, an instinctive part of him, warning him that what was about to come was something he didn’t want to know.

“I’m out of here.” Taber’s growl was more animal than man and had Seth tensing for action. Seth caught the other man’s arm as he passed, ignoring the flash of dangerously sharp canines as Taber turned to him.

“What the hell is going on?”

“You’ll find out soon enough.” Taber jerked away from him and strode to the door. He jerked it open then slammed it behind him.

Callan turned his back on him. Kane shook and lowered his head.

“Dawn’s the same as his sister,” Jonas said then. “You’ve made your intentions clear where Dawn is concerned. We’re going to show you, Mr. Lawrence, the battle you have ahead of you. Every soldier should be prepared for the war he’s going to face. Wouldn’t you agree?”

He pressed the remote, and the viewing screen on the wall behind the desk flared to life. Jonas kept his back to it and watched Seth.

There was no need for an explanation. He saw the number that flashed on the screen, the date, time, subject. Cougar Breed Female, six years of age. Listed number 7.036. They held the child to a cold metal table and branded the numbers on her hip.

The screams that filled the room had Seth stepping back, his fists clenching, rage shattering through his head. But if that was hard to watch, what came later would scar his soul for life. He couldn’t turn away. He wouldn’t turn away. She had endured hell and he loved her to his last breath. She had lived through it, he could do no less.
He loved her. He already knew he loved her. He ached for her. He would kill for her, and he would have given his own life to have saved her from the dark brutality the monsters that created her had taped. Number 7.036. Age six. Age ten. Ah, God. Ah, God. Age thirteen. So tiny. So f**king tiny she looked like a doll as those bastards raped her. Sweet merciful Jesus. His guts cramped with pain, everything inside him howled with rage, and hopelessness filled him.

They strapped her to a cold, steel table. Metal restraints at her neck, her arms, her thighs and ankles. She strained against them, she fought them until blood seeped from beneath the edges and ran down her fragile limbs.

She screamed. She begged for God, and they laughed at her. Laughed at her and told her God didn’t care about Breeds, and then they tore into her helpless, fragile body. The images flickered through those first thirteen years of her life in a matter of minutes. A collage of brutal, horrifying flashes. Of abuses that should have killed her. Twenty minutes of the most horrific nightmares that could be inflicted on the female body. On a child. When they winked off, no one moved. No one spoke. Seth continued to stare at the now-dark screen, seeing the child she had been in the woman she was now. The dark eyes flashing with nightmares, with pain each time she looked at him, each time she realized what he wanted from her. What he needed from her.

He tried to swallow, and couldn’t. He blinked back moisture. Fuck, tears. He hadn’t shed a tear in more years than he could remember. And he hated his father more than he ever had in his life. His father and Lawrence Industries had helped fund those monsters before Seth took over. They had helped pay for the brutality committed against the woman who held his soul. The woman he could never have.

Seth finally managed to work up enough saliva to swallow, to force his vocal cords to work. Callan turned back from the closed window, his expression heavy with grief as he watched Seth. And now Seth understood why Taber had refused to stay.

He had never felt pain so deep, so intense as he felt it now. Agony that resonated through every part of his soul, that tore through his heart, his very spirit, like a jagged dagger, ripping pieces of his being to shreds.

“I love her,” he whispered.

“And we’re aware that an anomaly known within Breed physiology called ‘mating heat’ has begun showing in both of you. Dawn’s blood is already showing the presence of minute quantities of the hormone released during this. It’s like an aphrodisiac, Mr. Lawrence; it creates an arousal so strong that the mating pair can’t deny it. It’s something we’re desperate to keep quiet until we can understand it and find a way to control it. In Dawn, it could be destructive, mentally and emotionally. You saw the images. You saw what they did to her, both with the drugs and without. At this time, none of us believes it’s something she can endure. Had the atrocities ended there, perhaps she could have healed. Perhaps. But once Callan rescued them, unknown to him, their pride brother, Dayan, festered the memories inside her to control her. She was brutalized within the labs, and later, outside them. She’s had less than a year to come to grips with true freedom, and she’s making incredible progress. None of us want to see that progress experience a setback. None of us who love her, that is.” Seth stared back at Jonas, feeling the icy knowledge that what the other man said was no less than the truth.

“Should Sanctuary require anything of Lawrence Industries, you have only to contact my assistant.” He moved to the door, opened it and stared back at them. “Should Dawn need anything, I, personally, expect to know immediately.”

He moved from the room, closed the door carefully behind him, then came to an abrupt stop. The child who stood before him was the same one who had run so courageously from the estate house months before and thrown herself into the back of the limo Seth had been riding within. Little Cassie Walker Sinclair, with her thick black hair and too-solemn little face. There was a smidgen of chocolate at the side of her mouth, and her big eyes stared up at him sadly. She had just returned to Sanctuary, coming ahead of her mother and stepfather in advance of her mother’s release from the hospital.

He couldn’t speak to her; instead, he moved to go around her.

“Seth.” Her little girl voice was eerie, filled with compassion, heartbreaking in its gentleness. Seth turned back to her, cleared his throat and tried to speak. He couldn’t.

“She’ll come to you,” Cassie whispered then. “When she awakens.”

Seth shook his head, watching her, seeing the odd glow that came to those spooky eyes.

“Who, Cassie?” She was a strange little girl, but adorable. Innocent.

“Dawn,” she said softly. “Let her awaken before you give up on her.”

Fuck. He’d heard rumors, whispers of this kid’s strange knowledge, her sometimes spooky advice. He shook his head, believing them now.

“She’ll come to you.” Her smile was sad. “And you’ll both hurt. Remember that, Seth. You’ll both hurt. But she’ll be whole then.”

Then she turned and walked slowly down the hall to the curved staircase and down the stairs. Seth felt a chill race up his spine, freezing his insides with the knowledge that Dawn would never come to him. He waited, then followed slowly, moving to the marble foyer and turning to stare back at the entrance to the stairs that led to the infirmary. Where Dawn was under the doctor’s care. Where she was hurt. Where she lay alone, wounded, without him.

He had imagined hanging around Sanctuary for a while. Getting to know her, finding ways to make her laugh, to just once see a smile in her eyes rather than that soul-deep sadness that seemed to permeate every part of her.
He wanted to take her on a picnic. He wanted to take her to the mall. He wanted to take her parking and kiss those perfect pink lips and he wanted to lay her down in the bed at his home and love her until she screamed for more.

And it wasn’t going to happen.

He could have never imagined doing what he did next. He turned and slowly left Sanctuary, and the woman he knew would never come to him.

And in doing so, he left his soul behind.