Harmony’s Way

Breeds Book 8

Sink your fangs into Lora Leigh’s series about genetically-altered humans with feline DNA. When the Breeds desire the passions of the flesh, they can’t help but get frisky…

Harmony Lancaster is of the Lion breed, created to be a huntress with a thirst to kill. But the way she seeks justice outside of the law makes her a liability to her own kind. Yet she also possesses information that they need on the existence of the First Leo – who holds the precious secrets of desire.

To save her life, Harmony is paired with Sheriff Lance Jacobs, who tries to tame the killer within her, while protecting the gentle woman he longs to possess. But a dangerous cult leader, bent on destroying the Breeds, could change the way Lance looks at Harmony forever…

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Harmony Lancaster flipped on the television as she pulled the damp towel from her hair. Long, damp strands of black, brown and sunlit blond fell down her shoulders as she picked up her manicure set and propped herself on the bed to watch the news conference.

Good ole Reverend Henry Richard Alonzo, head of one of the largest and fastest growing supremacist societies in the nation, was once again holding court and spouting nonsense. If only those to whom he preached were aware of who and what he was really all about. A son and grandson to members of the highest order of the Genetics Council. A man whose family had helped to create the monsters he now railed against. If Breeds could be called monsters.

A cynical smile shaped her lips: Well, perhaps in her case.

Returning to the States hadn’t been an easy decision to make, especially to this area. But the job she had come here to do required it: rescuing the kidnapped daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The little girl had been amazingly brave during the rescue. It had made the job that much easier when it came to getting her out of the shack where she was being held.

As for the kidnappers, they would never be found. Harmony had made certain of it.

“The very creation of the Breeds is an abomination to the natural order and law of mankind,” Alonzo was stating rationally, though his blue eyes glowed with fanatic fervor.

“Allowing them to run loose, to crossbreed and live as human is the most unconscionable mistake we can make. They were not created by our great and mighty God. They were created by man. They are the beasts that will mark us with their corruption. Is this what we truly want? To tempt our downfall into hell?”

“Give me a break,” she muttered, turning her attention to the news conference as she ran a file slowly over her short nails, watching the arrogance that filled Alonzo’s lined face.

How old was he now? Sixty-five, seventy? Shouldn’t he be dead by now? The man was a plague, a blight on society, and if he would just mess up a little bit, then she would be happy to take him out. But until she found the blood on his hands, there wasn’t a damned thing she could do.

If the Breed Ruling Cabinet wasn’t very careful, then Alonzo was going to manage to eventually destroy them. He was gaining momentum and power. The once splintered supremacist groups were now slowly banding with him, creating a single entity that could, in time, turn world sentiment against the Breeds.

Race wars. They had been a part of the world for as long as humanity existed, in one form or another. They were gaining in momentum with the emergence of the Breed population. Sometimes, Harmony wondered why Callan Lyons, the leader of the Feline Breeds, had made the decision to publicize their existence. Yeah, Breeds were free. They weren’t dying in labs anymore and they weren’t imprisoned. Now they were hunted and reviled, and the world was slowly becoming divided once again. This time over species distinction rather than race.

Were the Breeds human? Unfortunately, as far as Harmony was concerned, they weren’t. Humanity was stripped from them the first five years of their lives. And now Alonzo threatened the fragile balance the Breed Ruling Cabinet was attempting to bring to those fighting to regain their humanity.

That was, if Alonzo didn’t die first. His wealth and fervor were the guiding forces behind the rapidly organized Blood Purity Society. And that sucked. Because killing him would require a lot of work, and it would really prick her conscience a bit. Of course, that wouldn’t bother her overmuch if it weren’t for the fact that another fanatic would just take his place. There were always other monsters out there waiting to replace the ones that fell.

“Mr. Alonzo, scientists from every nation have declared the Breeds as human,” a reporter pointed out. A very nice lady and proponent of Breed rights. “At this point, isn’t it a little late to consider locking them up again? They aren’t animals.”

“That’s exactly what they are,” H. R. Alonzo snapped. “They are animals, and our women are breeding with them, creating more animals. Before it’s finished, the purity of our God-given genetics, the creation of our almighty God, will be tainted with them. Our children will be animals. Is this the world we want to live within?”

“We want a world without racial discrimination.” The reporter smiled smoothly. “What you’re suggesting is the worst possible scenario for just such discrimination. If we allow your views, what’s to stop the violence against other races as well?” Alonzo stared down from his podium at the reporter as the television cameras panned in on her. Harmony sat up, crossing her legs on the bed as she watched the reporter. She was wearing silk and pearls, a very sedate statement of power. Harmony liked that.

“Would you take your dog to your bed, my dear?” he sneered. “Or your cat?” The reporter’s brow lifted. “Neither my dog nor my cat walks on two legs, speaks in my language, or eats with a fork, Mr. Alonzo. Nor is their blood compatible to mine. Excuse me if I disagree with your vision here and say that if it walks like a human, talks like a human, and bleeds like a human, then it’s my guess it’s human.” Her attractive features were flushed with her ire as her gray eyes narrowed on the good reverend with disapproval.

“And it’s my guess you have no idea of the additional elements of that blood you speak so highly of, my dear,” he sneered. “Do your research, then come talk to me about the difference between humans and animals.”

The reporter opened her mouth to respond, only to be brushed aside as Alonzo called on another reporter. Harmony shook her head as he carefully maneuvered the rest of the news conference.

Alonzo was determined to bring a bill before Congress that would severely limit the rights the Breeds now enjoyed. If he continued as he was starting, there was every chance that he could do just that.

Harmony tightened her lips at the thought as she turned her gaze to her nails and the careful filing process that would heal any tears beginning in the tips. Suddenly, she narrowed her eyes, swinging her head toward the door as an odd scent caught her sensitive nose.

A Breed scent.

Harmony rolled smoothly from the bed, jerking her knife from beneath her pillow as she scrambled to the side of the door and flattened herself against the wall. If Jonas was out there, he would come in fast. The door would fly open and he would roll in before coming up with his weapon. He wouldn’t expect her to slip out behind him. She had no intention of fighting her own brother. But she wouldn’t be taken, not now, not for a crime she had every right to commit. She was code-named Death for a reason. She would not be taken easily.

Tensing in readiness, she inhaled, trying to pinpoint how many were waiting outside for her. She remembered Jonas’s scent; he wasn’t there, but one of his men was. She would know Mercury Warrant’s scent anywhere; he was so Breed that it literally rolled off him. And it was possible he was masking any other Breeds who were with him. There was no doubt that he was after her. She could feel it. Hell, she had felt them tracking her for weeks. She was obviously getting soft; otherwise, they would have never managed to find her so easily.

God, she didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want to fight her own kind. But as the door slammed inward, Harmony threw aside her reluctance and fought for escape. This time Jonas wasn’t playing around. He had found a way to trap her and then sent his best. And the odds sucked.

Sanctuary Virginia,

Six Hours Later

Jonas watched as the small, slender form of the female Breed was literally dragged into the holding building with its single cell and interrogation room. The three Breeds hauling her into the cement building looked the worse for wear. Bruised faces, split lips and blood marred their savage features, and the most powerful of the three, Mercury Warrant, had a tourniquet tied high on his thigh, above the knife wound he had received. The sleeve of Rule’s black uniform was sliced and wet with blood. Lawe would carry another scar on his face, low along his chin.

Harmony was dumped into the small metal chair beside a scarred wooden table, the manacles at her wrists and ankles attached to a metal ring in the floor. She was secured, confined. Dressed in light gray boxer-style underwear and a matching tank top, she showed no reaction to either the chill of the air or the bruises and scrapes that covered her shoulders and arms.

Her breathing was slow and easy, her overall demeanor calm as her oddly streaked black hair covered her face and hid her expression from him. What more would he see if he could stare into those incredible eyes? Had she only strengthened her ability to hide there as well?

Harmony had grown as a killer over the years, as a fighter. Self-control, twenty years of military training and a fierce determination to live and to exact vengeance had made her a commodity eagerly sought on the killing market.

He stared at the file that rested on the monitor shelf in front of him. It bulged with evidence of suspected kills, sightings and psych reports.

She had taken her first job no more than a year after her escape from the labs ten years before; she had become more proficient and deadly over the years. She had also become better at hiding. There were any number of people after the woman called Death. Not just because of her reputation for being the best, but because of the information she had taken the day she escaped the labs, and the information she had stolen since.

His lips quirked in amusement as respect curled within him. She had outdistanced the projections the scientists had made in regards to her ability, to become the perfect assassin.

He watched as the door to the confinement cell opened and the scientist over the Breed medical facility walked into the room, carrying the plastic medical tote that held the syringes and vials for the samples she would need.

“Harmony, my name is Ely.” Elyiana Morrey’s voice was soft, sympathetic. “You’re not in any danger here.”

There was no response.

“I need a few blood samples and a saliva swab. It won’t take long and I promise it won’t hurt.”

Jonas had a feeling Harmony really didn’t give a damn. As Merc moved in closer to protect the scientist, she stopped at Harmony’s side, lifting her arm to the table. Harmony stayed relaxed, still, as Ely tied the rubber strap around her upper arm and moved to test the veins. Jonas watched the muscles in Harmony’s arm flex, then tense. The action would prevent the needle from effectively finding the veins beneath the skin. The ability Breeds had learned in the labs, to control their muscles, had been developed just for this purpose. Ely’s gaze was concerned as she looked up at the camera, meeting Jonas’s.

“Tell her you’ll sedate her if she doesn’t cooperate,” Jonas ordered coldly. Ely’s gaze snapped with disapproval as his order came through the coram link she wore.

“Do it, Ely. Now is not the time to argue.”

Her lips thinned.

“Harmony, I’ve been ordered to sedate you if you don’t cooperate. Please don’t make me do that.”

Jonas almost grinned at Ely’s compassion. Harmony would slice her throat without a thought if that were what it took to escape.

But Harmony relaxed, never betraying a flinch as the needle found her vein. Two vials later Ely pulled a cotton swab from the tote.

“Open your mouth, I need a saliva swab now.” Harmony stayed still. Jonas sighed. “Merc, pull her head back and force her mouth open.” Harmony wasn’t going to make this easy for anyone.

As Merc pulled her head back, his powerful hand clamping on her jaw, Jonas saw her face. He leaned forward, his eyes narrowing on the delicate bone structure, the wide tilted eyes with their sooty lashes, the glimpse of green fiery rage in her eyes. Ely took the swab quickly, stored it, then moved back from the table as Merc released the girl.

The blood and saliva samples were imperative. For their plan to work he had to prove the suspicion his senses had picked up, and make certain Harmony hadn’t yet mated. That could really foul his plans.

The only way, at this point, to neutralize Harmony was to kill her. Killing her would not give Jonas or the Breed Ruling Cabinet the answers or the information they needed. Killing her would destroy his soul, but he knew Harmony would never trust him now. She was harder, too cautious and too aware of how easily she could be betrayed. First, he had to weaken her, he had to find a vulnerability.

If his suspicions were correct, that vulnerability was strutting around Broken Butte, New Mexico, with all the arrogance and control of a man comfortable in the domain he had created.

At that thought, Jonas’s lips curled in a satisfied smile as he rose to his feet and moved for the doorway of the office and the interrogation cell beyond. Before leaving the room, he picked up the brush lying on the desk, tested the bristles against his palm and nodded shortly.

It had been many years since he had calmed her by brushing her hair. He wondered if she was still susceptible to what few good memories the labs had held. They had been few and far between, but despite the years they had spent apart, he was still her brother. Not just of the same species, but of the same mother.

The mother she had killed.