Styx's Storm

By: Lora Leigh
This book is for you!

The men and women, lost and lonely, searching and wary, uncertain and ill prepared for what the heart can lead them into.

Sometimes, love is right around the corner. It's the road not taken that has suddenly intersected with that congested road of life you're traveling, bringing you to a harsh and sudden stop.

It's a look. It's a smile that warms you to the depths of your soul, steals your breath, and pulls you aside as that moment in time screams to a halt and leaves you struggling to adjust.

It's the love you didn't expect.

It's the love you didn't ask for, hadn't thought about, and you realize it's the love that heals the wounds in your soul.

It's the love that will reveal the person you are, and the life, though never perfect, that you never knew you dreamed of.

Call it destiny, call it fate.

Or call it a gift from God.

Whichever, it's the dream and the everlasting hope for the future.
 



From Storme Montague's journal, age 14

They're Breeds. Dad says man created them, but only God could give them a soul.

At the moment, the world, as well as the scientists that created them, are debating if they have souls. I once believed no creature on Earth could live without a soul, without the blessing of God at the very least, but the majority of the Council scientists believe otherwise.

And still, I'm torn.

Dad and my brother, James, are scientists working here in the Andes Mountains, in the Council compound known only as Omega. It's one of the few remaining functioning Breed labs because Breed rescues have destroyed the others.

Dad and James feel the rescues will be attempted here soon. They seem so confident of it, and even act as though they look forward to it. And I can't understand why.

I see the Breeds. They are perfect specimens, so beautiful and strong, like the lions, tigers and wolves whose DNA they were created from. But it doesn't matter how you dress up an animal, does it? Isn't it still an animal?

When they howl in rage, rip at each other with teeth and claws, and fight for the food the soldiers bring to them each day, they are animals, not humans.

And yet, I look in their eyes when I accompany Father to the training facilities or labs, and in them, I swear I see such desperation and such rage. It's the rage that truly terrifies me.

They speak. They never laugh. They flash sharp canines, and strain at the chains that bind them, and I feel their rage. But I also see the animal inside them. It shines in their eyes, turning them nearly red, glowing with such strength that I know if they were free, they would first seek to kill the men and women who created them.

My father, my brother, even myself. Anger suffuses their expressions when I look at them, as though they cannot bear to be seen, or to see another outside the bars of their cages.

The tension is growing here at Omega. Breeds, soldiers, scientists and lab technicians seem to be holding their breath as they fight to keep the secrecy of this lab intact. To hide the few Breeds held, not for their fighting capabilities, but for some special project Father and James have referred to as an affront to humanity.

How could humanity be offended more than it has been with the Breeds? I've asked my father this, and in his eyes I've seen such disappointment, such a sense of sorrow that my chest clenches in pain.

I just want it to be over. I just want to leave here with Father and James, and I just want to be free.

I can feel the end nearing. We all can. Especially Father and James, who are working such long hours, well into the night, to destroy and to hide whatever they've been working on secretly. I wish they would hurry. I wish we could escape ourselves, just slip out and never return.

Father says, "Once the Council has its grip on you, they ensure you can never be 10



free." And I see in his eyes as well as my brother's that feeling that they too are no more than captives here in this hidden compound.

I won't let them get a grip on me. I won't be like the Breeds, I won't be like the scientists. One day, I swear, I will be free.
 





PROLOGUE


GENETIC EXPERIMENTATIONS LAB OMEGA SCIENTIFIC HOUSING

COMPOUND ANDES MOUNTAINS

The lights were off, the electricity having sputtered out, leaving them to navigate with only the dim emergency lights to see by. Outside, flares of light from the explosions that rocked the labs illuminated the windows. Gunfire and screams echoed, coming closer, filling Storme with a fear so agonizing it shuddered through her body.

"Storme, you have to hide. Don't let anyone find you, do you understand me? No one can find you." Her father helped her slide into the narrow crevice between the walls in the back of her closet.

She stared up at him in terror, aware of her brother working behind him to erase information contained in the computers and on the discs filed along the wall.

"Take this." He grabbed her hand.

The antique sapphire ring her mother had once worn was shoved onto her finger.

He had showed her the secrets of the ring days before. The hidden compartment beneath the hollowed out stone and the data chip he had placed here. He had warned her, so many times he had warned her, that if anything happened to him, then she would become the protector of the information contained on that chip.

"Daddy, come with me." Storme could feel panic tightening her chest as the sounds of gunfire, screams and animal rage grew closer to the living area of the genetics research laboratory where her father had worked her entire life.

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