Bengal's Quest - Lora Leigh

• PROLOGUE •

BRANDENMORE RESEARCH

GENETICS RESEARCH UNDERGROUND FACILITY

Cat stared at the white wall of the cell she’d grown up in and she cried. She hadn’t cried in a long time.

It hurt G when she cried, so she’d stopped crying when she was scared, when she was five. She was twelve now, and unless the therapies just hurt so bad she couldn’t stand it anymore, she didn’t cry.

This hurt worse than the therapies, though. This hurt worse than even when she’d begged G to let her die.

Because G was gone now.

At least all the alarms were quiet. It was the alarms that woke her and the only other occupant of the cell.

First Honor’s momma and daddy had taken Honor home. Now they said G was gone, that he had run away. But G wasn’t a kid and he wouldn’t have run away without taking her and Judd with him. He wouldn’t have. She knew he wouldn’t.

And her teddy bear was gone too. G only let her have the teddy bear when she came back from their experiments and her whole body felt like it was being torn apart. Then he would let her cuddle it as he cuddled her.

“He took my teddy bear,” she whispered. “He must have been very scared, Judd. He must have known the men in the black clothes were going to take him.”

Judd was a Bengal Breed, like G was, but G said Judd’s Bengal was asleep. Dr. Foster had said it was recessed. Sometimes G tried to explain things to her like she wasn’t grown up. She was grown up. She knew lots of stuff. And she knew Judd was making his Bengal sleep. It wasn’t awake because he wouldn’t allow it to awaken.

Judd was cool, though. With soft black hair and really deep green eyes. He looked like he had a wonderful tan, but that was just his skin color. A soft dark earthy color that most Breeds shared.

He was as tall as G, though not as hard in his muscles. He watched everything all the time and sometimes G explained things to him, but Cat knew they were things Judd had already figured out.

“The men in the black clothes didn’t take him, Cat.” He lay on his own cot just staring at the ceiling like he always did.

He’d told her once that if he stared hard enough then his mind took him away to places where he ran free.

She had never been able to do that, mostly because G was always talking to her, telling her things he said she had to remember.

But she remembered everything she heard and everything she saw. G only had to tell her things once.

Things like, if the men in the black suits came for her, not to be scared. Don’t fight them, just be calm, because he would save her before they put her to sleep. The men in the black clothes had taken all the other older people who had been taking the therapies over the years. Dr. Foster became very sad when they left and she’d heard him tell G that at least they wouldn’t hurt anymore.

“The men in the black clothes took him, Judd.” She tightened her arms around her knees to keep herself from rocking back and forth. “My teddy is gone.” And she needed her teddy bear when G wasn’t there. She was so very scared. “G wouldn’t do that unless he was scared.”

“Gideon doesn’t get scared, Cat,” he reminded her.

He’d told her that many times over the years.

“He wouldn’t leave us.” She knew he wouldn’t. G loved her, and he knew she loved Judd too. He would save Judd too because she would never be able to leave him behind to suffer.

“I want G,” she whispered, her breath hitching, the fear that always threatened to overwhelm her dragging her under now. “They took him away from me, Judd. Why did they take him away from me? I need G.”

Silent sobs shook her shoulders, she didn’t dare let the scientists hear her crying. They would punish her for being loud. They would give her that horrible drug that trapped her inside her own mind and made her crazy with the pain they inflicted.

“Gideon ran away, Cat.” Judd’s voice was hollow, resigned. “You have to accept that. I don’t know why he took the teddy bear but I know the soldiers didn’t take him.”

She needed G. He protected her. He made hell bearable and he gave her hope. And Judd was wrong. G wouldn’t leave her.