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Saving the Beast

By´╝ÜLacey Thorn

Chapter One

Diane Renway stood at the window, looking out into the woods that surrounded the cabin. Once again she waged an internal debate over Zane Ephraim and whether or not she should go after him. According to Clara, only his mate could save him now, and the veiled looks she sent Diane indicated who Clara thought that person could be. Diane wasn’t so sure. She’d been around long enough to know how these shifters were with their mates, and they didn’t avoid them as Zane had her. It was the uncertainty that dominated her thoughts lately, at a time when she couldn’t afford to split her focus. There was too much demanding her attention at present.

Most important was Abby—the wife of their pride leader Tah—who was pregnant and expected to deliver within the next ten to twelve days. Then there was the Professor, who had so many studies going on when it came to the shifter blood that Diane’s head hurt. It didn’t help that the man was prone to keeping things to himself until situations forced him to share with the rest of them. His latest project had them monitoring Finn Dockery closely and running scheduled testing on him to watch for any changes.

Finn had been captured by a group of hunters and left for dead. Luckily his brother, Murphy, along with Zane, found Finn in time and got him back to them. The Professor had given Finn a shot of the concoction the Professor had been working on using shifter blood to help speed up the healing process in the human contingent of their little group. Finn was the first person tested with it. Finn was also the brother of a shifter, something the Professor only disclosed after he’d been given the shot. As a full-blooded sibling, Finn carried the same DNA coding as his brother and was also thought to carry an animal spirit within him. So far that animal remained dormant.

“Wouldn’t you agree, Diane?” the Professor asked, interrupting her train of thoughts.

“What?” she asked, trying to focus once more on the conversation around her. She wanted to disappear back into the lab, not be up here for this meeting. Unfortunately, Tah had informed them it was mandatory and demanded her presence.

“The tests, Diane! I was telling them about the tests we’ve been running on Finn,” the Professor answered, sounding exasperated with her.

“Are you okay?” Abby asked, rubbing her hand over the mound of her belly.

“I’m fine,” Diane said. “I apologize.” She glanced at Tah. “So far, all the tests show is an increase in the hormone we’ve isolated as being present in only the shifters, but the level is still much lower than the rest of you so we’re assuming his animal is still dormant at this time.”

“Which sucks,” Finn interjected, making Murphy laugh.

“We’ll keep up the testing—” Diane began.

Finn groaned.

“But move it to weekly at this point,” the Professor continued.

“How are you feeling?” Tah asked Finn.

“Great,” Finn replied. “Never been better.”

“He’s just ready to get away from the labs and the Professor,” Murphy interjected.

“Finish up tests today and we’ll talk about putting you back on permanent rotation,” Tah said.

“I’d be happy to have him with me,” Murphy offered. “I’m used to keeping an eye on his sorry ass.”

“You wish,” Finn grunted good-naturedly. “Everyone knows I’m the one who watches out for you.”

“We’ll talk about it after the tests.” Tah interrupted the brothers then turned back to the Professor. “What about Logan?”

“I’m fine,” Logan vowed.

Diane shook her head without thinking, earning a glare from Logan. He’d made his wishes abundantly clear—he didn’t want Tah worrying about him anymore.

“What is that exchange all about? Are they keeping something from me, Diane?” Tah demanded while the Professor sent her a glare, too.

He’d also asked her not to say anything, though his reasoning was to wait until they had more information to go on. Too late now.

“The feral virus hasn’t dissipated like we expected,” she admitted. “There are still traces showing up in his blood work.”

“What does that mean?” Tah demanded, then turned to glare at Logan. “And why the hell wasn’t I supposed to know this?”

“You’ve got enough on your plate to worry about.” Logan grunted.

“Fuck that!” Tah roared.

“Logan is fine.” Diane rushed to assure the leader of their growing pride. “He’s not displaying any other signs of the feral fever as he did immediately after being injected.”