Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance
Warnings: Dubious consent, graphic violence, language, explicit sexual content, hints of child abuse, kidnapping
Length: Novel (75k+)
No fucking idea where they get that.
When she opened her eyes there was a mattress in the room.
Izzie wasn't sure how much of the night she'd actually slept. Strange dreams had followed her around every bend, and when she wasn't plagued by the unknown phantoms of her psyche, she twisted and jerked awake only to remember where she was and why she was here. There was no escape—not from the ghostly sight of Harrison in her head nor the unsettling reality to which she woke. The mattress was at least an improvement, though she had no doubt today's tests would up yesterday's ante. Her insides twisted but her mind remained focused. More tests meant more interludes with Ryker. It meant being not alone, and right now she hated alone.
Briggs entered the room a few minutes after she stirred, a plate of toast in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. He flashed her a wide smile. "Good morning, Subject Beta. Did you sleep well?"
Izzie pulled the blanket they'd given her over her shoulders, flinching when her stomach growled. She didn't want him to know how hungry she was, or how little last night's soup had sustained her. Whatever he gave her was tainted and she'd only take what she needed in order to survive. Anything else was a luxury.
"I suggest you eat up," Briggs said, placing her breakfast on the table. "The next test commences in an hour."
Izzie waited until he was gone before leaping to her feet. She knew eating fast wouldn't make matters better, but damn, she was hungry and nothing could stop her from cramming the bread down her throat. She paused only to breathe, then downed the glass of milk in a single gulp.
There was a fat steak with her name on it once she was free. And a huge side order of fries and a vanilla shake.
When she was done picking at crumbs, Izzie turned and retreated to the mattress. Her tired muscles sighed in relief against the cushioning. Hopefully Briggs would let her keep this into the night. There seemed little point in making the human test subject as uncomfortable as possible, but with her lack of clothes and nothing but the floor on which to sleep, he had succeeded in ensuring every nook in her body whined with movement. Sleeping on a mattress would be a godsend.
Time moved neither fast nor slowly, though when her thoughts turned to Ryker her heart skipped a little. Izzie sat under the false security of her blanket until the buzzing outside her room again climbed to a crescendo. She waited for someone to strap her to the table as they had previously, but no one came. Lights flickered inside the observation panel and muffled voices sounded on the other side of the door. She heard Briggs talking steadily, and her skin grew hot once she realized he had to be addressing Ryker.
Then the door opened and her vampire was ushered inside.
He looked much like he had the day before. His dark hair was ruffled, his complexion pale, his chest missing a shirt and his eyes gobbling her up as though they'd been separated much longer than a night. His expression seemed loaded but he didn't say a word. Rather, he studied her with such intent it left her shaking with anticipation.
Izzie pursed her lips but didn't say anything. Somehow, at once, she felt more naked with her coverlet than she had yesterday.
"Good morning," came over the intercom. Izzie turned her attention to the observation panel, where Briggs sat with his two assistants. "This marks day two of our trial study. You will note Subject Beta is not tied up today; after yesterday's performance, we didn't think the restraints were necessary. Please do not abuse this privilege or we will be forced to rescind it."
"How thoughtful," Ryker mused, not looking away from her face.
"061, please approach Subject Beta and prepare her the way you did yesterday."
The vampire tossed an angry glare to the observation panel. "Do I get her permission today?"
"You may ask it, but you will do as ordered regardless."
He snorted. "Figured as much."
"Please," Izzie said softly, startled by the sound of her voice but choosing not to question it.
Ryker went to such lengths to avoid hurting her, be it by word or action, and he had to know by now she couldn't do this with anyone else. Especially after yesterday—after seeing his face and witnessing his torment in doing what they asked, knowing it wasn't what she wanted but having little choice in the matter. Whatever bond they'd forged would outlast these walls, and she wouldn't risk it. Not now. He was the only ally she had.
Ryker shot her a cautious, uncertain glance. "What?"
"If it's not you it'll be someone else," she said. "They've told you that."
"Yes," Briggs agreed cheerfully. "We have."
Izzie nodded, swallowing hard. "Don't leave me alone in here. Please, Ryker."
"I don't want to hurt you," he replied, his voice hoarse.
"You won't." She released a trembling breath and cast off her blanket, laying back on the mattress and lifting her hips in offering. "Please."
She nodded again, her heart thundering. "It has to be you."
Ryker took a hesitant step forward, then another. A few seconds passed before the mattress dipped under his weight; he sat perched between her open legs, his wide eyes roaming her naked body with interest he couldn't counterfeit. He raised a hand and placed it on her belly, right above the scar Harrison had given her, tenderly stroking her skin with his thumb. For the first time in her life, Izzie felt more than aware of her skin's imperfection, and wondered if he viewed the mark as ugly as she did.
The thought dissolved, however, against the stirring arousal he encouraged with his gentle caresses. "This okay?" he asked.
Izzie licked her lips. "Yes."
"Touch her intimately," Briggs prompted.
Ryker huffed. "Fucking perverts."
She gave him an awkward grin and shrugged. "Our fault for being so pretty, I guess."
"Yeah, we were asking for it." He scooted closer, his fingers dancing up her abdomen until he had a breast resting against his palm.
His touch shouldn't feel good but it did—fuck, it felt amazing. He was tender where she would have expected something else—anything else—from a creature with fangs. There was nothing harsh in the way he cradled her flesh, the pad of his thumb brushing her nipple so subtly she would have thought it accidental had she not been watching his face. He looked hungry—starved—and his eyes were on her.
Her self-awareness vanished without warning. Lying naked, legs spread, a vampire exploring her body as a small group of voyeuristic scientists jotted down their reactions, and she didn't feel anything but need. Need for Ryker and his touch. Need for the soothing calm he provided in a world gone mad. His presence was enough to lessen the harshness of silence, to make her feel like she wasn't trapped in hell, rather just a bad dream.
He made her feel less alone. He reminded her she wasn't forgotten, even if he had no way to help aside from doing what he was told.
"Good," Briggs encouraged. "But we need more. We want her prepared for intercourse."
Ryker rolled his eyes. "Of course you do. She's a human female, you moron. How the fuck do you presume I prepare her?"
"However it is you would."
"Figure we do it much the same way you pulsers do." Ryker glanced fleetingly to her pussy, his eyebrows arching and one of his fingers pressing experimentally against her vaginal lips.
Izzie worried a lip between her teeth. She hadn't realized how wet she was, and the shame wrought by that sudden awareness was damn near crushing.
God, was she actually enjoying this? Beyond the need for contact and the thrill of having him near, did she actual derive pleasure from being studied?
Izzie's stomach twisted unpleasantly. No, that couldn't be it. Not unless she was so fucked up in the head that perversion was the only kind of normal she'd ever get.
"Shit," she murmured, blinking hard and looking away.
"You all right?" Ryker asked softly.
His hand fell away. "No? Did I—"
"No! No, please . . . ."
"Tell me what to do, darling."
How could she? She had no idea what she wanted. Nothing seemed certain anymore.
"Subject 061, please touch Subject Beta," Briggs commanded.
Ryker swore, parting her slick folds with his finger. His eyes remained on her face, and though she knew he looked for a sign—any sign—to stop, she couldn't help but flush under his scrutiny. Shit, she was perverse. Wanting more, needing more, needing to feel him inside. Would they ask him to fuck her today? It was coming, she knew it was coming. If not today certainly within the next few visits. They'd want to watch her bounce on his cock, completing her humiliation. The thought alone was enough to drive her mad.
And make her feel hot in ways she'd never anticipated.