Edge of Danger:Primal Instincts 02

By: Rhyannon Byrd



Primal Instinct – Book 2



CHAPTER ONE


Embrace the danger….

Thursday evening

The Amazon

IF THE WOMAN was trying to blend in, she wasn’t very good at it. It’d taken Michael Quinn no more than five seconds to pick her out in the dim, crowded interior of O Diablo Dos Ángels, a rickety roadside barra in the bustling market town of Coroza, Brazil. He’d been traveling for two days now, working his way through the stifling, humid depths of the Amazonian rain forest, and it showed in his haggard appearance. Two days that felt more like weeks, each passing hour grating against his nerves like a rusty nail, until he was in what could only be classified as a category-five, off-the-Richter-scale, completely uncharacteristic foul mood.

Not that he was usually cheery. Normally Quinn just…existed. It’d been years since anything, or anyone, had managed to touch him or throw him off his firm, even keel—and now this. He couldn’t explain it, but from the moment he’d been given Saige Buchanan’s photograph, his cool, steady calm had begun to fade, slipping away from him like water spiraling slowly down a drain. And in its wake, he’d been left with this seething intensity…this gripping tension.

What made it even worse was the fact that Quinn hadn’t even wanted the assignment—had, in fact, been adamant in his refusal. And yet, here he was, with his damp shirt sticking to his skin, the heavy scent of tobacco and sweat making his head hurt, while something piercing and uncomfortably sharp slithered through his system at the sight of his prey.

Huh. So this is little Saige, he thought, moving along the wall, away from the door, careful to avoid her line of sight as she sat at a small table on the far side of the room, a bottle of water held in one delicate hand. At her side sat a young man who couldn’t have been more than nineteen, his dark skin, hair and eyes attesting to his Brazilian heritage. The boy’s lips were moving, and though Quinn’s hearing was far better than a human’s, he couldn’t make out the words over the raucous cacophony of sound coming from the crowd.

It seemed a strange setting for an American woman and her young companion, and yet, no one bothered them. Not even the drunks. Was she a regular, then? Under the owner’s protection? Or was there some other reason the locals kept their distance?

Whatever the answer, it couldn’t be from lack of notice. Saige Buchanan stood out among the weathered patrons like a neon sign in the midnight pitch of night, glittering and bright.

Quinn rubbed his palm against the scratchy growth of stubble that came from going several days without a shave, then slowly shook his head, already revising his analogy. No, the reportedly brilliant anthropologist wasn’t brash or bold, like neon. As bright as she shone, there was a soft, almost tender aura about her, which probably made her stick out even more than that angelic face, lush body or unusual shade of hair. Neither red nor brown, it hovered somewhere in between, picking up the soft, hazy glow of light that spilled down from above, struggling against the lengthening evening shadows.

A heavy wooden door suddenly slammed behind the bar and Quinn locked his jaw, marveling that the ramshackle structure didn’t crumble down around them in a pile of mortar and bricks. Flicking a quick glance upward, he was surprised the stained ceiling actually managed to remain in place, even with the various thick support beams wedged between it and the sawdust-covered floor. Without a doubt, this place made him uncomfortable. He didn’t like being closed in, confined, preferring the outdoors and the endless freedom of the sky.

And why don’t you stop moaning and just get on with it? The sooner you get your hands on her, the sooner you can get out of here.

Sound words, and yet, now that he’d found her, the last thing on earth Quinn wanted to do was touch her—to get his hands on her. Not that he was concerned he couldn’t handle her if she decided to be difficult. Saige Buchanan may have been more than an average human female, but then he was hardly an average man. He could scent that her Merrick had yet to fully awaken—and until it did, he would be able to retain the upper hand when it came to physical strength.

Later, after her awakening…well, he’d never gone head-to-head with a Merrick female before, but he sure as hell hoped she wouldn’t be able to kick his ass. If that ever happened, his friends back at the compound would never let him live it down.

As a member of the Watchmen, an organization of shape-shifters whose duty it was to watch over the remaining bloodlines of the original ancient clans, Quinn had been taught a little about the Merrick, once one of the most powerful nonhuman species to walk the earth. And since the crap that had recently gone down with Saige’s older brother, Ian Buchanan, he now knew even more. But Saige was…different. Unlike her brother, who experienced certain physical changes when the Merrick blood in his veins rose to the surface of his body, it was believed that Merrick females, while gaining in strength and agility and heightened senses, didn’t change in appearance. She wouldn’t sport talons on the tips of her delicate fingers. Wouldn’t bulk up with thick, massive muscles. And her nose wouldn’t alter its dainty, feminine shape.

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