Moon – Laurann Dohner

Joy tried to relax in the chair but worry over her client made her fidget. She glanced at the clock, noting he was late again. Minutes ticked by while her anger grew. It was the fourth session in a row that 466 had blown off. He did it on purpose. She knew he was going to be irate over what she’d done in retaliation but he’d left her with no choice. The loud sound of a menacing growl startled her. Her gaze flew to the door a second before it was thrown open. 466 hovered in the hallway, his rich brown hair messed up as if he’d dried it upside down with a blow dryer to give it that fullness. Rage showed in his narrowed, dark gaze. She guessed he’d been the source of the noise. He was pushed forward as one of the guards entered the office behind her client. “Here he is. He wasn’t happy but we got him.” The man shot a dirty look at 466.

“Four of his men convinced him to come along or we would have had to drag his butt inside in shackles. He wanted to fight me.” She winced. “Please sit, 466.” “It seems I don’t have a choice.” He sauntered over to the chair in front of her desk and dropped his big body down hard enough to make the piece of furniture groan. “So much for saying we are free.” “The therapy was agreed upon by your people and mine. This is to help you.” He crossed his massive arms over his thick chest, a bored look on his good-looking features while he stared at her.

“If you say so, but I don’t wish to be here. You talk, I’ll listen, but end it fast.” “The point of therapy is for you to talk to me. Getting your feelings out into the open will make this experience successful.” He regarded her with those mocha-brown eyes of his. They were beautiful, strange, yet drew her in every time. And he had such long eyelashes. She shifted in her chair and crossed her own arms. “I don’t want to have a staring contest with you again. We both know you’ll win.

You always do.” She sighed. “I’m sorry I had to order you here but you have to come to these sessions.” He continued to silently watch her. He was a master at making her feel uncomfortable. 466 had a way of looking at her as if he could read her mind. Out of all the survivors she had counseled, he was her biggest concern. She had no idea of his emotional state, how he was adjusting to his new surroundings, or if he even attempted to fit in. “I heard you aren’t learning any sports.” He blinked.

“You’re spending way too much time alone and you’ve been ditching the guards and wandering away from the motel. You have to know how dangerous that is.” He said nothing. “They are here to protect you. They can’t do their jobs if you won’t stay put. This is a secure location. You have to stay where it’s safe. What if someone sees you? Reporters would descend on the area searching for your people.” He yawned and continued to observe her. Joy’s frustration rose.

She only had so much patience and 466 was always pushing her. He could make a saint snap and, unfortunately, she wasn’t nearly that perfect. It had been an emotionally draining decision to take the job in the middle of the desert at this secret location. She’d had to move away from everyone she knew and dealing with someone who didn’t appreciate her sacrifices had begun to downright piss her off. She leaned forward and put her hands flat on the desk. “Fine. Obviously four sessions a week with me isn’t doing you much good.” His full lips curved upward and she was pretty sure that was happiness that shone in his eyes, the first she’d ever seen. That made her temper flare so hot that she could visualize her blood boiling. “We finally agree.

No more sessions.” He uncrossed his arms and appeared ready to leave. His ass left the chair as she spoke. “Not so fast.” He eased back down but the smile died as his gaze hardened. “I’m upping the number of sessions to seven days a week.” That got a reaction—rage. She enjoyed seeing it a little since he seemed to take pleasure in making her life hellish. It was her turn to smile. “You’re going to talk to me, 466.

I’m trying to do my job and I’m going to help you, whether you like it or not. We’ll spend more time together until you feel comfortable opening up to me. I want to know why you’re antisocial with your own people, what you have against learning to play sports, and how you’re adjusting to life outside the test facility. I can’t clear you by giving a clean bill of adjustment until we cover all those basics.” She leaned back. “It’s not as if all those additional sessions will cut into your social life. You don’t have one.” “You wouldn’t really force more sessions. I make you miserable and you don’t like me.” His assumption surprised her.

“I don’t dislike you. I don’t know you that well because you won’t talk to me. Besides, that is irrelevant.” He turned his head to glower at the guard stationed by the door. “Make him leave.” The guard snorted. “It’s not happening. You know procedure.” 466 stared at her and relaxed in his chair. “Do you think I’m going to kill you?” She wondered at times if he hated her.

It was obvious he resented the required therapy but she didn’t believe he’d attack a woman. She hadn’t seen any indications that he possessed a cruel streak and he didn’t exhibit bully tendencies. “No.” “You want me to talk?” “That would be a nice change. Yes.” “Make the guard leave. I’m not opening up to anyone but you. I read about patient confidentiality. I want that.” Her eyebrows arched in surprise.

“All the guards are sworn to keep our sessions private. He’s not allowed to repeat anything he hears. He’s present because I’m a woman. It’s for our mutual protection.” “You believe I’m going to kill you.” He frowned. “Or do you think I’ll pick you up, tear off your clothes and mount you against the wall?” He smirked as his gaze lowered down her body. “A fishing reference I learned on last month’s mandatory trip comes to mind— I’d toss you back for being too small. It wouldn’t be any fun for me. You’d break if I fucked something so fragile.

” “Watch your mouth and show some respect,” the guard ordered, taking a threatening step forward. Joy was a little taken aback by 466’s crude words but it was the most she’d ever heard him say at one time. She lifted her hand to stop the guard from interfering again. She dropped her palm flat on her desk. “Leave us.” She glanced at the guard. “No way, Dr. Yards, this guy is unstable.” “He’s talking at least. Get out.

You can wait down the hall in reception.” 466 obviously tried to hide his surprise but failed. He schooled his features quickly though and recovered his composed expression. “You’ll hear her scream if I attack. Leave.” The guard shook his head. Irritation flared inside Joy. There were only a few male guards at Site Four but they never took orders well. “This is my office and the way I conduct my sessions are my decision. Shut the door on your way out and wait down the hall.

You will be close enough to get here if there’s a problem. That’s a direct order, not a request.” “Fine.” The guard spun, stomped out and slammed the door behind him. Joy studied 466. “We’re alone now. Talk to me. Why don’t you play sports?” He blinked a few times as the silence stretched. “You said you’d talk if we were alone. We are.

You don’t strike me as the type of man who goes back on his word.” “How would you know?” “I talk to a lot of New Species. They are very proud and respect honesty.” His hands released the arms of his chair and he crossed his arms over his chest again. “They don’t interest me. This is a human thing and I’m not.” His eyes narrowed. “I’m not a man either. I’m male.” “You’re a hybrid human.

” “I’m an animal in human form.” She always found it fascinating that New Species differentiated themselves from humans. The lines were firmly drawn inside their minds. It helped her understand them all a little better. 466 was even more adamant than most Species. 466 had resentment issues and that was healthy, considering he’d been held prisoner his entire life after being created with mixed DNA by a drug company who’d used his people as research subjects. Mercile Industries had somehow managed to merge animal and human genetics into living, breathing individuals. “Is that why you’ve refused to choose a new name and kept your number instead?” “Do I look like a Doug, Thomas, or Carl to you?” An eyebrow lifted. “Do I appear normal?” She caught the hint of pain that flashed in his eyes and it made her hurt with him. It also broke her heart and horrified her when she heard stories the survivors shared about how they’d been treated at Mercile Industries.

No one deserved the hellish lives they’d led until they had been discovered and rescued. No compassion, not even sympathy, had been shown them. They were numbers with no basic human rights. Lab rats. Her gaze traveled over his features. There were slight differences that would always set him apart from typical humans. The facial bones were more pronounced in the cheeks and chins of the New Species. Their noses also seemed wider and a bit flatter than normal. A lot of them had fuller lips and fang-like teeth. The shapes of their eyes could reflect an individual’s distinct animal ancestry.

466 had a rugged appeal about him but he’d always draw attention if he attempted to walk around in society. Everyone would notice he wasn’t quite “normal”. She inwardly winced, remembering the debate she’d had with her boss the first week after she’d arrived. It had been more of a heated argument. They’d discussed the prospect of offering plastic surgery to the victims. Joy had taken the position that it would only traumatize them more. Her boss believed it would help them fit into society if they had the opportunity to change their looks. Was I wrong? She bit her lip. Maybe offering them the chance to correct some of their facial anomalies should be on the table. She just believed they’d been messed with enough.

It also seemed somehow offensive to her. No one should have to change their appearance to fit into mainstream society. Of course, it wasn’t up to her to make those decisions. That was way above her pay grade. She wouldn’t bring it up to any of the victims until someone decided whether it was appropriate. 466 and her other clients were attractive, even beautiful, to her. They were unique and special, perfect just the way they were. “Well, do I?” His voice deepened, drawing her out of her musings. “Can you see calling me Tom instead of 466?” “No, and I’m guessing you’re some form of canine species. It may set you apart from others but I don’t believe that’s a bad thing.

” He seemed surprised again. “I’m impressed you’re not lying to me by denying I’m different.” “I’m not a big fan of deceit. I’m a psychologist. I’m here to counsel you. I deal in truths and emotions. Lying and playing games would only hurt you. I want to help. Have you ever considered taking a name? Some of your people have chosen to take names that aren’t typical. Names that reflect emotions they identify with or things they discover they love.

You’re more than just a number.” He shrugged. He has. She hid the smile that threatened to surface, thrilled he was finally opening up a little. In four months he’d stonewalled her at every turn. She’d even changed his session times to the last appointment of the day since she didn’t want to halt him if he ever decided to talk. “What do you feel?” “Annoyed. I’d like to skip coming here.” “What would you do if you weren’t here at this moment?” He hesitated. “You want the truth?” “I was being honest when I said I’m not a big fan of deceit.

” “Fine. I’d probably be in my room watching more of those porn videos on the internet and releasing some…tension.” Her cheeks warmed but she refused to show embarrassment. Sexual issues weren’t her specialty but she wouldn’t back away from the topic. “Do you release tension often? Does it help with some of your aggression issues?” “How do you know I have any?” “You have a chip on your shoulder, you seem to avoid interaction with most of the people here, and I was informed you tried to start a few fights with the male guards. You go out of your way to target them despite knowing they wouldn’t stand a chance against you. You’re physically superior.” His pride was easy to read. “I know.” It told her more about him and she liked that he had self-esteem.

It was a promising step toward recovery. “Have you tried boxing? Some of your men enjoy it. It’s a great outlet to release anger.” He cocked his head. “That’s not my idea of a good time.” “What interests you then? I’ll see what I can do if you know of something that might work. I know everyone has internet and cable access so you can learn a lot more about the outside world.” “I doubt you’d want to get me what I want.” “You won’t know unless you ask.” “Fine.

” He smiled—a genuine one. “Females. I’d like to pound something but it wouldn’t be a weight bag.” She shouldn’t have been shocked by his answer but for someone who had refused to talk to her for so long, he seemed intent on saying things to make her uncomfortable. She suspected it was on purpose. “There are plenty of women around you, 466. Ninety percent of the staff is female and some New Species women live here.” “Ninety percent of the human females are pregnant or just had babies. Your people know we’d never attack them so they send them here to work with us. Our females don’t want to be touched.

There’s no one to fuck.” She had no words. None. He leaned forward to peer at her, still smiling, and suddenly rose to his feet. She pushed back in her chair, a little fearful with him standing. They were alone. She didn’t believe he’d hurt her but he seemed to want to make her squirm. He was accomplishing it quite well too. He sniffed as he leaned down, placed his hands on her desk inches from her own and softly growled. “You have no male in your life and you aren’t pregnant.

” She swallowed hard. “You don’t know anything about my personal life. Please take your seat.” “I can smell everything about you.” He stared deeply into her eyes. “You no longer wear that stink you called perfume and switched to organic soap.” “I was informed that it bothers your sense of smell.” “You had sex this morning but you were alone. Do you watch porn in your room, Dr. Yards? Do you use your fingers or do you own some of those sex toys I have seen?” She felt the blood drain from her face.

How does he know that? Another thought struck and she jerked her hands off the desk. Can every client I’ve seen today tell I’ve masturbated? That implication was staggering. She was mortified and hoped he was bluffing. “Please sit down and stop trying to provoke me into releasing you early from the session.” “Where’s your honesty now?” He leaned toward her and slowly inhaled. “I. Can. Smell. You.” A soft growl came from deep within his throat.

“It drives me a little crazy and wild. Do you know what I want to do about it?” “No. Please take your seat.” His eyes were beautiful that close, just a foot from her. They reminded her of melted chocolate with a hint of gold thrown in. The pupils seemed to narrow as he watched her. He growled again and inched even closer until she could smell him. He carried a rich, masculine scent with a hint of something familiar that she could identify—he’d recently drunk coffee. “I want to lay you out on this desk, bare, and lick between your spread thighs, which will be hugging my face, until you beg me to take you. I’d flip you on your stomach and bend you over in front of me right here.

” His finger tapped the wooden surface of her desk. “I’d fuck you until we both couldn’t walk, think, or talk.” Her hands trembled in her lap and clenched. She wished her chair had wheels so she could push it away from him and the desk. Wishing didn’t make it so. Her heart raced and the idea of him doing that to her did odd, funny things to her lower belly. “It would feel so good for both of us. Do you want to help me? Take off your clothes. That’s the only way you’ll make me feel better about the things that I’ve suffered.” She latched on to his last sentence like the drowning person she was, admitting that she found him far too appealing.

She had eyes—he was a perfect specimen of muscles and tan skin, all wrapped up in a six-foot-four frame. “Sex isn’t the answer. Talking about your problems is.” “I’ll talk while I fuck you. I’m sure I’ll have lots to say about how good you’ll feel.” She forced her gaze down to his hands. They were big and she knew there were calluses on his fingertips, the pads of his thumbs, and his palms. Most of the survivors had that anomaly and she’d noticed in other sessions that he had it too. She wondered what his hands would feel like on her skin. Rough? Good? Or like sandpaper? It was tempting to find out.

“Please take your seat, 466.” She looked up to stare directly into his eyes. “I will call for the guard to return.” He shook his head but straightened and returned to his seat. She breathed easier when he sat. He once again crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. “I’m not into threesomes. I know they are popular with humans but it sickens me. We get turned off by the scent of other males on females and I’d have to strangle him if he touched you.” Her mouth dropped open.

“That’s not why I’d call him!” She sealed her lips and frowned back at him. “You know that though. Are you having fun playing with me?” He smiled. “You won’t allow me to play with you.” He licked his lips, purposely showing her his tongue. “Next time you engage in sex alone remember me because I’ll be doing the same.” Amusement flashed in his eyes. “As soon as I leave here I’m going to my room.” His legs spread a little and he adjusted his ass in the chair. “I’m already hard.

” Her gaze flicked downward before she could stop the reaction. The outline of his cock was clear inside the sweatpants he wore. Most New Species hated any form of underwear she’d been told, and without them it was obvious 466 wasn’t lying. She gasped at his large size and he laughed. She glared at his face. “That’s totally inappropriate. I see you need to retake the class about what to say to people and what not to. Remember Manners 101?” “I know the difference.” He kept the smile in place. “We speak the truth here according to you and that’s what I’m doing.

I’m going to go to my room and—” “I understand,” she cut him off. “I’m your therapist and there’s a thing called ethics. You can stop having those thoughts about me because we can’t ever have a physical relationship.” That killed his amusement. “Why not?”

.

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