Sugar and Splice: Book 1 in the Hybrid Hearts Series

Can Jenna tame Noble, the half-man/half-lion with an insatiable appetite for more than pastries, or is their sizzling chemistry a recipe for disaster?

Jenna

As Noble’s mentor in the bakery, I never expected to be whisked away by a lion-man who craves more than just my yummy treats. His fierce loyalty and tantalizing presence are ingredients for passion. Can I resist his beastly charm, or will my primal hunger make me risk it all for a taste of his forbidden love?

Noble

Recently released from the cage where I was genetically engineered, I can’t deny the hunger roaring within me when Jenna is near. Her delicious creations and sweet smile leave me lusting for more than just dessert. Can I master my animal urges, or will I risk everything to devour the delectable heat simmering between us?

Join Jenna and Noble as cupcakes and claws collide in this book about a purr-fect match.

USA TODAY Bestselling author Alana Khan combines romance and spice in these fun romps with hybrid splicers. This forbidden workplace romance has no cheating or cliffhangers. Just lots of fun and steam.

For readers 18+

Sugar and Splice

Sugar and Splice

Chapter Three

Noble

Threat assessment: high. Red alert. Scan for risks.

The guards have been acting oddly all day. I have seen nothing like this since they moved us from the underground facility in Nevada a month ago. Something big is brewing.

Jones works nights, Barrington works days. They never work the same shift, but, just as I suspected, a deep inhale confirms they’re both here now.

Staffing is higher today. The Colonel must be expecting trouble. I need to figure out what’s going to happen next and protect myself from danger.

Excitement and fear surge through me, sharpening my senses.

Until they allow us out of our rooms, I sit on my bed, back ramrod straight, trying to anticipate what’s coming next. It’s been my experience that change is never good. Not for us—the spliced.

When they unlock our doors, I take the corner seat in the dayroom. My back is to the wall—it’s easily defensible. I motion to my trusted friends to join me.

Hours later, after brainstorming all morning, we’re not certain what’s happening, though we’ve enumerated twenty or thirty possibilities.

Nyx is a deep thinker. As soon as we come up with an idea, the naga drills down, imagines a hundred ways it could play out, and suggests five methods of counterattack.

“It could be nothing.” Brock says with a shrug. He’s one of my closest friends. The male with obvious bear DNA is solid, has my back, and would jump in front of a bullet for me. But he’s just too trusting. How many times have I warned him humans can’t always be believed? And how many times have I been right? Almost all of them.

“Look at Franklin.” I thrust my chin toward the guard near the door. “There are beads of sweat on his upper lip. He’s scared. Look at his carriage. He’s moving differently because his gun has more ammo in it than usual. More ammo, Brock. They’re planning something.”

“And when the humans are planning something, it usually isn’t good for us splicers.” This is Warren. He always has that lean, hungry, angry look. Where Brock is easygoing and optimistic, Warren is as serious as anyone here.

He takes an exaggerated sniff. When it comes to sense of smell, he’s the best of us.

“You smell that?” His nose is scrunching as he repeatedly sniffs, lifting his shaggy, wolf-like head to catch a better whiff.

“What is it?” I ask. Whatever it is, it must be subtle. I can’t even smell it yet, much less figure out what it is.

“Never smelled anything like it before.”

“Must be dangerous.” When Brock, our calm, resident bear, is worried, we all take note.

“Whatever comes next,” Warren says as a few more guards enter the dayroom. “The four of us are going to stick together.”

“Yes. We’ll have each other’s backs.”

Jenna

Without pausing for formalities, the man who took the little stage says, “I’m Colonel Slater. Welcome. After being vetted for months and traveling cross-country, I imagine you want to know what’s so secret. Now that all those non-disclosure agreements have been signed,” he glances at the five desks, each covered with four tall stacks of signed contracts, “I’m going to start with a bit of background.”

I doubt he’s over five foot ten, but his presence is commanding. More than his uniform, it’s his posture and no-nonsense expression that proclaim his years in the military. I don’t expect any sugarcoating as the brush-cut, graying officer launches into his story.

“Five years ago, my team heard rumors of a military science project gone rogue. The misguided sociopaths were well-funded in their pursuit of creating supersoldiers.”

He shakes his head in disgust, which somehow makes me like him a little more.

“It took two years of hunting to find the facility, which had been recently abandoned, and another six months to track them down again. When we breached the facility, this is what we found.”

The wall behind him becomes a giant screen as images are projected onto it. It takes a moment for my mind to interpret what I’m seeing. Uniformed men are rescuing men from cells so small they’re barely big enough for the inhabitants to lie down.

Because the pictures are projected onto the log walls of the room, it’s not easy to make sense of what I’m seeing, but after a moment, things become clear.

They’re not rescuing men. Not exactly. Most are bipedal and upright, but they all have animal traits. Some feline, some lupine, some like great, shaggy bears, and is that a snake-guy slithering out of his cage?

I don’t know who reached out to whom, but I’m reassured when I realize Riley, Amber, and I are holding hands. Amber is whimpering, unable to form sentences, while Riley keeps repeating, “What the fuck?”

The Colonel stepped to the side so we could have a better view of the film, but he’s now in front of the lectern again.

“Those males, one hundred of them, were rescued three years ago. They’d been treated like animals and knew very little about the real world. We’ve rehabilitated them, taught them to read and write, along with other basic skills. We’ve begun the process of socialization, but until today, they’ve only been exposed to men.”

They stop the film and turn the lights up. The Colonel looks at each of us in turn before he adds, “We’ve chosen the twenty most compliant males, those we’ve deemed ready for the next phase of the program. That’s where you ladies come in. You are the next step in socializing these males.”

My mind is spinning. In the last hour, I’ve gone from being certain I would bolt and return to my life back in St. Louis, to reluctantly signing an eighteen-month contract, to extreme empathy for those poor unfortunates up on the screen.

Did he say socialize? I’m not sure what he means, but my mind throws me pictures of all the heinous things a corrupt, armed military could force a bunch of defenseless women to do. I have the very scary, very insistent thought that we’re going to be given to these males as sexy human treats. My racing heart feels as if it’s going to explode in my chest.

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