The Beast Within (The Elite Series) - By Jonathan Yanez


WITH EACH PASSING HEARTBEAT EVERYTHING faded away. The once bright lights of the lamps were dim and grey. The figures around him became fuzzy and blurred. Connor’s tall athletic frame—normally muscular and solid—lay sprawled face-up. His jeans and white t-shirt were soaked with both the blood of his assailants and his own. Burning from the tear in his shoulder wasn’t even the worst part. The pain from the violent claw marks in his chest seemed to consume him. Breathing was painful and laborious.

A howl of agony along with a sickening crunch met his ears, and he knew the fight was over. Although broken and dying, he succeeded in saving them. The howl belonged to their last remaining attacker.

A small sense of satisfaction crept its way into his mind, but Connor knew he was dying. These would be his last moments on earth before he was thrust into the unknown. His eyes fought in vain to find her, to look on her one more time. Where was she? Blood fought its way up through his throat, blocking any chance for air. A violent cough raked his body and a new wave of pain threatened to steal his consciousness.

When he thought he had taken his last breath and was ready to give in to the open arms of the blackness, he heard her voice.

“Connor? Connor! No!”

Panting for breath, struggling to see her one last time, he forced his eyes to focus. She was there kneeling next to him, tears filling the most gorgeous pair of green eyes he’d ever seen. Gently, she lifted his head and laid it in her lap. Disregarding the dark blood that seeped from his wounds, she ran her fingers over his cheeks and through his thick hair, trying to soothe him.

“You’re going to be okay, Connor,” she whispered to him, tears running freely down her softly tanned skin. “I’m not going to let you die.”

“Laren, let him go. We owe him our thanks but there’s nothing we can do.”

“No,” Laren replied firmly, turning her gaze from Connor and fixing her older brother with a vicious stare. “He saved our lives!”

“Let him go. His kind are destined for this end.”

“I can’t. I won’t let him die.”

Her brother finally realized what she was going to do. “Laren, it is forbidden. Who are we to play God? If this is how he meets his end, then let him. You know the Law. You know the consequences.”

“And I accept them.”

Laren turned her attention back to Connor, her long brown hair brushing his face. “Connor, you’re special. You carry the gene in your blood,” she paused for a moment hoping her last statement was true. “I know you’re going to survive this. I’m going to save you. I need you to understand this process will be the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. I’ll be there for you every step of the way. I need you to know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Connor managed a weak smile. “Sounds great.” The exertion of this simple statement brought on another savage bout of blood-filled coughs. His mind raced to catch up with his reality. Three days ago his biggest problem had been what college to attend or how to deal with his ex-girlfriend, now he was struggling to survive.

Three Days Ago

Connor Moore ran on one of his favorite trails in the Catskill Forest Preserve. The leaves of the trees lining the path shimmered in the bright June sun. Sparrows and rabbits went about their morning routines, ignoring him as if he were part of the forest and belonged among them. Connor lived a few hours away from the preserve in a suburb of New York City, but he loved nature enough that he was willing to get up at 6 a.m. to make the drive.

His black hair was matted with sweat. It gathered on his brow, threatening to blur his vision. Connor was used to physical exertion. Physical activity was therapeutic; it calmed a beast that sometimes raged to get out. Channeling this inner passion made him a true athlete. Once he learned to harness this intensity and use it as a tool rather than a hindrance, he was nearly unstoppable at any sport.

The forest was a haven for Connor. He listened to his favorite mix of rock and rap music on his iPod and ran his worries away. As an eighteen-year-old high school graduate, he had a lot on his mind. Not only was he worried about college and a