Nocturnal - By Jacquelyn Frank & Kate Douglas & Jess Haines & Clare Willis Page 0,2

they pretty much spent the entire day clutched together.

It had been necessary to gain friends, actually. There was no social or mental discrimination in the common population the experimenters had gathered together, so there were quite a few sickos, psychos, and weirdos. Despite all of the cameras watching just about everywhere, staff wasn’t in all that much of a hurry to intervene when one of their lab rats was being accosted or, sometimes, raped. They often let the men work themselves up in acts of aggression and observed. Amara thought it was a cross between morbid fascination and the results of some sick drug testing. She had come to that conclusion after watching Spencer Holbrook, the sweetest, shyest guy on the planet, go totally ape-shit savage on some poor girl right on the recreation room floor. He’d torn into her like a rutting animal and he literally screwed himself to death. He’d had a heart attack or stroke or something after his sixth orgasm in about six minutes’ time.

Then the security staff had strolled in on the scene and cleaned it all up, bodies and victims never to be seen or heard from again. Amara didn’t know what was worse—that it had happened like that, or that six minutes had gone by without a single one of them moving to help any more than security had. But after three months of something awful happening every single day, all the fury and indignation and fight was dying in them as fear for when it was their turn to snap or die stole over them.

Amara had considered warning her friends of what Raul had said, but she never knew what was a psychological tactic and what wasn’t. She might have to stress out over it, but she wasn’t going to force her friends into the same thing. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen whether they knew about it or not. Avoiding the drink or food was a waste of time because they would just find another way if your time was up. In the end, they were just one big animal supply to the labs in the compound. Like rabbits, monkeys, and rats, they were kept in a clean, sterile environment until an order came up for their specifications. Then they would be tested, injected, and either released back into the captive populace…or they were never heard from again.

Amara had a feeling her specifications had just come up.

Sure enough, she’d just put down her empty cup of coffee when Raul and two beefy orderlies came up to stand behind her meaningfully. Mina’s eyes narrowed angrily, her hands fisting furiously on the table. There was nothing she could have done, and Amara was glad when the women didn’t start any trouble. She didn’t want them to suffer over her. They would suffer for themselves soon enough, given the current trends.

She stood up and obediently walked between the orderlies as Raul led the way. She noticed a scuffle of temper when the new male was also chosen and led from the common room. The man was pushed roughly forward, his orderlies readily armed with the remotes that activated his internal disciplinary measures. She couldn’t help but look down at his forearms to see just how old the surgical scarring appeared to be. His incisions were almost completely invisible, which told her he had been putting up a long, long fight against his captivity. Amara was glad he had finally acquiesced, however unhappy it made him, because she knew they would have killed him and written off the expense eventually.

He was pushed again, the orderlies clearly getting off on having the upper hand over someone of his obvious strength and build. Some of them were like that. Some were nice. Most were just Raul.

The shove sent that wall of muscle slamming awkwardly into Amara. She stumbled and hit the heavily waxed floor with a face-planting sprawl. Before she could even feel the stinging of her skinned knees, elbows and the bruise on her chin, however, large hands were sliding around her body, gingerly turning her over into strong arms and the amazing warmth of intense body heat. She hadn’t been so warm since she’d been kidnapped from her bed at the workhouse and dragged into this icebox environment that discouraged the growth of any germs.

“Are you all right? I’m sorry, the Asshole Twins here knocked me right into you.”

Amara looked up into sea-green eyes full of honest concern and she had a