Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 104,000
If Dima could remember her life, she’s damn sure she’d want it back.
The Humani Project’s latest test subject believes she’s human, but her sleek black fur, claws, and tail make that seem impossible. Her only clue to an existence before panther DNA was spliced to hers is a name—Janelle.
According to the scientists, Dima is the perfect blend of human and animal. Most importantly, she can still speak, making her the lab’s most successful Humani to date. But that doesn’t guarantee her safety.
Imprisoned in a Phoenix, Arizona lab, Dima must complete the grueling, and often deadly, physical assessments administered by resident jackass Dr. Frederick James. Voice or no voice, her failure means immediate termination. To survive, she must tame the wild animal that wants to take over—only she has no idea how.
When she fails a combat assessment and is nearly killed by her opponent, she’s surprised that the project’s founder, Lorenzo, breaks protocol to save her. When he calls her “Janelle,” she realizes that the scientists have erased someone they knew. She’s determined to understand why.
Surrounded by lies and half-truths, Dima doesn’t know who to trust or believe. The closer she comes to piecing together her story, the harder she has to fight to stay alive. Worse yet, she’s falling for Lorenzo, the man who made her a monster. Why does the one person she should hate the most care for her? Why does she feel the same?
Good thing cats have nine lives—she’ll need every one of them to uncover the truth.
Claws popped from my fingertips every time I stretched my hands.
It tingled, but didn’t hurt, not like the rest of my body. The sensation was both natural and foreign, muscles and tendons I didn’t know I had contracting and relaxing with the movement. I’d freaked out when I saw the black fur leading to the claws. That was the second time they’d upped my morphine. The first time was after my tongue had brushed against fang.
The steady, faithful morphine drip, now on its highest setting according to the a gray-haired nurse—the only one who would speak to me—barely dented the pain ransacking every nerve, muscle, and bone. Waves of agony rolled from my feet to my head and crashed against everything in between. But somehow it kept my mind safe. Stable. Human. Not like it mattered much. Too little information left me with questions no one would answer.
The brunette, a waif in a too-large white coat, had mentioned cardiac arrest. She’d said a lot of other things, too, most of which I ignored. She kept calling me a name I didn’t recognize but thought I knew from somewhere. I couldn’t ask about it, though. The “stress of the procedure” had frozen my vocal cords; however, she spoke like she didn’t expect me to have a voice at all.
They should have just let me die. No doubt it would have hurt a helluva lot less.
Today was Day Four, if I’d counted correctly.