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This book gives you a glimpse into Heather’s past. It came to me in snippets. I would see these certain scenes unfold for me and I knew I had to write it. It’s a little off my overall plot but Fridon has a big role in this one. Have fun reading!
Book 5 of the Vespian Way Hesitant Desire
Available in Print and E-book
Heather swore she’d never go back to Aruka after a mission had gone bad. The planet had an archaic view of women and Heather fought against those views, angering one man to the point of whipping her. Now Earth has requested she rescue a missing woman on that planet. She wants to say no, but Storm has already accepted for her, as long as he accompanies her. They hoped it would be a quick in and out assignment but didn’t expect to run into the man carrying such hatred for her all these years. Now they have to try to finish their mission while evading the man who’s only goal is to make Heather pay for her crimes.
Heather had a few minutes before she needed to get to council chambers for the afternoon and was taking advantage to play with her children.
“There is a communiqué from Admiral Barrister.”
“Thank you, Cim.” After picking up her daughter and putting her in the play area that Storm had created for the twins, she went for her son. Once she had them settled, she returned to the living room. “Go ahead and put Bear on the main screen.”
“Good morning, Commander.”
“How are you, Admiral?” He was awful formal. Why did he call her commander?
“We need your help.”
“You don’t mess around, do you, sir.” Great, another assignment. She had tried to leave security several times but Earth wouldn’t take her resignation. She sat on the couch.
“Time is of the essence.” He looked off screen for a moment and nodded before he focused back on her. “The daughter of the ambassador from Basuya has been kidnapped and only your expertise will work.”
“You know Vespian protocol, sir. You have to ask the ambassador before you can even approach me.”
“I know that and he has given his permission as long as he gets to accompany you.”
She smiled. Her mate always sought to protect her. “What do you need?”
“The ambassador and his family were learning about Aruka.”
“Oh, no thank you.” She didn’t want to hear anything else. The last time she had been on that planet she came close to spending the rest of her life as a slave and swore she would never go back.
“You are an officer of Earth’s military. You don’t get to refuse.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” From his tone, she knew better than to say anything else.
Bear steepled his fingers as he chose his next words. “Heather, you know the native language, have more personal knowledge of their society’s dos and don’ts, and firsthand knowledge of the land. I don’t have anyone else I can send and we must get her back as quickly as we can.”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“Let me guess.” Heather pinched her nose. Anger filled her as she realized she couldn’t say no. “You’re trying to sign a treaty with them and getting the daughter back will make sure that happens.”
“When can you leave?” He didn’t answer her question so she had to be right.
“How come I seem to be the one you turn to when you need to make sure treaties are getting signed all of the sudden?” She muttered the words to herself but knew Bear heard her. Heather sighed as the data stream on the young woman she was to find filled the screen. “What do you know?”
“Not a lot right now. I have included your old file as well as everything you need for this mission. Storm has the same file.”
“Oh, great.” Now her mate would learn about one of her not so great missions. The only good thing about it was he could say no after he read what happened to her.
“I have explained to Storm I need you to leave as soon as possible. She has been missing three days.”
“Three days?” Her eyes widened. A couple of hours were all a kidnapper needed on that planet. Three days would leave them with a very cold trail to follow. She stood, knowing every minute she wasted could mean failure in finding the girl. “I’ll send a message when we’re on our way.”
She ended the communiqué and walked into the playroom to look at the twins. Their naming ceremony was just a few days away. Would the council allow them to postpone it? “You know I love you two very much.”
“Yes, mama.” He son toddled over and hugged her leg.
“I need to go help someone’s little girl make it back home.” She leaned down to pick him up. “Goodness you’re getting heavy.”
“And you will. You need to take care of your sister and listen to your uncle and aunt. No more grabbing his nose.” She touched his with gentle fingers.
Her son’s bottom lips poked out.
“He wants to protect your sister as much as you do. That is why he goes to her first. You need to let him know you want to be picked up first and he’ll realize he’s favoring your sister without knowing it.” Heather stooped to pick up her daughter as well when the doors open.
“You really do like trying to get yourself into trouble. You know they are too big for you to pick them up like that anymore, yet I catch you continuing to try.” He took their son out of her arms so she could pick up her daughter. He then offered her his hand so she could stand without too much of a problem. “Old habits die hard, don’t they?”
“Read the file already I see.” She brushed a few hairs out of her face, waiting for him to chastise her.
“You’re still my heart.”
“Yeah.” She never wanted to think about that assignment again, yet here it was, rearing its ugly head. “I knew you’d be happy to see how bad that got before I was able to turn it around.”
“I now see why Bear feels you are the best.” He headed toward the doors and waited outside for her to join him. “Anyone else would have ended up dead. Including me. You did what you had to do to get the job done.”
“I lost control.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I was a woman. When I first arrived the people who pretended to buy me wanted to brand me which I fought. Then I broke the number one rule and fought with a man.” Did he read the whole file? She had made mistake after mistake on that planet and had never forgotten about it. Heather moved down the hall, holding her daughter close. “Have you spoken to the council?”
“Informally. I spoke to my mother who contacted the rest of the council and they understand. The decision is ours.”
“Great.” She had hoped someone would say no, but so far nothing was going to stop her from reliving something she’d rather leave in the past. “You know I don’t want to do this.”
“But you won’t leave that girl to be trapped on that world.”
He knew her too well. The thought of what the girl would go through if she didn’t try to bring her home drove her to face her demons. She walked into the medlab with Storm on her heels. “Kuarto.”
“Heather? They’re not sick. I just saw them, so why are you here?” His voice held an annoyed tone. He had complained before that she worried too much about the health of the twins.
“I know, and I promise I didn’t bring them here for another check-up. I need a favor. Can you and Toki babysit for a few days?” She placed her daughter in the crib he had set up for the twins. “Earth’s government has asked us to go on a mission and we need to leave immediately.”
“What about the naming ceremony?” His frown showed his confusion.
“Storm has spoken to his mother and she understands. The one thing we need to do is formally approach the council and ask permission, but we already know they’re going to say yes. Can you ask Toki if she could postpone it for a few days? We’d really appreciate it.” She touched her daughter on the head, not wanting to leave her or their son, but she knew she had to do this.
“Then Storm is going with you.” Kuarto looked at Storm for answers before he reached for their son.
“Yes.” Storm patted his son on the head as he settled in his mate’s brother’s arms. “So we’re relying on you and Toki to care for these two until we get back.”
“That won’t be a problem. You know that.” He kissed their son on the head before he set him down next to his sister. “Can I help you with anything?”
“We’re going to need some physical alterations to fit into Arukan society,” said Heather. She fought hard to keep her anger and frustration inside. She knew she was focusing on the task at hand instead of her brother’s curiosity, but if she wasn’t careful she just might lose the tight hold she had on her emotions.
“Arukan? Have you been there?” He grabbed his scanner plus his pad and walked to the computer to pull up a three dimensional image of Heather and Storm.
“I have.” She kept her features under tight control, trying not to show how the memory of the place made her feel.
“So you know how women are treated there.”
All she could do was nod.
“Anyone else going with you two?” Kuarto looked at Heather for a moment before he started to alter their images to get the desired look for the race there. He never missed a thing and she wondered what he suspected. He didn’t ask her anything else as he used his pad, the screen, and their images to get what he wanted.
“Fridon will be coming as well.” Heather couldn’t keep the flatness out of her voice.
Kuarto nodded and loaded his image as well. “You realize you’re all a little tall for this race.”
“Yes.” Heather hated this. The last time she was on this planet her height had been one of the reasons she was so coveted. That and her hair. No one on the planet had such light hair. Then there was the length. The shortness of it made them think she had been punished by her master and then sent away because whatever she had done had been so bad he never wanted to see her again. It made her a target for many reasons and now she had to go back and face that reality again. “We’ll have to work around that.”
“And women are second class citizens with no power?” He watched her face as he brought up the subject again.
“I am all too aware of my status there.” She refused to rise to the bait as she watched him make the changes. Her fair skin turned golden with the sparkle the people from the planet had. They all looked like they had glitter on them from the way their skin sparkled in all types of light. “Can you make that stick?”
“Let me guess, the last time you went there you went just as you are.”
“Earth doctors couldn’t change my skin tone and hair color. My chip didn’t allow it.”
“Well, we have the ancient computer who knows your DNA so we should be able to make the proper changes.” Kuarto circled her image, bobbing her ears so they came to a point like the people from the planet. Then he changed her hair color. “One down, two to go.” Now that he had made the changes to her image all he had to do was press a button for Storm’s and Fridon’s images to switch. In an instant they all looked like the natives.
“I’m going down to the main compound to work on our outfits.” Heather headed out the door. Kuarto had what he needed to get them physically ready, now it was her turn to make sure their clothing fit as well.
“She seems very upset about this,” Kuarto commented as he continued to work on their images, perfecting their looks. “Can I assume the last time she was there it didn’t go well for her?”
“Not the way she wanted, but she still had a successful mission.” Storm pointed to the images. “How long before you’re done?”
“I should have a chip to implant in about fifteen minutes.”
“Good. I’m going to see what I can do to calm my mate.” Storm strode out of the medlab and headed to the ancient complex. Using his implant, he contacted Fridon and made him aware of the mission and let him know he had to visit the medlab to get the changes necessary for the mission to be a success. When he entered the lab he saw another three dimensional image of the three of them all lined up as Heather worked on the outfits. His and Fridon’s outfits were pretty nondescript. Tunics and flowing pants. Typical for an arid planet like the one they were going to. “My heart?”
She turned to look at him. “I hate this, Storm. Women have no power. They aren’t allowed to speak to men unless spoken to. They can’t own any property. Most women are the slaves of the family. There for breeding and doing all the work.”
“The men don’t do any of the work?”
“None of the labor. That is left to the women.” She pressed a button and worked on the intricate details of the garments. “The admiral has set up our identities already. You are a man of wealth and power. I am your most prized possession.”
“That much is true.” He stepped up to her and touched her cheek. “You will not be alone on this mission.”
“I know, but it’s the memories that get the best of me.” She pressed her face into his hand.
“Do you wish to talk about it?” He could feel her distress over this mission, but nothing else. She had locked everything else deep inside.
“No.” She gave him a smile, but he could see the sadness in her eyes. “Maybe when this mission is over I will, but right now I’m not ready. It’s something I had tried to forget. I need to come to terms before I can tell you anything.”
“What are you doing now?” He turned back toward the images, knowing it was time to change the subject.
“Making sure our garments are ready. Men of power have a brand or mark that adorns their clothing. It is also on all their possessions.” She tapped her pad. “What would you like as a brand?”
“How about this?” He lifted her hair and gently brushed her mark. “No one can deny that you are mine if it is on my clothes.”
Her smile was more genuine. “It also might keep them from branding me with your mark if I already have one.” She put the pattern on his and Fridon’s garment. Once she was happy with the image, she made several other outfits so they would have the proper garments to change to when they had to.
Storm watched as she brought up her image. Her Vespian gown disappeared and was replaced with an outfit he swore was appropriate only for the bedroom. “That is what you must wear?”
“My heart, my eyes will be glowing the whole time we’re on that planet.” The two piece dress left a lot of skin exposed. The bejeweled top had demicups that he was sure wouldn’t contain Heather’s breasts for long and the skirt sat so low on her hips he wondered how it stayed up.
She gave him a fleeting smile then worked on the image, putting the mark on her outfit as well. There was a band at the top of the skirt about six inches wide made out of the same thin material as his and Fridon’s clothes, then a border of it on the bottom. Everything in between was a thin transparent material. There was also a thin strip of cloth that held his mark half way down her upper arm, but he didn’t see any other straps that would keep her top on.
“Can I see you in that?” If she had that on all the time he wasn’t sure he could keep his hands to himself.
“Storm.” She didn’t want to have that awful outfit on before she had to.
“My heart, if just this image is making my desire for you skyrocket, then I need to see what the real thing is going to do. I need to be able to control myself.”
That got a laugh out of her. “You have never tried before.”
“I can’t help that your luscious body calls to me, begging for my touch.” He grinned as he pulled her into his embrace.
“I know your one track mind and there is a lot to do. I need to show you how to use my chain.”
“You’ll have my undivided attention in that.” He looked at the image once again. “I know you see the outfit as degrading. What better way to wipe that feeling from you then to have me worship your body while wearing it.”
“So you think it will empower me?”
“Has in the past.” His need for her was getting stronger by the second. “One wonderful memory to burn away the others.”
She closed her eyes for a moment, probably talking to the ancient computer. Her dress disappeared to be replaced with the outfit she hated so much.
She took his breath away. His hands had to touch her. They gently followed the edge of the small top, causing goosebumps to rise where his fingers had been. Sliding along the edge of the skirt, his touch caused her to take a sharp intake of breath. It was one of her more sensitive spots. He noticed a small gold chain around her waist. A long length of it fell to the floor.
“What is this?” He picked it up. The lightweight material didn’t look like it would take much abuse.
“Excuse me?” He heard the flatness of her voice. It angered her. Another thing she resented. His libido needed to wait so he could find out why.
“Like a pet I have a leach that you control.”
He was starting to understand why she hated this so much. To treat women in such a way went against his beliefs as well. “And you must wear it?”
“And you need to know how to use it to control me.”
“I have never been able to do that,” he joked as he continued to slide his hands over her soft skin. Time to defuse the strong anger she felt.
“Storm.” She stopped him then placed the end of the chain in his hands. “It’s all in the flick of the wrist.” She made a few movements to show him what she was talking about. “My place is behind you as we walk. If you wish to stop, you drop your hand to signal me.” She showed him what she meant. She went through several other movements.
“And what if I wish to show you affection?”
“I don’t know.” She looked sad. “I never saw any of the men show affection to their women. But I do know some of the commands for different sexual poses.”
“Perhaps I need to make a few of my own commands.” He started drawing the chain to him so she had to step closer. “Like when I want to kiss you I’ll just drag you to my side.” He lowered his mouth to hers, drawing her tongue out to dance with his. Tension flowed out of her.
He knew he needed to tread lightly with her. She needed to be in control the whole time. With a thought he produced their favorite chair. Another thought removed his clothes. Breaking the kiss, he stepped back and waited.
She stared at him.
“You tell me what you want.”
Heather hesitated for a moment then shook her head as if she was shaking the last of the bad memories away. “Climb on the chair.”
He didn’t waste any time.
“And put it in our favorite position.”
“We have several of those, my heart. Any particular one?”
“Hmmm.” She placed her hands on her hips and gave him a sultry smile. “I’ll let you pick that.”
One click of a button and he had the chair in a position she recognized. He watched as she sashayed toward him, the sway of her hips hypnotizing him. “You are so beautiful.”
“You are biased.” She climbed up on the chair and placed her feet on the railings on each side.
“I am.” He smiled up at her. This was one of the few times when she was taller than him. Her long skirt brushed against his thighs as she looked down at him. “But it doesn’t make my statement any less true.”
“You are so good for me.” She got down on her knees. “I’m going to need a little help. My skirt is too big so I can’t help guide you.”
He helped center her and closed his eyes as her tight sheath slid down his length. The heat of her body as it surrounded him fired his desire. His hands had a mind of their own as they skimmed across her hips and stomach, moving up to her breasts. They felt their way around the bra top, trying to find the closure. “How does this come off?”
“There are releases on each side, but I want to warn you…”
The weight of the top smacked him in the stomach, drawing a woof out of him. He held out the heavy thing. “How does this thing stay up?”
“I don’t know, but it seems to defy gravity.” She braced her hands against his stomach. “The skirt is the same way. It doesn’t move off the hips even though it looks like it could.”
He dropped the top onto the floor so he could focus on her. He gently cupped her breasts, playing with her nipples as she set the pace. She arched into his hands while she slid up and down his shaft. Knowing her body as well as he knew his own, he knew what aroused her, what brought her to the edge and what pushed her over. He rubbed his knuckles against the peaks before his hands continued to caress her velvet skin. The tips of his fingers skirted the edge of the waistband of the skirt, dipping in and brushing the edge of her mound, taking her breath away.
Her muscles tightened against him and she started riding him harder. Storm moved his hands to her legs, finding their way under the full skirt, feather like touches working their way up the back of her calf, the inside of her thigh, until his fingers reached their target and slipped into her folds. Time to bring her to the edge. She reacted to his touch. Her head dropped back as her breath came out in little pants.
“My heart.” He watched her face, keeping his hand between them, working her softly, slowly bringing her closer and closer. Gently he wrapped his hand around her neck, drawing her down until he could feel her breasts against his chest, allowing his lips to make contact with her mark. His lips tugged lightly on the soft tissue and she shattered in his arms.
“That is what you do to me while you wear that outfit.” His voice was a whisper as she floated along through her climax. She was quiet for a few moments, waiting for her body to return from her release. Then her eyes opened and she gave him a satisfied smile.
“My heart.” She touched his face. “You are so good for my ego.”
Proper protocol said she needed to go to the council and explain what Earth wanted from her. As a member of the council and the mate of the future leader, anything that took her off planet, or away from the council, had to be cleared. They gave their approval quickly. Storm had gone with her and stayed to clear his joining her on this mission as well.
She went back to the outfits. The fashions hadn’t changed that much since she was there last, but she made sure she made the subtle changes so they didn’t look dated. Her outfits were the last thing she worked on. The low hip and tiny top exposed so much. The last time she had to wear it brought attention to her in a way she didn’t want and she had fought it all the way. Yet after her mate’s reaction to the outfit and the tenderness he showed her, she knew he was right. Knowing Storm would be there and how it aroused him did give her the confidence she needed to do this.
Next she focused on the information Bear sent. There was a lot of data. Hopefully, she’d find what she needed to pick up a trail to follow.
Heather strode into the medlab, a cloak over her mission outfit. She didn’t want to be gawked at until it was necessary. Storm and Fridon were already there, wearing their costumes, their chips in place. Seeing Storm with pointed ears brought a smile to her face. “Good work, Kuarto. Hope you can work the same magic with me.”
“I’m going to put the first one in your hair line.” He gestured for her to lift her hair off the back of her neck and he inserted the chip. Pressing a few keys on his pad he worked with her hair color. “Your hair won’t be as dark as the race that you’re imitating but it won’t be the white blonde you normally have either. More like a golden brown.”
Heather turned and looked at the mirror Kuarto had. Her hair was now a light brown with gold highlights. “Wow. I look so different.”
“Now for the skin tone.” He pulled aside the cloak and inserted the next chip against her right pelvic bone. “Depending on how this works I might need to put a second one in.”
“Whatever it takes.” She looked at Storm who seemed to be frowning. “What is the matter?”
“I’m not sure I like that hair color on you.” His eyes widened when her fair skin darkened to a golden honey color. “You look so different, yet exotic.”
“Kuarto, you are amazing. What about my eyes?”
“I’ve tried several times but I can’t alter their color. I can give you contacts.”
“They don’t work either. My eyes have always been too sensitive for them. At least I’ll fit in a little better this time.” She lifted her feet. “Need to do something about this though.”
“Right.” Kuarto handed her two jewels to decorate her feet. “I’ve been working on that. Attach those to the juncture next to the big toe and press it.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” Storm said.
“I’m not allowed to wear any footwear. The women there are used to it and can walk in the sand and hard rocks, but my feet are too tender for that.” She bent down and placed the jewels on her feet. Pressing each one, she felt something cover everything up to her ankles. Heather looked up at Kuarto and grinned.
“It’s a force field. About the only thing I thought would work since if you left any kind of shoe print behind there would be questions. I made you four. Each coordinating with the color outfit you might wear.”
“Thanks.” She turned to Storm and Fridon. “Ready?”
“Yes.” Storm took her arm and headed to their transport. “Although I’m not sure I like this place we’re going. What else are you not allowed to do?”
“There is a lot.” She let out a sigh. “I’m not allowed to eat with you. In fact, I can’t eat until you and Fridon are done. If there is any food left over then I get to eat. If you attend any meals you have to abide by this. I can’t sit with you at any of the major functions unless I am to feed you.”
They reached the ship. Heather waited as Storm lowered the gangplank.
“I can’t ride any of the animals either. I must walk everywhere.”
“That is ridiculous.”
“I know, but it’s their law.” She took her seat and helped Storm prepare for liftoff. “I gave you the list. Did you read it?”
“I didn’t get to the walking everywhere.” Once the ship was out of orbit he programmed the coordinates and set the autopilot on. “But if you are my most prized possession then why can’t I set the rules for you?”
“You can. To a point. An example is like riding the horse. If I’m pleasuring you then I’m allowed, but that is only when we’re alone. Men don’t degrade themselves by letting their lust get to them while they are with other men.”
“And how long must we be there?”
“We find the girl and get out as fast as possible.”
Storm stepped onto the tarmac first. The heat was the first thing that hit him. He waited for Fridon and Heather to exit before he sealed the ship and sent it back into orbit. The computer would be his eyes and ears to make sure they were under surveillance while on the planet.
Their translators had been adjusted for the language on the planet, but since the people here didn’t use translators there would be a language gap until they could learn to speak it. Heather was the only one who was fluent and she wasn’t allowed to talk to men. He wasn’t sure how this would work.
Their first stop was the embassy to check in. Heather had donned a hood with her cloak so no one would be able to see what gender was under the garment. She had kept the cloak on since she came into the medlab earlier. He was happy because he knew he’d be aroused the moment he saw her in the outfit. Storm strode in the door with Fridon on his heels. His mate came in last, already in character.
“May I help you?” The young man behind the desk didn’t look up from the task he was doing.
“Yes.” Storm’s deep voice filled the room. “We have an appointment with the admiral.”
“And your name?” He looked up then to find Storm glaring at him. Storm recognized the man. He was Bear’s second. Heather called him an assistant. “Oh, ambass…ador? Um, he’s been waiting for you.” The doors to their right swung open.
Storm walked in the door, not happy with the situation. “Why are you making my…” He stopped his rant when he noticed Bear wasn’t alone.
“Storm?” Bear laughed. The same fake one Heather had been known to use from time to time. He looked at Storm’s ears and grinned. “Like the ears. Thank you for coming. I’d like to introduce you to the parents of the young woman taken.”
He gave them a stiff nod.
“I must say you do look the part. So does Fridon.” He looked at the garbed figure. “Heather? Can I assume you do too?”
“Yes, sir.” She lowered the hood so the admiral could see her face.
“Wow. Then let’s get down to it.” He had been sitting with the girl’s parents. Standing, he walked to his desk and picked up a small remote. “This is the young woman in question. She was in the garden of the home they are using here, off the embassy grounds. She was by herself when they heard her scream. By the time anyone made it outside there was no sign of her. We did get this from the surveillance equipment.”
And image filled the screen of the young girl, maybe sixteen, being grabbed by men in nondescript clothes.
Heather stared at the screen for a moment. “Can you play that again?”
She watched it several times before she sat next to the parents. “Was your daughter speaking to any of the local boys?”
“One or two,” the father replied. “You can’t be saying that she was taken by one of them.”
“These people don’t think the way most do. Women are like an object you would trade or sell here. Someone could have seen your daughter as a potential present to a son of a wealthy family coming of age. Especially if he showed an interest in her. They could have taken her to gain favor with a wealthy family.” She saw the stricken look on the mother’s face. “I know this isn’t what you want to here, but it is the truth. I’m very good at my job, but I need all the information I can get to bring her home safely.”
“There was one boy who kept calling on her,” the mother responded.
Heather smiled. “Tell me everything.”
“Heather, I was about ready to read you the riot act when you started talking to the parents the way you did, but you got the information we needed,” Bear snapped at her.
“I’m sorry I had to do that, sir, but I knew it was the only way to make them think about anyone she might have talked to. Now we have three leads instead of a very cold trail.” She stood, pulling the cape in front of her to keep her outfit concealed. “As you said, time is of the essence, and I want to make sure that girl comes home.”
“Understood, Commander, but next time you better let me in on what you want to do beforehand or I’ll court-martial you.”
“Considering my position in Earth’s military is all on paper since they refused to retire me, your threat really doesn’t have that much weight.” She stood in a relaxed military stance. “You need me more than I need you, sir.”
“Storm, I do believe you created a monster here.” He sat back in his chair and laughed. This time it sounded real. His relaxed state surprised Storm. Was Heather that good?
“You had a hand in her development as well.” Storm wrapped an arm around her waist. “We need to talk seriously. No harm can come to my mate. I will kill the man who looks at her wrong.”
“Which is why you are going with her. You will keep her safe. Too many things went wrong the last time. That can’t happen again.” Bear ran his fingers through his hair. “How much of the language do you know?”
“Heather has been teaching us, but the intricate levels of the language makes it difficult to learn very quickly. I know the most important sentences at all levels.” He grinned. “I know the word ‘mine’, ‘do not touch’ and ‘the woman speaks for me’. My mate also taught me a few swear words just in case I need them.”
“And your translator?”
“The language has been loaded so I’ll know everything spoken. Then the nuances of the language will download every night and Heather will help us practice what is downloaded when we’re traveling. We should be fluent quickly.”
“I don’t want to put you in this situation again, Heather. But as you told the parents you are very good at your job. No harm meant, Storm, but if I could have I would have put Heather and Skye together. They both have a knack at finding the people in jeopardy.”
“Could Skye protect her better than me?” He still didn’t like the man. It didn’t matter if he was his daughter’s mate.
“I didn’t say that.” Bear looked at Heather for a moment before focusing on Storm. “I guess that is still a sore subject for you. I have registered you two in the system. I need to load something to prove Heather is your property.”
“Her mark.” Storm pointed to his clothing. “She bears it as well.”
Heather released the cord holding the cloak against her body and she dropped it so Bear could see her outfit and the proof of her mark on her clothes.
“Damn, Heather, I see working with Vespian security has done some wonderful things for you. You’re no longer that skinny woman I knew. Your muscles never had such definition.”
Her hand splayed across her abdomen. It took Storm’s hands to pull hers away. “She has what you call a hard body, yes?”
“Yes, and that makes her more desirable to the men who will see her. Be warned, Storm. Your mate will turn a lot of heads.” He stood. “The sooner you get started the sooner you’re done.”
Heather nodded. “If we have all the information available we should get going.”
She picked up her cape and handed Storm her leash.
“Wait.” Bear looked at the chain and frowned. “How cherished a piece of property is she to you, Storm?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“The chain is too long.”
“Admiral, I don’t mean any disrespect, but many men like the chain long so they can wrap it around their own waist when in a crowd so their possession doesn’t wander off. It is where they hold the leach that matters and Storm has learned about that.”
Bear checked his screen before he spoke. “Sorry, I had the wrong data.”
“It’s okay Bear, but when you live it you never forget.” She took a deep breath and looked at Storm. “Let’s go.”
Storm nodded. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to allow Heather to be put into danger once again, but they had promised. Making sure he had a good grip on her chain, he headed out the doors of Bear’s office. They walked out of the embassy into the crowded street. The heat hit him first then the noise level. His sensitive ears had found it hard to ignore.
Heather stayed behind him, her distance based on the thin chain he held. Fridon had gone on ahead of them to secure the animals they would need for traveling. Once they were away from the town he would breathe easier. He also hoped Heather would relax out of the confines of the city and the rules.
“You sell?” some young boy asked him, pointing to Heather.
“No.” Storm wasn’t sure if it was the right dialect, but he didn’t care.
Now he had three wanting to know if he’d be willing to part with his mate. Were they crazy? A growl escaped him. “No.”
He took another two steps and there were two more about to ask him about Heather. Storm turned around, grabbed Heather by the waist and threw her over his shoulder. As he walked with her draped over his shoulder, he glared at anyone who started to approach him. He could hear his mate’s laughter in his head.
This isn’t funny, my heart. Why would they think I’d be willing to part with you?
I am property to them and everyone has a price. The fact that you want to keep me close shows them I have value and they will try to see why. You don’t even give them a chance to make an offer. That has their curiosity. What have I done to make you not want to sell me?
He shook his head. Fridon was only a few feet away with their animals. Along with two animals saddled for him and Fridon to ride, they also had several pack animals carrying tents and items they would need if they stopped for the night away from any town. And if this was the way all the men were going to behave around his mate, he didn’t plan on stopping at too many of them.
Storm was stopped once again by someone wanting to buy his mate.
Ask him secudo demaliasent.
Storm repeated the words.
“I will offer 30 million secons and my master’s current favorite.” The young man looked at him with a hopeful smile.
Tell him senmareio efactinga.
What does that mean?
You’ll think about it.
It is only to give them something to think about. Make them believe you might sell for the right price.
How much is 30 million secons?
About the same in old earth dollars. Vespia doesn’t have anything that I can show that would equal. Just be happy that it is a lot of money. They’re not trying to insult you.
He caught up with Fridon and mounted his animal. “What is this?”
“They call them frulas. Like earth’s horse.” Fridon climbed on his mount as well. “They move about fifty clips an hour. If you are ready we can head out.”
“Who packed the animals?” asked Heather, her voice low. Storm could sense the touch of fear racing through her.
“They were like this when I arrived.”
“Bear must have gotten them ready for us.” Heather’s shoulders relaxed as she walked to the animals and added the packs she had carried from the embassy. “Remember, Fridon, you are in training to learn Storm’s trade. You’re not to do any of the labor.”
“I remember, Heather. As much as I disagree with it I would never do anything to put you in danger.”
“I’m sorry, Fridon.” She kept her eyes downcast. “The crowd has me worrying about everything. The sooner we’re out of here the happier I’ll be.”
“Then let’s go, but make sure Heather can keep up.” Storm looked at the crowd around them. He didn’t like having so many around them, knowing how easily they took the girl. “My mate will not be forced to run to keep pace with us. The moment we’re out of sight I want her up on my mount.”
Fridon set an easy stride for the animals. Once they were out of the view of the town Storm circled back and offered his hand to Heather.
“Storm, I can’t.”
“You said the rules could be bent as long as it profited me. I want you up here. I don’t care if you have to straddle me and give me pleasure the entire time, I will not allow my mate to walk when I am riding. So you either get up here or I will climb down off this animal and walk beside you.” He reached for her again. “Your choice.”
“I saw that spark enter your eyes when you said I could pleasure you the whole time.” She took his hand and allowed him to pull her into his lap. Once she was settled in the saddle with him she worked herself around until she faced him. “Now we get to see how much torture you can take before your libido gets the best of you.”
“My heart, when it comes to you I have no control.” He wrapped his arms around her, his hands sliding up and down her back.
“That isn’t true or we’d never get any work done.” She wrapped her legs around him, pulling her body against his.
“You haven’t read my mind enough, then. It is all I think about.” His lips brushed against her mark. Too bad Fridon was with them or he would show her just how much just being near her had him constantly wanting her.
This one is Sam’s story but Heather and Storm are still a large part of the story. I had fun writing this one too.
Book 4 of the Vespian Way
Available in Print and E-book.
Unwanted Desire Blurb:
Available at Phaze
Heather and Storm’s story continues:
Sam can’t remember her past. The only reason she knows her name is because of a necklace found on her. Her lack of memory makes her perfect to work undercover as an event coordinator for Carlos Mason, an entrepreneur who has ties to the seedier side of business. When someone makes an attempt on Mason’s life Skye Latimer is assigned to be her bodyguard. Now Sam has to deal with trying to get her memory back, an annoying man she finds she can’t ignore and find something the government can use against Mason.
Skye Latimer has been told to keep Samantha safe at all costs. He doesn’t know why, but it doesn’t matter. He is the best. Getting close to her was easy. Keeping his hands to himself is another matter. Now Skye has to fight his growing attraction to Sam, try to figure out who she really is as well as keep her from being forced to do whatever Mason has planned.
Samantha had a death grip on her compad. Her memory might be gone, but she wasn’t going to use that as an excuse.
She was hired by Carlos Mason to be his new function coordinator and found she had a knack for it. This was the first time her new boss allowed her total control on one of his big galas and she sure didn’t want to mess it up. Taking one last look at her check lists, she nodded in satisfaction before she headed to the kitchens. Everything was set up, flowers, tables, even the proper music. As long as the flow of food ran smoothly the night would be a success and she would prove herself invaluable.
She couldn’t afford to be fired.
She turned a corner and practically ran over Skye Latimer. He was about her height, blonde hair that begged to be touched and sharp blue eyes that seemed to see all the way to her soul. He gave her a bone melting smile and a look that seemed to undress her where she stood. He had that look on his face every time he saw her.
“Mr. Latimer, I don’t have time for this.” She stepped around him, doing her best to ignore the butterflies she felt around him, and continued to the kitchens.
“Hey, I don’t like this any more than you do, but the boss asked me to guard you and that is what I’m going to do. We both know how he gets if his demands aren’t met.” He fell into step with her. “If you hadn’t taken off earlier I wouldn’t have had to come looking for you.”
“Please, then, stay out of my way.” She sighed. “I have a billion things to take care of before this evening starts and I don’t need any distractions.”
“I distracted you?” Skye smiled again. Another one of his seductive heart-stopping smiles that made her insides turn to jelly, but she wasn’t about to let him know that. She gave him a bored look and moved on. He followed right on her heals.
The kitchen was crazy when they entered. The head waiter was shouting out orders to his staff. The head chef was yelling at the head waiter to get out of his kitchen so his people could work.
A loud whistle filled the air as Sam waited for everyone to quiet down. “Why is there so much noise in here? Don’t you people have other things to do than give me heart failure?”
“I am sorry, Miss Samantha, but this imbecile has decided that these small quarters is where he must talk to the wait staff while I’m trying to get my people ready to prepare the meal.”
“I am not an imbecile and we have always done this in the past without trouble. Why are you acting like such a bear tonight?” snapped the head waiter.
“Gentlemen, we have twice as many staff as we normally do. You have to work this out.” Both crossed their arms over their chest and glared at each other. Neither giving an inch. Sam let go of another sigh. “Fine. I’ll cut both staffs in half, that way you’ll have plenty of room again. Your people will just have to do twice as much work and when this falls apart you will be the ones to answer to the boss.”
That got them moving. It wasn’t long before the waiters were huddled just outside the door, getting their instructions, and the cooks were prepping the food.
“You know how to snap that whip when you need to, don’t you?” commented Skye.
Sam had tried to ignore him while she spoke to the two men, but it had been hard. Even though he had kept quiet and had allowed her to do what she needed, part of her had been focused on him the whole time. His wide shoulders, narrow waist and long legs had her wondering things she shouldn’t.
She looked at Skye and saw admiration in his eyes. She didn’t need that. This was not the time for her to make alliances, especially with someone who affected her libido. She straightened her shoulders and continued down her mental list.
Once she was happy with the way things were going, she returned to the main office and knocked on her boss’s door. Popping her head in, she spoke. “Sir? Do you have a minute or two?”
“Of course, Samantha.” He stood and motioned to the chair in front of his desk. “Come in, please, sit.”
“Thank you. Everything is ready for tonight, sir. You should be very happy.” She entered the room and took the chair he gestured to. Latimer closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall. “But I need a few hours this afternoon. I need to meet with the government doctors today. Although I tried to move it they wouldn’t let me. My appointment is in about an hour.”
“Right. I can’t believe they are still making you go through these tests.” He tapped a few keys on his three dimensional computer screen before looking at her. “Have you gotten any of your memories back?”
“No.” She shook her head. “But they keep coming up with new treatments to try. I’m supposed to be meeting with some Vespian doctor who has a new technique.” She shrugged. “We’ll see.”
“I’ll have Skye take you.” He closed down the image and leaned back in his chair.
She wanted to protest but knew better. Why did it have to be Skye? Sam stood, waiting to be dismissed. If she had a way to sneak off she would have.
Skye stepped forward and nodded as he got his instructions. Once he did, he turned to Sam and gestured for her to walk in front of him. “So we get to spend the afternoon together.”
“If you enjoy hanging out with a bunch of doctors.” She walked out of the room. “I need to change first.”
“You look fine.”
She glared at him. “I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“No need. I’ll go with you to your room.”
“I don’t think so.” There was no way she was going to let him into her quarters. Her room was her haven away from everyone and everything. If he were to invade she’d never get the memory of his presence there out of her head. She turned her back to him and headed to the elevator. The doors opened and she stepped in with him right behind her.
“I’ll wait outside if you’re afraid to let a man into your bedroom.” His lips were only inches from her ear. She felt the heat of his breath brush against her throat, sending little frissons of desire coursing through her blood.
Mixed emotions took over. A part of her wanted to grab him and kiss him, end this strange little cat and mouse game they seemed to be playing, but another part wanted to slap the arrogant attitude off his face.
The doors of the elevator opened.
She didn’t respond, couldn’t. The fear of what would happen if she did got her feet moving and she darted out of the elevator, down the hall and into her room, letting the door close before he could try to come in. Sam leaned against it for a moment before she pulled off the dress she had been wearing to slip on a pair of comfortable pants and a blouse.
Once she had regained her composure, she stepped back out, ignored Skye, and headed to the elevator that would take them to one of the private transports. Once they were secure, Skye maneuvered it to the central medical center. Sam knew where to go, so she led the way once they landed. She entered the main office of the brain center.
“I have a two o’clock?”
“Yes. The doctor is ready for you.” The woman behind the desk stood and pointed to the doors that led into the lab.
The doors slid open and Sam walked through. Skye followed.
“Doctor?” There were several people there who could have been her doctor.
The man in question turned to face her. “Samantha? Dr. Kuarto.” His smile relaxed her as he took her hand and shook it. “I’m sure you’ve been through this before, but I’m going to ask you a series of questions that will allow me to set a base to work off of.”
“Sure.” She looked at Skye, who had come into the room with her and sighed. She wished he wasn’t there. This was something she didn’t want broadcasted.
“Three months ago you awoke to find your memories completely gone.”
“Yes. I was found in one of the wooded areas in the territory that used to be Washington State. I don’t remember anything before that.”
“The files I have showed there is no permanent damage to your memory. Have you had any trouble retaining memories from that point on?”
“No flashes, or dreams of another life?”
“Nothing. It’s like that moment when I woke up in the forest was the first day of my life.” She glanced at Skye once again, wishing he wasn’t hearing everything being said. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” He entered her data on the small pad he held in his hands.
“The doctors say that I’m part Vespian and I’ve done a little research. I don’t look like the typical Vespian.” She looked down at her fair hands.
“True, but you do have a few of the physical traits. The height for example.” He patted a table nearby he wanted her sit on. “The average female height is about six foot six and you’re not too far off that being six foot five. You also do have the distinctive ring around the cornea.”
“You’re eyes might be inverted but it is there. Most Vespians have golden eyes with a color band on the outside of the iris, you have violet eyes but the outer band is the same golden color that all Vespians have.”
“You’re right,” he laughed. “Very observant. Every once in a while there is a small abnormality. The gold in my eyes is muted. It has a touch of violet in it.” He held out a small scanner. “I need to take a few readings, map out the memory loss to see if we can free it.”
“You going to be able to free my memories today?”
“Is that what they told you?” He stopped what he was doing to look at her.
“I really love how the UCE misconstrues the missives I sent.” He shook his head. “I hope to free your memories but it will take time. Today is the first step.”
Skye’s communicator beeped. “Excuse me.” He stepped out of the room.
“So what is with the watchdog?” He looked in Skye’s direction before he went back getting everything ready.
“He’s been assigned to be my guard.” She looked as well. His absence should make her happy but it didn’t.
Kuarto frowned. “What do you need a guard for?”
“My boss.” She shrugged. “Someone tried to assassinate him and he was afraid they might come after me.”
“Your file says you work for Carlos Mason.” Kuarto looked down at his pad. “Isn’t he some sort of entrepreneur?”
“Yeah, he’s done a lot of work helping preserve many our historical items.” She shrugged. “It doesn’t make sense, but someone wasn’t happy with something he did. Mr. Mason has been a bit paranoid since. He assigned Mr. Latimer about two weeks ago.”
“You don’t seem to be very happy about it.”
“Let’s just say he’s very good at his job. Doesn’t let me out of his sight.”
Skye found a quiet place to answer his communicator. It was Mason. “Yes, sir?”
“Where are you?” He sounded desperate. What was going on?
“At the hospital where Sam has her appointment?” Why was he asking this? He had just sent them there. He didn’t like the man’s paranoia, it made it hard for him to do his job. “Samantha is with the doctor right now.”
“Are they going to bring back her memory?”
“From what I heard it will take some time before they can even try to revive her memories.” Now he understood his paranoia. He didn’t want Sam to get her memory back.
“That’s good. She’s perfect for what I need.” He paused for a moment. “I’ll expect a full report when you get back.”
“Did you see that?” Heather looked at her mate. She wanted to run in there and hug her daughter but knew she couldn’t have any contact with her. It hurt to stay away.
“What, my heart?” asked Storm. He wrapped his arms around her as he watched the screen with her.
“The way her readings spiked when Kuarto asked about her bodyguard.” Heather gave him a bright smile. “She’s attracted to him.”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know, but I plan on finding out.” She turned back to the screen.
Sam slid off the bed just as Skye walked back into the room.
“So, we’re done?” He looked at the doctor.
“For now.” Kuarto looked at Sam, even though Skye was the one who spoke. “I’ll call you back in when I’m ready for the next phase.”
“Thank you.” She tucked a stray piece of her golden blonde hair behind an ear before she could draw up the courage to look at Skye. “Are you ready, Mr. Latimer?”
“Please, call me Skye.” He said it softly, but the recording system picked it up. “Carlos is eager for us to return so you can finish with the arrangements for this evening.”
“Of course.” She walked out of the medical center with Skye right behind her. Once they were out of earshot she turned to find him inches from her. “Must you follow me so closely?”
“I like the view.” He took that moment to look at her from head to toe.
He kept saying little things like that. Things that made her angry, frustrated, and aroused all at the same time, but she didn’t like losing control so she always fought the anger that bubbled up inside her. The frustration she pushed down deep inside. Sam wasn’t quite sure what to do with the arousal. She straightened her shoulders and walked a little faster.
“Now I really like the view.”
She growled in frustration. “Please stop.”
“What? Is there a little crack in that non-feeling shield you’ve wrapped round yourself?”
“Tell me, Mr. Latimer. How would you handle waking up one day and not remembering a thing about yourself?” She took a deep breath and fought for control once again. “The only way anyone was sure of my name was because of this necklace.” She pulled the chain so he could see the small medallion with the name Samantha engraved on it. “Don’t you think you’d need to feel in control when your world was spiraling out of control? I’m sorry if I don’t scream and yell, but I’m afraid if I start I won’t stop.”
Skye studied her face but didn’t say a word. He unlocked their private transport and opened the door for her. Once they were secure he headed back to the Mason mansion.
Skye stood in his room, staring into the mirror. He had been a bit of an ass with Sam but he needed to see what type of person she was. He knew she had been placed here by the government and her job was to try to get some proof that Carlos Mason wasn’t as clean as he pretended. At least that was what they told her, but they knew her lack of memory would be a perfect target for Carlos. If Mason was going to do what the government expected, she would end up as a patsy somehow. Skye had been sent by Admiral Barrister to keep that from happening. Sam’s safety was paramount. He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to keep her safe yet, but he always got the job done.
When he was assigned to be her personal guard after the fake attack he orchestrated, Skye wanted to jump for joy. He had set it up, hoping he would be put closer to her but he never thought Mason would assign him as her guard.
The admiral had painted her as an innocent, but what he found confused him. She had backbone and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Sam also kept her feelings locked inside. People could say things to her that would anger someone else, she would blink a few times then turn on her heal and walk away. That was the sign of a very good undercover agent.
It had him wondering about her loyalties. Who did she really work for? Tonight he would push her enough to learn the truth.
The affair this evening was a formal one and Carlos requested that he wear a tux. He adjusted the bowtie and stepped out of his room. He was to escort Samantha to the main hall so everyone could be inspected before they all got to work.
Her door slid open when he crossed the sensors. She must have set the command for the doors to allow him entrance. He stepped in, not sure if he should have. “Samantha?”
She popped her head around a corner. “Oh! I’m not quite ready.”
“I’ll wait.” He looked around her room. Very stark. There was nothing that showed she lived here. No personal items at all. He found it odd. Even if she had no memory.
He heard her groan. “Problem?”
“No.” She paused for a moment. “Yes. I can’t get this dress to close properly.”
“Do you need help?”
She stepped into the room and his heart stopped for a second or two. She was breathtaking. Velvet in texture, the deep purple dress accentuated her lovely violet eyes. The strapless gown hugged her form, showing all her wonderful curves. It took him a moment before he noticed the issue she had with the dress. “Turn around.”
She presented her back and he found why the seals weren’t closing all the way. She couldn’t reach them properly.
“I guess my arms just aren’t long enough.” She made a few gestures to prove her point.
“Make sure you have the bodice where you want it.” He stepped up to her, a soft scent filling his nostrils. The temptation to touch the soft skin exposed to him was too much and he allowed his fingers to slide up her spine as he closed the seals properly. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do because all he could think of was the silky smoothness of her skin and how badly he wanted to touch it again. It took a lot of willpower for him to step back. “All done.”
“Thank you.” She looked frightened. Not sure if she was doing the right thing. An agent would lock their emotions away all the time. Professionalism wouldn’t allow them to let anything to show. Perhaps she was an innocent.
She stepped up to her mirror and pulled on the top of the dress to make sure everything was where it should be.
Skye couldn’t help but notice the dress was so different from the plain clothes she normally wore. Her garments for work were professional suits and always blue. She must have read that blue was the proper color somewhere and didn’t understand she could waiver the color and design from time to time.
Sam wore no jewelry except for her necklace. She toyed with it for a moment before looking at him in the mirror. “I’m not sure it goes with the dress.”
“If it gives you comfort then wear it, but the gown is a jewel on you so you don’t need anything else.”
A soft smile spread across her lips and she undid the clasp. She placed it on the dresser under the mirror.
“Ready?” He was going to have a hard time keeping his hands to himself tonight and he had planned to push her so he could be sure which side she was on. How would she react?
“Almost.” She picked up her pad and made sure her communicator was on. He watched as she pressed something behind her ear and connected with security. She spoke to head guard at the door, finding out who had already arrived and what she needed to catch up on.
“So how did you rate that thing?” Skye tapped the communicator he had in his pocket. He didn’t have an insert like hers.
“I explained to Mr. Mason I couldn’t function without one and he agreed.” She smoothed the front of her dress and headed to the door. It opened for her and she stepped out to a quiet hallway. Her whole demeanor shifted the moment she walked out of her room. Her shields went up, locking the hint of emotion he had seen away.
Skye now understood she put on a whole different personality when she wasn’t in the safety of her room. It was a defense mechanism for her. The admiral had faith in her and he could see why. This ability to lock away her emotions made her perfect for the job.
She walked to the kitchen and was pleased to see everything flowing properly. She passed out the proper compliments and moved on, happy with the way things were moving. “Time to see how the boss likes everything.”
“He’s getting ready to do his normal speech at the top of the stairs.” Skye gestured for her to walk in front of him.
“Perhaps I should wait for him to finish.” She slowed her steps.
“I don’t think so.” Skye looked at his communicator. “He’s asking where you are.”
Sam swallowed before she stepped out where he could see her.
“There she is.” He lifted his glass. “To Samantha. This wonderful woman put this whole evening together. Without her, none of this would have been possible.” A waiter brought her a glass of champagne so she could toast as well. Her cheeks turned a faint pink. A soft thank you escaped her lips, but before he could force her to say anything, Samantha had received a call and she was off.
Skye was pretty sure Carlos was happy she didn’t say a word. He liked taking the credit for all the hard work other people did to make him look good. Having to honor her at all normally went against his nature, but obviously people had asked him who was in charge because they knew he wouldn’t have lowered himself to make sure everything ran so smoothly.
Sam strode into the kitchen to find the head chef frantic once more. She paused for a moment before she spoke. “People are raving about the food.”
“Thank you.” He yelled at a couple of his assistants when they made a minor infraction.
“Is there a problem?”
“I am sorry, yes. My wife has been rushed to the hospital and has been asking for me. The doctors have already addressed her ailment and she can leave in the morning but she doesn’t like being there all alone.” He looked at her. “I wish I could be there for her.”
Sam frowned. “Most of the food has been served, hasn’t it? All that is left is the cake and then making sure the guests have more hors d’oeuvres to nibble on?”
“Yes. And my Sues chef is very capable. He can handle anything extra you need.”
“Knowing Mr. Mason, he will want to thank you when the cake is brought out. Once that is done you may go. Hopefully, nothing will happen to get us in trouble.”
“Thank you. My wife will be very relieved.”
Sam nodded and headed out to the main dining area. She stayed to the edge of the room, trying to be discreet. The diners were working on the main course. From the smiles she saw they were enjoying the food. It didn’t take long before the waiters started to remove the empty plates. She sent the signal to bring the cake in.
Just as she expected, Mason looked for the chef and made a big deal of his wonderful food and how he hoped everyone would enjoy the cake. Sam found her mind zipping forward to what needed to be done to make sure Mr. Mason didn’t know his head chef had left before he gave him permission. She was sure she could work it out, but wasn’t sure how.
Sam had a bit of a headache beginning, but chose to ignore it for the time being. Once they made it through the next few hours she’d take something.
Heather smiled at her friend. “Hello, Bear.”
“Heather, how’s my girl?” He grinned when he saw her face.
“Good. Back in town for a few weeks and thought I’d give you a call.”
“I know better.” He steepled his fingers as he leaned back in his chair. “You want something, so spit it out.”
She had to laugh. He knew her too well. “Okay. I’ll get right to it. I wanted to know what you know about a Skye Latimer.”
“Never heard of him.” He started messing with a few things on his desk. “Why?”
“Oh, heard his name being bantered about and Storm wanted to hire me a body guard while we’re here.” She gave him another smile. “You know how over protective he can be. Perhaps you could send Storm a list of recommendations?”
“I’ll see what I can do for you.” He started typing on his keyboard. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll send it over.”
“Thanks.” Heather cut communication.
“So he doesn’t know anything about the man?”
“Oh he does. He just couldn’t talk about it.” Heather turned to look at Storm. “In the past, when we’ve asked about someone what has he normally done? He would pull whatever data he had up on his system. This time he didn’t touch it. If the man wasn’t deep undercover and Bear was his commander he would have sent us a file.”
A small icon blinked at the bottom of the screen. Storm pointed to it. “Well, whatever it is he wants us to see seems to have arrived.”
Sam sat at the bar. The evening was over and a great success. There were still a few guests milling around, but Mr. Mason had left. He congratulated her once again and gave her a kiss on the cheek before he went off with some pretty young woman.
Sam held a glass of wine in one hand. All she had to do was a few last minute things before she could go to bed, but had to wait until the last guest left. Her head had started throbbing about an hour ago and she rubbed her forehead absentmindedly.
“Headache?” asked the bartender.
“Yeah.” She smiled as she lowered her hand and wrapped it around the stem of her glass. “I swear it’s the champagne.”
“There’s a bottle of pills under the counter back here. They take a little more time than the shots from a medlab but when you can’t get there, they do the job.” He pointed to the cabinet. “Check there.”
She walked around the counter and found two bottles. “Which one?”
“There is more than one?” He was at the other end of the bar, putting bottles up. “The one I’m talking about was a white bottle with a blue label.”
Sam pulled them both out and held them up. “They’re identical.”
“Walter must have gotten another bottle.” He turned his head to look at the two bottles. “The other one was getting a little low. Just take it out of either of them.”
She shrugged and popped off the lid. Taking two of the tablets, she placed them on her tongue and swallowed. Taking them dry wasn’t the tastiest way to do it but they did go down. “How long will it take?”
“I don’t know.” He continued working on closing down the bar. “About a half an hour?”
“Thanks.” A quick all clear came through her ear insert. She left the wine on the counter and started her final rounds. The cleanup crew would be done soon, once the dishes were ready for pick up, along with the linens, tables, chairs, and whatever else she had rented for the night. The pills might just start working just as she got to bed. She should have waited until everything was done then go by a local lab to get a shot.
Skye had been busy himself. She hadn’t seen him in about twenty minutes.
Walking around a corner, she found herself a little off balance. She bounced against the wall before recovering. Sam looked around to see if anyone saw her. Thank goodness the hallway was empty. She straightened her shoulders and continued.
Where the hell was Samantha? Skye didn’t step away from her for that long. He was sure of it. He had to answer another call from Mason and when he came back she was still there, sitting at the bar. He felt it was safe to run a quick errand and couldn’t have been gone longer than a few minutes. Where could she have gone?
She might not have been aware of him but he always had her in his sights.
Mason requested he go to security to make sure all the guests found their way home. If they couldn’t make it themselves the guards were to arrange transportation for them. Mr. Mason wanted his friends to make it home safe and sound, and he needed to make sure it happened.
The next thing he knew, he stepped back into the bar area she was gone. The wine glass she had been drinking rested on the counter.
“Where did Samantha go?”
“I don’t know. I think she mentioned something about making last rounds so she was sure everything would be ready for the rental company to pick up.” The bartender didn’t look up from what he was doing, only pointed.
Skye found it odd that a man like Carlos didn’t use a replicator to create everything needed for the party. He was pretty sure the man could afford one. It sure would make this a lot easier. Instead of renting and making sure everything went back to the company, all they would have to do after the party would be to turn everything back into atoms. Perhaps Sam wasn’t aware of the machine and never thought to ask.
He headed in the direction the bartender had pointed. The halls were empty. Most of the staff had done their work and had headed home. Skye wondered where she was. He would have thought she was in the ball room but the place was empty. Then he heard her.
Sam never talked out loud to herself. Not like this.
“Skye?” She kind of bounced around the corner to where he could see her. There was something wrong with the way she was carrying herself. “Where have you been?”
“Went to speak to security to make sure the last of the guests make it home.” He watched her. “You okay?”
“I’m hot. Do you think it’s hot here?” She came up to him and he could see the glassy look in her eyes.
“No. The temperature is perfect, like it always is.”
She started fanning herself. “I can’t believe how hot it is.” She turned her back, lost her balance and fell into him. “Can you undo the back? I need to cool down.”
Skye’s arms wrapped around her waist to help her keep her balance. He looked down and wished he hadn’t. The soft swell of her breasts begged for his touch. Somehow she had loosened some of the seals near the top of the dress so he got to see a lot more flesh than the dress originally exposed. A soft pink nipple tried to peek out of one of the cups.
“Perhaps we should get you to your room?” What had she taken? He knew she hadn’t drank that much.
“Not done yet.” She looked up at him, studying his face intently. “You know you have the prettiest eyes. I just love the blue-grey color.”
“Whatever you need to do can wait until the morning.” Ignoring her comment about his eyes, he helped her straighten up, giving her top a quick tug up as he let go.
“Nope. Need to be sure I have all my little duckies in a row.” She pointed to the ground like she was counting something. “Aren’t they cute?”
“Oh, don’t do that.” She stepped up to him and ran her fingers along his brow. Sam looked at him with such innocence and wonder. Her gaze dropped to his lips.
Skye wasn’t sure who moved first, but the moment her lips touch his he found he couldn’t break the kiss and just walk away, which was what he should have done. The desire he had to taste her had plagued him all night. That dress had him seeing her in a totally different light. Now here she was, ready and willing. So much for professional distance.
He felt her hesitancy and took control. His tongue begged for entrance, searching for hers in the soft recesses of her mouth. Skye tightened his hold on her, pulling her body against his as he deepened the kiss. Their tongues danced together, and the intimacy had him wishing they were someplace private where he could show her what she was doing to him. The erection he had was pressed against her. She had to know how badly he wanted her.
When he finally lifted his head and opened his eyes he saw the stark fear in her face and the silent plea for help. He picked her up in his arms and started down the hallway.
“Where are we going?” She tried to separate herself from him so she could walk on her own.
“You are going to your room and I am going to find out what you took to cause this.” He tightened his hold on her so she couldn’t escape.
“But I’m not done with my checklist.”
“Then give me the list and I’ll be sure it is done.” There was no way he was going to put her down. She could get into too much trouble.
“Okay.” Her face held such trust as she looked around. “So what did I do with that list?”
“When did you last have it?”
“Um, I think at the bar, but most of it is here.” She tapped her head. Sam started rattling off the things she wanted to be sure was done.
“So all I need to do is make sure the tables and chairs are stacked, the linens are in the special bins along with the plates and silverware?” Everything else was already assigned to different people. She was going to double check to make sure they did their jobs.
As she spoke, Skye continued to carry her to her room. The door opened the moment he approached it. “How do you have the sensors set up on your door?”
“Three foot proximity.”
He’d have to fix that. Skye placed her on her bed. “I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t leave me.” She scrambled off the bed. “I need you.”
“What if I,” he pulled her into his embrace once again, “were to promise to come back.” He pressed a row of slow wet kisses down her neck. He sucked on some of the velvety smooth skin as he worked his way down her throat. “And give you what you want?”
“I would like that.” Her voice was breathless.
“Then I need you to stay here and wait for me. I promise to make it worth your while.” He captured her lips with his once again, and her knees gave out. Skye released the top of the dress, wishing he could caress the creamy silkiness he revealed but knew better. He did it so she could climb out of the gown while he was gone. As much as he wanted her, he hoped whatever she took would make her feel drowsy and he’d find her sound asleep when he got back.
He placed her back on the bed and walked out before she could stop him a second time. He pulled out his communicator and reprogrammed her door so it would only open for him. To call it a communicator was a joke. It did so much more, but he kept a lot of the extra features to himself.
Skye headed to the bar. The bartender was just finishing up when he walked in. “Samantha is looking for her pad. Did she leave it in here?”
“Yeah. I just put it under the bar.” He was placing the glassware against the mirror the way Mr. Mason wanted them arranged. “Did she get rid of her headache?”
“Yeah. She was complaining of a headache so I recommended she take a few of the tablets kept under the bar. Thought it would help her until she could go to a medlab.”
“She didn’t mention a headache so I guess they worked. If you don’t mind I think I’ll take a couple too.” Skye walked around the bar and spotted the two bottles under the counter. The first one had regular tablets in them. He recognized the color and size, but the second one had something different mixed in. Someone who didn’t know the difference could easily take the wrong thing. He palmed all the ones that were different and slipped them into his pocket to see if he could come up with an antidote.
“Help yourself.” The bartender didn’t realize what was in the bottles or he wouldn’t have let anyone near them.
“Thanks. I got her pad too.” Skye did the rounds Sam had started, making sure everything was done the way she asked. Once he finished that he headed to his room. Taking the pills out of his pocket, he placed one on the face of his communicator and waited for the results.
“An aphrodisiac?” He had lots of antidotes in his emergency pack but he wasn’t sure if he had anything to counteract a love drug. Why were those under the counter in the first place? Skye hit a few keys and waited for the side effects of the drug to load. He shook his head when they did. Sure did explain her behavior.
The pill would wear off in a few hours, but her desire for sex wouldn’t. This could be a problem. His mind could say no all it wanted but his body had a tendency to have a mind of its own when it came to willing partners.
The best thing to do would be to sedate her if she was still awake until she was out from under the influence of the drug. As much as he would like to take advantage he knew there would be hell to pay once she had a clear head.
Sam wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with her but she had never felt so free. Since the moment she opened her eyes and realized she had no clue who she was, she had been afraid. First it was the fear of not knowing anything about herself, then the fear of what she might learn if she did get her memory back. What if she had seen some hideous crime? Or murdered someone?
Now the fear was gone, replaced with these weird little butterflies in her stomach. She felt excited, but not sure why. Every time she thought about Skye coming back those butterflies took flight.
He had been kind enough to loosen the top seals so she could get out of the formal gown. Now she stood in her room naked, trying to figure out what she should wear to greet him when he returned. Most of what she had was standard sleepwear. Nothing she felt would work for what she wanted.
There was a spark in his eyes she had never noticed before and it had showed up the moment he saw her in that dress. That spark grew to a flame as the evening progressed. It had her thinking about her attraction to him in a different light for the first time.
Her body had been reacting to him since she met him and she had always fought it but now she didn’t want to. Maybe the best thing to do was to face her desire. Once she got it out of her system she could ignore him.
Those two pills had done more than give her relief from her headache. Now she had to convince Skye it wasn’t something she took that caused this change in her. Before he had left she could tell he thought something was wrong with her and it wouldn’t take much for him to find out about the tablets.
Sam ended up climbing into bed naked and used the cover to give her a little bit of a shield. She plucked at the thin material, hoping he would show up before her resolve failed her.
Skye had the hypo in his pocket. Hopefully, he wouldn’t have to administer it. Maybe she was already asleep and all he would have to do was tuck her in. He manually opened the door and found the lights low. Samantha was curled up on the bed, eyes closed. Her dress lay across a chair in a corner.
A soft sigh escaped him. A part of him had hoped she’d still be awake, but this was better for them both.
The sheet covered most of her, but the bare shoulder that peeked out warned him of her state of undress. All it would take would be one wrong move and he would see her body, and as much as he would love to see it, it would cause him too much trouble.
“Took you long enough.” She stretched, causing the cover to slip just a bit. Now he could see the swell of her breast as well. This wasn’t good. His desire for her was starting to take over.
“Sorry. But I wanted to be sure you were happy with everything tomorrow.” He felt his mouth go dry. All he had to do was grab the sheet and give it a little tug. It took all his strength to keep him from doing that. “I have your pad.”
“Just place it on the night stand.” She lightly tapped the table beside her bed. Sam secured the blanket and sat up. “You don’t seem happy.”
He schooled his features as he sat on the edge of the bed. “I found out what you took accidently.”
She looked into his eyes. He knew his desire for her showed on his face. No matter what he said she knew he wanted her and that made her smile. “And what was it?”
“An aphrodisiac. Not one I have heard of but pretty harmless. It should be leaving your system in an hour or two.”
“It’s pretty much gone now.” She watched him intently. “Sure made me act crazy earlier. Was that what made me so hot? I wanted out of that dress so bad, if you hadn’t come along I don’t know what would have happened.”
Her words had an odd effect on him. He frowned like he didn’t like what she said.
“Glad that didn’t happen.” His voice came out flat. He didn’t mean to sound jealous but couldn’t help himself. The thought of someone else touching her angered him.
“Now. If I remember, you made a promise to me.” She relaxed her hold on the cover a little. A soft smile played across her lips when his eyes dipped down to the flesh she exposed.
“You were under the influence of a drug.”
“Which has no hold on me now.” She got up on her knees, and keeping the sheet around her, she placed her hands against the seal of his shirt. Slowly easing it open, she kept eye contact with him.
“Yes?” She slid her fingers over his muscled chest.
“I only said that to keep you in your room.”
“I know.” She never broke eye contact as her hand moved down his chest to his erection. It jumped at her touch. “Yet your body wants this, too.”
“You are very beautiful.” Skye did want her, but the drug in her system was the one doing all the talking, not her, and he had to remember that. If he took advantage she would probably hate him in the morning. His hands pressed her back against the mattress so he could hold her down with his weight. With his body resting so intimately against hers it took him a few seconds before he remembered what he needed to do and he dipped his hand into his pocket. Before he could put the small cylinder against her throat, she pressed a hand against his.
“Don’t.” She looked up at him with bright clear eyes.
“You’re not thinking straight.” He brushed a strand of hair out of her face.
“I have never been so sure about something in my life and you can say whatever you want but I can see your desire for me in your eyes. I can feel it pressing against me. What do I have to say to get you to make love to me?” One of her legs came out from under the cover to wrap around his hip.
His hand wrapped around the calf, slowly working its way up the inside of her leg, caressing the tender skin of her thigh before sweeping in between to find her center wet and ready for him. He gently stroked her. “You do realize it won’t just be this one time? Once I’m intimate with you I’ll want it again and again. You won’t be able to ignore me when I need you. As long as we’re working together I will expect you to be my bed partner and when I’m reassigned I will walk away. No ties, no emotions, just sex.”
This is one of my favorites. One scene popped into my head and the whole story developed around it. Once I eneded the book I wondered if that would be the last one – nope, then I came up with more. Hope you enjoy the first chapter of Animal Desire.
Available in Print as well as E-book.
Animal Desire – book 3 of the Vespian Way
Available at Phaze
Blurb: Heather is now six months pregnant and finds her mate a bit overprotective. She can’t help if she glows when she is frustrated. Things get a little more complicated when she is called home because of Ialog. He released information, making it look like she is being mistreated by the Vespians. How is she going to hide her pregnancy? She left Earth sterile.
Storm isn’t happy about her leaving the safety of Vespia, but wants to show that Heather is happy and safe under his care. He knows Ialog and is worried the man is going to try to take his mate from him again. His fears become very real when Ialog kidnaps her. Now he has to find a way to bring her home.
Heather sat in her rooms, feeling very trapped. There had already been a few little complications with her pregnancy and now she was under house arrest.
She looked around but didn’t see anyone in sight. Storm had been talking to Kuarto via the screens and must have moved into another room so they could discuss her condition without her hearing it. It didn’t matter. She finally had a few moments away from those two overprotective men, who swore they were just looking out for her. How? By restricting just about everything she normally did? Well, she planned on taking advantage of their absence. Bracing her arms against the rests of her chair, she pushed herself to her feet.
“Sit.” Storm’s voice was right at her ear.
“Where did you come from?” She turned to look at him in surprise. Heather was positive he would be gone longer than a few seconds. Did he have radar? Then she realized he probably knew her intentions because of their mindlink. It grew stronger every day.
“Sit.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Mate’s orders.”
She parked herself back into her chair. Not happy with the turn of events. She couldn’t stop the pout she felt take over her features. “I need to move around a little. Sitting still is driving me crazy.”
“Your doctor said you needed to relax and you haven’t done that.”
“I can’t help it.” She shifted in her seat. “It’s boring, just sitting.”
“Fine.” She mimicked his pose by crossing her arms over her chest too. Being trapped in her rooms wasn’t how she wanted to spend the first weekend she had to herself. So what if her readings were a little off.
Kuarto didn’t like the heightened levels of her heart rate, blood pressure and pulse and had recommended she not do anything strenuous. Storm took that as she wasn’t allowed to do anything and he wasn’t allowing her any leeway.
“If I rest can we go for a walk later?” Heather looked up at him, giving him her best smile.
“It depends on how well you behave.” He watched her with a raised eyebrow. He knew she was up to something.
“I promise.” She stood.
“What part of sit do you not understand?” He gave her an exasperated look.
“I’m going to lie down. Rest as demanded.” She gestured toward their bedroom.
“About time you came to your senses.” He scooped her up in his arms.
“Storm.” She loved the close physical contact, but she could walk a few feet without any trouble.
“How far along are you?” He didn’t show any signs of putting her down as he carried her into the room.
“Six months.” She rested her head against his chest. There was no way Storm was going to let her feet touch the ground so she might as well enjoy listening to his strong heartbeat. Let it calm her the way it always did.
“And how much further do you have to go?”
“About twelve more.” She sighed. “I get it. I need to take care. Don’t want to make this worse as I get further into the pregnancy because I didn’t behave now.”
“I see you were listening.” He set her down on the bed.
“My heart, I haven’t done anything crazy. You’ve been with me, you know.” Heather looked up at him. “The elevated readings are probably from something I ate.”
“Until we’re sure, you will do exactly what is expected of you. I don’t want you to take any chances.” He placed a soft kiss on her lips.
“Aren’t you going to keep me company?” She patted the bed beside her, giving him her most seductive smile.
“You know if I join you, you won’t get any rest.” He captured her lips once more with his. This one was deep, heated and left them both a little breathless.
“I was kind of hoping for that.” She knelt on the bed. Placing her hands between her legs, she leaned forward. Heather had learned this little pose, if she leaned the right way, it allowed him to see all the way down the front of her dress. She got her way a lot when she did it right.
She watched as his eyes started to glow. Over the last few months he had developed the glowing eyes when he was aroused. A smile spread across her face.
“They’re glowing, aren’t they?”
He dropped to his knees on the bed and her smile got brighter.
“You know, I’m not sure I like this smug look you get whenever you’re about to get your way.”
“What look?” She tried to appear innocent, but couldn’t pull it off any better than he could.
“You know what I’m talking about.” He placed his hands on her shoulders and eased her backwards. Once he had her prone, he lowered himself and started to nibble on his favorite spot on her throat.
“But we’re both getting our way.” She tilted her head so he could have better access. Arousal flowed through her.
He released the seams of her dress. “You still need to rest.”
“And I will.” She worked on his shirt seams as well. “This will help relax me so I can rest.”
“You are incorrigible.” He opened the gown and allowed his hands to roam her body. He pressed kisses along her collar bone and down the center between her breasts. “I have noticed these have been very sensitive lately.”
“I know. Highly annoying for me.” She closed her eyes as he gently caressed them. “Sometimes the material of my gowns aggravates them and sometimes it is very arousing. That’s not supposed to happen. You would think it would be one way or the other, not both.”
He pressed a chaste kiss on the side of one breast then the other. “And now?”
“They want to feel your hot mouth on them.”
He gently lathed one, waiting for her to react. A quick intake of breath was her answer. He turned his attention to the other one, making sure he didn’t cross that fine line between pain and pleasure. Storm used the mindlink they shared to know what gave her pleasure and what hurt so he could be as gentle to her breasts as possible. They pebbled quickly and he could feel much more attention would be painful so he moved to her abdomen.
Every morning he spoke to his children. A ritual they both enjoyed because it always led to something more. Placing little kisses across her belly, he spoke to them again. Now that she was showing, it made her pregnancy very real. He paid homage to the life growing in her, drawing a few giggles as he did so.
“You laugh while I’m trying to arouse you?” He climbed back up her body, placing soft kisses wherever he wanted. He loved the computer system in the underground compound. It only took a thought to remove their clothes.
“Sorry.” She touched his face softly. “But you know I’ve become more ticklish since I’ve started to show. Can’t help it if the slide of your tongue makes me laugh instead of moan. I think it’s the children causing it. They feel a lot of joy when you talk to them and it manifests as laughter.”
“So you are going to blame the innocent lives growing inside you?” He looked into her eyes, laughter and desire glowing in them.
“I’ll try to react better next time.” She touched his face with her fingers. “If you wish, I’ll moan for you right now.”
“Woman, you are talking too much and there is only one way I know to quiet you.” He slid in deep and watched in satisfaction as her eyes closed and a smile spread across her face. The next stroke had her looking at him, need swirling in her eyes. Her muscles constricted, making her sheath tighten against him. He loved the way her body hugged him, they way they could share each other’s response when he pulled out and drove back in. Heather tilted her hips so he could penetrate deeper. Each time he filled her he went as deep as he could. Her body accepted every thrust. He picked up the tempo as the friction between them increased.
Her breathing became labored. He could feel little spasms wracking her body. She was close. Very close. Storm shifted his weight a little and filled her once more. He felt her reach for her orgasm.
He felt the evasive release start with the heat in her belly then it moved outward, toward her extremities. Her whole being shattered as it overtook her. She whimpered as it overpowered her.
Storm pressed soft kisses against her hairline. His heart.
He continued to move in and out of her. His turn. Everything started to build inside her once again. He could feel both his delicious arousal as well as hers. Her muscles held him in another tight grip, increasing the sensations. He ground his hips against hers and their worlds exploded. They floated in each other’s arms, not wanting to come back to reality.
“Wow, I never get tired of that.” She touched his face.
“You are phenomenal, my heart.” He pressed his lips to one cheek then the other before he worked his way to her throat.
Someone banged against the door loudly.
“Did I mention your brother was coming to give us the results? Clothes for the two of us.” He mumbled it against her neck. He lifted his head, knowing the moment was gone. “Enter.”
More loud noises came from their main room.
“Don’t think so.” She closed her eyes, hiding the disappointment he felt flow from her mind.
“We’ll have to continue this after he leaves.” He pressed another kiss against her throat.
“Is it safe?” asked Kuarto. He stepped into the room once he was sure they were covered. “I’ve had my share of your sexual exploits.” He tapped the side of his head. Heather knew he still hadn’t quite forgiven either of them for mentally connecting with him just as they hit their orgasms.
Storm sat up and pulled Heather into his embrace. “So what is going on with her, Doctor?”
“Well, I have good news and bad news.” He crossed his arms and watched the two of them.
“Is there something wrong?” Heather looked down for a moment as she rested her hand against the slight swell in her stomach.
“Nothing is wrong, but the diet I put you on isn’t working. Keeping you from exercising didn’t help matters either.”
“Really? Does that mean I can resume my normal duties?” She was excited to hear about that.
“Yes.” Kuarto didn’t look happy. She could tell he didn’t like not knowing what was causing the weird readings.
“So what is the problem?” asked Storm.
“I can’t figure out why she’s having these issues. We get rid of one ailment and another one crops up. Nothing life threatening, but enough to drive us all crazy. Heather, you must be tired of all the restrictions.”
“I’d love for them to stop.” She was glad Kuarto stopped talking about her like she wasn’t there.
“And they are. This time I want you to eat whatever you feel driven to. Whenever you wish to eat. My only request is that you allow me to keep a log of it. Same thing with activities. We’ve kept you from doing things that maybe we shouldn’t have.” He pulled out a small medallion on a chain. “Wear this so it can record everything I need to know about.”
“Yippee, another medical scanner.” She took it from him. “You know I have a tendency to break these things.”
“So I have heard. I made sure this one is a little more durable than the other one and it’s subcutaneous. Once you put it on it will sink into your skin and stay there until I remove it. Harder to damage if it’s inside you.” He slipped it over her head then turned to Storm. “I have one for you as well.”
“Your body is going through changes we don’t understand. This will help me figure out what is going on.”
“Find another way, Doctor.”
“Don’t be stubborn. I will go to the council and make them aware of what is going on with you if you refuse, and they will force you to wear it.” Kuarto held it out to him. “Is that what you want?”
Heather grinned. Kuarto might be taller than Storm, but Storm’s muscular physique overshadowed Kuarto’s slimmer frame. Storm’s build intimidated others but it didn’t seem to bother her brother. He just proved it.
Storm glared at him, but took the necklace and put it on.
“Heather?” the voice of the computer interrupted. “You have a communiqué coming in from Earth. Shall I route it to the main screen?”
“Earth? What could they want?” She looked at Storm. She slid off the bed and stood in front of the main screen. “Yes, computer. Make sure they don’t see any more than my head. I’m still not sure how to explain how I got pregnant, so the less they see the better.”
The face of her old commander filled the screen. “How are you doing, Heather?”
“Sir?” Her brow creased. “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you. Is everything alright?”
“Yes it is.” He gave her a smile. A fake one the military taught them all to use. He wanted something. “The president wishes to extend the hand of friendship and invite you and your family to come to Earth for a visit.”
“That’s very kind of you, sir, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to decline.” She smiled back. Storm would never go along with it anyway.
“As an officer of Earth you are commanded to come home for a few days.” The smile had disappeared. He was serious.
“Why?” She realized she said the wrong thing. “Sorry, sir. I meant no disrespect, but I thought it was understood that once the treaty was done I wouldn’t be back.”
“Consider it a strong recommendation. Somehow information on you has leaked to the press that has most of Earth up in arms. You need to come here and show them everything is alright. I’ll send you the files the media has been broadcasting. I don’t care how you do it, but you need to come home and fix this. Now.”
“Yes, sir.” She cut communications and sank back into the bed. “Crap.”
“My heart?” Storm had moved to her side.
“Nothing.” She slapped a bright smile on her face. No need to worry him over something that was probably minor. He and Kuarto had been talking to each other while she spoke to her old commander so she wasn’t sure what he had heard. “Computer, can you show me the files sent from Earth?”
Several files loaded at the same time. The print ones were easy. All she had to see was the headlines. They all had the same theme. They knew about her being wounded while doing the exercise several months back. The news now had something they considered concrete to paint the Vespians in a bad light. They made it look like she was being held against her will and being treated badly.
Now she knew why she needed to go home. She looked at Storm. How was she going to get him to go along?
“They feel we are mistreating you?” Anger laced his voice. It wasn’t good to upset her mate.
“Maybe a little?” She touched his heart. “They just don’t know how it is between us.”
“And you want to show them they’re wrong.” He returned the gesture.
“Yes.” She scooted closer to him. “I won’t be gone too long.”
“Storm.” She was given a command and had to go home.
“You are not going anywhere without me.” He shook his head. “Especially back to Earth.”
“You want to go with me?” She knew he wasn’t a big fan of Earth. The last time he was there he was forced to do something he didn’t want to do so she hadn’t thought to ask him.
“Of course.” He frowned at her. “Why would you ask that?”
“You didn’t seem to like being there the last time.”
“I found you there.” Slipping his arms around her, he pressed another kiss against her mark.
“And I’ll take that as my cue to leave,” Kuarto commented. He headed for the doors.
“Doctor, you will accompany us.” Storm continued to nibble on Heather’s throat as he gave the command.
“No ‘please’?” Kuarto turned to look at them before grabbing his heart in mock pain. “I’m wounded.”
“It’s a good thing he’s your brother.” Storm murmured against her skin. “When do you want to leave?”
“I don’t know. Um, how many people will we bring with us?” Heather always had trouble thinking when her mate distracted her. She hadn’t planned on bringing a huge contingent. She understood why Storm wanted to bring Kuarto. With all the weird little things she had been through since she became pregnant she agreed, but they didn’t need a lot of people. Then it dawned on her.
“Crap!” her body tensed at the realization.
“What?” Storm sensed her unease and lifted his head to look at her.
“I can’t go to Earth now.” She touched her stomach. “How would I explain this?”
“Your pregnancy? You won’t be there that long and you are barely showing. They probably won’t even notice.” He smiled, trying to reassure her.
Heather knew he didn’t understand why she was so upset about this, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to waltz in, say her piece and waltz back out again. There would be questions and interviews. Their life would be dissected into tiny little pieces.
“There shouldn’t be an issue with you traveling, you’re not due for a while.” He looked to Kuarto, who hadn’t quite made it out the door yet, for reassurance.
“It’s not that. How do I explain my pregnancy since I have been sterile all of my life?” She hated this. Frustration filled her. “Especially since Vespia has asked Earth to donate DNA to help eliminate the same problem in their population?”
“We’ll hide it.” Storm tilted his head as he studied her.
Although she knew her mate well, and knew he would never treat her like she was some sort of specimen, she felt like she was back on Earth being poked and prodded by the Earth doctors.
“Kuarto, do you see what I see?” Storm touched her cheek.
“I do.” He ran his scanner over her, which Heather tried to slap away. She was really tired of the constant impromptu check-ups.
“Behave.” Storm stopped her by grabbing her hands.
“What?” She wasn’t happy with either of them.
“Look at your hands.”
She looked down and found them glowing. So it wasn’t a food reaction after all. Heather looked up at him, understanding the odd look he gave her a few moments ago. “You saying I glow when I get upset?”
“It looks that way.” Her brother looked at his scanner. “So you need to relax. Not let everything get to you.”
“Fine.” She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “So, how do you plan on hiding my pregnancy?”
“The material used for the uniforms hides everything on the body. We’ll utilize it.” Storm placed his hand on her cheek again. “We’ll work it out.”
“There is a cloth used by the ancients that can hide your pregnancy and is more flexible than the material in the Vespian uniform,” commented the computer. “I can create one outfit you can wear under any of your garments, Heather.”
“That will be fine, computer,” said Storm.
“I don’t see how this is going to work.” Heather flopped back against the mattress. “Knowing Earth as I do, I will have to be very diligent.”
“Well, I’m going to inform my mate of our trip.” Kuarto turned and left.
“You really think that was why your brother was anxious to get out of here?” He leaned down to nibble on her throat once again. “You know everything will be fine, right?”
“I know. It’s just not the right time with all the little things happening with me. This stupid glow for example.” She looked at her hands. “As far as my brother, I think he noticed your glowing eyes hadn’t dimmed through any of what just transpired.”
“You saying I have a one track mind?” e used his fingers to release the seals on her dress he had thought back into place only a few minutes ago.
She laughed as she worked on the seals of his clothes as well. “When it comes to me you do.”
Storm grinned. “You know me so well.”
Storm watched his mate on the screen from the main deck of their ship. She hadn’t been getting enough sleep, so he ordered her to their room to rest while they were heading to Earth. By the way she was tossing and turning, she wasn’t doing what he demanded.
“You really need to get another hobby.” Kuarto stepped up to his side. “Spying on your mate isn’t a good one.”
“I’m worried about her.” Storm turned to look at him. “She’s not getting enough rest and it shows. How are these humans going to perceive the darkened circles under her eyes?”
“We can mask that, and you know it. Her readings are good, so are the twins. What she needs is you.” Kuarto placed a hand on his shoulder.
“What do you mean?”
“I have found she sleeps best when you are at her side.” He held up a small pad with the readings from her monitor. “You can send her to your room and demand she rest all you want, but she doesn’t seem to relax as well. I’d recommend you rest when she does.”
“So you’re saying if I were to lie down with her she’d get the rest she needs?” Storm gave him a questioning look. “You do know who you’re talking to, right?”
“Libido aside, it sure wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps the sex is part of the equation. I’m sure it relaxes her.”
“Whatever you think is best, Doctor, but I’m not responsible if she doesn’t get any rest since this is your idea.” Storm walked into their small room to find his mate feigning sleep. Her eyes were closed, but he could tell by the way she laid there that she was wide awake. “I know you’re awake.”
“I’m sorry. Just can’t sleep.” She sat up and looked at him. “Did you come to rescue me?”
“Sorry.” He sat on the bed. “Your brother suggested I come and join you. He believes you rest better when I’m with you.”
She scooted over so he could stretch out beside her. “True, but we don’t always rest when you’re this close to me.”
“Well, right now we have to be good.” He pulled her into his embrace and rested his head against the pillows.
“We’re always good. I think it’s one of the reasons why we can’t seem to keep our hands off each other.” She snuggled against him.
He chuckled as he tightened his hold on her. “We have a few hours before we arrive on Earth so we have plenty of time. You need to rest first.”
“And are you going to keep your hands to yourself?” Her voice came out soft. He could feel her body relaxing against him. Sleep was already setting in.
“I can’t promise anything.” He pressed a kiss against her forehead as she slipped deeper into slumber.
“I can help you break that promise.” She practically sighed her answer. Even in sleep she wanted him.
The ship landed in the designated area and powered down. Heather stood beside her mate, nervous about the next few minutes. She hoped to have a private landing but was informed that the media and the military were already there, waiting for them. She had lamented on what she should wear, her uniform or civilian clothes and decided on the civilian. She was the ambassador’s wife and that was the role she felt she needed to live but now she wasn’t sure if that was the best choice.
The first group of people off the ship were the Vespian guards brought along as protection. Next went the staff and servants needed to run the embassy while they were there. Then the council, which had come along. Heather wasn’t real sure why. Her brother and his mate were next. Then her and Storm stepped off the ship.
To her dismay she was treated to a military welcome.
“Sir.” She saluted her commander. “I apologize for not dressing appropriately. I thought we would receive a private landing like most dignitaries get.”
“I do apologize, Heather, your dress is fine, in fact, it is probably the best thing you could wear but the media got wind of you coming home and there was no stopping them.”
She smiled. Heather knew better. “Sure there is, sir. Don’t forget I used to work in security.”
He didn’t respond to her, just gestured to a podium.
“What?” She looked at it in shock. “Sir, you do not want me talking to them. It won’t be pretty. Why can’t I just release a statement?”
“They won’t believe it. Be yourself, Heather. I think it’s what is needed.”
She looked at Storm for a moment before she shrugged and walked to the mikes. People started asking her all kinds of questions. She had to raise her hands in order for them to quiet down. “I’m not here to field any questions you might have. If you have questions submit them in writing to me and I’ll decide which ones I want to answer.” She looked out at all the people there to pull her life apart and anger filled her. “I have thought about what I would say to you when I finally got my chance to speak and the only thing that keeps popping into my head is how dare you! These people rescued our planet. Gave us a mineral we desperately needed and you pay them back by perpetuating these awful lies? I am happily married to a man who adores me. End of discussion.”
Heather stepped away from the podium and walked to her mate. Slipping her arm around his waist, she leaned into him, as she led her entourage off toward the waiting vehicle.
She had looked at her hands while she was speaking and her wonderful glow had started again. It wouldn’t be good for one of the cameras to pick it up. Heather didn’t want to end her tirade so abruptly but she couldn’t take a chance the glow would get worse.
“I don’t think your commander was very happy with your statement.” Storm pulled her close.
“Don’t care.” She rested her head on his chest. “They wanted a spectacle and that was what they got. Minus the glow.” She held out her hands to show it had started again.
Once they were in the embassy, she found herself relaxing a little. This was where it all started. It was hard for her to believe less than a year had transpired. It seemed like a long time ago.
They were given the same room, but this time Heather was the one in charge of decorating the rooms so the stark white décor was gone, replaced with nice neutral tones to set a calmer mood. She dropped to the couch once she was sure she’d have a few minutes and rested her head against the back of the cushions.
“My heart, are you okay?” Storm sat beside her and touched her face.
She lifted her head and smiled. “You worry too much.”
“And you push yourself too hard. You didn’t have to make sure everyone’s room was to their liking before resting. I could have assigned that to someone else.”
“And I would have been following them around to make sure they did it right and you know it.” She touched his face with gentle fingers.
The doors to their rooms opened as her brother walked in, hands over his eyes just in case. “Thought I’d remind you about a particular box you wanted delivered.”
“Oh, right.” Heather sat up. “Is it here?”
“Yes. The staff wasn’t sure where to put it. I rescued it before it was stuffed in a closet.”
“Have them bring it in,” said Storm. He stood to make sure it was done to his satisfaction.
It took four men to carry the box into the room. At Storm’s direction they placed it on the floor next to the room’s mainframe and left. Once the room was clear, Storm stepped up and pressed the buttons to release the seals. As it opened, he went to the couch and sat next to Heather.
Once the box opened, small metal wires extended out and attached to the main computer. It didn’t take long for the system to be integrated.
“I see we have arrived.” The computer was quiet for a moment. “So this is Earth. I do have information about it in my database.”
“Sorry to keep you in the box the whole time but no one knows about you so we couldn’t see how we would explain the need to bring our own computer.” Storm looked at Kuarto. “As it is, you need to be very careful when you speak to us. The security grid might think you’re an intruder.”
“I can place my information into the system so it will recognize me.” It was quiet for a second or two. “Done.”
“Good. Do diagnostics on this embassy to make sure our security is at one hundred percent. I’ll be waiting for your report.”
“There is a call for Heather from the Earth government. Shall I rout it through?”
“I guess.” She sighed. Sitting up, she plastered a smile on her face. Her old commander appeared on the screen. “Hello, sir.”
“Have you been watching the newsfeeds?”
“Sorry, sir.” Heather shook her head. “We haven’t had time to see what my little bombshell caused.”
“Your speech has the whole planet buzzing about you. The honesty of your feelings seems to be what they’re all talking about. They find it refreshing and heartfelt.”
“Only because I called them on the carpet, sir.” She was happy they were taking her words at face value.
“Yes, well, your itinerary has been altered because of it.”
“Altered? How?” She had just gotten the huge missive on where they wanted her to go and who they wanted her to see. How much of that had changed?
“We’re getting lots of requests for you and your husband to be interviewed. They wish to give you a chance to tell your side of the story.” He looked away from the screen for a moment. “I’m sending you what the government wishes. You’ll see a lot of them are very simple and it won’t take much to make the necessary changes to cover everything. But there are four things that are not negotiable. They wish to have a dignitary function, an awards function, your interview and a military presentation.”
The data streamed across the screen. Storm took her handheld and downloaded the information into it so she could sit comfortably and go through everything.
“I’ll take a look at it, sir.” She took the small device from her mate. “I’ll need to clear this through the Vespian ambassador.”
“I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”
“Yes, sir.” The moment the screen went dark she dropped her head back against the back of the couch again and moaned. “I can’t believe this. They just expect me make all this happen.”
“My heart, why do you let this bother you?” He pulled her into his embrace. “We have people who can do all of this for you.”
“Would you give this to someone to do if our roles were reversed?” He didn’t answer her. “Didn’t think so.”
“You need to calm down.”
She looked at her hands. They had a feint glow. Sitting the pad down, she looked at Storm. “If this keeps up it’s going to cause a problem.”
Kuarto knelt in front of her, scanner in hand. “You need to stop getting upset over every little thing.”
“Oh please. You’re the same way.” She watched as he used his scanner. “If you’re going to break out that scanner of yours every time you see me, and you see me all the time now, why am I wearing this stupid monitor?” She tapped the spot where it sat beneath her skin.
“Because they do two different things. This.” He held up the scanner. “It is going to do the quick scans where your monitor is doing the deep scans. If you remember to remain relaxed so your protective protocol won’t take over and skew the readings.”
“You ready?” Kuarto asked Storm.
“Yes.” He looked at Heather. “You going to be okay?”
“Yes. I have plenty to keep me busy.” She held up her pad. “Can I ask what you two are up to?”
“We’ll see you later.” He gave her a wonderfully heated kiss before getting up and leaving with Kuarto.
“Of course not,” she said to herself.
She sent a message to Anseri and asked if she could speak to her. Thankfully her mate’s mother was available. “How may I help you, Heather?”
She explained what her old government wanted.
“What is the awards ceremony?” asked Anseri.
“Normally they are pinning officers with their new rank. They also use this time to award new medals and special commendations. I’m assuming they’re going to give me a commendation for the treaty.”
“And the military presentation?”
“They wish to see a demonstration of the Vespian military. They will also do a demonstration of their military. It’s normally the best of the best. I’ve seen so many things done. It’s pretty wide open as to what you can do.” Heather tapped her pad against her leg. “I can see if they will tell me what the Earth military is doing so we know what will complement their program.”
“Whatever we present will have to go through the head of security.”
“I expected that and will be speaking to him later.” She hoped Storm would agree with what she thought would wow the audience and not give any secrets away. She sure would like to show what she had learned from working with Vespian security but wasn’t sure if he would allow her to participate because of her condition. He could be very over protective at times.
“Then let’s leave that for last. This schedule will work best for us if your government will go along with it.”
“Thank you. I’ll speak to them. Hopefully they will agree and make all of our lives easier.” She got up and headed back out into the hall. Now all she had to do was schedule the interview.
This book is where you meet Heather’s brother – you know when I first started this series I had no idea it would progress to the story line it has. I’m so happy it has because I just love these characters. Anyway here’s the first chapter of Passionate Desire: Book 2 of the Vespian Way
Available in Print and E-book
Available through Phaze
Blurb: Storm and Heather’s story continues…
Kuarto hates getting sucked into the passionate releases of a couple he has suddenly developed a mindlink with. The only time the three of them merge is when they’re climaxing. They can’t stay away from each other and it is interfering with his work. If things weren’t bad enough a beautiful woman crash lands in his backyard. He goes to the site to rant and rave but learns her memory is gone. Until he can release her memory he has to explain her presence so pretends she is his mail-order bride. Passion flares between them as he does his best to figure out who she is.
Toki was sent to speak to Heather’s brother but she loses her memory when her ship crash lands near his house. Memory or not he is a handsome man and she is drawn to him. They become intimate quickly and she can’t get enough. By the time her brother and mate come to find her she knows her feelings for Kuarto are real and she has to choose between a job she has been groomed for all her life or the man who is her destiny.
Heather found her way blocked by a huge set of shoulders. Storm. Sometimes their mind link really got in her way. He had to know what she was up to and was going to try to stop her.
“And where do you think you’re going?”
“Please tell me you’re not going to start being overprotective already.” She looked up into her mate’s determined face.
“The doctor did just release you from the medlab. You have been through a lot, from your kidnapping two months ago to your pregnancy. I’m not being over protective, just concerned for my mate’s welfare.”
“Storm, I’m fine.” She tried to move around him, but he wouldn’t allow that. A sigh escaped her. “I bet if I were to drag you into that bedroom you wouldn’t be worried about me just being released from the medlab.”
A spark entered his eyes. “I didn’t hear you complaining earlier.”
He was right. She enjoyed every moment she was in his arms. Heather gave him a sultry smile. “You didn’t have any complaints either.”
“No I didn’t.” He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close. “My heart, bringing you to ecstasy is what I live for. To have you fall apart because of what I do to your body arouses me. It’s why I never tire of you and always want you.”
Desire started to unfurl inside. She slid her hand up his shirt, hoping she could talk him into letting her out. “So do you want to come with me?”
“You haven’t told me where you were going.” His grip was strong on her waist. He dipped his head so he could work his magic on her throat.
Where was she going? The moment his lips touched her skin she forgot everything but the feel of his mouth on her neck. “Can’t think.”
“Then it wasn’t important.” His tongue slid up over her mark and she felt it to her toes.
“I just want to get out.” Her voice came out breathless. “Feel the sun on my face.”
“Where did you want to go?” He continued to nibble in the one spot he knew would make her knees weak.
“We’ve never done it there before.” He captured her lips, easing her mouth open so his tongue could tease hers. She melted just a little more in his arms. “We can go, but if I find we can’t make it back here before I need you again…”
“I can take you back into that room and make you forget about the gardens altogether.” He ran his fingers against her jawline in his gentle manner. “I don’t need to walk.”
“You promise to be discreet?” She knew he would get his way. One way or another. And this was the only way she could get hers.
He adjusted his arm around her waist and guided her outside. “Of course.”
“As discreet as your mother was with that tent?” She referred to when she had first come to Vespia. He had been away on a mission and she wanted to be there when he arrived home. His mother had brought half of the palace guards with her so Heather could greet him when his ship landed, including a giant tent no one could miss.
“We did have a few moments together so I could see the gift you made me.” He squeezed her waist. “That red outfit is still my favorite.”
She smiled up at him. “I know.” Heather looked around and found them being followed by guards as well as a few of the news people with their cameras aimed at them. A sigh escaped her. “I see we’ve got our entourage.”
“Ignore them.” He took her hand in his and let her set the pace for their walk.
Heather took her time, enjoying the leisurely stroll. She stopped whenever she felt like it to smell a flower or touch a leaf.
“Thank you.” She rested her head against his chest.
“For what? Spending time with my heart?” He stopped walking and tugged on her hand. She looked up at him, then in the direction he nodded in.
Not too far in front of them was a young girl clutching a well loved stuffed animal. She stared at them. Her eyes filled with a touch of awe and fear. The child knew who they were.
Heather crouched down so she could be closer to the child’s level. “It’s okay.”
The little girl looked up at her mother for a moment before she took a few steps toward them. “I have a present for you.”
“Really?” How did the child know she was going to be here? Storm had given in a little too easily. Did he plan this so the news people could get some footage they wanted? This way the media would leave them alone? Heather knew they had been hounding him for an interview with his mate and he kept putting them off.
The small girl pulled a bunch of wilted flowers from behind her back. Poor thing had been waiting a while to give them to her. “Wait. They were much prettier before.”
“They are beautiful. Thank you very much.” Heather took them and smiled.
The big happy grin was worth her little white lie.
She stood and slipped the flowers into Storm’s waist band. “You planned this, didn’t you?” She said it softly and kept her face averted so the cameras trained on them wouldn’t pick up what she said.
“I swear I didn’t.” He looked at the flowers sticking out of his waist band. “You’re not going to leave them there, are you?”
“Don’t have any pockets.” She winked at the young girl who stared in awe for a moment before wrapping herself around Storm’s leg for a quick hug. The child then dashed to her mother’s side.
Heather stood. She smiled at Storm, waiting to see what he would do next.
He gave her his ‘I’m not happy with you’ look before he passed the flowers to one of the guards. In seconds, they had been set into a device that revitalized the flowers and placed them in a small vase. “They look much better there than in my waist band.”
“I know, but did you see her face when I did that?” Heather looked at him, her eyes sparkling. “I think I made you a hero in her eyes.”
“Because you stuck those pitiful things in my pants?”
“Because you didn’t growl at me or become angry at what I did. You showed her honor by allowing me to put them someplace safe. That’s why she hugged you.”
“I’m not sure I understand.” He slipped his arm around her waist once more.
“You are destined to be the next leader, right?” At his nod she continued. “And as leader your job will be to protect the people and the planet of Vespia. She knows that. Those flowers were very special to her. I could tell by the way she held them. You treated her flowers with care. You might not have liked what I did, but you didn’t fight me.”
“What makes you think I didn’t like it?”
“That look of yours.”
He pulled her up against his body, lifting her just enough so her feet wouldn’t touch the ground. “Which look is that?”
“Your brows drop and your eyes narrow at me.”
“So that one is called ‘that look’?” He grinned. Storm lowered his mouth to hers. “I’m going to have to remember that one.”
Heather wrapped her arms around his neck. “I have lots of names for your different faces.”
“Which one is the ‘I want you now’ look?” he said, his lips still inches from hers. Desire danced in the depths of his eyes. He finally closed the distance between their mouths, his tongue delving, searching for hers.
She found want filling her body. Too bad they were out in public.
It didn’t seem to bother him at all. His lips left hers and worked their way to her neck. “I know of a nice secluded spot.”
“Now?” Her modesty warred against her growing desire.
“You promised to go along with me if I couldn’t make it back to our rooms.” He looked down at her. The longing in his eyes held such promise. “It will be discreet, I promise.”
He led her to a simple bench surrounded by shrubbery and flowers. The bushes were tall and sculpted, sealing the bench in so no one would be able to inadvertently see anything. On top of that they were surrounded by their guards.
Storm sat first. He never lost contact with her so she couldn’t back out on him. Pulling her onto his lap, he had her straddle him. Her face showed her fear. “You okay?”
“This isn’t something I think I’m ready for.” She let out a pent up breath.
“I would never make you do anything you don’t feel comfortable with.” He touched her face with such tenderness. “I see such strength from you I sometimes forget that a lot of our ways are foreign to you.”
His honesty filled her with determination. He believed she could do this or he wouldn’t suggest it. She stood and straightened her skirts so it wouldn’t hamper them. Once she had them out of the way she eased herself back down on his lap.
Storm pulled her close, capturing her lips with his. He drew her into a vortex of passion with the swirl of his tongue. She felt it in the heat of the kiss, in the heat of his mouth on her mark. It made her blood boil.
“I need you.” Her voice was barely a whisper.
Storm didn’t need any more prompting. He freed himself from his trouser and helped her slide down his hardened length. He buried himself deep inside her. They both shuddered at the intimate contact. “I need to feel your skin against mine.”
She removed his shirt and he opened the top portion of her dress. Slipping it from her shoulders, the gown pooled around her waist. His hands slid up her back, holding her close and right where he wanted her.
“Now, let’s see if I can make you forget about everything else but us.” His fingers worked their way into her folds, finding the one spot that made her desire spiral out of control.
She sucked in her breath as his fingers brushed against her most sensitive spot. Her muscles rippled against him, making him wonder if they could reach their releases without either making a move. Every time her muscles constricted on him like that he felt it deep inside.
He continued to stroke her body and it continued to sing for him. She was caught up in the maelstrom of sensations flooding her. Heather’s sheath tightened around him like a vise. Her breath came out in soft pants. Head tilted back, her eyes were not quite closed and her mouth was slightly open. This was what he wanted. She looked so beautiful when she hit her release.
Her mind reached for his as she hit the pinnacle. The intimacy they shared went beyond anything he could ever explain to anyone. Once she was released from its grip she touched his face with her fingers.
“Ready for more?” He had his hands on her hips, helping her set the pace for her next release. Her muscles tightened against him, increasing the desire filling them both. He felt her mind brush against his so he could feel her body’s reactions as well as his.
Every frisson of heat she felt, he felt. When one move made her body tighten, he felt it in his soul. His lips nibbled on her throat, working their way to her mark. That always had a deep connection for her. He swirled his tongue against it and she came apart in his arms.
“What the hell?” Suddenly Kuarto found himself surrounded by overwhelming sexual sensations that kept building around him. His body hardened with the powerful release surrounding him. Someone else’s release. He had no clue who brought him along on their sexual exploits but he got caught up with them every time.
The truck he drove took a hard right before he could regain control and he hit the ditch running alongside the road. He pounded his hand against the steering wheel. Every time this happened he got swept away with whoever was doing it. He just wished it would stop.
“Whoever! We have to talk about this. I don’t want to be part of your intimate liaisons so please leave me out.” He screamed to the heavens. It just wasn’t fair. He had abstained on purpose. Women just complicated things and now he was mentally sharing these massive orgasms with a woman and her mate and the man didn’t leave her alone. The fates were downright mean to him.
Kuarto pulled his vehicle out of the ditch, using the magnets under the bed of the truck, and got it back on the road. A quick check showed a couple of dents in the body but the frame was fine. The dents he could bang out later, but he hated hurting his truck at all. He had found it in the small building next to the house when he bought it and had fallen in love with it the moment he found out it worked. Things like this weren’t made anymore. Technology had seen to that.
He drove to his destination as quickly as he could. He was already late. He grabbed his pack as he stopped the vehicle. “Sorry Ken. I tried to get here as fast as I could.”
“It’s okay, Doc.” He gestured him to follow. “She went into labor a few hours ago but I thought she might be overacting which is why I didn’t call you right away.”
“Isn’t this her third child?” He walked into the house of the couple. This man was by far the dumbest male he had met. Kuarto was sure of it. “You know each child comes a little faster than the last one, right?”
“She could have held it in.”
Kuarto wanted to smack the man in the head. He had no clue about birth and really didn’t seem to care. “You have the next child and let’s see if you can hold it in, okay?”
“Doc?” He heard her frightened voice.
“I’m here, Sara. Everything will be fine now.” He raced to her side when he noticed the fear in her eyes. Kuarto picked up his scanner and ran it over her body. Overall everything was fine. The baby’s cord was wrapped around its neck a few times but he could fix that in an instant. He talked to her softly and helped her bring the baby into the world.
“He’s beautiful.” The new life he held awed him. This was why he became a doctor. This rare beautiful moment when you got to see a miracle. Once he finished checking the baby thoroughly he handed him to his mother.
Kuarto looked at the child’s father, hoping the baby would have more brains than dad. “You and the baby will be fine.” He made a few notes for the records he had to turn in. “Come see me in a week so I can check and see how well your son is doing.”
“A boy? Really?” She looked down at the sweet face of her baby.
“Yep.” He touched the baby’s tiny hand and was gifted with it wrapping around his finger. He couldn’t help but smile at the new life trusting him like this. “He looks just like his dad.”
She grinned as she hugged the baby to her.
Kuarto grabbed the father by the collar when he was finished with the mom and child and dragged him outside. “You let her rest, you hear me? I don’t want to rush back out here because you were too stupid to understand she needs to recuperate from giving birth. She isn’t supposed to do anything more than care for the child for two weeks. That includes fixing dinner or cleaning. No yard work or farming, milking, anything that would make her lift or move anything heavier than a baby.”
“Good.” He picked up his pack and headed to his truck. “I’ll know if you don’t follow my directions.” He climbed into the vehicle and took off. If the man did what he should everyone would be fine.
Storm sat on the couch, waiting for Heather to return from the council chambers. His mother had insisted she work with the elders some every day. So he had freed her schedule so she could be with them for the afternoon sessions.
He felt a little nervous over what he was about to show her. She wasn’t going to be happy about it but he needed to make her see this was the only way.
She came in the door and her smile faded. “What is wrong?”
“Nothing.” He patted the cushion next to him. “I have something to show you.”
“Alright.” She sat beside him and turned her attention to the large screen he received most of his communiqués on. Images flashed on the screen. Images of her. Heather stood when she realized where the pictures came from. “That is from the other day? How were they taken?”
“I took them.”
“Excuse me?” She looked at him in shock and there was a hint of betrayal in her eyes.
“I had to.” He brought up one picture of her with her eyes half open. “The news people have been hounding me about you. They wanted to interview you. I have to give them something. I thought a picture would work.”
“This over them talking to me? That is so personal. I can answer a few questions about my background.”
He grabbed her and pulled her up against him. Desire for her warred with anger. “They don’t give a damn about your background, Heather. If they got their hands on you they’d be asking how many sexual partners have you had, how many different positions you have tried, which one is your favorite. They want to know if you can keep me satisfied.”
She glared at him.
“Why do you think mother thought it was a good idea to release your pregnancy to the public? It was to show I’ve not been celibate since our mating. But they want more. If we don’t give them something then they will come after you. Do you want them cornering you on your way to the council, asking you all these intimate questions?”
“I get your point.” She studied his face, sensing his contradicting moods. “Are you okay? I know you’re cross with me because I’m questioning but you seem highly aroused too.”
“I had to go through the pictures. Find the right one to give them. Just watching you in the different stages of your release filled me with want, but this picture.” He pulled up another still. “This one has me so hard for you right now.”
Heather never saw herself the way he did. But the image in front of her revealed everything. Storm held her close in the image, his eyes held an intensity she only saw when they were both close to their release. She had her back arched against him, head thrown back, eyes closed, mouth slightly open, her ecstasy etched on her face. Just looking at it had her blood racing. “Is that what I look like?”
“Yes.” He nibbled on her throat. “You are the most beautiful to me at that moment.”
“Is that the picture you wish to release?”
“What is the human saying? ‘A picture is worth a thousand words?’ Don’t you think that will show them that you are sexually pleasing to me?” He worked on the seals of her dress. “As much as I’d like to keep this one for myself it would be perfect. But it will be plastered everywhere. That is why I wanted you to see them first. Help me pick out the one you’re happy with.”
“Before or after you ravish me?” She worked on his shirt while he peeled her dress off her shoulders.
“How about during? You’ll see how arousing these images are and be glad.” He got the dress off her just as she had helped him out of his pants. He eased her to the carpeted floor. Her muscles gripped him as he slid in deep. “My heart.”
He started a quick pace, one they normally worked their way up to. “Now watch.” He set it so that the pictures would flash on the screen for about thirty seconds each. With a flick of his wrist he moved it from the screen to the ceiling above him so Heather wouldn’t have trouble watching her own orgasm unfold.
Heather watched him maneuver her to straddle him. The next few pictures showed her fear over the thought of getting caught and him calming those worries. His tenderness when he realized her fear pulled at her heart. She remembered he didn’t force her. This was her decision.
Storm ground his hips against hers, causing heat to pool in her stomach and make her forget about the pictures for a moment.
“You need to pay attention,” Storm spoke softly in her ear. He slowed their pace down, making his strokes deeper instead.
“It’s hard to focus on two things at the same time.” She tilted her head back as the slower movements had her body humming. When she could refocus on the images she was standing and adjusting her skirt. Then the images showed Storm kissing her. She didn’t realize how heated their kisses got until she saw it happen in front of her eyes.
“You can tell the moment I enter you.” Storm knew what she was looking at somehow. And he was right. Her body tightened when he penetrated deep inside. Her eyes dilated and she bit her lip.
“Mark that one.” Her voice came out slightly breathless. The next few pictures were them undressing each other so that her upper torso was naked. She knew the moment his fingers started working their magic by the intensity on her face. Her forehead was pressed against Storm’s, her hands grasping his arms. “That one too.”
More flashed in front of her. The next picture she had him mark was the one of her first orgasm. Her eyes were partially opened and locked on Storm’s face. Her fingertips touched his jawline.
She lost focus on everything as her body reacted to a thrust that sent her close to the edge. The heat in her stomach intensified as it spread to her limbs. Heather tilted her hips and wrapped her legs higher on his waist. Her mind brushed against his as she felt her being tighten just before she reached release. She soared to the stars as spasms shook her core.
Storm continued to pump into her, his so close he couldn’t help but move faster, hoping to catch the instant that was eluding him for a moment. He stiffened as he reached what he was after. His orgasm had her clamping down on him as she felt everything he did.
“And we haven’t even gotten to the good pictures yet.” Storm pressed kisses against her neck as he allowed the pictures to continue.
Heather wondered how many orgasms it would take before they could pick out a picture.
“It is a beautiful picture, Heather,” said Toki. “It’s all anyone can talk about.”
She nodded, although she didn’t quite agree with the general census. To have such a private thing plastered everywhere had her blushing a lot. “I’m just not used to it.”
They ended up going with the one that made Storm so hard. It was by far the most erotic, yet tasteful photograph of her. Storm even had it framed. It hung in their bed room, in the main room of Anseri’s home and he had one made for his office. Being confronted by it all the time was desensitizing her to being embarrassed by it.
“So where is my brother anyway?”
“He should be here any time.” Heather offered her a drink. “I’m surprised he didn’t ask you to meet him at his office.”
“He said it was a sensitive subject and he didn’t want the information to be recorded.” Toki took the glass Heather handed her. “Is this Earth Ice Tea?”
Heather nodded. “It has been very warm recently so I thought you might enjoy it.”
Storm entered the room then, grabbed his mate and captured her lips with his.
“You two just don’t get enough of each other, do you?” Toki sat her glass on the coffee table.
“How would you expect me to greet my mate?” He hadn’t let go of Heather, but had broken the kiss. He looked into Heather’s eyes. “We’ll finish this later.”
“Why did you call me here?” Toki stood. The passion Storm and Heather shared for each other was a little overwhelming at times.
“I believe I found Heather’s brother.”
“Really?” Heather was excited to finally meet her twin.
“Yes, based off the information you have gleaned from him when you’ve been in contact.” He pressed his forehead against hers while he handed his sister a disk. “This should have everything you need to find him, Toki.”
“When should I leave?”
“As soon as possible.”
Kuarto looked around as he started up his truck. Looking at his watch, he figured he’d be able to get home without any trouble from the couple in his head.
That was what he called them now. The mind sharing had started a few months ago but he only found himself included every once in a while. In the last few weeks they seemed to connect every time. It had already taken its toll on him. The time difference between them gave him some relief, since they seemed to be sleeping when he was working, but he was having trouble getting any rest at night and it was making him cranky.
The two in his head couldn’t stay away from each other and the only time they shared with him was when they were hitting their orgasm, and he had worked that out to be about every two hours when they were awake. It was hard to get anything done with that kind of schedule.
A loud whine filled the air, forcing him to look up.
“Oh, that doesn’t look good.” He watched as a small ship billowing a whole lot of ugly black smoke, flew over his head, making a straight line for his home. “If you hit my house I will be one angry young man.”
He hit the gas and pushed his vehicle so he could keep up. Trying to keep an eye on the ship as well as the road wasn’t the easiest thing to do. The black trail continued its path right for his home. He didn’t need this. Strangers on this planet were frowned upon and having one in your backyard would make you a target. A loud boom filled the air as the ship connected with the ground. He reached the site seconds later. It had missed his house by several hundred feet but it was still very close.
Sleek and black, the small ship’s nose had buried itself in the ground pretty deep, but he could see the door so could still get the ship to open, if he could figure out where the controls were on the outside. Kuarto looked for a seam or seal, but didn’t spot it. At least not right away. He rubbed his hands along the body of the ship, searching, hoping he’d hit some sort of indentation. “Ah. There you are. Can’t hide from me for long, can you?”
He had been labeled brilliant by his peers. Had been the most sought after doctor in the galaxy and hated it. So he just took off, changed his name, and found some tiny back water planet to hide on. If these people knew who he was he’d probably find himself drugged and sold to someone who knew his value. Which was why he didn’t want this kind of intrusion. He had worked hard to keep his true identity secret and he didn’t need some uninvited guest to screw things up for him.
He could have totally ignored this but he had two things that didn’t work in his favor. One was the ship landed too close to his home for him to pretend it didn’t happen. The other was his oath as a doctor. He needed to be sure the people inside were okay before he read them the riot act and sent them on their way.
He pressed the lever and watched in satisfaction as the doors opened. He had hoped to find the ship empty, thinking it could be unmanned by the size at first but he spotted a body slumped over in the seat, which killed that idea. The pilot was incased in a head to toe uniform. The suit was sealed, giving the pilot as much protection as it could during the landing. That was good. He should have survived the crash.
And someone to yell at always made him feel better.
The interior still billowed heavy smoke, which hindered his vision. He needed to get the pilot out so he could see to their injuries. After being sure he could move the pilot, Kuarto slung him over his shoulder and carried him out. His burden was a lot lighter than he expected. “What are you, a boy?”
This guy couldn’t have weighed more than one hundred and seventy-five pounds and he was a tall one. Close to seven feet. Kuarto wasn’t short. He was well over seven feet but he tried to play that down as much as possible. There weren’t too many races with that kind of height and he didn’t want to think of what that could mean.
He laid the body on the ground and searched for the seal of the suit. It looked vaguely familiar. Vespian in design. Not too many people knew about that race but being the most sought after doctor did have its perks. It took a second for him to find the right spot. A grin spread across his face when he heard a faint noise as the glove he held came off into his hand.
He worked on the helmet, releasing the catches before he could remove it. His first glimpses of the face didn’t make him happy. “Oh, this can’t be good.”
A whole bunch of hair spilled out. What he knew of the Vespians was limited. Very alpha, very big and very private. Most of the ones he had treated took his help with a glare and were gone the moment they could leave but all of them had been male. This one was female. He didn’t know a damn thing about their females.
He brushed her hair out of her face. To make matters worse she was by far the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “Probably my mind sharing couple’s libido talking.”
Kuarto had taken an oath of celibacy when he walked away from his old life. The less ties he had anywhere the better. Being attracted to someone could cause trouble for him and would complicate too many things. Knowing he was attracted to her made him weary. Better to get her on the road to recovery and on her way.
She had a strong pulse, and other than the nasty gash on her forehead, she hadn’t been hurt too badly. “So, how did you get that gash in this getup?” The suit should have protected her completely.
He pulled out his portable kit and used what he needed to start her healing process. In seconds her eyes fluttered open.
Golden eyes with a bright green ring stared up at him. “Who are you?”
She struggled to move.
“Hang on, now.” He gently pushed her back down. “You’ve just been in a crash and it might take you a moment or two to get your body to respond the way you want.”
Her eyes filled with confusion as she was able to turn her head so she could look over her shoulder to see the ship. “I flew that?”
Okay, that was not a good question and he knew it. How badly did she hit her head before she got the helmet on? “What is your name?”
“My name?” She looked up at him, fear creeping into the golden depths. “I don’t know.”
“That’s fine.” Although it wasn’t. He checked the readings on his scanner to see if he could reverse the memory loss. “I’ll pull the records from your database on board and will get your file. Memory loss isn’t unusual with something like this.”
A weird hum filled the air around them. He knew that sound and it wasn’t any better than her amnesia. Kuarto only had seconds to react. He pulled a device from his pocket, and activated it before he spread his body over hers. The moment the force field activated, the ship exploded, taking any information he could have gotten to help her remember who she was.
Now he had a very pretty guest to contend with.
“Sir? We’ve lost contact with her ship.”
Storm turned to glare at the young man who just spoke. He could see the readings too. “Do you know why?”
“No, sir.” The young man swallowed hard. “On her last check in everything was fine. She was headed to the coordinates programmed into her ship. As far as we can tell, she was close when the ship stopped communicating with us.”
He really didn’t need this. “Give me all the data on her last coordinates.”
The young man nodded and downloaded the info to a disk. He handed it to Storm with shaky hands.
Storm took the chip and walked out of the command center. It looked like he needed to go find his sister before she got into any more trouble. He crossed the open atrium to get to their rooms, wondering what Heather had been up to. Normally, she would brush her mind up against his from time to time but today he hadn’t felt her presence once.
He walked into a darkened room and felt his heart stop for just a moment. After all they had been through he feared she would be taken from him again. Until the person behind her kidnapping was found and stopped, Storm would be vigilant.
He spotted her silhouette and breathed a sigh of relief.
“You worry too much.” She stood as he walked toward her.
“Only about you.” He walked up to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Why are you sitting in the dark?”
“I was meditating.” She rested her head on his chest, listening to the beat of his heart.
“Everything okay?” He touched her stomach as he led her to the couch and eased her down.
“Of course.” She brushed her hair out of her face and gave him an exasperated look. “Please don’t treat me like I’m some sort of fragile flower. We have another sixteen months left on this pregnancy and I’ll go crazy if you start being too overprotective this early.”
“Can’t help myself.” He gave her one of his bone melting smiles. “But you do know how to distract me, don’t you.”
She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I think I have an idea.”
He bent his head to hers and captured her lips with his. He loved the taste of her. Her tongue slid against his, making him groan at the pleasure. He then moved his lips to her throat where he loved to nibble.
“You’re home early.” She tilted her head aside so he could have the access he loved.
“I know. I went to speak to my mother.” He worked on the seams of the dress she wore. “My sister has turned up missing.”
She pulled back to look at him, stopping him for a moment. “That’s not good.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing.” He went back to the seams of her gown, opening it easily, exposing her body to his gaze. Storm found it flawless, the velvet skin begging for his touch. His fingers caressed her softness as the dress dropped to the ground. “But I’m going to go check it out to be sure.”
“I’m going with you.” She had already opened the seams of his uniform. All he had to do now was walk out of it.
His hands cupped her breasts. This was one thing he didn’t want. She had a way of getting what she wanted even when he was dead set against it. “You know, I think these are a little fuller than they use to be.”
“Don’t change the subject.” She put her hands on her hips. “I’m going with you.”
“Heather.” He lifted her in his arms, and carried her to their bed, hoping he could distract her enough to forget her desire to accompany him. Why did he even mention it?
But Heather knew what he was up to. She smiled up at him, ready to accept him into her body like she had hundreds of times before. The moment he surged into her he could only think of the wonderful sensations their joining caused.
“You are taking me with you.” Her voice, laced with her desire was soft in his ear.
“Too dangerous.” There was no conviction in his voice and he knew it, but he was too caught up in the intimacy they shared. Everything washed over him. He felt her muscles tighten against him, sending delightful frissons up his spine.
“Why?” She licked her lips as one shiver of excitement raced through her blood.
He felt her body quake as it took control of her for a second or two. Every once in a while he stroked her just right and it fanned her desire to a white hot flame. “My heart.”
“I promise to be a good little mate and obey your every command, plus we can do this whenever you want.” Her muscles had him in a steel grip. Every time he slid in and out it just heightened everything.
“Oh, you don’t fight fair.” He picked up the pace, causing her muscles to ripple against him. His body shook at the feel of her tight sheath rubbing against him.
“And, oh my,” she stopped talking, heat unfurling in her stomach. It blossomed out, filling every fiber of her being. Her mind brushed against his as her release was on top of her. “You don’t?”
Like a light being turned on, Heather’s orgasm grabbed her and filled her with overwhelming joy. It spilled over into his mind so he felt the same emotions she did. His release was just as powerful, making them both speechless. Heather floated back down, relaxing against the pillows with a smile on her face.
“Oh, and I think I found another outfit you might like.”
He perked right up. Rising up on his elbows, he looked down at her. “Really?”
“I’ll save it for when we return home.”
“Home?” He nuzzled her neck. “Why?”
“There’s not a lot of privacy on those scout ships.” A sigh escaped her as he nibbled on her throat. “Remember what happened the last time we were around people and I wore one of your favorite outfits. It almost caused a riot just because I bent over the wrong way. I don’t like being an exhibitionist despite what that picture shows. What I do, I do for you.”
“And I like my own private shows.” He sighed. “So now you’re not only demanding that I take you with me, but we have our own ship?”
“I wouldn’t dare make a demand like that.” She brushed his hair with her fingers. “I know better.”
“But if I go along with this I get to see the new outfit and you will do whatever I ask of you?” He studied her face, watching as her eyes dilated at the promise of his threat.
“Your wish is my command.”
“You know that could get you into trouble.” He lowered his mouth to her mark. Still deep inside her he felt her body pulse as he pushed his tongue along the tissue.
She arched up against him. “I hope so.”
Kuarto had to come up with a reason why he suddenly had a woman at his place. His mind sharers had just sent him off for a few moments, but he had regained control and now needed to work on what he hoped the people here would believe.
The people in this small village all knew each other so a stranger would attract a lot of attention. Then he remembered one of the men talking about ordering a mail-order bride. That might work out for him since there were women from other planets willing to move to some of the more remote outposts to find a husband. Their own worlds were hard and husbands were rare. All he had to worry about was whether or not Vespians were listed. If so, he should be able to pull it off.
He pulled up the information on the brides. There were several companies who specialized in brides and they had every kind imaginable. It didn’t take a lot for him to backtrack on his computer to make it look like he had been looking for a bride for a month or so, and that would help with explaining her arrival.
The young woman slept in his bed at the moment. She looked so innocent there. He watched her, hoping everyone would believe the story he would have to weave.
The only thing he needed to do now was use his precious replicator to create what a bride would bring to her new home. He rarely used the machine because of the minerals needed to activate it. They weren’t the easiest items for him to get his hands on. So what he had, he used sparingly, normally for medical supplies he needed when it would take too long to order them.
Considering her ship burnt up on impact, all he needed to do was create an outfit he thought a new bride would wear to meet her husband-to-be for the first time. From everything he read, most would wear their wedding gown. Not very practical, but he did understand why, so he created a nice dress for her. Something she could wear now and still be pretty enough for people to think it was her wedding dress.
He brought it into his bedroom and placed it on her bed, hoping she’d put it on without any questions when she woke up. Glancing out the window, he saw one of the locals heading toward his home. Figured he would be the first one to show up after the crash.
He went on the defensive the moment his front door opened. Always worked on this man. “What do you want, Guapo?”
“I come to see you and that’s how I’m greeted? Shameful, doctor. I heard you have a new bride and wished to pay my respects.”
“That didn’t take long. Or was it the crash that brought you, and made you check to see what might have caused it?”
“You wound me.” He grabbed at his side where his heart was. “I worried something could have happened.”
“Right. Go home, Guapo.” He moved about his small office, trying to look like he didn’t care what the man thought. “I’ll bring her around when she is ready.”
“No quick peek?”
The young woman walked into the room at that moment, wearing the dress he had left for her. Why did she have to come out right while the most untrustworthy man on the planet happened to be in the building?
“Thank you.” She noticed their guest and stopped. She stepped close to Kuarto, as if she was looking for protection from him. At least she knew better than to talk.
“Guapo, my bride.” Not being able to explain anything to her, he prayed she wouldn’t question him in front of this little sleaze bag. It wouldn’t go well if she did. Thankfully she gave him an odd look but kept quiet during the introductions.
“She is very pretty. You are a lucky man.” He studied her, something that made Kuarto uncomfortable. “Tonight, I will come back, and we can celebrate.”
He didn’t think it was a good idea, but wasn’t sure if the man understood the word no. The moment the man left, Kuarto focused on her. “You shouldn’t have come out.”
“How was I to know you were going to have a guest?” Hurt filled her eyes.
“We need to get our story straight before he comes back.” He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. He hadn’t meant to hurt her feelings but had no clue how to fix it. “I have bought you. You’re my mail-order bride.”
“Okay.” She looked at him with such innocence.
At least she wasn’t going to fight him on this. “You need to be quiet as much as possible when he is here. He’s not one I trust.”
“Then why do you deal with him?” She looked out the window to watch the man retreat.
“Sometimes you have to deal with the worst to survive.” He looked at her. “You know, we need to come up with a name for you. ‘I don’t know’ doesn’t roll off the tongue.”
“What do you suggest?” She played with a piece of gold around her neck.
“What is that?”
“The necklace? I’m not sure. I noticed it when I changed.”
“Maybe it says something we can use.” He stepped up to her and took a hold of the gold disk. It was warm from her skin. It practically burned him. “To Toki, sister, friend, Heather and Storm.”
“Toki? Sounds like a nickname.”
“It does, but it’s Vespian, which you are too. I’m not sure how many people will recognize that but I don’t want to take a chance with something non-Vespian.” He didn’t have the heart to tell her it meant pain. “I don’t think it would be smart to give you a human name when you’re not human.”
“Then Toki it is.” She looked up at him while he continued to hold the medallion. “I wanted to thank you for the dress.”
“Oh, you’re welcome.” He backed off, not real sure why he had stayed that close to her for as long as he did. “Thought it would look better if you dressed the part of a mail-order bride. What did you do with your other clothes?”
“Left it on the bed.”
“It might be smart to put that away. Don’t want people asking too many questions because they happen to see it.” He walked into his bedroom. The uniform lay neatly on his bed. Kuarto picked up the outfit, folded it and put it into the wooden trunk he had at the foot of the bed. The covers disheveled look reminded him what cause it. He had a woman in his bed. Too bad he hadn’t joined her. He sure wanted to.
A slight sound behind him made him look around and he found her inches away. Being attracted to Toki was going to be a problem. He needed to be professional. “Okay, this is what we will tell people. You came here as my bride. The ship you came in fell apart as you entered our atmosphere and blew up after you were able to exit it. All your worldly possessions were destroyed in the explosion.”
“Which is what happened,” she commented.
The confines of the small room weren’t helping him at all. He picked up a whiff of something before realizing it was her. That unique scent all women had. He needed to get out of the room before he did something stupid like kiss her, so he headed back into the main room of his simple home. She followed right behind him.
“It’s also believable because people will think the ship was probably old and shouldn’t have made the flight in the first place.” He gestured to a chair. “You did get banged about a bit and I’d like to examine you.” He pulled out a pocket sized scanner. “I’m a doctor, although on this planet I’ve been known to take care of just about anything that moves. My supplies might not be able to bring your memory back, but I’d like to try.”
She looked at the scanner before looking back at him. “It would be nice to remember again.”
He nodded, and led her to the far right wall of his home, where he had all his medical supplies. He had already treated her other injuries when he first brought her to the house. The suit had protected much of her body, the gash on her head was about the only thing he could address. Kuarto would love to know how she got the nasty cut then was still able to seal her suit properly before she lost her memories.
He checked the wound, happy with the way it was healing. In an hour or two it would be completely gone. The amnesia was a different story. After running a series of tests, he found it temporary but everything he tried to reverse the problem didn’t work.
“Well, I have good news and bad news. Everything looks good, but the memory loss is going to last a bit longer. I’ll keep working on it, but I’m not sure how quickly I can fix your problem.”
“So what does that mean?”
“You’re going to be my guest a little longer.”
Storm went through a few more last minute checks before he was satisfied. “My heart, you really should sit while I do this.”
“I’m fine.” She checked the supplies she had asked for.
“Maybe so, but you are in the way.” He swiveled his chair so he could check final flight information. “If you want to get airborne, you need to move out of the way.”
She wanted to stick her tongue out at him, but continued her own work instead. She had spoken to the doctor, and gotten a medical bag to carry, just in case she needed it. The doctor had given her most of the things she needed to help Toki if she was injured, and the training to use the equipment as well.
Heather had done her research and found that the undeveloped planet where Toki was last seen was very leery of anyone just showing up. They might be able to cloak one of the smaller ships, but not a large medical one. So Storm went along with them having a ship of their own. The larger medical ship would have to hang back as they went to the planet.
“It should take us about a day to get there.” He snagged one arm and pulled her into his lap. “You have everything ready?”
“Like what?” She tried to look innocent.
He nuzzled her neck. “A certain something you promised me. It’s the only reason you’re coming along.”
“You telling me that you have no use for me other than sex?” Her voice was soft, slightly seductive, and very serious.
“Of course not.” He pulled back to look her in the eyes. “But you used sex to come with me. You could have used so many angles to make me bring you and you know I would have gone along with it.”
“True, but you know what I am capable of. You gave me a unilateral ‘it’s too dangerous’ and you know how much I hate that.” Her eyes grew wide as she realized how she had been manipulated. “You’re evil.”
“What are you talking about?” He played with the seam of her uniform.
“You did that on purpose because you knew I would come up with the one thing you always want to make you bring me along with you.”
“You’re my mate, wouldn’t pleasing me be part of what you want to do anyway?” He smiled at her. It was the one he normally gave her when he thought he had the upper hand.
She had no answer, but knew she would get her revenge. He liked to play games and she had gotten very good at winning these little matches. “Whatever you say.”
He didn’t like the way she gave in. It always meant trouble.
I’m excited about my new series! This first book came to me in a dream and beat me up until I finished it. It took my five weeks to write the rough draft. This was the first time I have written a book that fast and it hasn’t stopped. The rough drafts of book seven and eight are now done and book nine is starting to develop in my head. Available in Print as well as Electronic versions.
Please enjoy and let me know what you think.
This excerpt is has explicit scenes.
Dominated By Desire
Publisher – Phaze
Heather can’t believe she is the only person on Earth that can protect Storm, the ambassador from Vespia. It has something to do with some pheromone the Vespian male exudes. Although everyone tells her she is immune she doesn’t agree. There is something about the man that makes her desire skyrocket whenever she is around him.
Storm finds the Heather fascinating, bright violet eyes that hold a world of emotions in them. He finds himself drawn to her, wanting her with a depth he never experienced before. When she becomes the focal point of several kidnapping attempts he realizes she’s going to need his protection, the perfect excuse to get to know her better.
Heather stood next to her commander, going over everything she had learned about the Vespian society so far. He wanted to be sure she was ready for her next assignment. She found the idea of guarding the ambassador a bit boring but she’d done it before and it shouldn’t be a long one. The man was only to be on Earth for a short period of time.
Her first glimpse of the Vespian ambassador caught her off guard. She wasn’t sure what she expected but it wasn’t seeing him coming in like some sort of rock star. Shirt missing, exposing tight, sculpted abs, along with well muscled shoulders and arms. He was the stuff of most women’s wet dreams and he dressed the part.
“That is the ambassador?” She couldn’t keep the shock out of her voice. His jet black hair held a bit of a blue shine, and he kept running his fingers through the thick locks like he wanted to draw attention to it. He was tall too. Had to be over seven feet, even for her six foot three frame that was tall.
“I know it isn’t what you expect but he is doing this for charity.” Her commander’s voice was laced with a touch of laughter. “From what I hear he was talked into this. They wanted him to be one of the dates for this auction but he refused.”
All she could do was stare. The women surrounding him were practically throwing themselves at him, reaching to touch whatever they could. Giggles and groans filled the air as hands made contact with his muscled arms and legs.
How was she going to work with him now that she had seen this? She wasn’t sure if she could, with this flashing in her mind all the time.
Those women who were able to touch him tried to pull him toward them but luckily he had anchored himself well, and had plenty of protection to keep them at bay. She was sure he reveled in the attention. He had a smile that could melt a polar ice cap.
“If it’s all right with you, sir, I’ll wait for this to end elsewhere.” She didn’t really want to see any more. If she was to treat him with any kind of professionalism it would be smart for her to find another place to wait inside the embassy.
“That’s fine. This shouldn’t take very long.”
Heather turned around and climbed the steps to the large double doors. Her title of ice princess fit her well at this moment. Most women would enjoy watching this display but it just made her uncomfortable.
Unable to stop herself, she turned one last time to watch the spectacle and found him staring right at her. Everything disappeared during that moment. Nothing else existed but the two of them connecting through the throng of the crowd. The moment she realized she was starting to attract attention she broke eye contact and walked into the building.
What had just happened?
Her heart beat hard in her chest. No one ever affected her. That was one of the reasons she was brought in. Where all the other women had ended up sleeping with the man, she would be immune.
She needed something to calm herself down.
Meditation normally worked for her but she needed someplace quiet and empty. She found just about every room occupied. She nodded and smiled as she entered and then left different rooms.
Eventually she did find a quiet corridor. All she needed was a small alcove and a few minutes. She heard several sets of footsteps and sighed. Not this time. She turned back to find herself face to face with the ambassador with a small entourage.
Being this close to him set her body on fire. His gaze trapped her, heating her from the inside out. Training kept her from crumbling at his feet.
“Sorry, mistress, but this is the ambassador’s wing. No one is allowed down it but him and his most trusted guards.”
The man’s voice was pleasant but she found she could look at anyone but the ambassador. She found herself drowning in his eyes. They were a golden tone with a deep amber ring around the edge. She had never seen anything like it.
Tearing her gaze from his, she blinked a couple times before she could focus on the man who spoke to her. “I am sorry. Guess I got a little lost.”
“Of course.” The man bowed to her. “One of these men will take you to your room.”
“Thank you.” She steadied herself and followed the man down the hall. It took every ounce of will power to not turn around to look at him again.
“And who is that?” Storm found the petite woman intriguing. She had such expressive eyes.
“She has been assigned to help you with the treaty.”
“Really?” He looked over his shoulder to watch her turn the corner. “I thought this race decided I was too difficult to work with. Their women can’t fight the pheromones I exude and the men all want to kill me. Didn’t they say there was no one able to do this?”
“Yes sir, but she’s been tested against your pheromones and fared better than anyone else. Plus she has security training to protect you and their humans. You know these humans have wanted one of their own with you from the beginning. It was a compromise that the elders approved.”
“That little thing is going to protect me?” If the elders approved he wouldn’t fight it but he couldn’t see it. Besides, it would be interesting to see if she could do her job as well as they said.
“She comes highly recommended. One of the planet’s best.”
“We shall see.”
Heather dressed for the formal meal. She checked her uniform in the mirror to make sure everything was in place. This assignment would isolate her from everyone she knew. Normally she would welcome it, but she feared she wouldn’t fare any better than those who had tried before her. The one thing she had been able to do before this meal was meditate. It had helped. She had been able to center herself and regain composure. She should be able to face the ambassador with poise now.
One more adjustment and she headed to the main hall where the meal would take place. She entered through the doors and took in her surroundings.
The dining hall bustled with waiters and servers greeting people and taking them to their proper seats. Taking a few calming breaths, she stepped into the room and waited her turn. It didn’t take too long before she was seated next to her commander.
“You sure I’m right for the job?” After her reaction to the ambassador earlier she didn’t feel as confident in herself as her superiors seemed to be.
“Yes. You passed all the tests, and you are the best in security. He emits a natural pheromone that makes people either throw themselves at him or passionately hate him. You showed you were immune to it so that makes you the perfect candidate.”
She sure didn’t feel like she was immune.
The room quieted as they prepared to introduce the ambassador to the crowd. Women sighed and tried to leave their seats to get closer to him. Men either had a big dopey grin or looked like they could kill him.
“This is what I need to protect him from? Just keep him locked up.” She kept her voice soft as she leaned toward her boss.
“That’s why you’re perfect for this,” his voice just as soft. “You see the big picture. You know we can’t lock him up but understand he needs to be kept from other people. It’s just too dangerous to have him wander around.”
“Yes, sir.” She felt the ambassador’s gaze on her. And as much as she wanted to melt at his feet like the rest of the women, she was better than that. Using all her training, she schooled her features and looked back. She had a job to do and nothing would deter her.
He gave her a smile that melted any resolve she had. There was no way she would be able to do this job. Time to get out before she got into trouble. “Sir, I’m not sure about this.”
“I understand. He’s got a personality that pushes the best of us.”
“You don’t seem to be affected.”
“I’m under sedation.” He showed her a small patch resting on his wrist under his jacket. “Everyone at this table is, except for you. You are our only hope if we want to be allies with this planet.”
If she felt something from being in the same room with him and she wasn’t sedated, just how bad was it for everyone else? She watched as the ambassador took his seat. A loud gong sounded and the waiters started to deliver their food. The appetizers arrived first. “I don’t see how I am the only person for the job. There has to be someone else.”
“Lieutenant, you can argue with me all you want. I didn’t make this decision. You’ve been assigned. End of discussion.”
“Sorry, sir.” She took a couple bites. “It’s just I’m not sure I’m as immune as everyone thinks.”
“You’ll be fine.” He picked up the glass in front of him and downed it. Heather noticed the sheen of sweat on his brow. Even medicated he was having problems. “You’re feeling the affect of the pheromone. Nothing like everyone else in this room, but we knew you’d feel it a little. And every Vespian has it. It’s part of the race. That’s why we can’t go there and they picked one of their men they felt wouldn’t cause a war. His pheromones don’t have the strength that other visitors from their planet have had.”
“Why do we want them as allies?” She knew the answer but the mineral they had to offer seemed insignificant in the face of the problems they had to deal with just gaining them as allies.
“You know that mineral would allow us to end hunger here. They have more than they need and are willing to give it to us, but we have to prove ourselves.”
The appetizer was replaced with a salad.
“And I’m the one to do that? Are you sure they went through my record? I haven’t been the model soldier.”
“I know that, but you were the one chosen so you do your duty and help the planet.” He speared a piece of lettuce with his fork.
Dinner went by pretty quickly. She did notice the air circulation was working overtime. Keeping the room clean so emotions were kept at a decent level.
She was grateful she could speak to her commander so candidly. It allowed her to voice her concerns without making a fool of herself. So now she had to protect the man as well as figure out what the planet had to do to prove themselves. She should have read the fine print before she accepted this assignment.
Once the meal was done they were led to another room for dancing and mingling.
“It’s time for me to leave. You’ve already seen your room, right? Is there anything you need from me before I go?”
“Take me with you?” She half joked. “I’m not sure who my main contact is here. Normally we would have a meeting so I would know who I am to deal with. Why haven’t we done that?”
“Another concession. You will meet the people you will deal with tonight. So have fun but stay sharp. Alcohol probably intensifies the problem.” He took his coat from one of the servants and headed toward the door.
She turned to the ballroom, scanning the area for anything out of the ordinary. As she started to do a second sweep she found her view blocked by a broad pair of shoulders.
“Care to dance?”
What a wonderfully deep voice. She looked up to find the ambassador standing in front of her. Much taller than the average human, he towered above her.
How did he do that? He was across the room only seconds ago. She did her best to ignore him. “I should be watching the crowd, Ambassador.”
“True, but dancing will allow you to study the whole group without looking like you’re doing some sort of study.” He stood beside and started to look around with her.
She knew her job better than that and knew she wasn’t looking obvious until he joined her. “No one noticed me until you came over here.”
He smiled at her slight rebuff. Offering her his hand, he didn’t give her a chance to say no again. Heather placed her hand in his, hoping this wouldn’t be a mistake on her part.
His heat penetrated and warmed her blood. If she was immune, she felt for the women who weren’t. Every time he looked at her or touched her she felt it to her toes. Her body hummed at his close proximity. How was she going to do her job?
She needed to clear her mind. One calming breath and she turned her focus from the man who held her in his arms to their surroundings and the people who seemed hyper-focused on him.
One woman caught her attention. She kept lifting her head to see him. She was able to slip from her partner and was headed right for them.
“Um, we need to move. Let me lead.” She took control of their steps, maneuvering them out of the way. It didn’t take long before the woman was gathered by a few of the guards standing nearby and pulled out of danger.
“You have sharp eyes.”
“Thanks.” She saw a flash of silver. “Duck.”
He dipped her deep. Pressing their bodies together. She could feel the hardness of his thighs against hers. The angle he held her at allowed her to feel his member at her apex. It sent sparks of desire through her. Something she didn’t expect.
She watched a small dagger fly close but over their bodies. He reached his hand up and stopped the blade in midflight. With a slight flourish he tucked it into her jacket pocket.
His employees went to work subduing the man who threw it and led him out of the room like it was all in a day’s work. Her partner seemed to enjoy their intimacy because he hadn’t straightened yet.
“Do you mind?” She tried to act indignant, but it was taking all her energy to keep her wits about her.
He straightened, taking her with him. “Just wanted to be sure the danger had passed.”
She doubted that but remained silent. Her body screamed when it wasn’t near his. Instinct was to snuggle up to him, to feel his warmth once again. It took all her willpower to keep her feet moving.
She could do this. All she had to do was focus and not on him. She picked a safe location to bring her calm back to center. A couple of deep breaths and she felt in control once again.
“I’m fine, Ambassador.” She looked up at him, working hard on keeping her emotions under control.
“Don’t call me that.” A frown creased his handsome face as he moved her with the music.
“What?” Those damn eyes got the best of her. So clear and sharp, she wanted to stare into them for hours.
“Sorry, but we never had a meeting, remember?” She didn’t mean to sound snippy but she couldn’t keep it out of her voice. “No one happened to mention your name in passing.”
“Ah, well that makes sense. My name is too hard for most humans to pronounce.”
Then why was he giving her such a hard time?
“But I have picked a humanoid name, one that I believe fits me.” He smiled at her. “Call me Storm.”
“No sir, either, not from you.”
“Okay, Storm.” She wasn’t sure what to think. Why would he care what she called him? They barely knew each other. “Can we take a break? I’m starting to get evil looks from the women fawning all over you.”
“Of course.” He kept a hold of her hand, leading her to where his people stood. “This is Heather.”
They nodded. He didn’t need to say any more. They knew who she was. She had been hired to keep the man safe yet she didn’t know anyone in his entourage. How was she supposed to do her job without the proper information?
“You going to introduce me to everyone? Or I am supposed to guess as I work with each of them?” Somehow she had lost control of the situation.
“Watching you guess might be fun.” He grinned as he wrapped an arm around her to make the proper introductions. Not one name could she repeat.
Why did he feel a need to touch her when it seemed that the women nearby were becoming jealous of her? She could feel it building around them. Someone might have to protect her if he kept this up, but his grip was strong and she didn’t want to make a scene.
“Okay, since everyone seems to have those roll off the tongue names I’m going to have to come up with ones I can say and remember.” She received nods but at least no one seemed to be upset with her. She felt like she was babbling. “They’ll come as I get to know you.”
An older man brought them drinks, bringing her attention back to Storm. She thanked the server as she took hers.
“Why did you thank him?” asked Storm.
“Because it’s the polite thing to do.” She wished she could move and put a little space between them but he still had his arm around her and she wasn’t real sure how to break his hold without seeming rude.
“But it’s his job.” His curiosity was evident.
“True, but we all want to be told we’re doing a good job from time to time. Thanking him lets him know I appreciate what he does for a living.” She found it interesting that his question was so genuine.
“Interesting. Our people accept their position and do their job without question.”
She scratched her head, wondering how to explain it better. It had to be something he was familiar with. A grin covered her face when she came up with the perfect subject. “When you are intimate with a woman do you show your appreciation or do you just expect her to understand because she was doing her job?”
“When I am intimate with a woman I always show my appreciation with my partner. I do that during the act.” He said it softly, his face very close to her ear.
Okay that was the wrong subject matter. She felt it all the way to her toes. Fear had her stepping away from him, breaking his hold on her. Being rude wasn’t part of her worry. Him being too close was.
It didn’t seem to faze him. Storm just stepped next to her and wrapped his arm around her once again. And that was the way the rest of the evening went. When she found an opportunity to move away from him he found a way to come back into contact with her. Her whole being was in a heightened state of arousal. It took all her strength not to jump on him and beg him to have his way with her there with everyone watching.
When the evening finally came to an end she practically dashed to her room and headed straight for the shower. It was going to be long and cold and hopefully would cool her libido.
Storm sat on the couch in his suite contemplating the evening.
“You pushed her hard, sir. Why?”
“I’m not sure, Fridon.” He leaned forward as he spoke. “I don’t need protection and we know that, but for some reason the elders decided I needed to have it. Out of all the candidates they had they picked her. Why?”
“We’ve been raised to never question them, sir. You know that.” The young man got up and poured himself a glass of water. “Want some?”
“No. I need a clear head.” Water had an alcoholic effect on his race.
“So why did you push so hard?” Fridon sat across from Storm.
“I wanted to see what would happen if she was hit with the full force of our pheromones. I knew it could have caused a little trouble but our air system would remove a lot of it as long as I didn’t walk through the crowd.”
“And what did you learn?” The elders assigned Fridon to keep an eye on Storm. For some reason they had a special interest in the human and him.
“That she is very strong. I could feel her desire yet she refused to act on it. A weaker woman wouldn’t have been able to resist.”
“You want her.” He said it matter-of-factly. Storm never turned down a bed partner and this was the first time he had walked away without one. Any of the women there tonight would have accommodated him.
“What?” He sat back. Was it that obvious? “No, but she has piqued my interest.”
“So she has passed your test?”
“I wonder how she passed the elders’ one.”
He hadn’t thought about why they picked her. Now he had to worry about that. Sleep wasn’t going to come easy to him.
Heather found it difficult to sleep. Three cold showers later and she still hadn’t gotten her libido under control. She had thought about calling her commander and quitting, but ended up jumping back into the shower. Meditation had worked a little but not enough to relax her for sleep.
She paced her room, wondering what would work. Perhaps if she snuck down to the kitchen she could get a hot toddy of some sort to quiet her nerves and allow her to sleep. Her simple nightgown covered her well enough so she left the matching robe behind.
Barefoot, she tiptoed down the hall from her room to the central section of the house. Most of the help had gone to bed so she shouldn’t run into anyone along the way. As she turned another corner she heard a faint noise. Her sixth sense kicked in and told her something was wrong. She needed a place to hide until whatever she sensed had gone past and she could follow them. A small alcove beckoned and she slipped inside. Steel strong arms wrapped around her waist as a large hand covered her mouth.
No one could ever hold her. She proceeded to fight whoever had her and found herself flipped around and staring into the golden eyes of Storm. What was he doing here?
He dragged her into a small door in the alcove and pushed it gently closed. The confined space intensified the feelings she had been trying to banish. Her nipples got hard just because he held her.
Storm slid one of his legs between hers, pulling her up onto it so they could see eye to eye. The nightgown she wore rode up on her, leaving her core naked against the soft cloth she now rested against. She opened her mouth to protest and realized her mistake too late.
His head dipped toward hers, his mouth covering her lips as his tongue invaded. He cradled her head in his hand, angling it to give him better access to her.
She tried to hold back. Wanted to break the kiss altogether but her willpower deserted her in the onslaught of the passion. Everything screamed for more. She fell into the desire swirling through her, giving as much as he would take.
He deepened the kiss, his hands leaving her waist and head to slide up under the gown, touching the fevered flesh beneath.
She felt them on her buttocks, then slide up her back and around to her breasts. The pebbled tips ached for more as he caressed them. He shifted her, her legs wrapping around him to maintain the contact. Now she could press her core against the hardened length of him. Her whole being was on fire.
It affected him as much as her because she felt the tremor race through him.
Just as fast as it started it stopped. She found herself on her feet as the door opened and several guards faced them.
“Everything all right, sir?”
“Yes.” His voice came out deeper than normal. He cleared his throat and spoke again. “We ducked in here when the intruders drew close. Did you get them?”
“Yes, sir. We found them just outside of this area. Looks like they turned on each other, we found them all fighting when we arrived. They’ve been moved to security to be questioned whenever you’re ready.”
“Good. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He gently touched her shoulder. “Do you wish to join the interrogation?”
She nodded. Talking was out of the question. She wondered if the guards could see her disheveled look and swollen lips. If they did they showed no reaction.
Storm offered her his hand which she took and they followed the men to the security section.
“You might not like the way we do things around here but it is our way,” he said.
He had kept his distance from her, allowing her to regain some control. What had gotten into her? She never behaved like this before. Most men who showed her any attention learned quickly she didn’t want it. What was wrong with her?
Keeping her gaze averted she couldn’t help but notice the two wet marks on his clothes. One on his thigh and the other over his groin. Heat filled her cheeks. She did that to him. What must he think of her?
Relief filled her when they entered the security section. Something to draw her focus.
Two of the guards stepped into the room. One held a strange looking weapon.
“Tell us why you invaded the ambassador’s home.”
The four men just stared at them.
“Do you know what this is?” The guard with the weapon asked. “It’s from our planet on Vespia.” He turned it on a low setting, pressing it against the stomach of one of the intruders causing him to crumple to the ground. He turned it up a notch and aimed it at the next man.
“We know nothing.” His answer wasn’t what they wanted to hear. The guard pressed it against the neck of the man causing him to cry out in pain before crumpling as well. A large burn mark showed on his throat.
“It is designed to help with our animals. We can use it on the lightest setting.” He pointed to the first man on the floor. “To keep them from wandering. The highest setting kills.” He moved it to the top notch and sliced through a table sitting in the room. “Clean and precise. Now, why are you here?”
Sweat broke out on the brow of the third one. “I didn’t get paid enough to die.”
“Shut up,” said the other. “How do you know they won’t kill you after you talk?”
“I’d rather die at their hands than his.” He looked up at the guards, fear dancing in his eyes. “We were hired to get the woman. We don’t know why, just following orders.”
She looked at Storm. “Woman?”
“That is the question, isn’t it?”
Sometimes going home is clarifying. Sometimes it’s just plain deadly!
Adam travels to Candlelight, Indiana to visit his parents for Christmas. When he arrives he discovers somebody has killed a man and dumped him in the manger of the living crèche at the local church. Unfortunately, all signs lead back to Adam’s father as the murderer. A Sheriff with a grudge and a small town more interested in gossip than reality, convince Adam that it will be up to him and the gang to clear his father’s name.
Adam yelled through the bathroom door, “What are you doing in there?”
He leaned against the door and crossed his arms, waiting for his chance at the sink. Dirk had been in there a suspiciously long time.
Walter’s snoring wafted through the room, originating from the jumbled comforter on the bottom bunk. It looked like Adam and Dirk would have to share the top bunk again.
His cock jumped at the thought.
The door opened and Adam pushed away from the wall. “Finally—” His words caught in his throat at the sight standing before him. Dirk was wearing his robes from the living crèche event. But the front of the robe was nicely tented, the neckline open and a wide expanse of smooth, golden skin showing beneath it.
Dirk’s sexy green gaze sparkled, the full, pouty mouth widening in a smile as Adam’s boxers bulged from the sight. “I had a little trouble getting the beard on right. Usually Camille, my makeup girl does it for me.”
Adam swallowed hard. “The beard?” Adam’s gaze lifted to Dirk’s face. “Oh yeah, that bushy brown thing on your face. I barely noticed.”
Dirk’s chuckle was deep and husky, filled with heat. “How do you think it will feel on your balls?”
Adam made a soft sound of need in his throat. “Suddenly I’m looking at the beard in a whole new light.”
Sometimes going home is clarifying. Sometimes it’s just plain deadly!
Adam travels to Candlelight, Indiana to visit his parents for Christmas. When he arrives he discovers somebody has killed a man and dumped him in the manger of the living crèche at the local church. Unfortunately, all signs lead back to Adam’s father as the murderer. A Sheriff with a grudge and a small town more interested in gossip than reality, convince Adam that it will be up to him and the gang to clear his father’s name.
Fifteen minutes later Adam and Dirk were dressed and heading out to Dirk’s car. They didn’t make it very far. Before they hit the driveway, a shrill voice hailed them.
Adam and Dirk stopped and turned as a woman hobbled quickly up the sidewalk toward them. She wore a short, ruffled ski vest over a skintight turtleneck and tight, straight, black pants. Her belly bobbled beneath the vest, barely contained by the thin fabric of the black turtleneck. The woman’s bleached blonde hair flew in wisps around a long, narrow face as she bounced along in heels that had to be four inches if they were an inch.
She caught her heel in a crack on the sidewalk and nearly went down, swearing like a sailor.
Adam frowned. “Shit.” He looked at Dirk. “It’s Clare Daimes.”
“The reporter from the Voice?”
Adam expelled a frustrated breath. “Unfortunately.”
“You want to duck her? We could probably make it to my car before she reaches us.”
It was tempting, but Adam knew he couldn’t. Shaking his head he touched Dirk’s arm. “If I duck her she’ll bother my mom. I’d rather deal with this now. But you don’t have to deal with it. Why don’t you go get Walter. Worst case we’ll let him loose to slobber on her.”
Dirk chuckled. “Good luck, babe.” He turned on his heel and strode quickly back into the house.
Clare Daimes watched Dirk go as she ran-hobbled up the driveway toward Adam. “Is that Dirk Williams?” Her heavily-made-up hazel eyes widened and Adam thought her nostrils flared as if she could literally smell a story.
Adam forced a laugh. “He gets that all the time. It’s Dedrick Thompson, an old high school friend.”
She squinted toward the house for a long beat and then smiled, showing crooked, yellow teeth that were stained with her burgundy lipstick. “The star quarterback.” Nodding, she said, “Yes, I remember him.” But she frowned. “He really looks like Dirk Williams.”
“He does a little,” Adam agreed dismissively. “How can I help you?”
The reporter tore her gaze from the door Dirk had disappeared into and pursed her lips. Lifting the small notebook she was holding, along with a heavily-chewed pencil, Ms. Daimes leaned close as if sharing a confidence. Garlic breath wafted over Adam’s face and he coughed. “I’m really sorry to hear about your daddy’s arrest.”
Adam wasn’t sure what to say. If he tried to argue his dad’s innocence he’d probably just come off sounding defensive. But he knew the woman would print her story no matter what he said so it probably wasn’t a good idea to leave her to her own devices. He decided to keep his responses short and as non-informative as possible. “Thank you.”
She nodded. “I understand he and the victim have been at odds lately. Can you tell me what that was about?”
Adam shrugged. “My dad and Ben Forbes have been friends all their lives. They just had a minor disagreement recently. But they were still working together.”
“They were working together last night? At the church?”
Adam nodded. “They were.”
“What caused the argument that ended with Mr. Forbes’ death?”
“I wouldn’t know. My father wouldn’t either because he didn’t kill Ben.”
The reporter blinked once and then bit her bottom lip, depositing a fresh smear of lipstick on her teeth. “I know you have to say that…for legal reasons…”
“I say that because it’s true.”
She scribbled something on her pad and Adam glanced longingly toward his truck. “I really need to get going…I have an appoint…”
“I heard a rumor that your dad killed Ben Forbes because Ben called you a Nancy Boy.”
Adam’s throat closed off, the words he’d been speaking draining helplessly away. Heat rose into his face and he knew it stained his cheeks red. “I…”
The reporter tugged the ruffled hem of her too-short vest down and gave him a sickly smile which he suspected was meant to soothe. “I understand it’s hard to hear that kind of stuff…”
“It’s always hard to hear lies.” Adam lifted his chin, suddenly unwilling to suffer another minute under the vile woman’s questions. When he spoke again he lifted his voice to a near shout. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go.”
Claire Daimes’ sickly smile flipped over into a frown and she opened her mouth to ask another question.
The front door opened and Walter came bounding out, big ears flopping as he ran barking toward the horrible woman.
Adam was torn between the effectiveness of the Walter defense and the horror of letting his beloved dog lick or touch any part of the troll standing before him.
Fortunately he didn’t have to decide because the reporter threw up her hands and shrieked. “Don’t let it bite me!”
Sensing fun times ahead, Walter bounded higher, his ears floating beside his big, hairy face as he prepared to give the not-so-intrepid reporter a full-frontal Walter Hoale snout in face, paws on chest greeting.
“You’d better leave.” Adam told her, shouting to be heard above Walter’s impressive vocalizations.
She turned and started to run, her wide butt jiggling as she stumbled and tripped in the impractical shoes. Adam was just barely able to grab Walter’s collar as he tried to follow. Though he was seriously tempted to let the big dog catch up to his victim and scare a little sense into her.
A sense of doom tightened his chest, making it hard to breathe. The woman would print her ugly lies just to spite him. There was nothing he could do about it. Except that he didn’t want Dirk to be painted with the same brush by association.
He knew what he’d have to do. He’d have to send Dirk back to Indy. It was the only safe thing to do.
Sometimes going home is clarifying. Sometimes it’s just plain deadly!
Adam travels to Candlelight, Indiana to visit his parents for Christmas. When he arrives he discovers somebody has killed a man and dumped him in the manger of the living crèche at the local church. Unfortunately, all signs lead back to Adam’s father as the murderer. A Sheriff with a grudge and a small town more interested in gossip than reality, convince Adam that it will be up to him and the gang to clear his father’s name.
Walter met them at the door when they got back. He snuffled their hands looking for goodies and then turned back around when he discovered they didn’t have anything and headed back out of the kitchen. The house was dark and quiet but Adam found a note on the kitchen table from his mom.
Gone back to the station. You and Dirk can share the bunks right? Mink’s in the guest room. Love, Mom.
Adam briefly considered going to the station too, but Dirk seemed to read his mind and took the note out of his hands, settling it onto the table. “She’s doing what she needs to do, Ads. Let her be.”
Adam briefly considered arguing but weariness got the better of him. “Yeah. I’ll get a couple of hours of sleep and spell her in the morning.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Dirk told him, pulling him out of the kitchen. “Was your mom actually talking about the bunk beds?”
Heat suffused Adam’s face and he wasn’t sure if it was because of memories engendered by Dirk’s question, or embarrassment that his mom hadn’t changed his room a whit since he was twelve. “I’m afraid so,” Adam admitted.
They hit the stairs and started to climb. “Yum,” Dirk said, leaning in to nibble Adam’s jaw. “I still have wet dreams about those beds.”
Adam laughed, feeling his own wet dream coming up. “It was probably the Astronaut Eddie comforters.”
“Nope,” Dirk shook his head. “I’m pretty sure it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle posters on the walls.”
Adam laughed. “I totally wanted to do Donatello.”
Dirk snorted against his neck. “I was a Raphael guy myself. Punch first and ask questions later always made me hard.”
They stopped laughing as they passed the guest room door and heard a high-pitched whistling noise.
“Good god, what is that?” Dirk asked.
The whistling was quickly followed by the sound of whinnying and Adam suddenly grinned, realizing what they were hearing. “Oh, that’s Mink. He snores like a girl.”
“Or a horse.”
The door to Adam’s room was open and there was an entirely different kind of snoring coming from inside. A quick look around located the source. That was when they realized that Walter had commandeered the bottom bunk.
Adam tried to move him off the bed but he was like a lead-filled pillow with slippery covering. When Walter slept he was pretty much in a coma state.
“I guess we’re sharing the top bunk.” Dirk lifted an eyebrow and Adam’s stomach did a little flip. In a blink, the weariness that had been dogging him slid away. He stepped closer and Dirk’s arms were suddenly around him, pulling him into a full-body press that stole his breath.
Their lips touched and heat flared between them as it always had, from the earliest days fumbling and exploring in the dark. As Dirk’s lips parted and his tongue slipped into Adam’s mouth, memories slid over him like melted chocolate—sweet, dark and addictive.
The years sloughed away under the power of their mutual attraction, just as strong in that moment as it had been fifteen years earlier.
Sometimes going home is clarifying. Sometimes it’s just plain deadly!
Adam’s phone rang forty-five minutes later, as he was exiting Highway 65 to enter the sleepy little town of Candlelight, Indiana. He looked at the screen and smiled, hitting Answer. “Hey Mink!”
“Adam! Are you there yet?”
“Just turned onto Main Street. I’m hearing Psycho music.”
Mink giggled. “You’re such a drama queen.”
“You got the queen part right, anyway,” Adam told him with a smile. “Are you calling to give me a hard time?”
“No, Adam. I promised I’d talk you off the ledge and I was just checking to see if you’ve stepped out of the window yet.”
Adam pulled into the first gas station he spotted. His tank was still half full but he told himself it was a good idea to top it off anyway. He wasn’t stalling or anything. “No window. No ledge. I’m getting gas.”
“No strong urges to pucker up and suck some petrol?”
Adam grimaced, opened the gas cap and grabbed the nozzle. “Not even a little bit. There have to be easier ways to escape a holiday with my family.”
“Good. You’re not completely desperate then.”
“No. Not desperate. I’ve decided I can do this. I’ll be fine.” Adam slid his credit card through the reader, punched a few buttons, and locked the nozzle into place. As gas flowed into his tank, he leaned against the truck to look around. Familiar faces moved past behind car windows and around the gas station. He waved at his seventh grade English teacher and recognized the sour face of the neighbor down the street from his parents’ house. The man glared at him as he climbed into his big, rusted old Buick. Adam thought it might even be the same car the man used to drive when Adam was a kid, playing kickball on the streets.
As always when he came home, Adam marveled at the sameness of the small town. It was like it was enclosed in a time capsule. He figured upwards of ninety percent of Candlelight’s inhabitants never left its warm embrace to venture out into the world. He imagined they looked at him askance because he had. Adam pulled the nozzle from the truck and re-seated it in the pump, replacing the cap and climbing into the truck.
“My offer still stands,” Mink said. “I can come down there and give you moral support if you want.”
It was a really kind offer, coming from a place of love and loyalty, and Adam felt guilty that he didn’t want to take Mink up on it. “Thanks, buddy. I appreciate the offer but I think I need to do this alone.”
“Okay. Call if you change your mind.” A shrill barking started in the background and Mink said, “FeFe says hi to Walter.”
Adam reached over and scratched the big dog’s shoulder. His tail bopped once against the seat but he didn’t turn from the window. “I’ll tell him. Thanks for checkin’ in, Minks. I’ll talk to you on Monday when I get back.”
A horn sounded as he pulled out of the station and Adam turned to find a familiar, smiling face behind the glass of a red Mazda G6. He waved at Buddy Winters, the popular halfback of the 1996 Candlelight High Flames football team. Adam turned onto Main and headed down the familiar streets, toward his parents’ house. He found himself thinking about the intoxicating and angst-ridden days of high school. It was the time in Adam’s life when he’d first started to suspect he was gay.
It had also been the best time in his life, because Dirk Williams, star quarterback, had decided to explore the possibilities with him. Adam smiled at the memory of sweet kisses and tentative fumbling under the bleachers in the dark after football practice. Those had been heady days, full of promise and rife with excitement. Whatever happened between him and Dirk since that time, those first tentative touches never lost their luster for Adam.
He was so far down memory lane he almost missed the turn off to Mockingbird Boulevard, saved at the last minute only by the eight-foot high sign in front of Saint Theresa’s, the big, old church a few blocks away from his parents’ home. The sign, telling passersby that the annual living crèche would be held from seven to midnight on Christmas Eve, was the same one he remembered seeing every year as a kid.
Even the signage didn’t change in Candlelight.
Sometimes going home is clarifying. Sometimes it’s just plain deadly!
“That’s crazy talk, Ads. Visiting your family is not like being castrated with a rusty can opener.”
Adam grimaced and flung a third pair of jeans into his suitcase. “Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s worse.”
Dirk lifted a dark-blond eyebrow. “You know you’re only going to be there for two days, right?”
“Two days and three very long nights.” Adam threw him a suspicious look. “What’s your point?”
Dirk walked over and slid his arms around Adam’s waist, pulling him in for a hug. “I think three pairs of jeans and four shirts is overkill, babe.”
Adam leaned into him and sighed. “I need lots of clothes, in case I have to flee over the border.”
Laughing, Dirk placed his hands on Adam’s shoulders and started to rub. “What border is that? Kentucky or Illinois?”
“Har de har har, Dirk. You’ve met my family right? You know how stressful this is going to be. I’ll probably sweat through three of those shirts the first night.” He glanced worriedly toward the suitcase. “Maybe I should add another one.”
Dirk grabbed his arm as he turned toward the closet. “You’re compensating.”
Adam pulled free, heading for the dresser. “Uh, huh. Whatever that means.”
“It means you’re channeling your fears of interacting with your dad into the exterior representation of your personality.”
Adam turned from the dresser with several pairs of socks in his hands. “Exterior, huh…? What the hell are you talking about, Williams?”
Dirk fixed a piercing green gaze on Adam, looking down a strong, almost too large nose at his lover and pursing his cupid’s bow mouth with irritation. “The way you dress. Your hair…”
Adam flung the socks into the overburdened suitcase. “What about my hair?”
Dirk reached over and slipped his fingers through the newly shorn, dark-brown strands. “You look like a Marine.”
Adam grinned, dancing his eyebrows. “You wanna play army?”
“I think Marines are technically part of the Navy, babe.”
Adam expelled a breath. “Being a know-it-all is not one of your better qualities, Williams.”
Dirk stared at him for a long moment and then said. “You cut your hair because you’re trying to make your dad think you’re something you’re not. You’re fussing over your clothes because it’s the one thing in the upcoming situation you can control. And you’re fussing at me because you know I’ll still love you even after you piss me off.”
Adam zipped his suitcase up and lifted it to the floor. “You’ve been insufferable ever since you played that psychiatrist in Mindless Love.”
Dirk grinned. “I rocked that role.”
“Yeah. Well…” Adam rolled his suitcase toward Dirk. “Playing a psychiatrist in a movie doesn’t make you one.”
Dirk tucked his fingers into the waistline of Adam’s jeans and tugged him close. “And playing an asshole in real life doesn’t make you one.” Dirk frowned. “Though at the moment you’re really convincing in the role.”