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Excerpt: (R) Arbor Heights: Beneath the Shield / DeRicci / MM Contemp

The one that started it all with MLR…. If they’d only known what they were starting…. hehehehe


Beneath the Shield
ISBN# 978-1-60820-308-5
(ebook) $5.99
Release Date February 2011
Cover Artist Deana C. Jamroz

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Jack Torres has been harboring, zealously nurturing a hidden guilt for three
years. This mire of emotions has hardened his heart and his want to reconnect to
the living world, keeping him isolated and unapproachable.

Brant Teller is a chance encounter Jack keeps from growing physically violent
in a crowded nightclub. Parting ways, Brant doesn’t expect to see the brooding,
silent officer again. Yet when a domestic violence call brings the surly officer
right to his ER, Brant takes a chance. What begins as a Sunday of football has
the possibility to become so much more. If Jack will open himself up enough to
releasethe agony of his own personal nightmare.

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…Will capture your heart

~Sensual Reads; Elise

​​

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Chapter One

Jack followed the gyrating mob of bodies on the dance floor, idly rolling the glass on the table between his fingers in utter indifference, feeling the ice tap at the glass more than hearing it. Some of the crowd was in skintight leather, others in denim or silk. All were men. None appealed to Jack. He hadn’t danced with one, not that many hadn’t asked or plied their way into a hello with a drink. It didn’t matter in the least to him. He wasn’t there to cruise or to be picked up.

He should have been having a good time. He wasn’t.

Thumping bass music vibrated the floor, the plastic seat under his ass, even the air with the lights swinging and sparking to the rhythm. The blaring cacophony was enough to give a person epilepsy. His cousin, Trevi, had dragged him to Slick’s, and he really wished he hadn’t. Turning thirty was total bullshit in his book. Especially when doing it alone.

Hell, Trevi was having a better time than Jack was, dancing, uncaring that his partners were men. His cousin was a party animal. He could find a pack of hyenas and have a good time. He’d kept an eye on his younger cousin, but figured if he wanted to play in this pool for whatever the bounty, then he’d better be prepared to pay at the door. So far, Trevi had managed to avoid any real issues, and Jack was losing interest in keeping tabs on him. Might be why he hadn’t been back to the table in a dog’s age. Maybe Trevi had figured it all out. Maybe. He wasn’t holding his breath.

Jack lifted his glass to slurp down the latest concoction that had been set before him. He hadn’t had to order one drink yet. He’d lost count, and had quit bothering to thank the sharks swimming in ever-tightening circles for their largesse. If they wanted to toss drinks his way, let them. He didn’t have to work for another three days. Jack could get wasted in a swan dive of FUBAR proportions. And he was certainly considering doing just that.

“Damn it, Ryan. I said leave me alone.” Someone jostled his chair, but he ignored the bickering couple.

“But, babe, it was a one-time deal.”

Petulant whining. Yeah, that’s a real man there, folks.

“Fuck you!”

A body slammed into Jack, splashing his drink over his hand. He set it down and stood. Probably something he shouldn’t have done since he was half-lit like a Christmas tree, but no one started shit around him.

At six-three he wasn’t huge—there were bigger men in all ways than him. But woe be to the one who dared to meet and keep his gaze.

“What’s the deal?” His voice was low, yet still easily heard over the pounding of the music.

“None of your business.”

Jack assumed the belligerent ass was Ryan, his counterpart, as of yet, unnamed.

He stared the dickhead square in the eye. “It becomes my business when you start getting physical.”

The man who had obviously been determined to end whatever was going on took Jack by surprise. He wasn’t some little twink, but a specimen of gorgeousness in a dark blue, skin tight t-shirt and ass-hugging denim. And was apparently the one who had plowed into Jack. It was more likely he’d been shoved, taking in their faces.

“Brant, seriously. He didn’t mean shit.”

“Obviously, neither did I if you let him do you.”

“You were late!”

“Don’t fucking pin it on me. You shouldn’t have let the ass suck you off!”

Jack had heard enough and was sure he didn’t need to know more. He was ready to avoid a lover’s spat, but that was when Ryan went a little too far. Thrusting a hand out, he wrapped unforgiving fingers around Brant’s throat, yanking him bodily forward. He wasn’t a lot taller than Brant, but did outweigh him with muscle that looked gifted by barbell.

Ryan gave Jack a smug look. “Sorry for disturbing you.”

Brant growled. “Let me go, you asshole.”

“Sorry. Can’t hear you.” Ryan began to step away, as though this was nothing unusual between the two. But by the flare of anger in Brant’s eyes, it was.

Jack heard his request clearly. He reached into his back pocket, aware Ryan had already dismissed him. Opening his bi-fold in clear view, he calmly but clearly ordered, “Let the man go, Ryan.” The flicker of his badge was unmistakable in the shimmer of the glittering lights.

A small gathering had quieted to watch the drama, but the club patrons were mostly oblivious. For that, Jack was grateful. He wasn’t on the clock and he was halfway to drunk. Just what he needed going on a report.

Slowly, Ryan’s fingers flexed, as he stood nearly eye–to-eye with Jack. Brant was right at six feet at a guess, and sleek as a leopard. Sinewy strength that, at the moment, was held frozen as Ryan debated pushing harder for domination.

Seconds crawled by until he relinquished Brant’s throat. He lifted a snarled lip at Jack, a “this round” silent challenge in his expression. Stepping away, he spun and disappeared into the crowd. Jack waved his hand. “Go,” he mouthed, and like a gun had been shot, the crowd vanished.

Jack slid into his chair, scouring the crowd for Trevi. He was done. Ready to get his ass home and in bed.

“Thank you.” Brant stood at his shoulder.

“Don’t mention it.”

“I don’t want to impose, but can I sit for a minute?”

Jack raised his gaze and noted the other man still looked shaken. “Sure.” He motioned to a chair at his side. “Is he like that all the time?” he asked, once Brant was seated and breathing calmly.

Brant shrugged, leaning on his elbows on the table, avoiding the slopped over liquor of Jack’s drink. “Not sure. We only dated a few weeks.” At least it was clear Brant had no intention of continuing with the jackass.

Glancing at him, Jack had the oddest notion he knew this man. Probably from the too many “whatevers” he’d had to drink. A fresh something slid onto the table, the waiter motioning across the room.

Lifting his eyes, Jack spotted the gift giver; a decent-looking businessman with steel rim glasses and a cute smile. He dipped his head in thanks, but didn’t touch it. “Fuck.”

“Tell me to kiss off if you want, but who pissed in your Cheerios?”

Jack snorted. “Here.” He offered Brant the fresh drink. “Enjoy.” He stood from his seat. “If another black haired mongrel that looks like me shows up, tell him I went home.”

“What’s your name?” Brant asked quickly, green eyes expectantly focused on him.

“Jack.”

“And the mongrel?” Brant asked with a light grin.

“My cousin, Trevi.”

“I can do that. And thanks, Jack.”

“No problem.” He gave Brant a final once-over, stumped at the sense of recognition and knowing he was too drunk to really put it together. He walked outside to the cool autumn breeze, inhaling deep to help clear the alcohol fumes in his head. His ears were practically ringing from the insane volume inside. Taking his time, he walked to the side of the building, ready to find a cab.

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Excerpt:


Jack was trying to think. Brant was making even the simplest thought exceptionally difficult. Then Brant turned his head to flick his tongue out to get another playful taste and he immediately remembered at least one reason why they shouldn’t.

“Your head.” Jack tightened his grip on Brant’s hips, urging him to listen. The bruise looked awful, the impact to his temple obvious as darkened skin seemed on the verge of turning purple.

“Not feeling a thing,” Brant murmured. “Well, no pain, anyway. I’m feeling plenty at the moment.” Brant chuckled as he glided down Jack’s chest, his lips, tongue and teeth paving the way. Jack hardly noticed when Brant eased the button of his jeans free.

“Brant,” Jack breathed. Brant’s motions slowed, and he shimmied up Jack’s frame until he was looking down at him.

“Shh. I’m seducing you. Take it like a man and shut up.” He brushed tender lips to Jack’s.

Jack blinked. Seducing? Wicked and heated green eyes stared into his. He gulped. Faster than a lightning strike, Brant reversed direction down Jack’s torso and was even then sipping kisses to his stomach. Warm breath bathed his skin. He felt as much as heard the grating sound of his zipper being lowered, then the unmistakable release of pressure on his engorged shaft as the material was spread.

An appreciative purr was his only warning before the heated slick of Brant’s tongue shook hands with Jack’s cock.

Jack groaned. His brain ceased to function. Brant hooked the waist of Jack’s jeans and tugged, yanking them and his briefs over his legs. “God, you’re gorgeous. I can’t say it enough,” Brant murmured with deep admiration. Jeans vanished over Jack’s feet, his socks following as if by magic. Jack clutched at sheets, the blanket since vanished to somewhere unknown.

His body was on overload. He’d fought the attraction. Now, apparently starved, all he could do was lie there and take what Brant dished out. Because even he couldn’t lie effectively enough to say he didn’t want it. He’d known in some part of his head that being in this bed would have one of two outcomes. Jack had prayed he’d be strong enough to fight this choice. Knew as soon as he felt either of them stir, he should have left the bed.

For some reason, he really couldn’t find the anger at himself to know he’d failed to avoid it.

Not when Brant’s tongue was… Oh shit. He moaned, gasping as Brant licked and lapped at heated skin, his nuts being suckled like sweet plums between Brant’s lips. The firm up and down stroke of his hand on Jack’s cock was heaven.

Seduction successful.

Jack couldn’t fight this, couldn’t push Brant away. He couldn’t inflict physical pain a second time to convince himself he didn’t want it, because he did want it. God, he wanted this, wanted Brant badly. Brant was touching him everywhere. Fingers, lips, tongue, even little bites on the sensitive skin of his inner thigh. Jack shook with the force of his burgeoning need. It was surging, threatening to crash over him like a tsunami wave and sweep him under by the sheer force of Brant’s oral attack.

Pressure encouraged him to broaden the V of his pose and he did, without qualm, without hesitation. He could hate himself after for caving, for wanting, for needing. The extent of his mobility was to grip the sheets anyway. Escaping wasn’t an option any longer.

Brant held his thick dick firm as he inched upward again. “Well, look what I found in my bed,” he said. Jack slit his eyes, focusing on a bewitching smile and a gaze that spoke of pleasures to come. Sidling beside the bed to stand next to a prone Jack, Brant opened the drawer of his nightstand.

“Brant.” He swallowed and tried again when even he heard the adamant growl of desire in the single syllable. Though he wasn’t sure if he was truly asking him to stop, or something else, something that he craved but couldn’t ask for.

Brant’s eyes drifted shut, his shoulders rolling. “God, just you saying my name makes me want to come.” He tossed a tube and a couple condom packets to the other end of the bed. Freeing his control of Jack’s cock, he swept his sweatshirt over his head. Jack sucked in a breath at his first real view of Brant. “I hope you’re not disappointed. I can’t get the physique you have. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

“Are you serious?” Jack gave in, rolling to a hip to sit in front of Brant. Tentatively, relearning the motions of touching for pleasure, he formed his hands to Brant’s body, sculpting the slopes and valleys with unsteady fingers. His mouth watered, wanting to taste him as much as Brant had feasted on Jack. Firm pecs with taut nipples, a light fuzz of hair that would be arousing as hell against his own skin. There wasn’t any fat on the man. Smooth hips and an even better ass now that it was about to be naked. He wanted that. Now.

Brant threaded a steady hand into Jack’s hair, halting his forward foray. “Not this time. You touch me and I’ll go off where I stand. I’ve wanted you for weeks.” Softening the block, Brant bent and kissed Jack, dancing his tongue over Jack’s lips, gliding his loosened shirt completely off his shoulders in the process. “Undo my jeans,” he whispered, then slipped his tongue between Jack’s teeth to tantalize him again.

Jack did, quickly releasing the button and zipper then rocking them over Brant’s hips until they puddled at his bare feet. Brant stepped out of them, punting them out of the way.

Jack was lost with his heart racing in an erratic tempo. Thick and red, Brant’s cock tempted him, the large head pointing at him like a spear, a spear he wanted to get his lips around. Hunger burned through him. Need possessed him. A low growl bubbled through his chest. His facade of humanity was quickly being shredded by a hunger so intense, he quivered.

Jack cupped a hand to his hip and tugged before Brant realized he was bringing Brant to Jack, not leaning toward his prize.

Brant’s body bowed in surprise, driving his hard shaft deep into Jack’s mouth. Jack moaned the instant thick flesh filled his mouth. So good.

“Jack!” Fingers furrowed into his hair, clutching as Brant stiffened. Blood thickened the cock between Jack’s lips as he sucked. Sighs and whimpers fell from the doctor’s lips, falling on Jack’s ears and turning him on more.

Riding the heavy length to the end, he gripped it at the base, then as an added shot, he stroked his cheek with the tip, running over the abrasion of his beard growth.

Brant’s shout was music, deep, lusting, hungry. Nails dug into Jack’s naked shoulders. “Fuck! Jack…need…now.” The man was trembling, leaning more on Jack than standing.

Reaching up, Jack palmed the back of his head and tugged him to his lips, claiming that hot temptation for himself. “Then fuck me, baby.”

Brant moaned, harsh breaths and flushed skin signs of his need. Jack went willingly when Brant shoved him to the bed.

“Over. Want that ass,” Brant said, climbing once more on the bed behind Jack. A single, stinging slap on his ass pulled his body as tight as a corkscrew. He tossed his head, then pushed backward. The repeated sting of a flat palm had him fisting the blankets, a groan echoing in the room followed by a needy backward arched plea. “Shit, Jack. Your ass was made for fucking. Perfect.” The hot swipe of a tongue down the crack sent him spinning.

The pop of the lube was heard bear seconds before Brant slid a slicked finger over his pucker.

Jack couldn’t do more than moan incoherently. Heat and pressure built side by side.

Whispers filled the air, punctuated by needy growls from Jack and words of encouragement from Brant. “Christ, you’re tight. Easy, sexy.”

Jack let out a breath, relishing the stretch, craving the touch. Controlling but tender strength on his hip rocked him, eased the strain as Brant readied him.

More lube, cool to rapidly warm as Brant scissored his fingers. Jack arched when he stroked over his prostate. “Shit!” The single word was a bark that faded to a growled hiss.

Shivers crammed themselves over his spine when Jack felt the sharp bite of teeth on his ass. Then Brant slid down and played with Jack’s balls. “Brant!” He was coming apart. He heard the telltale signs of a condom being opened, and waited, clawing at the bed for more.

The smooth head of Brant’s cock rested against pulsing flesh. And for just an instant, a memory of Leo flashed before his eyes. Jack stiffened and shifted, denying Brant. Emotions swirled and boxed him in.

“Hey, Jack. It’s okay.” Brant’s whispered voice purred against his ear. Warm breath and understanding dragged him back from the edge. Jack buried his face in the bed, mortified and appalled. The tender stroke of a flat palm petted his spine.

Brant. This wasn’t Leo. Jack let out a harsh exhale. “I’m okay.” Brant’s fingers soothed and caressed more than enflamed.

“Come back to me, baby,” Brant entreated. Warm lips ghosted kisses to Jack’s hip. “Turn over, Jack.” Brant inched out of the way to give Jack space.

He did as Brant asked, flipping to lay on his back. When Leo had made love to him, he rarely took him face to face. Leo had been energetic, roughly enthusiastic and Jack had been bigger than him. Jack hadn’t minded.

Brant leaned forward, his slick, covered cock rubbing against Jack’s as he held himself over Jack’s body on his palms. “Look at me, Jack.” Compelled by the understanding in his voice, Jack did, meeting his open gaze. “It’s okay. Whatever happened. Do you want to stop?”

Did he? Brant wasn’t pushing, was giving him the out. Jack firmed his jaw. Leo was gone. Jack was still a man with desires, and Brant had coaxed them back to life. Jack knew he didn’t deserve Brant’s attention, but Brant didn’t deserve to be iced out because of Jack’s failings either.

He shook his head. Understanding coupled with tender relief shone from Brant’s eyes.

“Kiss me, Jack. Show me you’re still with me.”

Jack cupped his palms to Brant’s face, searching. Not sure what he was looking for, yet feeling he’d found exactly what he needed, he brought Brant’s lips to his. A moaned sigh rocked the quiet of the room. Laying over his length, Brant shifted to the side, cupping Jack’s groin. He moaned into Jack’s mouth as he teased the length, blood pulsing against nerves again. “You feel incredible.”

Soon slow kisses turned into tongue duels of domination. Brant fisted Jack’s cock, pumping him in steady, aching pulls that shot heat and need up from his balls and down his spine.

With the pleasure of Brant sliding two fingers deep into Jack’s ass, Jack didn’t miss a beat; he sucked on Brant’s tongue as pleasure coiled tighter. Proving he was ready, Jack hooked a thigh with his hand, then gasped as the pressure intensified into a tornado of feeling, tossing him into the very center of sensation.

Kneeling between his thighs, Brant braced himself, Jack’s feet flat to the bed. Jack couldn’t look away from the intensity of those green eyes, shot through with lightning strikes of blue. Then Brant was pushing forward and all thought ceased as though he’d run full speed into a brick wall. All there was, was feeling. The sweet heat of the burn, the stretch, then the slick fullness as Brant filled him.

“Sweet hell, you’re hot,” Brant groaned, his shoulders shaking. Jack’s eyes slammed shut.

Brant wasn’t new to the rodeo, widening Jack’s straddle and slamming in. The slap of his body against Jack’s drove him insane.

“Okay?” he gasped.

“Fuck, yes!” Jack fisted his dick, fire boiling in his veins as his orgasm grew. His cock bulged in his hand, sweat coating his skin. Harsh, rapid pants burned his throat. Reaching, he covered Brant’s fingers where he held onto Jack’s leg. Almost as though it was as natural as the sun rising, Brant threaded their fingers together, locking their hands into one. Jack’s heart raced, colliding against his ribcage. Each thrust shook them both.

“Jack,” Brant moaned, his frame quivering as release bore down on them both. His face grew taut under the blissful strain. “Gonna… Oh, God.”

Jack stroked harder, whipping his hand over his rigid dick keeping pace with Brant. Then he shouted, white light eclipsing all thought, narrowing his world to the man inside of him, and the feeling of his orgasm bursting free.

Brant grunted, his hips tightening as he ground down, gasping as each spurt filled the condom, thickening him against Jack’s walls.

Jack knew he was going to have a bruise on his thigh. The imprint of their clasped fingers. He honestly didn’t care. He swallowed, sucking deep breaths. Brant released him. Jack moaned as his body relaxed, stretching out with the man over him doing the same.

Then Brant took him by surprise, bending over him to lick with kitten flicks at the end of his dick, cleaning the stripes of white off his body. The gentle friction and his attention to the job was quickly revitalizing Jack.

Touching his head, he played with Brant’s hair, damp and not quite behaving now. Brant raised his hips, reaching to grab the condom. “Don’t move.” Jack wasn’t too sure he could.

Jack trailed him with unblinking eyes in the dim light as he aimed for the bathroom, the light coming on briefly followed by the sound of running water. He turned the light out again, pitching the room into shadows. Jack couldn’t take his eyes off the other man regardless. Strong legs, a flat stomach, well muscled arms and shoulders and eyes that seemed to see too deeply into Jack.

Brant sat on the bed stealing a kiss before he took on the task of cleaning up Jack’s pleasure.

“Fast recovery, huh?” Brant slid him a daring grin.

Looking in the direction that Brant meant, he gaped at his dick, still hard, standing, begging for attention.

“It’s been a while,” he admitted.

Brant tossed the washcloth on the floor near a pile of someone’s clothes, then settled a palm over Jack’s jaw. Adoring fingers stroked his face, teasing his bottom lip with feathery touches. Jack couldn’t look away.

“Then let’s make up for wasted days.” Brant’s gaze flashed with pure sexy challenge. “I have a few myself.”

Jack splayed a trembling hand over Brant’s bare chest. Jack knew he didn’t deserve any part of Brant. As the doctor stretched out on the bed again, side by side, angling Jack to hover over him with a quiet sigh of yearning, he knew he couldn’t go back to what he had been either.

He prayed that when Brant learned the truth, he could forgive Jack. He knew his chances were slim. Jack hadn’t forgiven himself yet.


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New Release – HoHo Honeybun – Get Your Fun on for Christmas!

hohohoneybun-500

He just wants her to take life a little more seriously. She’s decided he could have a point. Especially now that somebody wants her dead.

Dolfe Honeybun broke up with Blaise Runa because her party girl ways were driving him to distraction. Unfortunately, out of sight does NOT mean out of mind. And when his favorite party girl sees something she shouldn’t and finds herself being chased by a cold blooded killer… reason shuts down and Dolfe’s heart takes over. If only he can get to her in time!

~~*~~

The night was thick and moist despite the fact that the sun had dropped below the horizon hours earlier. The sand beneath Blaise’s feet was still warm, the granules heavy and dry as they rolled under her step.

Behind her a dense fringe of palm trees turned the multi-hued lighting of the party to colored ribbons on the sky, which swayed and twisted at the whim of the gently blowing trees. The palms muted the rambunctious music and transformed the raucous conversation to a formless rumble.

Blaise headed for the water, swinging her shoes as she walked. They were her favorite party shoes, tall and elegant and cherry red. Jimmy Choos. Against her will, her thoughts turned to another pair of Jimmies she’d worn the night she’d come upon a tall, broad-shouldered god with a square jaw and intense green gaze.

Dolfe had tripped over her in the dark that night, skidding several feet on a filthy warehouse floor. But he’d come up with a flashlight and a big, black gun in his hands and Blaise had nearly peed herself when he spoke.

Don’t you fucking move!

Thinking of their meeting now, Blaise found herself smiling. Those first moments characterized the entirety of their relationship. With him trying to understand why she was drunk and barefoot in a meth lab, carrying her unpractical shoes in one hand while her foot bled from being cut on the broken glass scattered all over the floor, and Blaise thoroughly enjoying his confusion while contemplating how his sexy lips would taste and feel.

Dolfe Honeybun was as serious as bullet. And Blaise was a party girl, viewing life through a brightly colored lens that highlighted its many possibilities.

They were polar opposites, her and Dolfe. Yet she felt his loss like a hole in the pit of her stomach. She figured it would take a really long time to get over him.

No matter how many parties she attended.

A shout down the beach brought her head up and her attention back to the moment. She glanced in that direction but the night was too dark, the stingy moon hiding behind a charcoal gray bank of quickly skidding clouds.

She turned away, heading the opposite direction to avoid meeting up with whomever had given the drunken shout.

Blaise wasn’t in the mood for company. It was the reason she’d skipped out on the party in the first place. She just wanted to walk on the beach for a while, letting the rhythmic roar of the water lull her thoughts and ease the sudden, inexplicable panic that had slashed through her back at the bar, where her friends, new and old, still partied.

They probably hadn’t even noticed she didn’t come back from the ladies. The thought brought sadness sliding through her and, to her amazement, Blaise’s eyes filled with tears. She suddenly felt alone and lonely.

The realization stopped her, dropping her to her knees in the warm sand.

She’d never felt alone at a party. Blaise was the classic extrovert, gaining energy from being around others…from the easy playfulness of alcohol-induced interaction.

She’d always enjoyed social situations…had thought she couldn’t live without them. She’d even thought for a time that Dolfe was being unfair asking her to change.

Tears ran down her cheeks and Blaise sniffled. She’d tried to hide her resentment from him, but he’d seen it. Dolfe was a trained investigator and a really smart man. He’d known she was chafing at the restrictions he placed on her. Not verbally, but just by his wanting to spend time with her alone and away from her friends.

Looking back, Blaise realized he hadn’t pressed or insisted. That his requests for her time weren’t unreasonable. That she’d driven him away.

She blinked, her chest tightening under the knowledge. She’d never admitted it to herself before. It had been so much easier to blame him.

But she’d known.

It was why she’d been depressed, she suddenly realized. She’d thrown away the best thing that had ever happened to her for a pretty bauble…a useless sparkling jewel.

She was an idiot.

More shouting. And it was coming closer—heading her way. Blaise swore. Why couldn’t she just have five minutes alone?

A woman ran along the water’s edge, her bare feet splashing and splatting against the soggy, compacted sand. She was breathing hard…no Blaise realized…she was sobbing. And she kept looking back over her shoulder.

A dozen yards away a man followed, his stride unhurried and aggressive. His silence and determined pursuit seemed oddly ominous and Blaise shivered. He looked to be a young man, with black hair that shone in the glow of a moon freshly extricated from the cloud cover. He wore a Hawaiian shirt that should have looked silly, but on his strong, lithe frame it somehow didn’t.

The woman wore a gauzy halter dress, its frothy skirt clutched in one hand as she ran. She limped badly and Blaise saw a glossy darkness above one knee that could have been blood.

She frowned. Her gaze sliding speculatively toward the man. Had he hurt her?

Blaise started to stand, pushing to her feet just as a massive wave crashed onto the shore. The wave was louder than it should have been, edged in a sharp retort Blaise couldn’t miss from her hours at the shooting range with Dolfe.

Her head snapped up and, for an instant she couldn’t see the woman. Then the water rushed away from the shore and she saw the tumbling limbs, the swirling froth of the woman’s skirt.

She was lying face down in the surf, her long, golden hair floating around her like gilded seaweed.

Blaise made a soft sound and her hand flew to her mouth, her eyes widening. Her gaze slid slowly along the beach. The man had stopped, his face obscured in shadow as the moon skittered behind a cloud. But he was looking right at Blaise. She could feel his hostile regard like a greasy touch against her skin. His hands were down at his sides, but as she watched in horror, one of them started to lift. She had no trouble recognizing the shape of a pistol gripped in his hand.

Blaise straightened, moved onto the balls of her feet, and dropped her shoes.

She shook her head, backing away as the gun came up, focusing on her. Then she did the only thing she could, fearing it wouldn’t be nearly enough.

She turned around and started to run.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

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Amazon.au: http://www.amazon.com.au/HOHO-Honeybun-Fever-Book-ebook/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hoho-honeybun-sam-cheever/1120803307

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hohohoneybun-1682895-149.html

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/494760

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | About.Me | Amazon Author Page

HoHo Honeybun – Fun and Sexy Romantic Suspense

hohohoneybun-500

He just wants her to take life a little more seriously. She’s decided he could have a point. Especially now that somebody wants her dead.

Dolfe Honeybun broke up with Blaise Runa because her party girl ways were driving him to distraction. Unfortunately, out of sight does NOT mean out of mind. And when his favorite party girl sees something she shouldn’t and finds herself being chased by a cold blooded killer… reason shuts down and Dolfe’s heart takes over. If only he can get to her in time!

~~*~~

Dolfe Honeybun stood in the shadows and watched his ex-girlfriend flirt with a tall, annoyingly good looking guy on line at a popular nightclub. She looked spectacular as usual, her long, slimly curved form lovingly embraced in some kind of shimmery white material which didn’t cover nearly enough of her.

He frowned as the man she was speaking to leaned forward, whispering something into Blaise’s ear as his hand slipped over her hip and stopped on her firm, round behind. Dolfe’s pressure spiked and he was moving forward before he could stop himself.

He crossed the street to the blare of horns, almost completely oblivious to oncoming traffic. Red flares were flashing in front of his eyes and his hands were clenched into fists. As he plummeted heart first into complete loss of control, Dolfe took some comfort in the fact he hadn’t pulled his gun.

It didn’t matter that Blaise deftly, and with a smile, removed the man’s hand from her delicious behind. It didn’t even matter that she walked away. Because the other guy’s lust-saturated gaze followed her sexy sway down the sidewalk, her heels click-clacking rhythmically on the concrete as she walked.

Dolfe decided in that moment the man had to die.

He headed straight for the cocky, overdressed buffoon who was accepting knuckle bumps from his friends by way of celebrating that he’d copped a feel from the gorgeous black woman with the million dollar smile.

Dolfe would rip him into such small pieces his friend Brita Muldane, the cop, wouldn’t even be able to find the body.

The weasel turned as Dolfe stormed toward him, his unintelligent blue eyes widening at the look on Dolfe’s face. He took a step back as Dolfe reached for him.

Dolfe’s ears roared. He could taste every beat of his heart as his pulse surged to the danger zone. And adrenaline had him by the throat as he grabbed pretty boy’s expensive tweed coat by the lapels and dragged him off the ground.

“Hey!” the guy’s friends coughed out. But when Dolfe turned his murderous gaze on them they lifted their hands and stepped back. Apparently judging their friend to be unworthy of having their own blood spilled.

Somewhere on the edges of Dolfe’s awareness a familiar click, clack, click, clack intruded, the sound speeding and getting louder as it got closer.

He shook the offensive pup like a rag doll and pressed his face close. The young punk stank of expensive cologne. He was damn lucky he didn’t smell like Blaise.

That would have signed his death warrant for sure.

Click, clack, click, clack…

The guy tried tugging Dolfe’s hands from his coat without any success. “What the hell, man?”

“You think that’s the right way to treat a lady?” Dolfe growled into his face.

The guy blinked under every word, as if he were being pelted with buckshot. “What lady?”

Dolfe’s growl deepened and the guy’s heels lifted another inch from the ground. “Wrong response, punk.”

Click, clack, click, clack…

“Hey come on, dude,” the guy whined. “Blaise is just a friend.”

“You always run your hands all over your friends’ asses?” Chuckling from the guy’s disloyal friends abruptly stopped as Dolfe skimmed them with a hostile, green glance. When they were properly quelled, Dolfe refocused his hostility where it belonged. “You want to feel up my behind?”

More chuckling.

Click, clack, click, clack…

The guy grimaced. “I don’t play for that team, dude.”

Dolfe shook him. “But I thought you always felt up your friends. I’m thinking you and me are friends.”

“Damn it, Dolfe!” A soft, long-fingered hand gripped his arm, tugging on it. “Let him go.”

Dolfe inhaled deeply, her exquisite scent spearing his senses and rolling like warm butter over his nerves. “Stay out of this, honey. The guy dissed you. I’m takin’ care of it.”

She tugged harder. “Dolfe Honeybun, you let go of him right now and come with me.”

He finally turned to look at her and forgot to breathe. He’d almost forgotten how beautiful she was…how delicious she looked and smelled. He frowned, turning back to the punk. “Learn respect you little jerk.” He dragged the guy off the ground another half inch just to drive home his point and then flung him away.

The punky kid stumbled backward several steps, his friends catching him before he landed on his ass.

Dolfe turned away and immediately forgot him. He grinned. “Hey, honey. You look stunning as always.”

Blaise glared at him, her long, slender arms crossed over her chest. Her pretty brown eyes flashed with pique. “Let’s take a little walk, shall we?” She started down the sidewalk, her four inch high spiked heels click-clacking angrily against the concrete.

Dolfe winked at the disgruntled punk and started after her, his gaze sliding over the crowd of males to ensure nobody else got any ideas about disrespecting his girl.

He blinked, his stomach twisting with disappointment. Scratch that. Blaise was now his ex-girlfriend. They’d broken up the week before. Basically because of the very thing he’d just interrupted.

Blaise hit the corner and stopped, turning back to him with a decidedly unhappy look on her beautiful face. The golden light from the streetlamp illuminated her delicious form, making her look like an ebony skinned angel with fire in her veins. She fairly vibrated with rage. Her whole form was taut with it, her delicate jaw working over the words she no doubt wanted to fling his way.

She didn’t even wait for him to reach her before she launched. “What the hell is wrong with you? What are you doing stalking me?”

Dolfe drifted to a stop and shoved his hands into his pockets, holding her fiery gaze. He was fully aware he’d acted badly but he didn’t care. He’d do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/HOHO-Honeybun-Fever-Book-ebook/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

Amazon.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/HOHO-Honeybun-Fever-Book-ebook/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/HOHO-Honeybun-Fever-Book-English-ebook/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

Amazon.au: http://www.amazon.com.au/HOHO-Honeybun-Fever-Book-ebook/dp/B00PWZ77Y0

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hoho-honeybun-sam-cheever/1120803307

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hohohoneybun-1682895-149.html

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/494760

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | About.Me | Amazon Author Page

New Release – An Apocalyptic Need is on Cyber Shelves Now!

AnApocalypticNeed

She might be the enemy. He might have to take her down. But all he really wants to do is make slow, sweet love to her.

Grimm Forbes has been captured by sexy spaceship Captain Cari Pascale and turned into her sex vassal. But, as alliances conspire to take down his old friends at the Authority, Grimm worries that the woman who ignites his sexual fantasies might be at the epicenter of the treachery. It’s possible he’ll have to make a choice between his friends and the woman he wants in his bed. He only prays he has the strength to make the right decision, because the consequences of making the wrong one will be apocalyptic.

~~*~~

Grimm tossed and turned on the too-soft bed. His body was hot, hard and ached with unfulfilled lust. He’d managed to doze a few times throughout the long, long night, but each time he’d been flung awake when Captain Cari Pascale entered his dreams, soft and sexy and lushly naked.

In his dreams he’d tasted her sweet flesh, spread her luscious thighs, and kissed his way over the soft, rounded contours of her body. But each time, before he could plunge deep within her willing flesh, his traitorous body had surged awake.

Denying him over and over again.

Grimm turned his head and found her, a small rise along the floor beside her bed. Her long, blond tresses glowed brightly, a brilliant star in the near dark. He’d already figured out how to open his cell door. But she was a light sleeper and he wasn’t sure he could get to her before she woke. The element of surprise was important. Or he’d find himself facing her oxygen blaster.

Seduction didn’t work as well when firepower was involved.

A soft sound brought Grimm’s gaze snapping around. For a moment he thought he’d imagined it, but then the door to Cari’s quarters slid open on a breath of air. His fingers closed around the knife he’d stolen from his guard earlier that day, certain that whoever entered was up to no good.

A tall figure slipped through the door, stepping into the shadows as it slid closed again. Grimm squinted into the dark, trying to see the intruder. The narrow light bands arrayed along the floor illuminated a large pair of black boots and the glint of something long and metal in a gloved hand.

A blade! Cari!

The attacker could kill her before she even knew she was in danger. Alarm flared and Grimm tensed, ready to leap up and distract the intruder long enough for Cari to arm herself. He very slowly pulled the blankets away from his legs so he wouldn’t get tangled in them when he lunged.

The figure across the room shifted, his hand with the knife coming up as he took a step.

Grimm braced himself against the frame of the narrow bed, ready to leap.

But the figure with the knife didn’t move toward Cari. He started toward Grimm.

Grimm expelled a soft breath, loosening his bunched muscles as he relaxed back into the bed. The intruder was there for him.

That was good. He was ready.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUP0U6E

Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Apocalyptic-Need-3-ebook/dp/B00PUP0U6E/

Amazon.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apocalyptic-Need-3-ebook/dp/B00PUP0U6E

Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/Apocalyptic-Need-English-ebook/dp/B00PUP0U6E

Amazon.au: http://www.amazon.com.au/Apocalyptic-Need-3-ebook/dp/B00PUP0U6E

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-apocalyptic-need-sam-cheever/1120799369?ean=2940046412840

Kobo Books: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/an-apocalyptic-need

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/494207

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | About.Me | Amazon Author Page

 

Excerpt of Unlaced, a Sexy Thanksgiving Story now 50% off!

unlaced-coverWhat’s better than reuniting with a high school crush 30+ years after graduation? Doing so over a holiday weekend!

Since my story takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, Unlaced is for 50% off from now until November 30!

Here’s the blurb:

When Roxanna Chase finds herself alone in her tiny hometown of Haven, Indiana on Thanksgiving eve, she decides to do the one thing she always swore she’d never do: attend Chatterfest, an unofficial high school reunion held every year the night before Thanksgiving at Haven’s busiest bar, The Watering Hole. After a couple of cocktails and reminiscing with a classmate, Roxanna is overwhelmed, and a little turned on, when her old high school crush Nicholas Birch approaches her at the bar. He’s still as tall, broad-shouldered and sexy as he was thirty years ago. Since he’d dated her best friend in high school, Roxanna had always placed Nicholas in a box marked ‘hands off.’ When Nicholas admits he had feelings for Roxanna in high school, the two decide to leave the bar together and see what happens next. They quickly find that when old flames are rekindled, they can ignite into an inferno that refuses to burn out.

Here’s the set up for the excerpt, my character Roxanna owns her own lingerie manufacturing company which caters to the “well-endowed woman” called Unlaced. I thought this was the perfect career path for my character because, I mean, what’s sexier than designing frilly underthings?

Roxanna has a rather ample bust and much to her dismay, her bra size is the one thing her friends have always fixated on. In the following scene, Roxanna is in the busiest bar in her small hometown on Thanksgiving eve and as she’s embraced by an old high school friend, her “rockin’ rack” is once again the first thing her classmate comments on.

Here’s the excerpt:

“Roxanna,” came the chipper call from Caroline Murphy.

Holding her Manhattan in her left hand, Roxanna swiveled on her bar stool and greeted the bubbly blonde in front of her with a smile. She started to hop down from her perch, but Caroline waved her hands.

“Don’t get up. It’s too hard to get back on the damn things,” Caroline said of the tall bar stool.

Roxanna was enveloped in a big hug after which Caroline grabbed her shoulders, leaned back and peered into her face.

“My God, just look at you, still stunning. You always did have a figure that could give Dolly Parton a run for her money.”

Roxanna blushed at the compliment, even though she’d heard a variation of it since her teen years. She always hated that people made those types of comparisons.

Just once she’d like to be told she had beautiful eyes or nice hair.

 

Buy Unlaced for only $1.49 at

As part of TRS Thanksgiving Party, I’m giving away one copy of my erotic romance Special Delivery.  specialdelivery_banner

To enter, visit the home page of trsparties.com!

Dancing and Caribbean Fun in Finding Justus!

finding-justus-ebkToday I’m sharing from my first romance novel, Finding Justus, largely set on a Caribbean cruise ship.

Here’s the blurb:

Justus Kendall is an interior designer from St. Louis who aspires to start her own design firm and when she lands her biggest job to date, remodeling a prestigious old hotel in downtown St. Louis, she is on top of the world. However, while touring the hotel, her happiness is cut short when she finds her fiancé Alex Williams tumbling out of one of the hotel suites, a naked blonde wrapped in a bed sheet tangled in his arms. Justus is stunned, furious and hurt when she finds Alex cheating on her a month before her wedding.
As a way to get over him, and as a chance to have fun and clear her head, Justus convinces her best friend Krystal to accompany her on her honeymoon cruise. While on the cruise Justus meets a handsome Latin dance instructor named Miguel Amores from Miami. The pair quickly find they have red hot chemistry on the dance floor and off of it.

Below is a scene where Justus and Miguel dance together for the first time.

Justus was about to gasp from the feel of his hard body aligned with hers, but then she remembered this was just a part of the lesson, essential to learning the dance correctly. She also reminded herself of the scene by the pool. It had really looked as though he had something going on with the blonde, so she knew she shouldn’t read too much into the dance lesson. Her head was telling her that’s all there was to it, but her hormones were scoffing at her simplistic nature. If she were being honest with herself, she’d admit that the air between her and Miguel was charged with the powerful current of sexual attraction.

“Music please,” he told his assistant. “And here we go, start by taking slow steps to the opposite side of the room, once there change arm positions and start back toward the direction you came from.” Miguel addressed the instructions to the class while he held his cheek mere inches from hers. Justus had been watching him from the corner of her eye and admired the sense of presence he commanded among his eager pupils. She inhaled deeply as a means of soothing her frayed nerves, but instead her nostrils were greeted with his clean scent and the smell of his woodsy cologne.

“Very good. I see I’ve got a group of fast learners here. We’re going to go over this a few more times, and then we’ll be moving on to the meringue.”

Again Justus’ stomach fluttered, because of the way he said the dance with proper Spanish pronunciation. In an attempt to steel her wavering tummy, Justus tried to make an objective assessment of Miguel. What was the big deal with him, anyway? So he was easy on the eyes. She almost scoffed out loud to herself. She knew that was an understatement. He was a feast for every pair of female eyes.

And why shouldn’t he be?, she asked herself. He was a perfect physical specimen and very sensual. He seemed to positively ooze sex and eroticism with his every move, look, and touch. Justus turned her head toward him to steal a glance at his profile, but he caught her looking at him.

When their gazes connected she almost gasped. His eyes were so arresting, they were a dark, fierce green, like beautiful shining emeralds. She also noticed flecks of gold laced through them, reminiscent of cat’s eyes. But not any ordinary house cat, these were the eyes of a wild predator.

Yes, she decided, with his sexy, sleek moves, black hair and green eyes he was more than a man. He was a panther.

She sighed to herself, so much for her objectivity.

Want to know what happens next?

Buy Finding Justus 

As part of TRS Thanksgiving Party, I’m giving away one copy of my erotic romance Special Delivery.  specialdelivery_banner

To enter, visit the home page of trsparties.com!

Kentucky Cowboy

Kentucky Cowboy 200 300“Warmhearted and wonderful… Kentucky Cowboy is a keeper.” — Bestselling Author Joanne Rock

A contender for the world title, professional bull rider Judd Romeo defies death for a living. Now he must deal with the death of his mother by settling her estate. Returning home to Kentucky, he runs smack dab into the arms of his high school sweetheart, a woman he has never forgotten.

Veterinarian Mandy Sullivan learned early on that risk-takers are trouble. Having custody of her sister’s child, she is working hard to be both mother and father to the abandoned girl, and doesn’t count on trouble showing up next door.

Mandy discovers she can’t avoid the famous cowboy she’s never quite put out of her mind. When Mandy’s sister comes home threatening to take away the little girl Mandy loves as her own, will she realize Judd is not the same man he was back then?

Amazon | iBooks

EXCERPT

“Short Go” at a PBR Event in Dallas, Texas

“That’s one rank sonofabitch. Good draw you got, Romeo.”

Judd Romeo nodded. “Yep, he’s a mean ’un.” Perched on top of a six-foot deep metal chute, a leather bull rope clutched in his right hand, he acknowledged the flank man.

“Ain’t named Bad to the Bone for nuthin’,” the other man said.

Judd turned his attention to the 1900-pound Charolais-cross bull beneath him in the chute. It was good luck to draw last year’s bucking bull of the year. All he had to do was stick on this sucker for eight seconds and he’d have a win. No doubt about it.

Judd expelled a deep breath and rubbed his wet palms across his Wranglers. Pre-ride jitters. Nothing unusual. He’d gotten them before. He’d have them again. If he didn’t get ’em, he didn’t get that edge he needed to stay on one of these big, bad bulls.

Still, Judd’s gut twisted as he eyed stock contractor Tim Wilson’s bull. Other riders said this bull lived up to his name, and they talked about how Bad to the Bone threw up his head and smashed a guy’s face once. Yet the bull was allowed back into the chutes, and cowboys kept trying to ride him.

Now it was Judd’s turn. Adrenaline pumped through his veins. A thin line of sweat peppered his lip. He backhanded it off. Winning was the reason he had busted his butt on the circuit. He was a professional bull rider and a damn good one. This year he had a legitimate shot at the world title and the million dollar bonus.

Too bad his father didn’t care.

Why think about Jared Romeo now? His dad had never approved of him, let alone his desire to ride bulls for a living.

He had proven his old man wrong, hadn’t he?

Judd drew a breath. Damn, why was he was chewing on the past when he needed to focus?

He slowly put on his leather riding glove, directing his gaze toward the packed arena. How he loved this life. The noisy crowd. The blaring rock music and high-tech pyrotechnics. The earthy smells of dirt, sweat and manure. The camaraderie and danger. Eight seconds of heart-stopping thrills. Stunned silence when a competitor didn’t get up. Applause and cheers when the cowboy stood and staggered like a drunk out of the arena.

His father had never understood this excitement. The beauty of man tackling beast.

Mandy didn’t get it either. He had loved that girl in high school, but she had just seen the danger and walked away from him.

Judd looked away from the crowd. Riding bulls was all he wanted to do. All he knew how to do. It was in his blood.

He tried to swallow over the lump in his throat. His mother had appreciated his passion. She had understood.

The chute boss turned to him. “You’re up, Romeo.”

Judd’s head snapped up. “Right.”

His pulse kicked up a notch. Time to ride. This one’s for you, Mom.

Judd rubbed more rosin on his gloved riding hand and tugged his black Resistol down over his eyes. He plucked a mouthpiece out of the pocket of his protective vest and popped it into his mouth. Ready, he slipped from the railing and eased down on the bull’s flat back.

Bad to the Bone snorted and shifted in the chute. Judd slid his gloved hand into the leather handle of the bull rope, and another cowboy leaned over the railing to cinch the rope around the animal’s girth. Judd’s lips tightened.

“He usually goes out three or four big jumps,” the flank man warned, “and then spins like a sonofabitch.”

Judd jerked a nod of thanks, his total concentration now on the rope in his right hand. He sucked a deep breath and glanced at the other cowboy beside him.

“You gonna suicide it, Romeo?”

“Yeah.”

“Damn risky.”

Judd knew the risks of a suicide wrap. He also knew the rewards. Expertly he wrapped the rope around his gloved hand and the bull strap. Next he split the little finger from the others with a second wrap. For good measure, he pounded his curled, leather-covered fingers with his left fist.

Then with his grip secure, he scooted up over the right hand and tightened his legs against the bull. Blood rushed in his ears. He gulped another quick breath.

“Let’s roll!”

The gate flew open and the bull blew out of the chute jumping high into the air. The animal lunged thirty feet in two jumps and spun to the right, kicking high. Judd gripped the bull rope. Each jerk wrenched his riding arm and shoulder socket.

Riding directly in the center of the bull’s back, he dug the blunt rowels of his spurs into the animal’s hide. His free hand snapped at a ninety-degree angle over his head. His insides churned like a cement mixer.

Bad to the Bone changed tactics and spun faster to the left. Judd went with him. Forcing air through his lungs, he concentrated on staying in the center. He didn’t want to drop down into the middle of the spin. His inner clock ticked away six seconds.

Judd opened up and began spurring the bull. His timing was good. He was making points, but his calves no longer touched the animal’s sides. Any lurch or twist could dust his butt into the dirt.

Damn, this is good. No amount of money could buy this kind of high. He was winning. Riding the rankest damn bull on the circuit and beating the socks off the competition.

The eight-second buzzer signaled the end of the ride. He’d stuck it! The crowd roared its approval.

Like a fool, he kept riding. He loved it. The only thing better would be seeing his father’s face when he won the world title.

Preparing to dismount Judd yanked the tail of the rope to release his riding hand. The bull switched directions at that moment, bucking hard, and jerked him down and away from his grip. His hand caught up in the rope.

Judd fell, still attached to the powerful bull thrashing beneath him. Whipping from side to side like laundry in a stiff breeze, he tried to get his feet under him to lunge back on top of the creature so he could release the pressure on the rope. It was the only way to free his hand.

A bullfighter dashed to the opposite side of the bull, grabbing at the rope. “Judd, I’ll getcha!”

Gritting his teeth, Judd stretched his free hand toward his entangled fist. The bull was too fast, too erratic. Finally the spinning and bucking motion ripped his hand free.

Judd slammed face first into the dirt. The bull’s hoof skimmed over his head.

A second bullfighter intervened, shouting at the bull and tossing his hat in the opposite direction to provide a distraction. The bull swerved to charge the courageous bullfighter. Judd sucked in desperate gasps of breath and speed-crawled away from the flying hooves and sharp horns. When he scrambled to his feet, he lurched toward the rail.

The first bullfighter reached his side. “You okay?”

Searing pain shot down his right arm and up his neck. “My arm hurts like hell.”

Judd let his riding arm hang by his side. He raised his good, left hand and high-fived the bullfighter. “Thanks, Buzz. I owe you.”

“Just doing my job.” The bullfighter grinned. He reached down and snatched Judd’s hat out of the dirt.

Judd took it. An approving burst of applause and cheers shook the arena. He battled a surge of nausea, but still managed to acknowledge the fans with a wave of his hat. Then a doctor from the sports medicine team reached him.

“You got ninety,” the doc said, ushering him out of the arena. “Highest score of the night. Puts you in the lead.”

He had won. It had been the best ride of his life. Winning this event kept him in first place for the world championship title and the million dollar bonus.

Taking deep breaths, Judd reached the gate and turned back to the arena. The barrel man climbed into his padded barrel, his clown smile spreading wide across the white greasepaint that covered his face. The pickup man spurred his horse into position at the end of the arena.

“Let’s look at that shoulder, Judd.”

Judd winced. “Sure, doc.”

Sweat spiked his brow. Although it hurt like crazy, he knew he’d be okay. With a few weeks before the next set of competitions before the October finals in Las Vegas, he had time to heal.

Judd turned away from the noise and the lights. Hot pain throbbed in his shoulder, but it didn’t match the pain in his heart.

He would take care of his arm, and then he would go home to Kentucky. Back to say good-bye to his Mom and take care of her things. Mandy would be there. But his father wouldn’t be.

Maybe it was time to extinguish the torch he had carried for damn too long.

Kentucky Blue Bloods

Kentucky Blue Bloods 200-300Book eight of the Bluegrass Reunion series (all books stand alone)

No one crosses Parker Stuart, caretaker to his family’s thoroughbred racing empire. Parker retaliates against anyone who dares slight him or his blue-blooded British family, especially Regina Ward and her poker-playing father. The previous spring, Reggie had had the nerve to walk out on him after a torrid, three-week affair. Now, when Parker arrives in Kentucky to collect his family’s winnings, he’s determined to settle the score with the lovely Ms. Ward.

Regina Ward doesn’t consider herself a damsel in distress. After all, this is America, and she’s accustomed to depending upon herself. However, when her father loses four of the yearlings from their central Kentucky horse farm in a poker game, Reggie knows it’s up to her to save what’s left of her family’s homestead and her proud Kentucky heritage. Can she do it when Parker Stuart, the most arrogant and infuriating Brit she’s ever met, shows up in the Bluegrass?

 

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | RESPLENDENCE | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

Hidden Desire by Barbara Donlon Bradley – book 8 of the Vespian Way

Okay – here’s my last post and my upcoming book. This is an unedited version of the book since I haven’t gotten my edits back from Phaze yet.

 

Hope you enjoy

 

cropped-bbd_spook2014.jpg

Chapter 1

 

Heather stood near the screen in their room on Bert’s command ship and glared at the injustice she saw happening to the Vespian people. They were being lied to. Those who realized it was all a lie and fought against Reasta’s guards were getting hurt in the process. “I hate this.”

“My heart, you say that every time you watch the feeds.”

“We should be out there leading these people, not hiding here on this ship.” She turned to face her mate, Storm. “They are dying for us.”

“I know, but you know the consequences of getting caught.”

“It still doesn’t stop me from wanting to be there on the front lines. That is what I was trained for, not sitting back while others died in my stead.”

Storm came up to her and wrapped his arms around her. “I feel the same way, but until we can find away to be undetected we can’t risk it.”

“I know.” She snuggled against him. “But it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

“I know how to make you feel better.”

“You do, don’t you?” She leaned back to look up at him.

He gave her that heart stopping smile that turned her insides to jelly. His hand went to the seals of her gown. “And I know how to make you melt.”

“Already there.”

His lips massaged her mark as she eased his uniform off him. The fact he wore it showed he felt the same way she did. He despised this as much as she did. The heat of his skin against her palm made her smile.

Storm wrapped his arms around her and carried her to their bed. “I can do this all day long if it will make you feel better.”

Heather laughed at that. “You know as much as I would love that, there are too many people demanding our attention. Since this war has started we have been interrupted a lot and you growl every time.”

“Time with my mate is precious to me.” He nibbled on her throat. “Now, we have much better things to do than think about what is going on outside this room.”

She lay back on the bed as he joined her. “I agree.”

His tongue slid against her mark, filing her with need. Her hands caressed his chest, following the contours of his muscles. Thought of him filling her had her heart pounding in her chest.

“Your desire just spiked, my heart. I thought I was here to relax you.” He pressed a kiss against her color bone before he worked his way down to her breast.

“And you will, right after you make me so boneless I can’t speak.” She quieted when his lips closed on her right nipple. The man knew how to make her body sing. Heat pooled in her core. Want had her legs wrapping around his hips, sending the silent signal of what she really wanted.

His hands worked their way down to her legs, stroking several of her sensitive spots before they slipped around her thighs and eased them away from his body. “Not yet my heart. You have been edgy and very frustrated and I want to see that beautiful smile of yours. You need to relax completely and in order to do that I need to build you up to a white hot flame.”

“You always do that. All you have to do is give me that sexy smile of yours and I’m a puddle.”

He rested his chin on her stomach as he looked at her. “Yet when I use that same smile in the security center I strike fear in my soldiers. They don’t melt at my feet the way you do.”

“Ha. It’s not the same smile. I’ve seen that evil one you give my team when you want to push us a little harder than normal.”

“Evil?” He climbed back up her body. “You like it when I challenge the group. All of you do.”

“Of course.” She smiled up at his face only inches from hers. Her hands continued to caress him, touching places she knew ignited his need. He shuttered when she gripped his buttocks. “You do, too. The pride you feel when we master some complicated technique you dreamed up is hard to miss.”

His fingers brushed along her jaw line. Storm’s voice was soft as he spoke. “You have done a good job of distracting me from my mission. This time you win.”

Her smile widened when she felt him drive into her. Her legs wrapped around his hips once more. She felt the heat of his mouth on her mark as he set a slow but deep pace. Angling her body so he could get the best penetration she met him thrust for thrust.

“Don’t let this go to your head, my heart. There is always round two.” Storm shifted his hold on her which changed the pace.

That drew a moan out of her. Now he was hitting that sensitive spot he always aimed to stimulate. Soon she was shaking in his arms. Her voice was barely a whisper. “So close.”

Then she felt her release bubble up from inside her. It flowed through her, filling her with a beautiful euphoria that only Storm could get her to feel.

“That’s my girl.”

****

Kuarto called them to his lab. He had been cryptic but excited when he contacted them. They found him waiting by the door. “I want you to see this.”

He brought them to a monitor, grinning broadly. They looked at the screen, studying the information. Heather wasn’t quite sure what she was looking at. It looked like a finished formula to altering her looks, but as far as she knew her brother hadn’t been able to complete it yet.

“I know you two want to be out there with your soldiers and you know I have been doing some research.” He pulled up some more data. “The biggest problem we have is disguising Heather. Her DNA overrides some of the things we have tried in the past.”

“And you think you have something that can fix that?” asked Storm. He put an arm around Heather’s waist.

“I’ve tested it.” He pulled up a sample of her DNA and they watched as it altered on the screen. “It can be done.”

“You’re sure.” Heather wasn’t convinced this was the smartest thing to do. Nothing had worked before, why would it now.

“Oh, yes.” He looked at her, grinning. “I’ve been studying the data on the device you had in your back. It was designed to disguise your true heritage and have you read as human, but not your looks. It’s one of the reasons nothing worked before. The device didn’t allow anything to alter what it was hiding. Now that I know how it worked I can use some of the same technology with a few advancements to alter your identity.”

“And the first time I’m scanned everyone will know.” Heather shook her head, remembering how that device isolated her and had her tested time after time. “I can’t take that chance, Kuarto.”

“That last device was meant to be found. You told me that was what caught Anseri’s attention when she went through your files in the first place. The ones I will use will be much smaller and undetectable.”

“Ones?” Storm shifted so he stood behind Heather with his arms wrapped around her.

“For you, Storm, I’ll only need to use one to change your features to scans and the naked eye. Heather is a little more complicated than that. I believe three will do it, maybe four. One in the groin, one in the back of your hair line and one at the temple and if I need a forth one it will go in the second temple.”

“Altering my looks to the degree we need it done hasn’t worked in the past.” She knew he was trying to help, but even when they went to Micali’s planet he couldn’t disguise her completely.

“When you went to Aruka I was able to change your hair color and skin color and I didn’t have access to the technology I can now use. Heather you will look and read Vespian. No one will be able to tell who you are.”

“So we won’t tell anyone?”

“No.”

She hated keeping her friends in the dark, but knew it had to be done. “Is it permanent?”

“As long as you have the chip in and it’s activated, yes, but I will be able to turn it off and on as needed.” Kuarto looked at his sister then her mate. “There are a few things we need to go over first.”

Heather knew there would be buts. “What is it?”

“The only thing I can’t hide is if your mind expands. I don’t know how it will affect the chips. It might do noting and let them continue to work or it could fry them. It could also leave them intact but not functional.”

“That is a big risk.”

“Which is why I want to put them in and wait for an expansion before I let you go out into the field. It shouldn’t take too long.” He waited for her agreement before he inserted one in her temple. “It has also been suggested you two shouldn’t know what the other’s new features are if this is successful.”

“What?” Storm growled.

“To protect you both you have to find each other again. I’m not going to mess with your mindmeld, but it will be hard to explain a mated couple just showing up. Two single Vespians wanting to help their world would make more sense. We’re doing the same thing with Skye and Sam.”

“So everyone is going along with us joining the military?” Heather was shocked. Kuarto was the loudest against the idea when they tried to suggest it. “I thought you were afraid we’d be killed.”

“In the beginning we were, but Bert ran the timeline several times and said if we didn’t let you do this we would lose this war. As much as I want to lock you two away to keep you safe I know better. You draw trouble to you.”

****

“Ready?” Kuarto patted a table.

“Yes.” Heather climbed up on it. “You sure this will work?”

“The last expansion didn’t do anything to the chip so I feel comfortable letting you do this.” He gestured for her to lie down. “The first chip will change your skin tone. He inserted the chip he spoke about. She held out her arms and watched as her fair skin darkened, but not enough to allow her to blend in with Vespian society.

Kuarto smiled. He must be happy with the slight change. “Storm, if you’ll go with Micali, she’ll insert your chip.” He worked on the first insert as Storm left the room.

“You’re serious about us not knowing what the other looks like.”

“One of Bert’s conditions. He felt the four of you needed to blend in and entering security on your own would do that. You and Storm have your mental connection so that will guide you to each other. I doubt you’ll be apart for long.”

“Has Bert asked me to block that link?” She watched as her fair skin darkened to the Vespian tone. “Wow.”

“He didn’t say anything about it.” He inserted the next chip, the one that would turn her hair black, to the back of her neck. That took a little fine tuning too. “I think he’s leaving that up to you.”

“Hmm.” Heather held up the tips of her hair. “It even has the blue shine Vespian hair has.”

“I know.” He inserted one at her right temple. “So what color do you want your ring to be? And don’t ask for purple. That is a dead giveaway.”

“I guess the most prevalent color out there.”

“Believe it or not that is green.” He worked the chip until she had the Vespian golden eyes with a green ring. The tone started to change, and turned violet. “Hmm. Let’s put in that fourth chip.” The color settled to the green he wanted. “Perfect. Now all I have to do is alter your features enough to hide your identity, alter your voice and we’re done.”

“And what if they fail?”

“You worry too much. About the only thing that would knock them out is a EM pulse and we don’t use equipment that would cause that, but I know you. Storm told me how you kept expecting the one I installed when you went to Akura to stop working even though I knew it wouldn’t. There is nothing to worry about.” He gestured for her to jump down from the table. “Would you like to see the new you?”

“Yeah. No one has ever been able to alter my looks before. Besides you.” She added. Her brother walked her to the large mirror he had brought in for this reason. She looked at the stranger staring back at her through the mirror. Jet black hair hung down her back, the honey brown skin all Vespians had and her eyes. That surprised her the most. Golden with a green ring. “My eyes look a bit like Toki’s.”

“Yeah, when I changed your features I noticed that, but if I tweak it any more it doesn’t look real.” He ran the scanner over her. “Looking good.”

Heather platted her hair so she had a long braid going down her back. Her brother handed her a uniform.

Being able to start with everyone else excited her. Being the mate of the future leader had its privileges but it also had its limitations. This time she could prove her worth by her deeds, not who she was mated to. It also made her think about how no one knew who they were. Maybe she should shield her ability from everyone, including her mate. She bet Storm would still spot her in a crowded room.

If you do that I won’t be able to hear your thoughts, will I? She could feel Storm wasn’t happy about the idea. They had gotten so used to them sharing everything.

No, if I do this I’ll block my thoughts off from everyone, including you and the children. It will help keep me hidden from our friends. No one will get that familiar feeling when they’re near me and it will keep us all safe.

I like that familiar feeling.

My heart. I’m not sure how to keep you and the children in while I block everyone else out. I need to start with a clean slate and let you in later.

So I really won’t know when I met you again?

I won’t know either.

I am so tired of proving we belong together, my heart. Why must we do this separately?

Because it will keep people from questioning us if we meet and then become a couple. It won’t be difficult for us to find each other. Our personalities aren’t being changed. I’ll just look for a very domineering man.

And I’ll look for a woman who always gets into trouble?

See you soon, my heart.

****

Heather had been dropped off near one of the security outposts where she had been told by Kuarto to sign in then was directed to the large cave nearby. She saw about eighty other soldiers with her. This small a crowd should make it easy for her to find her mate, if he had been dropped off at the same place. Looking around, she didn’t see anyone who fit his build and height right away. She’d have to search for him later. The meeting was about to start.

Fridon’s image stood in front of them, waiting for everyone to gather and quiet down. “All of you are here because of your records. I am looking to put together several more elite teams to infiltrate our enemies stronghold. Our war is a private one. Not sanctioned by the council. They have been compromised and can’t help us right now so we need to help them.”

Soldiers around her murmured amongst themselves.

“As with any elite team you must be tested. Once you leave this cave you will find out what your destination is. You’ll have two days to get there. That is all.”

As they filed out they were handed a handheld that all the information they needed to get to their destination. Heather looked at hers as she followed the people in front of her. Interesting, she had two days to get to the target that normally took three days to travel on foot if they followed the basic paths and they weren’t allowed to use any sort of transportation because it could be traced. She grinned. This was going to be fun.

****

Storm looked at his small pad as he headed to the next site. He didn’t see his mate among the soldiers at their indoctrination but that didn’t surprise him. Fridon called for everyone’s attention just as he joined the rest of the soldiers, then they were ushered out and handed these devices. After going through some of the data he grinned. It was a mission scenario he had wanted to use but had never had a chance. Now Fridon was implementing it. Only the best would make it in time. Those who were worthy of being elite would make it undetected. This was going to be fun.

Several Vespian women walked in front of him and he noticed they had cropped their hair. Vespian women didn’t cut their hair so why did these women? He found himself walking with a few other men. “What’s with the hair?”

“They’re honoring Heather.” That was all they needed to say.

Storm wondered how his mate would react when she learned this. She had wanted to leave the planet because she didn’t want to bring war. This could upset her more. The people’s love for her humbled her. He just hoped his mate wouldn’t follow suit to fit in. He liked her hair long, and she knew that, but it would be a way for her to blend in with the rest of the women. He had tried to reach out to her several times with his mind and make her aware but couldn’t connect. She was going to keep him to finding her the old fashioned way.

He knew a short cut that would allow him to make it to their destination point with plenty of time to spare, a lot of others knew it too so what would he miss if he took the short cut? There had to be more than just getting to the meeting place.

****

Heather noticed several of the women sported short hair. Storm had told her the women never cut their hair so why did these women do it?

“You doing it too?” A young woman fell into step with her as she moved through a small village.

“What?” Heather looked over at the young woman, wondering why she singled Heather out of all the other women in security uniforms.

“Cutting your hair to honor Heather.”

“What?” They were doing this because of her? “I thought Heather had long hair.”

“She does now, but when she first came here with Storm her hair was short because of her position in security. Some of the women are cutting their hair and keeping it short until Heather can walk amongst us freely again. That Reasta woman needs to be stopped, but that is why you and I are here.” She worked on her handheld while they walked. “So, what about your hair?”

“Never thought about it.” It humbled her that they were doing this for her. To know they knew the truth even after the rhetoric Reasta was spinning amazed her. “It is a beautiful gesture.”

“I’ve been thinking about it. There is a medical facility nearby. They’re the ones doing it right now.”

“I don’t know.” Heather looked up at the woman. Kuarto didn’t change her height so she was still shorter than most Vespian women. “My mother wants me to leave my hair long until I’m mated. Let my mate decide.”

“Are you bonded?”

“No. Haven’t met the right man yet, but you know how parents are. Mom might think it a wonderful gesture for other women, but not her daughter.” Heather shrugged. “I’ll think about it though. She is mated to our future leader so my future bondmate would understand, and that is only if I meet him right away.”

“True, your hair could grow out before you meet him.”

Heather wasn’t sure how to handle her new associate. They all had a job to do and making friends wasn’t one of them, but there was a reason this young woman approached her and she wanted to know what it was. She didn’t seem to know who she was really talking to, unless she was a very good actor.

“There is one thing we can do to honor, Heather.” She stopped and held out her hand. “My name is Loli.”

“Nusi.” Heather looked at Loli. It was weird talking about herself in the third person. The young woman’s face was familiar, she was pretty sure she had seen her during some inspection so she had been part of security for a while. “Know anything about this new squad?”

“Only they want the best of the best.” She pulled out the small pad everyone had been handed. “I do know giving us these is not normal procedure. They must have more than our destination in them.”

“Yeah. I thought the same thing. There must be a target. Something we have to get along the way.” Heather looked at hers. “Figuring out where the information is shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.”

“If it is too easy to find then it’s not the right target.”

Heather looked at the woman and grinned. She just might be a valuable asset.

****

Storm kept looking for his mate as he made his way to the first checkpoint. He also knew he needed to acquire his target before he hit that checkpoint. It was simple enough. He had to go into the center of a small village and grab a chip attached to the main screen. There were a few things he had to follow. One was he couldn’t be caught, so he somehow had to find civilian clothes. The uniform would be a dead giveaway. He also had to get it before anyone else. Standard procedure would have more than one person going after the same item.

He wondered how Heather was getting along.

The screen blared random data. Ever since Reasta had gained control of the council the news had changed to crazy stories that meant nothing to the people. He stared at the screen to find the chip. Fridon wasn’t pulling any punches. It was up at the top of the giant screen, dead center.

He noticed several people who had been in the cave eyeing the same chip he was. Storm grinned. He loved competition.

****

Heather looked at the information that would allow her to get her target.  “Loli, you know anything about this area?”

“A little. I’m a bit of a tech so I studied the area around our first meeting site.” She slipped her device in her pocket. “I can help you with your assignment.”

“What about yourself? You have a goal as well.”

“When it comes to an elite squad what comes to mind?”

“The task force first.” Heather shrugged. “Then those in the background that make everything happen.”

“And that’s what I want to do. I don’t care about the chore given to me. I don’t want to be part of the task force. That is what the first set of goals are for.” She pulled the small handheld they were all given and showed Heather hers. “They also loaded information for those of us who are techs. If that is my goal this is what I need to do to be considered.”

Heather looked at the screen. One of the first things it told her was to find someone who wanted to be part of the elite squad. “So that is why you befriended me?”

“Sorry. I could tell by the way you carry yourself that you’re going to be successful. There is a particular type of person who can do this. Many want to but only a few can actually do it. You are one of those people.” She tapped her screen again and everything disappeared. “The smarter members of a squad start to create their group long before they are actually picked. It’s part of the test. A loner won’t do well in an environment when you must rely on other people.”

She was right. “So how do you propose I can get into this bonding celebration without an invitation, my uniform, or getting noticed?”

“Oh, you’ll be noticed, but not as a member of Vespian security.” She smiled. “I know just what to do.”

****

Storm slid the chip from the screen into his handheld, showing he was the first to retrieve it. The screen cleared and loaded a new task. He thought his assignment was too easy. Now he had to make his way to a small town having a bonding ceremony. His goal was to keep others from retrieving a small gold leaf from the main hall. It didn’t tell him where the leaf was or who would be trying to retrieve it. The notes led him to a particular house where he could dress for the occasion.

The hall was full by the time he arrived. He saw several people from the cave there. Mostly women. There were a few males, dressed like he was. They must have been successful with their mission as well and had gotten the same assignment as him. So the women were to try to retrieve this leaf. Several of the other men had already corralled and taken away couple of the young women. They were trying to break the rules so they were easy to stop. The instructions were clear. They weren’t allowed to wear their uniforms and they couldn’t attract the wrong attention.

He noticed one woman the moment she walked into the hall. It was her beauty that caught his attention first. It made him look, mated or not. That was when he noticed her hesitate. It was only a second before she smiled and slipped into character but he saw it. A Vespian would never show hesitancy, but his mate would. Storm smiled as he approached her.

****

Heather felt she was showing a lot more skin than she was used to, even though she knew it wasn’t true. The gowns she wore at Vespian functions exposed a lot but were made of a lot of see-though material so she felt covered even when she wasn’t. Looking around, she realized most of the women around her bared just as much skin. Fear was not a Vespian trait and she needed to shed hers. Plastering a smile on her face she looked around to see if she could see her goal. What she did see was a man, a good looking one at that, coming right at her. Her smile brightened. He would allow her to move about the area without anyone noticing she was looking for something.

****

The height was right, so was the length of her hair, the one long braid made him happy. She hadn’t cut it yet.

If it was her. Only one way to find out. Time to dance with her.

He bowed to her and she returned the bow, allowing him to take her into his arms and move her about the floor. Bright gold eyes looked up at him. The intricate dance had them touching and moving against each other as well as around each other. The intimacy of the movements aroused him. One of the steps had him bending her backwards as he moved with her. He spoke softly, his breath brushing against her throat. “I wonder what would happen if I were to press my lips against the nape of your neck. Would you melt in my arms? Become boneless for a moment?”

Those golden eyes widened and she studied him. “And if I were to slip my hand inside your shirt and brush you here?” Her fingers brushed his mark and sent a shudder through him.

He pulled her close. “My heart.”

She laughed and it sounded like music to his ears. The steps coming up would separate them and have her dance with another partner but he didn’t want to let her go. He had to though and he watched her move away from him toward the large cake in the center of the room. Moving with the steps she leaned toward the cake then back out again. Then she was gone.

Where the hell did she go?

****

Heather came out of the hall a little breathless. Storm might not be very happy with her, but she needed to get the leaf recorded in her handheld before someone tried to take it from her. A smile spread across her face as the data was uploaded to the proper people.

“I need to go back in.”

“You can’t. Once you sent the data a new assignment downloaded and it’s timed.”

Heather looked at the data Loli was pointing at. “Well crap. That just makes matters worse.”

“Where do you think you are going?” His voice sounded different but she remembered how it made her feel when she first heard it inside.

“My next assignment.” Peeling the skimpy dress off, Heather climbed into her uniform as she spoke to him.

“We need to talk.”

“Nusi?”

“It’s okay, Loli. He’s an ally. He helped me get the leaf.” She pressed her lips to him, quick but heated. “Got to go, but we’ll talk when I can.”

He wrapped his arms around her so she couldn’t move. “I don’t think so.”

“I am going to be on that elite quad and you aren’t going to stop me. You can try, but I will make it and so will Loli.”

Storm’s handheld alerted him to a new assignment as well. He looked down at the screen. “Today is your lucky day, Nusi. I need to go as well, but we’re not done, not by a long shot.”

He captured her lips with his. His tongue swirled against her mouth begging for admittance then swooped in when she gave it, searching for her tongue to dance with his. His desire for her grew as he ended the kiss. When he let her go she gave him a promising smile that made him just a little bit harder.

What he found interesting was she didn’t connect their mindmeld like she promised. He could feel her happiness, her desire, but he couldn’t read her thoughts. She shielded them so he couldn’t use it against her. He grinned. He would have done the same thing.

****

“Wow, that was some kiss. You know he will be looking for you, right?”

“Yeah.” Heather couldn’t help but smile. The thought filled her with desire. She started moving to their next target at a fast pace.

“You also realize he is probably pitted against us.”

“What makes you say that?” But Heather had wondered the same thing. It wasn’t a coincidence that he was there when she went to retrieve the leaf. She saw other women try and were carted off by men she recognized from the cave.

“It would make sense to get the best. If we all worked for the same goal without a little sabotage it wouldn’t really be competition.” Loli looked at Heather’s handheld then her own. “Looks like they know we’re working together now. We’re synced up. They have already labeled us too.”

Heather check to see what Loli was talking about. On her hand held was an image of her new face and the position she was being considered for. Loli’s image was on the same screen with the position she was being considered for. “You think everyone is on here?”

“If I look in the right places, why? You want to know his identity?”

“It would only be fair since he knows mine.” Loli looked at her strangely. “You said my name and he repeated it.”

“Oh. Sorry. Guess that wasn’t very smart of me.”

“Doesn’t matter as long as you didn’t do it on purpose. I know there are probably saboteurs within the group.”

Loli’s eyes widened. “Didn’t think of that either. I promise I’m not. I really am a tech.”

“Don’t worry, Loli. I trust you.” At least she did for now. Heather had been through enough training sessions to know what to look for and to know they could offer Loli a position if she were to turn. She just hoped the young woman knew that the test was to see where her loyalty was. If she did turn traitor she probably wouldn’t be part of the team. “Now, how much time do I have to get to the next site?”

“At a run you’ll make it with two minutes to spare.”

“How fast can you run?” Heather took off at a sprint. Running too fast for too long could cripple most but she had built her duration time up, depending on the distance. It didn’t take her long to get there. She made it with ten minutes to spare. While she waited for Loli to catch up with her she found a secluded spot to watch as others showed up.

She sensed him before she saw him. He must have sensed her too because she saw him looking around. A smile spread across his face when he spotted her. Great, he was going to give her location away. It surprised her when he disappeared from sight. Then she felt his breath on the back of her neck.

“I see you have waited for me.” He slipped his arms around her.

“Not for you, Luprin, but for my partner.”

He pressed a kiss against her mark. She sucked in her breath as her body tightened. “I see you also learned my name.”

“Those handhelds have all kinds of information if you know where to look for it.” She turned in his arms. “They also seem to know everything we’re doing.”

“You mean things like this?” He captured her lips with his, pulling her up against him as he deepened the kiss. His tongue dipped into her mouth, caressing and searching for hers. They got lost in the sensations for a moment. He broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers. “I wish I could take advantage of this but we have jobs to do.”

“So I need to be careful of being alone or you might take advantage?” She looked up at him and smiled. “I guess I’m going to have to find spots like this more often. How many times can I push before you come through on your promise?”

He grinned. His fingers slid along the seals of her uniform opening the upper section enough for him to slip his fingers inside. “Oh, my heart, if you want to challenge me you know I’ll take that challenge.”

She felt his caresses all along her upper torso and knew where he was headed. She stepped back, trying to get him to pull his hand out. “Okay! Time to get to the task at hand.”

“I am.” He captured her lips with his once more while his fingers slipped into her folds. Her breath shortened as those caresses caused her heart to beat faster and her desire to spike. “This is just a taste of what I want to do to you, but I want to take my time with you, find out what you like, get to know you as intimately as possible.”

“You aren’t fighting fair.” Her voice came out soft as his hand continued to work its magic.

“I know.” His voice deep because he was as effected as she was. “They will give us a safe place to sleep tonight. Wait for me and I’ll give you so much more.” Storm captured her lips once more before he released her so she could pull her uniform back together.

Heather took a moment to compose herself. “I will pay you back for that.”

“I sure hope so.” He grinned devilishly. He looked over her head for a moment. “Looks like your partner has arrived.”

Heather turned to look, Loki was standing in the center of the area searching for her, when she turned back to Storm he was gone. A sigh escaped her as she caught Loli’s attention. The young woman joined her in her hiding place.

“Um, you didn’t seal your uniform right.”

Heather looked down and grinned. Her mate was the only one who could break through her control and he was having a little too much fun with this. “Right.”

“What have you learned?”

That her mate’s touch still took her breath away. “I saw several people go in, but none come out.”

“None?”

“No.”

“You sure you weren’t sidetracked? I saw your new sex partner leave a few minutes ago.”

“We haven’t had sex.”

“Not yet, but it will happen. There’s too much chemistry between the two of you to ignore.” Loli looked at her handheld. “It doesn’t show anyone inside.”

“Now that doesn’t make sense.” She could still sense their presence, but couldn’t explain why she knew what she knew. “Where would they have gone?”

Loli checked the blueprints of the building. “There is no other door to the building so they must still be inside.”

“Then the building must be shielded from your sensors.” Heather pulled her device out of her pocket and started working on it. “We just need to override the system blocking us.”

Within seconds Loli smiled. “That did it. You know you could be a tech too. That was good work.”

“You think I should?”

“No.” She laughed. “You would get too bored too fast. Then I’d have to keep you out of trouble.”

“I have heard that before.” Storm had said the same thing, so had Bear, her commander in Earth’s security.

“Here.” She sent the data Heather needed to her handheld. “This will allow me to track you inside as well as tell you where everyone is. Now that I have the data you released I’m seeing the people in there but they’re not moving. I think you need to rescue them.”

“Has anyone else figured out what is happening?”

“No way to tell.”

Heather nodded. She checked her uniform once more to make sure it was sealed properly before she headed to the door where command had demanded everyone enter.

She checked the interior and pushed her handheld inside before she entered the building. As long as Loli could see and read her she was willing to go in to see what was really going on. The darkened interior blocked her vision for a moment but her eyes adjusted quickly. She caught a whiff of something and held her breath. In order to go in and out she’d need a supply of oxygen if she didn’t want to fall victim like the others.

Dragging one of the people out, she started talking to Loli the moment she was in fresh air. “The air is drugged. That’s why they’re going in and not coming out.” She propped him against the wall so he could regain his senses. Heather inhaled deeply several times from having to hold her breath. “What do you have to help me with that?”

“It’s going to take me a minute.” Loli’s voice came out of the handheld. She came into view and crouched down beside the man Heather had rescued. After pressing a few keys she scanned him to see what the chemical was. “Oh, he is going to have a headache later.  It’s a water vapor mixed with a sleeping powder. It’s making them drunk and tired.”

Heather wondered what she should do. Water didn’t affect her the way it did a Vespian but if she used that to save these people it could give her away. Her helmet was at the cave with everyone else’s. “I remember reading about a plant that can help us breathe underwater. You think there is any nearby and could it help?”

“Actually I have something better.” She pulled something out of her pocket, tapped on the screen for a few moments then held it out. The face of the device glowed as something materialized on top of it. “There you go.”

“You have a materializer?” Heather picked up the small breathing apparatus and studied it. “How did you manage that?”

“There was nothing about bringing handmade items with us. When they scanned me to make sure I didn’t have any contraband on me this was accepted.”

“What else do you have hiding in your uniform?” Heather teased as she pressed it against her mouth and activated it.

“A few other things that might come in handy along the way.”

Heather went back into the building and dragged out two more people. She continued to bring them out until she had gotten everyone. She rested against the wall as she deactivated the mouthpiece. Her handheld made a noise, letting her know where the rest area was. She had done everything she needed to do for the day.

Loli came to where she rested. “You went beyond what was expected.” She showed her the numbers scored for each person. Heather was in the lead. “Of course your partner isn’t too far behind you.” Luprin stats were close to hers.

“Then let’s go to the safe zone so we can get some rest.”

“You go ahead. I have one more assignment.”

“What is it?”

“They want me to go to the leader of this village and pick up a key.” She looked at Heather. “I wonder what the key is for.”

“Let’s go.”

“What? No. You have done your assignments. I can handle this.”

“Yeah, and we know they keep throwing these wonderful little curveballs at us too. You helped me with my assignments. It’s only fair I help you.”

 

 

Forgotten Desire by Barbara Donlon Bradley – book 6 of the Vespian Way

This book is one of my favorites. Heather has to time travel back to our time to rescue Storm who has lost his memory. It was such fun to write.

Barb:)

 

Available at Phaze:

http://www.phaze.com/author.php?author=21

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0072OTZJE

 

Explicit scenes:

 

Blurb:

Heather and Storm’s story continues…

When Storm leans against one of Bert’s machines and is sent back in time, without his memories, Heather has to go after him.

A simple retrieval won’t work. She has to make him remember before they can return to their own timeline.

Finding him is easy, getting him to regain his memories isn’t. Then she finds out Ialog is there, giving Storm something to keep his memories at bay.

Now she has to find a way to stop her old nemesis and bring her mate home.

 

ForgottenDesire_Draft

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

 

Storm held Heather close as she continued to sleep. His fingers brushed against her soft skin. As busy as their schedule was, it was nice to have a little of the morning to themselves. Heather still wasn’t getting enough rest dealing with the twins and he did his best to let her nap when he had the chance, even though he could think of other things they could be doing right now.

“You do have a one track mind.” Heather opened her eyes and looked at him.

“You are supposed to be sleeping.” He ran his knuckles along her jawline.

“It’s hard to sleep when you keep thinking of our intimacy. Were those memories or fantasies?”

He gave her one of his bone melting smiles as he pressed her back into the bed. “Yes.”

“Yes?” She smiled up at him.

“Because somewhere along the way my fantasies become reality and then memories.” He nuzzled her throat.

“Is the door locked?” She tilted her head so he could have better access.

“No. Why?” His lips caressed her mark, sending little frissons of heat through her blood.

“Because your son has figured out how to open the door.”

“He’s not tall enough to reach the panel to open the door.” Storm stopped long enough to lift his head and looked at her. “But it doesn’t surprise me he figured out another way. He is our son.”

“I sure don’t want him tottering in here at the wrong time.” She touched his face.

“Then he won’t.” Storm surged into her. Tendrils of excitement filled her as he entered her. She wrapped her legs around his waist.

“What?” She shifted so she could accept him in deeper.

“Haven’t you noticed that they are never looking for us when we’re arguing, amorous, or intimate?” He pulled out and drove back in. “You have a mental connection with them that tells the children when it is safe to come in.”

She brushed her fingers against his mark and was greeted with him sucking in his breath. “Too much talking.”

He chuckled as he pressed his lips to her mark. “I have created a monster.”

“One you are very proud of.”

“Oh yes.” He pulled her into a sitting position, bracing his arm along her spine to give her support as she slid up and down his length. Her muscles rippled against him as she moved. They shared everything, including their intimacy. He could feel her desire as it swirled through her, filling her with excitement.

Storm leaned her away from him a little so he could hit the spot that brought her more powerful orgasms. Each time he brushed the spot, her need blossomed to a point where she felt her body shake with each stroke. One particular stroke drew a moan out of her. She was close, so close. Muscles tightened against Storm, her blood hummed. Slowly the heat built in her stomach. The flames licked along her insides until it enveloped her, sending her out to the stars.

Storm eased her back unto the bed as he continued to rock into her. Another moan escaped. Everything tightened again. The heat of his mouth latched onto her mark as his release started to unfurl. Feeling his orgasm brought her to the brink again.  She soared through it with him.

“Beautiful.” He brushed hair from her face. “My heart.”

“A great way to start the day.” She smiled up at him. Her smile widened when she sensed her son opening the door. Someone has come to visit.

“Papa?” Terrik, their son, totted over to the bed.

“Yes, son?” He touched her face once more before rolling off her and looked down at his son. One of the biggest joys in his life was their children. Terrik was brilliant like his mother yet had the ability to strategize like him. A sharp wit and a smile that reminded him of his own gave Storm a hint at what his mother went through with him before he mated with Heather. His daughter rivaled her brother in intelligence and her mother in beauty. Shyer than her brother, she would look at people with her big violet eyes and melt any male’s heart who saw her. He knew he would have his hands full when his children started coming of age but he welcomed the challenge.

“Mama wake yet?” He looked up at Storm with gold eyes surrounded by a violet ring and a bright smile.

“Yes she is.” Storm offered his arm to his son who grabbed it just above his wrist so his father could lift him to the bed. Something they had started when Terrik had been old enough to crawl to the side of their bed. He held his son until Heather could move. She always needed a few moments to regain her mobility after they were intimate. “You’re awake a little early today.”

The boy snuggled against his father as Heather watched him. “Heart.”

“I know, she’s my heart, too.” He pulled his son close and pressed a kiss to his head. Storm smiled at how fast the twins picked up on key phrases and words.

Heather smiled when he crawled to her side. He was careful to not disturb her too much as he snuggled against her.

“Heart, mama.”

“You’re my heart too, sweetheart.” She touched his face. “Just like your sisters and your father. Where is your sister? She’s normally right behind you.”

“Sleeping.”

“Perhaps we should go check and see if she is awake now.” Heather sat up with the cover wrapped around her.

“Do you need some time, my heart?” He looked at his son curled up against her. She normally spent a little time with the children when they first woke, but had promised to be ready quickly. They had hoped to be back before the children would wake up. This changed things. “We need to travel to Bert’s compound this morning. I told him we would be there as soon as we got up. He is expecting us, but I’m sure we can take a little time if you need it.”

“We can go as soon as I get dressed. It won’t take me long to get ready. Kuarto and Tiko have promised to take care of the twins while we’re gone.” She stretched, careful to keep the cover up to shield her nakedness. Nudity wasn’t something Vespians found embarrassing, but being raised on Earth she still was a bit shy showing her body to her children.

“Not the great spoiler?” Storm picked up his son and placed him on his chest.

“Your mother has council meetings today and the last time your son was in council chambers he was a bit too active. He disrupted several disputes, forcing Kuarto to go and get him. She had to promise to take time off when she watched the children after that.” Heather didn’t keep the laughter out of her voice. “I promised her it would be her turn next time. Bert said we could bring them with us, but Kuarto has been pestering to spend time with them.”

“You have come to trust Bert,” Storm commented as he entertained their son while Heather got out of bed and dressed.

“He has been honest with us so far and has taught us a lot about our abilities. I feel he can be trusted.” She closed the seals on her gown then reached for the boy. She touched his nose as she turned from the bed. “And how is my little protector this morning?”

He pressed his hand against her heart the way he had seen his parents do so many times. “Hungry.”

She laughed, hugged him and headed to the twin’s room. “Then let’s get your sister and feed you two.”

Storm climbed out of bed and dressed while she fed the children. He came into the main room once he sealed his uniform and picked up the cup of coffee Heather had waiting for him. “Do you think Terrik knows what the gesture means?”

“He knows that gesture is one of the ways we show affection for each other.” Heather leaned against her mate with her cup when he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “The fact he wants to do it too is just so sweet.”

“You still have trouble leaving them behind, don’t you?” He hugged her close when he heard her voice fill with such emotion.

“You have the same problem.” Careful of their coffee, she turned in his arms and touched his face. “Besides it will only be for a few hours.”

“And we need to get going.” He took her cup and placed his and hers on the table. “The transport is ready. Is your brother coming here or are we bringing the children to him?”

“I’m coming here,” said Kuarto as he walked in.

“You don’t knock?” Storm growled when he realized the man was behind him.

“I was told I didn’t have to.” He walked up to Heather and kissed her on the cheek. “Being family has its perks.”

“The children are almost finished with their breakfast.” Heather started running through her list of things to do for the children. “I have their clothes laid out on their beds. Um, they do dress themselves but you might need to help Terrik. He has a little trouble getting the seals closed properly.”

“They’ll be fine, Heather. Stop worrying.” He sat with the children as they finished their meals. “Now go. We’re going to have fun today.”

“Mama?” asked their daughter, Zunarka. “You leave us?”

“You get to be with Kuarto and Toki for a little while today.” She touched her daughter’s cheek. “We’ll be back soon.”

“Can we go into the garden?” asked their son. He had already dismissed them and was ready to play.

Storm put an arm around Heather’s waist and escorted her out the room. “Your soft heart would keep us there another hour if I didn’t pull you away.”

“I’m not that bad.” She looked up at him. “Am I?”

“It’s one of the reasons why I care for you so much, my heart.”

****

It didn’t take them long to get to Bert’s compound. Once the elders had a chance to question Bert they gave him permission to stay on some land in a remote area of Vespia so he could do his research on what happened to the rest of the ancients. They felt it was better not alerting the entire race that they had a living, breathing ancient among them. If the planet was aware of his presence they would never leave Bert alone.

Heather and Storm walked into his main computer room and found him working on assembling a large piece of equipment. He had parts floating in the air as he used a three dimensional image to move them around until they were ready to be put into place. There were small clamps on the pieces floating that allowed them to defy gravity.

“You have been busy.” Storm looked around at all the different components Bert now had up and running, not sure if he was happy with the elders’ decision. The only other ancient they had been involved with had a fixation on his mate and he feared the same thing would happen again over time, but Heather trusted the man so he kept his opinions to himself.

So far Bert had been the exact opposite of Ialog, but how long would that last? Would he develop that strange overpowering desire to have Heather that Ialog had? She was part of his visions. He had told them she was important to the future of their races. Would he try to take matters into his own hands like Ialog did? Storm knew he had to be leery or they could be caught unawares.

“A lot of the equipment I need for my search was already in my ship so it was easy to transfer it. Others I brought from my other compound, plus I have been working on a few more to make sure I have everything I need to begin my search.” He looked at Storm. “I know you have no reason to trust me. Ialog did ruin that, but I promise I have no ulterior motive. I just want to find my people. It is hard knowing I am alone.”

Did the man just read his mind?

Heather touched Storm’s arm. He could see that she understood. She had lived with being unique all her life. He placed his hand on top of hers. He trusted her. If she felt Bert was safe then he would too. For now.

The simple gesture had him wanting her again. She started smiling at him so he knew his eyes had started glowing once more. Good thing they had the ship with their favorite chair in it. He just might get a scream from her on their way back.

Storm walked around, looking at the different pieces of equipment. All types of machines covered the walls along with several large screens. “Fridon would love this place.”

“Then bring him next time.” Bert grinned as he worked on connecting a board to one of the screens. “I enjoy his sharp mind.”

Storm nodded as he rested his hip on one of the consoles.

“Oh, Storm don’t lean there–” Bert frowned as Storm winked out of sight. “Oh, dear.”

****

Bert sprinted to where Storm had stood only seconds ago. This wasn’t good. Storm wasn’t supposed to disappear this soon. Was he? The information he had gave him the impression it wouldn’t happen for a few months. How did the timeline get off? Using a handheld device he scanned the area then started pulling up data.

“Oh dear?” Heather grabbed him by the shoulder, turning him to face her. “What do you mean by ‘oh dear?’ Where did he go?”

“It’s not the where I’m that worried about, it’s the when.” The data he looked through on his hand held also filled one of the screens. Heather watched in awe as he flipped through thousands of images in seconds. It didn’t take him long to find him.

“The when?” Heather rubbed her forehead.

“I know this doesn’t make sense.” He had been watching her out of the corner of his eye and turned to look at Heather before he turned back to the machine. “The thing Storm rested against is a time machine. I have used it in the past to watch and learn about people as well as travel to times and places I wanted to learn more about. I assembled it here so I can travel where and when I need to gather clues on what happened to my people. It was on because I was finishing the installation. But it wasn’t set properly. Normally I have a timeline and location set, along with how long I plan on being there. It also has the DNA sequence of the person going back so they don’t get harmed by the transfer. Storm set it off without any of that being done so I’m not sure where or when he went or what he might remember. This image shows he arrived wherever safely. Now I have to see how we go about extracting him.”

“Wait. A time machine? No one has been able to control time travel yet.” Heather move close to the machine but Bert blocked her way. If she touched it the same thing would happen to her and he didn’t need two of them lost in time.

He hoped he was right about where Storm was supposed to arrive, but until he could check history to be sure, everything could have changed. If Storm was where he should be then he was safe and the next step would be to send Heather after her mate.

“None of the races you’re familiar with have the technology yet, but we have been able to successfully control it.” He moved to another computer to get historical data before going back to the time machine.

“Great. So my mate is trapped back in time somewhere? Bert, we have to bring him home.”

Bert watched her as she looked at the machine. He knew she was thinking if she did what her mate did would it send her back to the same point in time? Heather instinctively moved toward the machine to find her way blocked by Bert again.

“Please don’t touch anything. Without it being prepared properly you don’t know when or where it will send you and your mind will be wiped. You could end up on another planet and timeline if I don’t do this right. That won’t do Storm any good. Once I verify his location we’ll work on bringing him back. It shouldn’t take too long. I promise.”

Bert laid his handheld on the surface. The equipment he sat it on hummed as it worked.

“Why didn’t your machine send that little handheld off to who knows when?” Heather asked when the device didn’t disappear.

“Safety protocols because of my DNA.” He gestured to it. “It’s on the handheld.”

Heather gave him an exasperated look.

“Dealing with a time machine is tricky work. In order for me to touch it over and over without being sent all over time uncontrollably I set protocols for my DNA. It knows me and will only send me through time when I program it. Normally I have it set not to send anything without permission, but because I was still installing it and never expected Storm to touch it I hadn’t quite gotten to that. It’s hard to install the protocol when the machine isn’t fully installed and calibrated.” Although he should have. He knew Storm time traveled, he just didn’t know when until now. He had thought it happened a little too early, but the timeline hadn’t changed so he was feeling more optimistic. Bert pressed a few buttons. “Storm is on Earth. Looks like the western section of the…oh dear.”

“Again with the ‘oh dear?’ What now?”

“He’s in the early twenty-first century. Looks like Washington State of the United States.” He turned to look at Heather. Storm was where he was supposed to be. He didn’t see the connection with the location until now. “Isn’t that where Ialog kept you when he kidnapped you on Earth?”

“Yes. It is also where I was found as a child and where I left Sam after I wiped her memories. Wonder why that area seems to be a focal point.” Heather pointed to the machine. “Have you calibrated it?”

“Yes.”

“So retrieve him.”

‘It’s not that easy.” He picked up his handheld and looked at the data on the screen. “Because the machine hasn’t been configured for his DNA it can’t read him properly. Retrieving him won’t work. Someone will have to go after him.”

“I’ll go.” She took a step toward the machine.

“There’s a complication.”

****

“What sort of complication? You can bring him back, can’t you?” Now she knew how Storm felt when she disappeared. The thought of him not being here for her had her stomach in knots. A feeling she didn’t like.

“His mind was overloaded by the transport. According to the records I’m finding in history, he’s been in that timeline for about two years. There have been no ripples in our timeline so he was supposed to go back there to have the universe we know. I can’t change that or we could find ourselves in a different timeline. And what is going to be a problem is your mate has been diagnosed with amnesia.” He looked at Heather. “He won’t know who you are.”

“But I can still go back and get him, right?”

“Yes, but I’ll need a little time before you leave. You can’t go back and just drag him forward. I’ll need to create a life for you in that timeline. A history that withstands scrutiny. Although their computers were still in the beginning stages, their security systems were great at ferreting out false information. You need to have an iron clad identity. I also need to give you the proper supplies to survive then as well.”

Survive? Wasn’t she going in and just bringing him home? “Why are you going through all this if I’m just going in and extracting him?”

“You might be there a little longer than for a simple extraction, but I’ll explain everything in a bit.” Bert crossed to another screen and worked a keyboard near it. “It won’t take long to get everything ready.”

Heather didn’t like the fact that her mate had been on Earth with no memory of her for two years. He had a libido that would cripple the normal human. How many women had he slept with since he had been gone? And how many had he put in the hospital?

The sooner she went back and found him the happier she would be.

“I need to make a manual upload to your insert.” He stepped up to Heather and made adjustments to her device. “There. You should have all the details of the life I have made for you. I have also given you timeline events that need to take place. If you see anything out of the ordinary you need to let me know.”

Images and information flooded her mind. “Wow.”

“I won’t be able to talk to you directly, so making sure those things happen will allow me to follow you as you move through the timeline.” He stepped back and went to the console that sent Storm away. “I know you’re anxious to get going, but I have a few more things to do before I can send you back. My job right now is to make sure you have everything you need to bring him home.”

“Just hurry, Bert. I want my mate back.” Heather crossed her arms over her chest while she waited. She knew she looked like Storm, but didn’t care. Not knowing what she was going to find when she found him had her nervous.

****

“Bert.” This was taking too long.

“I know you’re anxious.” He finished what he was working on. “For you.”

Heather walked around the motorcycle Bert showed her. She liked the sleek design. This was going to be her mode of transportation back in time? It made her smile.

“This vehicle has two functions. One is for you to use in the timeline you are going to. I have created it so it will fit in with the vehicles they use. The other is it is your time traveling device. It will take you there and bring you both back.” He patted the seat. “I thought the design fit you.”

It reminded her of the air bikes on Vespia. The two tires were where the resemblance ended. “Tires, really?”

“Yes. They still used personal vehicles instead of transports. Everything traveled on roads instead of in the air like you’re used to.” Excitement danced in his eyes. “When you are going still relies on fossil fuel to run their transportation. They have started to work with alternative fuels but so far it is only solar and electric when it comes to transportation. This will store the fossil fuel they use and I have programmed the bike to use it, so you won’t draw attention to yourself by running a machine that never needs gas, but it will take a lot longer to disappear than any of the vehicles there and it will burn the gas cleanly. No pollution. If someone asks you about what kind of mileage you get there are three key words to use. One is new, the second is prototype, and the third is hybrid. The mileage you will actually save won’t be believed. If you have to come up with a number for someone who is a little too curious take the average mileage for a motorcycle and double it. That data should be in the information I have downloaded already.”

She nodded. There was a lot of data in her mind for her to go through so she could fit into the timeline. She hoped it would be easy to sort it out when she needed it. Heather touched the handlebars. “I do like the design.”

“Good. I did my best mimicking the designs of the timeline. It does have a few perks from our timeline that will work there. In order to make sure it can travel back and forth the energy source is protected against EM pulses and time fluctuations.” He pulled up the computer system. “I have included a shield that will protect you if you were to have a spill as well.”

“I’m a good rider, Bert.”

“I’m not questioning your abilities, but during this timeline there are accidents because people aren’t paying attention. Although they have GPS and cell phones, the computer systems in their vehicles haven’t been designed to drive the car yet. You could get bumped by a car switching lanes because they didn’t see you. The bike also has a holographic program what will hide the fact that you can’t damage the machine. If you get into something where the bike should be damaged the system will create a false image that can be seen and touched from any angle.” He turned on the hologram so she could see what he was talking about and grinned at her. “I’m quite proud of that.”

Heather walked up to the bike which now looked like it had slid across concrete and touched the damage. It felt real to her. “That is wonderful.”

“All you need to do to get the original look is rearrange the crystals here.” He opened a panel and moved a couple of the crystals and the bike went back to normal. “Even damaged the bike will still work so you do have to be careful if you do end up in some sort of fender bender as the locals call it. Make sure the bike working seems believable if you do get in an accident.”

“Wow.” She loved this.

“There are a few other things I’ll go over before you leave but I want to focus on this garment first.” He moved to her suit and held it up for her to see. “This is designed to withstand the temporal change. There is a second one for Storm that I have put in the bottom of the saddle bags.”

“And the suit will protect us?”

“Yes. A spare helmet, boots, and gloves are built into the frame of the bike for Storm when he’s ready to come back. The suit will also double as a regular garment while you’re there. If you don’t close all the seals you can wear it in units and it will look like a biker outfit.” He separated the seals so she could see what he was talking about. “This will keep you protected while you’re riding so please use it when you should.”

“Why is that important?”

“Because I think you’re going to be there a while. According to history Storm was a bit of a recluse, only leaving a mountain hideaway to do photoshoots. You might not find him right away.”

“He’s a photographer?” Heather shook her head. “I would have thought he’d be in the military. I can see him as a drill sergeant.”

“He probably doesn’t know how to control his shifting so keeps to himself as much as possible.” Bert handed her a small pile of clothing. “This should be up to the fashion there. You can pick up more once you arrive.”

“What type of bartering system are they using?” She didn’t like the sinking feeling she was getting. How hard was this going to be? “Cash?”

“Yes, and I have that for you as well. They also use plastic.”

“Plastic?”

“I’ll explain that in a few minutes.”

Heather nodded. This was a lot to absorb.

“I can get you to the area he has shown up the most, but there is no record of his address in any of the files. Any money he received for his work was done with direct deposit, and he had a post box as a mailing address. There’s no record of a physical address. If he needed something delivered he used a local diner. That is where I would start.”

“Post box?”

“It was a small box one could rent from the postal service where your mail could be delivered. The area I’m sending you to is remote. It is possible he doesn’t live in a location where they could deliver mail to him.” He touched her collarbone. “I won’t be able to communicate with you. The delay will be too great.” He handed her a small communication device. “But with this we will be able to get messages to each other in case of an emergency. Like I said earlier cell phones are prevalent when you’re going so I created this handheld to mimic the standard smart phones most have there. You can also use it to fill in the gaps as you interact with the local people. You hear something you never heard of this will tell you what you need to know so you don’t raise flags. The people then were into texting so that is how a lot of the data you might need will appear. All you need to do is glance at the screen. Since so many do the same thing you won’t look out of place.”

“Anything else?” She wanted to get there and find her mate.

“Yes. I’m going to try to drop you into a secluded area, but you might be seen. Your landing will cause an EM pulse and knock out all power there. I’m hoping there won’t be anyone around, but you need to hide the bike and the suit as quickly as possible if you find there are too many who might see you and you can’t ride away immediately.”

Heather removed her dress and climbed into the suit, snapping her gloves and helmet on, but left the visor open. Sealed, it resembled the Vespian security uniform.

“I’ll need to cover your mark.”

“Why?” She placed her hand against where it was hidden by the suit. Her mark was something she wore with pride. It proved she was Storm’s mate.

“Storm has the same mark. You could frighten him by having the same tattoo he does. That is what most people will think it is. Not having his memory he’s not going to know that it shows his bond to you.”

She hadn’t thought of it that way. “Do we have to?”

“I think it’s best.”

Heather nodded. Not something she wanted but she did see the logic in it. She removed her helmet and bared her neck.

“I promise it will still be there. It will be like Skye’s. Unseen, but still there.”

Bert had a few more last minute things that kept cropping up. She just wanted to go.

“If you’re ready I’ll send you back. Once you arrive I’m going to continue to stream data to you so you have as much info I can give you to function there.” He handed her a thin card.

“What is this?” She flipped it over.

“A credit card. That is what most of the people use there to store their money.”

“And how did you get money into this timeline?”

“We have been traveling through time for a while. This is the generic account for any ancient to use. As long as you don’t use too much of the money in one place you shouldn’t draw any attention to you.”

“And what is too much?”

“During this timeline? Ten thousand or more.”

“Good to know.”

“I have also made you money from that timeline. It should be enough to afford hotels and food for about a month.” He handed her a thick wad of bills.

“That sure seems like a lot.”

“I didn’t go any higher than a hundred dollar bill and those will raise eyebrows if you use too many at the same time.”

“I’ll try to be careful.” She slipped the money inside her suit.

“You’ve never dealt with money like this. Try to stick to the smaller bills and only use the bigger ones when your total is high enough to warrant it. Cash can’t be traced, but people in this timeline worry about people who flash too much cash. Try to give exact change whenever you can. Once you get there and start breaking bills you’ll be getting coins as well.”

“Change. Right. The coins are less than the bills.”

“Just remember this timeline is when homeland security had just started. It is what Earth security blossomed from. But when it first started they were a bit overzealous because of what had happened.” He went to the time machine. “To us it is ancient history but to them it was only twelve years ago.”

“What are you talking about?”

“September eleventh, two thousand and one.”

“Oh.” There were many things in history that changed the shape of the world. The attack on the twin towers and the pentagon was one of them. That one day started a series of events that led the planet to the world she knew. “Right. I’ll be careful of what I say.”

“The colloquial language is a lot different there too. Be prepared for that download. There is a lot.” He tapped a few keys on the small pad he held. “Ready?”

She nodded. How bad could it be? Her mind was flooded with so much so quickly. She said the first thing that popped into her head. “Holy shit!”

“The download worked.” He grinned. “The language of the time will flow naturally from you although you might mentally question your choice of words.”

“This is crazy. Can I go now?” She grinned back. That was strange to her.

“Almost.” Bert held out his hand. “You need to leave your rings behind. I know they mean a lot, but they might cause more trouble than you want with Storm.”

“He’s still going to see the marks they left behind.” She sighed as she pulled them off and dropped them into his open hand.

“I know but it is easier to explain the lack of rings than why you’d be willing to break your vows with a stranger. And that is how Storm will see you and any relationship you might try to start with him.”

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“There is a button on the bike that will bring you home when you’re ready.” He pointed to the button in question. He looked at her before answering her question. “Storm must remember before you can bring him back. If he fights the memory then you need to stay with him and wait for him to remember.”

“Okay. Why?”

“He’ll never believe he’s from another timeline or another planet. Forcing him to come back without knowing the truth could cause more trouble than you realize.”

“But my brother has the ability to unlock the mind. Why can’t I just go and bring him home? It doesn’t make sense.”

“I’m trying to keep the timeline intact. The handheld will also guide you to do the same thing. Any tiny changes could create a world you don’t recognize when you come back so please understand that I ask you to listen to me without question. I can’t explain everything because I’m afraid of changing things back there as well as here. I promise it will all make more sense when you’re back there.”

He was asking for a lot, but she needed to get to Storm and bring him home. She had to trust him. Heather nodded.

Bert smiled and continued explaining everything he could. “You also can use the button if you get into a situation that could cause bodily harm. But if you come back early I might not be able to send you again so use it wisely.”

She nodded again. The sooner she got going the sooner she could find her mate. She closed the helmet so she was sealed in.

“One last thing. If everything goes right no time will pass here while you’re gone. You should return within a minute after you leave.” He tapped a few more keys then looked at her. “Go stand by the bike and I’ll send you on your way.”

Heather did as he asked. The scene in front of her started to soften and then stretch as it broke into a thousand pieces. It felt like her body was being squeezed then pulled as she flew across the galaxy and time. Landing on Earth stunned her. She just stood there until Bert’s comment about getting going as fast as she could filled her mind. She looked around and saw no one, jumped on the bike and took off.

Tires crunched against the rock filled road she zipped along. Then she hit asphalt. The bike weaved a little as she adjusted to the new surface. It didn’t take her long before she had control and was eating up the miles between her and her mate.

“Heather, you’re going too fast. Speed limit here is sixty-five and they will stop you and give you a ticket if you’re too far above that limit. You don’t need to get yourself into any of the databases here.”

She heard the computer’s voice in her ear. She grinned as she slowed to the proper speed and continued. “I didn’t know you were coming with me, Cim.”

“Bert felt you might need me to assist you in this timeline. A friendly voice so to speak. I’m also tied into the phone Bert created for you.”

“Ah. My hand held. Did he also alter the way you talked to fit into this timeline?”

“Yes, and the proper word is cell phone. They will merge with the handhelds but right now they are two different devices. In this timeline handhelds are also known as tablets. The most famous one is the iPod. It watches movies, surfs the web, reads electronic books that can be downloaded into the device. It’s like a computer in many aspects.”

“Pretty basic stuff then.”

“But to these people they are the cutting edge of technology.” Her visor showed a truck stop that started to blink. “What is that?”

“A restaurant that Storm has been known for frequenting. It is also where he has packages delivered.”

“Then I think we should go in for some coffee.” Heather steered the bike into the parking lot. The place was busy. She turned her machine off and climbed off the bike. She felt nervous. Would he be here?

A little bell dinged when she entered the restaurant. The place was packed. The only empty spot was at the counter. Walking up to it, she felt lots of people watching her. Perhaps she should have removed her helmet outside.

“I believe it is the way you look in the suit,” said Cim. “Heartbeats in most of the men have increased as they spotted you. They are aroused by your outfit.”

“Great. Just what I need.” She sat on the stool before releasing the seals on her gloves. Then she released the seals on her helmet. “Are you also part of my insert?”

“You want to know what happens when they see your face? I’ll send you a text.”

Heather pulled off her helmet and put her gloves inside. Her almost white hair now fell more than halfway down her back. Having it short for most of her life she was never one to spend a lot of time on it. A quick brush and she was done. Storm didn’t mind, he loved her hair. One of the reasons it was so long now.

She heard a beep and looked at the phone. Cim’s data on the men watching made her want to laugh. No matter where she was she always got the same reaction.

A very pregnant woman stepped up to her. “What a ya’ have?”

“Coffee for starters.” Heather smiled at her. “When are you due?”

“About a month from now.” She rubbed her womb absently. “Cream?”

“Please?” Heather picked up the menu that the woman handed her. There was a wide variety of food on the pages. So many she found it hard to pick something. Most of the people had gone back to what they were doing, giving her a chance to see what they were eating around her. A lot had breakfast in front of them. She looked up at the clock. The digital face said ten a.m.

The young woman came back with her cup and a few small white containers that she sat next to it. Heather picked one up. Okay. What was she supposed to do with them?

“Hey Patti, can I have the usual to go?” A man in jeans and a flannel shirt stepped up beside Heather.

“Where you off to now?” She pulled a pad out of the pocket of the apron she wore, jotted down some things and slapped it on the sill of a small window. “Order to go!”

“Florida. Got me going from one end of the country to the other. Have four days to get there.”

“Four?” She poured coffee in a tall white foam holder then sat the same small containers on the counter. He peeled the top back and poured the contents into the cup. He gave it a quick stir and the coffee lightened. Next he grabbed a few packets in a small dish and poured them in as well. He took a sip and grimaced. He grabbed a few more packets. “Who made this? It takes like mud.”

“Princess. Who else?” She pulled the empty packets off the counter. “Four days is pushing it, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but if I can do it in four days I’ll get a bonus. Got mouths to feed.”

“You be safe.” A bell rang behind her and a large brown bag filled the small window. Patti picked up the bag and handed it to him.

“See you in two weeks.” He lifted his cup to someone in the kitchen and headed back out.

Heather would love to ask a ton of questions, but at least she now knew what to do with the little white containers.

“Have you decided what you want?” Patti had turned her attention back to her.

“Um, yeah. Eggs, bacon and toast.” She closed the menu.

“Bobby’s favorite?”

“Huh?”

She opened the menu and pointed to the title of the dish. “Bobby’s favorite.”

“Oh.” She felt like an idiot. “Sorry. Sure.”

“You get grits or gravy with it.”

“Don’t really need either.”

“I’ll bring you gravy. It is the best. How you want your eggs?”

“Scrambled. Hard.”

“You got it.” Patti turned and gave her order to a cook. Tall good looking man with dark hair and a well kept beard filled the little window as he read over the order. They resembled each other. Heather would bet they were related somehow.

Heather picked up the creamer container and opened it, and poured it into her coffee. Since the computer always gave her a perfect cup she didn’t know how strong or how weak this cup would be. Her first sip wasn’t bad but she could still taste a touch of the bitterness she didn’t care for. She looked at the small container that held the sugar packets. There were white ones, brown ones, pink ones, blue ones, and yellow ones. The white one said sugar so she went with that one. The packet tore open easily and she watched as the crystals fell into the dark liquid.

“A real sugar user, huh?”

Heather looked up at Patti. She looked tired.

“I love real sugar, but turned diabetic with this bundle of joy. Found the yellow stuff closest to the real thing in coffee, even though I have to drink decaf.” She rubbed her stomach. “Once the baby is born I’m hoping for my first real cup of coffee in months. Decaf just isn’t the same when you want high test.”

“Don’t they taste the same?”

“Not to me.” Patti frowned for a moment.

“You okay?”

“Sure, sure.” Patti smiled at her. “I’ll bring your food to you as soon as it’s ready.”

Heather nodded as she watched the waitress move to one of her other tables. Another waitress passed her to drop off an order before heading to another group of tables Heather hadn’t noticed right away. This place was a lot bigger than she first thought.

She watched her waitress. Patti wasn’t moving right. Then it dawned on her. The baby had just dropped, making her waddle more than walk.

The cook came out of the kitchen with Heather’s meal. After setting it on the counter in front of her he watched Patti as well.

“When did she say she was due?” Heather asked.

“Six weeks.”

“You sure?” Heather looked at him. “She looks like she’s going into labor now.”

“What makes you say that?”

“The fact that the baby has dropped since I got here. Her walk too. The baby is getting in the way of her movements. It looks like her little bundle of joy is getting ready to come out.”

“Hmm. Excuse me for a moment, will you?” He stepped away.

Heather took a bite of her eggs. Patti came up beside her and stopped moving for a moment, gripping the counter as she stood there.

“Sure wish you’d stop acting up.” She spoke to her baby as she rubbed her stomach. “It’s really starting to annoy me.”

Heather looked at the large clock on the wall in front of her, noting the time.

“You want some more coffee?” Patti asked her.

“Sure.” Heather watched her as she continued to move slowly.

Patti brought over the coffee pot and freshened up her cup. “Oh, you already have your meal?”

“Your cook brought it to me while you were at a table.”

“Mike didn’t need to do that.”

“I didn’t want her food to get cold.” He stepped out of the kitchen at that point. “And I had nothing left on the stove.”

“Ha. You wanted to get a better look at the pretty biker chick.”

“Patti!” He glanced at Heather, embarrassed by her comment.

“What? She is pretty and does ride a bike.” Patti grabbed the counter again and frowned as she stopped moving for a minute.

“You’re in labor,” commented Heather as she took another sip of coffee.

“Don’t be silly. I’m not due for six weeks.” Patti let go of the counter, but hadn’t moved.

“Right. And babies know how to read a calendar. You grabbed this counter five minutes ago. That was when you complained that the baby was acting up. And you’re doing it again five minutes later. You’re sweating and I’m guessing it’s from the pressure the baby is causing.” Heather put down her coffee. “Shall I go on?”

“I’m not in labor!” Patti stomped her foot. Her face showed fear when her water broke and gushed to the floor.

“Yeah. I tend to disagree.” Heather stood and brought her to a chair near an empty table. “Sit.”

“I can’t be in labor yet.” She lowered herself to the chair. “Mike needs me for four more weeks. This is his busy season. And Bo won’t be back for three weeks.”

“Don’t worry about the store and I’ll call Bo.” Mike pulled his cell phone out of his pocket.

“But you’ll be short of help.” She looked at him.

“Patti, I can help him out if that will stop you from worrying.” Heather crouched down beside her and placed her hand on the woman’s stomach, wishing her brother or Micali was here. They knew a lot more than she did about birth.

“That will work, won’t it, sis?” Mike spoke to her in between answering the person he spoke to on the other end of his call.

“I guess.” She didn’t look happy.

Sirens grew louder as a large white vehicle pulled into the parking lot. A well fit man walked in first, pulling a bed. Heather’s mind translated it to stretcher. Another man came in with him steering the bed from the other end.

“Good thing we were on our way here for lunch or Patti might have had the baby in this diner. How far apart are her contractions?”

“Five minutes,” said Mike. He stepped out of the way so they could get her ready to go.

“No problem.” They did what they needed before securing her to the stretcher. “See you at the hospital, big brother.”

“Thanks, Bob. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” While the paramedics moved Patti out of the building, Mike got on the phone and started making more calls.

Heather was worried that one of the other waitresses would slip on the fluid on the floor. She stepped behind the counter and looked for towels.

Mike spotted her behind the counter and put his hand over part of his phone. “What are you doing?”

“Looking for towels.” She pointed to the floor.

“Oh. In the back, there. All I have are small ones, but there are paper towels back there, too. If the roll under the counter isn’t enough.” Then he went back to the call.

She saw the roll under the counter and pulled it out. Unraveling a big wad she dropped it to the floor to mark the spot. At least the other two women would see the paper on the floor. All this man needed was to lose another waitress because she slipped on amniotic fluid.

She found the small towels as well as a few more rolls of the paper ones. Looking around she also saw chemicals. Another thing she needed to finish cleaning up the mess. What should she use? Heather decided to just get the fluid up off the floor then she found a spray bottle of multipurpose cleaner. That would work.

It didn’t take too long before she had all the liquid picked up and the floor cleaned. Mike was still on the phone. Sitting back on her stool, she picked up her cup of coffee and took a sip.

“What are we going to do about Patti’s tables? I’ve been slammed today and can barely keep up with my own,” asked one of the waitresses as she walked behind the counter.

“It’s okay, Princess,” replied the one who was following her. “The rest of us peasant girls will pick up the slack.”

The one who spoke first flicked her ponytail and walked to the window in front of the kitchen. “Where’s Mike? I have an order.”

“He’s busy right now, but you walked right past him,” commented Heather. The young girl acted like Patti’s baby was an inconvenience to her. One word popped into her head. Spoiled. “What do you do when he’s busy in the kitchen?”

The second woman snatched the ticket from the princess and slipped it up in a silver round thing hanging in the window. “We normally put it here so the cook on duty can see it and she knows that. But the princess doesn’t like to be put out.”

Heather was right. She was spoiled. The place was packed and more people were waiting for tables. Heather knew by the way the princess was acting she didn’t want to have anything to do with Patti’s tables and the other woman would end up doing all of it. She needed help. “If you show me what to do I can at least get Patti’s tables cleaned.”

“You don’t mind?” The second woman looked over at Mike who had now walked outside, still talking on the phone. “We have been busy. There’s a gray buss tray you can use. They’re stacked over near the sink. Just put the plates in them and bring them to the dishwasher. If you put her tips in a glass or cup we’ll make sure she gets it.”

Heather nodded and got up. She found the trays and headed to the first table. She stared at the plates for a moment. Was she supposed to leave the food on the plates? The waitress she had been talking to came over.

“Never cleaned a table before?”

“Sorry. No.”

“It’s easy.” She picked up the plates, scraping the food from different plates all onto one then sat the stack in the grey bin. She took the cups and glasses next and stacked two or three the ones that didn’t have a lot of liquid in them before putting one that did on top. The stacking allowed her to put more into the container. Heather had brought a clean glass which the woman put the bills and coins in. Then she sprayed the table with a bottle she had brought and wiped it with a cloth. “Got it?”

“Yep.” That was easy. She cleared the rest of the tables in Patti’s section first and lifted the heavy bin. Now what was she supposed to do with it? She carried it back behind the counter. Mike had come back in and saw her. He hooked a thumb behind him. Once again she found herself back in the place where she found the towels. A loud clang and several swear words made her walk past that area and into a hot little room.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Um, helping out for Patti?”

“Patti?” He arched a brow at her. “She finally dropped that bundle of joy?”

Heather nodded.

‘“Bout damn time. She’s been whinen’ since Tuesday.” The man washing the dishes spotted the tray in her arms. “Put that there. Can you take the other one back with you?”

Heather picked up the tray filled with clean dishes.

“Thanks.”

Mike stopped her before she made it back to the counter. “I only agreed with you to get my sister out of here. You don’t have to do this.”

“I figured that, but your waitresses are slammed and I offered to help them so they can get caught up. I like busy work, keeps me from thinking about things.”

“Problems at home or something?” He reached for the bin she was carrying.

“No, I just got back from overseas.” Heather gave him the container. “Saw things I wished I hadn’t.”

“Military discharge?” He walked to the counter and sat it down.

“Medical leave.”

“You’re not going to go postal on us are you?” He looked at her.

“No.” Heather laughed. “I got into a sticky situation and the doctors suggested I take some time off to see if I really want to stay in the service.”

“Officer or enlisted?”

“Lieutenant.” She climbed back on her stool. “This might just be what the doctor ordered.”

“Okay, but I have rules. One, you need a uniform. That outfit might get you more tips, but I ask the girls to wear a pair of black shorts and a white t-shirt so everyone looks the same. For now, I think there is a spare set around here somewhere. The girls always leave clothes in case they get called in and don’t have their uniform with them, but you’ll have to go and get your own somewhere along the line.”

“Okay.” Heather couldn’t believe her luck. He was going to hire her. Now she had the perfect excuse to hang around long enough to see if Storm would come in.

“Two. Everyone but Princess is a relative and all of them only work for tips.”

“Oh, no problem. I can do the same thing.” Heather smiled. “I guess I need to find a place to stay though.”

“You haven’t checked in anywhere?”

“I stopped for a cup of coffee.” She shrugged. “I was going to see if there was a hotel nearby, but never passed one before I got here.”

“Now I feel really bad. My sister is right, this is my busy time and I could really use the help, but if you want to continue on please don’t feel obligated to stay. We’ll work it out. If you stay I can help with a room. There’s a small efficiency above the restaurant. I lived there before I built the house around back. But I must warn you that will put you on call all the time. If one of the other girls calls in sick you’ll be the first one I go to.”

“I don’t have a problem with that.” It might work in her favor. Cim told her Storm came here a lot and he could drop in anytime. The more she worked the better chance she had of running into him. She had tried to reach out to him, but his mind was blocked off somehow.

Mike disappeared for a moment. When he came back he held the outfit for her. “You have a different pair of shoes?”

“In the saddles of my bike. Sneakers okay?”

“They’ll do. You don’t want anything too thin. You could burn yourself if a pan slips or could hurt yourself if you drop a tray of food. And you want shoes that don’t slip.”

Heather went out to her bike and pulled the shoes out. Bert had included the shoes with the pile of clothes he had handed her, but she hadn’t tried them on yet. She also grabbed a pair of socks. A soft piece of lace peeked up at her. She needed undergarments here, didn’t she? Better to be safe than sorry. The more delicate items she stuffed into her suit.

Hoping she didn’t forget anything, Heather walked into the bathroom and changed. Her biker suit was soft and pliable, allowing her to fold it up small enough to fit in the saddle bags easily. Heather checked out her outfit in the mirror once she had finished changing. The course material felt strange on her. After having perfect fitting clothing all the time to have something on this loose was weird, but the waist band was stopped by her hips so she didn’t have to worry about it falling off her.

She stepped out to find Mike waiting for her.

“Sorry it’s a little big.” He handed her a large rubber band and pointed to her hair. “Needs to be up.”

“No problem.” She pulled her hair up into a ponytail and wrapped the band around it. Not having a mirror made it a little difficult, but she got it back and off her face.

“Okay. Get to work.”

“Let me stick this in my bike and I’ll be ready.” She held up her uniform.

Mike nodded.

When she came back in he explained how the sections were broken down so she would know what tables she was responsible for. He also explained how the work load was broken down so they always had silverware rolled in napkins, coffee and tea ready. Once he felt she knew what to do, he let her get to work.