This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To Challenge a Warrior
All rights reserved.
Published by Fallen Press, Ltd.
Copyright © 2016
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
To Kiss a Warrior: An Alien Rogue Romance
To Touch a Warrior: An Alien Rogue Romance
To Protect a Warrior: An Alien Rogue Romance
To Trust a Warrior: An Alien Rogue Romance
To Love a Warrior: An Alien Rogue Romance
Angel Warrior: An Angel Warrior Romance
Angel Betrayed: An Angel Warrior Romance
Angel Awakened: An Angel Warrior Romance
Angel Captured: An Angel Warrior Romance
Angel Forever: An Angel Warrior Romance
Publishing is like stepping off the edge of a cliff and hoping there are arms to catch you. It requires a lot confidence and a good amount of faith to fight your natural response to curl up into a ball afterwards. I’m fortunate that when I step off that cliff, I have the strong arms of my husband giving me reassurance, and the confident grin of Aeon Igni saying, “this kicks ass!” If it weren’t for these two people, I don’t know what I would do.
Hannah set down her glass of cider on the coffee table, steeling herself as she shifted on her couch to face Teak. The quarters on this ship have been great, she had to admit. A true commander’s cabin. Unfortunately, tomorrow she’d be losing that status. Lesser status and smaller quarters, but a far bigger, better ship.
And everyone knew: size matters.
Her thoughts drifted to Liam. Big muscles. Big arms. And a really big—
Damn it, you’re not supposed to think about Liam. Why does everything remind me of him?
But deep down I must admit, his size was perfect.
That was four years ago. He’s definitely over you by now. So get your mind on the hunk in front of you.
The security officer flashed her an overly confident smile, his beefy face stretching tight. He wasn’t that bad. A little forceful, not that imaginative, but he’d do.
You can do this. What have you got to lose?
“So, tomorrow you’re heading to The Odyssey.” It wasn’t a question. He almost sounded like a football coach ordering his high school players around.
Focus! He’s not that bad!
“Yeah, I hope it will be half as fun as being the commander of a Level 6 starship—“
“It’s not like being a lieutenant commander is slumming it with us regular crew members or anything,” he said, grinning.
“Hey,” he said, throwing his hands up in the air. “I don’t blame you for going. I’d scrub the floors if I got to join the crew on The Odyssey.”
She picked up her glass of warm Paradon Cider and took a long draw. The spices danced along her tongue, heating her entire body. I need to order another shipment of this. All the alcohol with none of the bite. Her limbs felt a little less tense.”I’m excited, that’s for sure.”
He leaned closer to her, stretching his arm behind her head. “It might be the drink talking, but I can’t take my eyes off your breasts.”
Subtle .She almost rolled her eyes. I bet he thinks he’s quite the rogue.
She glanced down at the loose fabric of her blouse, the same green as her eyes. It was a little girly compared to what she usually wore, but she’d chosen it for a reason. It was low-cut enough that when she leaned forward, Teak would get a nice view of the thin, silver bra she wore underneath. If you’re finally going to sleep with him, why pretend?
“It’s not the alcohol talking.” She ran her hand gently along the muscles of his stomach.
He’s muscular, but not like Liam. The Keltair was pure muscle. Perfection.
But this guy exists somewhere other than your dreams. You can’t live in a fantasy forever.
“Hannah, if you keep that up, I’m not going to be able to control myself.” He groaned, chugging his drink and smacking it loudly on the table.
Her hand froze. She took a deep breath. This is what she wanted. Right?
Very purposely, she locked gazes with him. “Maybe that’s exactly what I want.”
He stared. “So, we can…?”
Geez. How much of an invite did he want?
“Yeah.” She tried to keep the flash of annoyance out of her voice.
He leaned in and kissed her. His lips were wet against her own. She waited for the tingle of attraction, of enjoyment, but nothing came. He groaned and pulled her so she was straddling his lap. She thought she felt the bulge of his manhood.
Trying to take a breath, his tongue was suddenly jabbing into her mouth. She stopped herself from pulling back in disgust. This guy doesn’t matter, what matters is that you finally let Liam go. And the best way to get over a guy is to get under one.
She pulled away from his kiss and climbed off him. With ease, she yanked her shirt off and slid her thin shorts down onto the floor. “Ready?”
He shuddered and gripped the couch. “You are so hot, Hannah, I almost lost it right there.”
She almost put her head in her hands.
That sounds promising.
Standing, he stripped off his pants, boxers, and shorts. He stood before her proud and naked. Her gaze ran to his manhood. It matched his size, but for some reason, it just didn’t excite her.
Reaching out, he brushed back her bra and started to squeeze her breasts. It wasn’t just a lack of attraction that hit her then, but complete revulsion. She wasn’t sure who she was more repulsed by. Him, or herself.
This is pathetic. It’s one thing to sleep with a mildly attractive guy to get back out there; this is a whole other thing.
“Yeah, baby,” he said, giving her nipples a painful pinch.
She knocked his hands away. “I’m sorry, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Desperation filled his gaze. “But, baby, I’m so close.”
She pulled her bra up and sat back down on the couch. “I’m really sorry.”
He stared at her for a long moment. “Can you at least suck me off?”
“Uh. No.” She crossed her arms over her chest, suddenly wanting nothing more than for the guy to leave.
“But you’re giving me blue balls. Like real bad.”He suddenly sounded like a petulant teen.
What the hell did I see in this guy in the first place?
“Look… I’ve got an early morning, so if you could just—“
“All right, one second.” He gazed down at her, wrapped a hand around his cock, and started stroking. Less thana minute later, he tensed and cried out, as cum ran down his hand.
“Thanks,” he said, breathless. He gathered his clothes and went to the bathroom.
All right… she pulled on her clothes and collected their drinks, setting them in the automatic washer.
A second later, he came back out. “Thanks, babe. That was awesome. But would you mind sending me some photos? I haven’t come that hard in a long time.”
She rubbed her temple, trying to keep the shock from her expression. “Uh. Probably not.”
“Oh, come on,” he begged, running a hand through his blond locks. “It doesn’t have to be a full-on legs spread pose, maybe just with you sucking your nipples, or playing with yourself.”
Her patience snapped. “Teak. I gave this a shot, but if you couldn’t tell, I’m just not feeling it. After I leave, chances are we aren’t ever going to talk again.”
“I get it,” he said, glaring. “You’re just a freaking tease. I know girls like you. They act like sluts but then chicken out at the last minute.”
Too far. She strode up to him, and he drew back. “Get the hell out.”
He headed for the door. As it slid open, she called after him, “And no girl owes you anything. If they don’t want to sleep with you, maybe you need to ask yourself what’s wrong with you, not them.”
The doors slid shut on him.
Maybe this is why I live in a fantasy world. A fantasy of Liam is still ten times better than other men in real life.
Her gaze went to her bed. I’m going to sleep. I’m going to dream of normal things.
But when she crossed the room and slipped beneath the covers, she was already growing wet. This is wrong. Don’t think of him.
She tried not to, even while her fingers slid down to touch herself. But as she fell into a deep sleep, all she could think of was the sexy Keltair male who’d broken her heart.
The partially translucent bubble that surrounded Liam’s dream shimmered. It was golden today.
Hannah inched toward it. You agreed not to go back. What are you doing?
“I tried to stay away,” she argued with herself.
You can still walk away now.
Or you don’t have to. Just like always, make him think you’re a dream. Let him remember you as you were during the academy.
But she didn’t. She strode forward and entered the dream.
It was an unfamiliar one. A beach with maroon sand and purple waters stretched out before her. The sky overhead was a soft gray, rain clouds blocking out some of the sunlight, casting the day in cool shadows.
On the beach, partway in the waters, Liam lay. One arm was behind his head, the other covered his eyes. She moved closer. His golden body was naked and exposed to her greedy gaze. The purple waves swept over his lower half, teasing the cock that she wanted so desperately to touch.
The sand beneath her feet was warm from the sun, until her toes curled into the damp, solidness of the sand near the naked Keltair. Kneeling down beside him, she ran a hand slowly up his inner thigh.
“I wondered when you’d arrive.” His deep voice, slightly accented by an Irish twang, warmed her insides.
She watched as his manhood rose, and she felt heat pooling at her core as she curled her hand around him. “I missed you last night.”
He missed me? This wasn’t supposed to involve their emotions, just their bodies. If he got too attached, she’d have to figure out a way to stop visiting his dreams.
She briefly thought of leaving.
But then his cock grew harder in her hand. “I’ve been waiting to taste you all day.”Climbing on top of him, she wrapped her lips around him, glorying in the sweet and familiar taste. Her mouth stretched to accommodate his thickness, and slowly she took him deeper, fighting the instinct to gag.
He groaned and, as the waves rushed over her, she felt her blood racing faster through her veins. Using her hands, she cupped his balls as she drew him in and out. Closing her eyes, she gloried in the feeling of power that touching him brought.
“Enough!” he shouted, his voice filled with desire.
Looking up at him, her gaze met his. Inch by inch she released him, while his gaze darkened.
“Come here!” he ordered.
Leaning on her hands, she dragged her naked breasts up his body.
He reached down and cupped her breasts, slipping his cock between them.
She gasped as his fingers teased her nipples. Moving back and forth, she slid his manhood between the valley of her breasts. He arched into her, squeezing her nipples harder. A shot of pleasure tinged with pain raced through her blood, and she felt her core growing hotter and wetter.
Suddenly, he sat up, grasping her ass and pulling her up to straddle him. His cock brushed the outside of her core and she cried out, longing to have him inside her. Instead, his mouth descended on her lips. He pressed against her, and she parted her lips, eager to feel his magical tongue.
He obliged, his hot tongue sweeping into her mouth.
Then, his lips left her mouth, sucking one of the hardened pearls of her nipples softly. His mouth opened wider, taking more of her breast. She rocked against his cock, wanting him inside her more than she wanted her next breath.
His manhood slowly slid inside her. Pleasure sparked from her core. Shivers racked her body. She dug her nails into his back, crying out his name as he filled her completely.
Her heartbeat filled her ears. Her back arched, and his seeking lips closed around her other breast.
She moaned, shifting her hips.
He growled against her breast, licked her nipple, and leaned back. “I’m going to take you now. And you’re going to scream my name as you come.”
They moved as one, faster and faster. The torturous friction between them had every muscle in her body clenching around him as she built toward her climax. And then all at once, she came, shouting his name just as he’d commanded. Her vision went from black to white. Her body spasmed.
And then he came. His hot seed shooting into her. The sound of her own name on his lips sent her over the edge again.
When she came back to herself, she was lying on top of him on the beach, the warm waves washing over the lower halves of their bodies. He held her loosely. She rested her head on his chest.
This was perfect. This man and this moment.
Except that as much as you love him, he still feels nothing for you.
“I should go,” she whispered.
He kissed the top of her head. “Just a little longer.”
And so, even though all logic told her to step out of the dream, she stayed. Knowing it was wrong, but also not being strong enough to walk away.
Liam woke with his boxers wet and sticking to his cock. Again? He ran a frustrated hand through his too-long hair and sat up. He’d dreamed of Hannah, just like he did nearly every night. He wanted to forget her. But he could imagine her every time he closed his eyes, long black hair, shockingly green eyes, large, full breasts, and tiny waist.
He groaned. Wasn’t it enough that he came in his sleep thinking of her? Did he have to obsess about her in his waking hours, too?
You need to bury yourself in a woman.
He knew he should. But he just couldn’t. As much as he hated himself for it, he hadn’t lain with another woman since Hannah. He’d tried. But no matter how drunk he got, no woman was Hannah.
Because you were reckless. You made her your mate and left after the connection was too strong. There will be no other woman but her for the remainder of your life.
No, you left in time! The connection simply hasn’t faded entirely yet.
Angrily, he climbed out of bed and stripped off his clothes, throwing them in one corner of his spacious room. Then, he froze, staring at the slight mess he’d made in the otherwise neat room. His gaze swept the space. He was a commander now. Second in command on the newest, most advanced starship in Earth’s fleet. He must step lightly. He must not give the captain a reason to regret giving such an opportunity to a half Keltair.
Picking up his clothes, he opened a drawer and hit the button to have them cleaned. A messy room is hardly a reason to toss you out in disgrace. He frowned at the thought. Of course that was true, but still…he glanced from the lush bed, small seating area and even smaller kitchen that made up the large space, and finally to the office area. Everything was in its place. This was how the crew would expect a commander to keep his room.
He took a quick shower and threw on the deep green uniform of The Odyssey’s crew. He strode out of his room, nearly crashing into Hunter.
The other Keltair stood up straighter, shifting into an attention stance. “Commander.”
Liam felt his lips turn up. “Head Security Officer Hunter.”
Hunter was one of the few people aboard the ship who matched him in height. However, although he was also half human, he looked far more like a Keltair than Liam. His golden-toned skin was several shades darker than Liam’s, and his eyes were like polished silver. He kept his long, black hair tied into a warrior tail.
The humans aboard the ship instinctively drew back from the man, even though he lacked the twin horns typical of a Keltair. And even though he’d graduated from the same Starflight Academy as Liam, he would’ve had little chance at gaining a position on a ship if not for Liam’s help. Even though the Earth academy was far more accepting of Keltairs than the Turongan academy had been.
“I imagine we’ll have another relaxing day,” Liam said, unable to hold back the sarcasm that laced his words.
To his surprise, the normally stoic Keltair looked as if he might smile. Almost. “Your agenda for today is lengthy. To put it mildly.”
“So, what’s first?” Liam asked, as they headed down the hallway containing the officers’ quarters.
“First, the transporter room.”
Liam held back a sigh. “What important diplomat or government official do we have to suck up—I mean, greet, now.”
Hunter did smile then, flashing his sharpened canines. “Just your new third in command.”
A rush of relief ran over him. “Good. I hope he’s capable. We could certainly use the help.”
And as much as he hated it, he could. Working on a couple of hours of sleep each night was manageable, but he was getting tired of painting on a smile and greeting one important person after another. Especially when, for some reason, they shrank back when he smiled at them. So many people wanted to be a part of The Odyssey’s maiden voyage, but Liam didn’t exactly excel in the art of small talk and flattery.
He cringed just thinking about how he’d desperately tried to find a topic of conversation and had congratulated an ambassador on her pregnancy…only to discover that she was not, in fact, pregnant. That was an awkward day.
“We’ll quickly get him up-to-date and then give him all the public relations jobs.”
Hunter looked down at his vid screen and started typing. “She.”
Liam raised a brow. “She what?”
“We’ll catch her up to date. The lieutenant commander is a woman.”
He paused, mid step. A female officer ranking this highly is almost as shocking as a Keltair ranking so highly. There are only a few females it could be.
Hannah. His mind went to her unwillingly. No, she would never let herself be put on a ship under my command. Well, whoever it is, I imagine we’ll get along just fine.
“Even better. I don’t need a male trying to compete with me for the greater tasks. She will be like a well-trained assistant. No doubt, she’ll excel in all the things necessary to keep all our important guests happy.”
Hunter nodded. “Although you’ll need to be prepared for some female hysterics.”
Uh, yeah. “You’ll have to work on your delivery.”
The other Keltair raised one dark brow before hitting the button on the elevator. “My delivery?”
“You can be a bit direct. Ah… is she human?”
Hunter looked back at his screen. “Yes, a human female.”
“Then, heed my advice, human women can be sensitive creatures. She will not respond well to your directness. You’ll need to work on softening your words.”
Both Hunter’s brows rose this time. “My delivery?”
Liam locked eyes with him. “Are you implying something?”
“Not a thing, Commander.”
There was a brief silence as they glared at each other. Then they both laughed.
Okay, so neither of us are good at coddling others. But as Keltairs, they knew how to be gentle with a female. They would see what she was capable of, and lighten their workload, if only by a bit.
The empty elevator opened, and they both stepped on. Hunter hit the button to the floor containing the transportation room.
“We should grab a drink tonight, if you have time,” Hunter said.
Liam liked the quiet moments they could have, not like commander and crew, but like the close friends they’d become at the academy. “If my new lieutenant is any good, I should have a bit more time for relaxing.”
The elevator doors opened.
Hunter followed behind him. “We may even want to invite your new third in command. It may make the female more comfortable if she’s intimidated by us.”
“Good idea. Arrange that.”
Hunter typed back in his computer.
They made their way down another hall. A few crew members nodded as they passed, then went right on with their business. With The Odyssey launching in just two days, no one had time to waste.
At the transporter room, Liam stared into the eye scanner. A second later, the doors opened.
Inside, the room was dark except for the stage where six large squares glowed. Three men sat behind a desk facing it. The men grew silent as they entered.
“Commander.” The head of transportation said his title respectfully, but anger glinted in his eyes.
As if I need another reminder of all those people unhappy with a Keltair as their leader.
“Opter,” he greeted in return, keeping his voice level. “My new lieutenant should be arriving.”
The man nodded, looking down at the control panel in front of him. “We’re preparing for the arrival now.”
As they waited, Hunter leaned in closer and spoke under his breath. “With her here, you should have more help.”
Liam nodded, knowing instantly his friend’s mind. “I know you have a lot of other responsibilities. The woman will take over any tasks that are not typically yours.”
A flicker of relief came and went across Hunter’s face. “As you wish.”
One of the glowing squares on the stage grew brighter. A stream of shimmering particles, like tiny bits of violet glass rose from the ground until they swirled around the space above the square, disappearing into a similar square on the high ceiling above it.
Liam took a step back, as was his habit when the contraption started up. Teleporting was a new form of transportation. One he would hold off using for as long as possible. As of now, it only worked when two ships were close to each other. But there were risks. He saw no reason not to simply hop on a transporter ship and travel to the docking bay, but perhaps he was old-school.
The Odyssey was the most advanced ship in the fleet. He’d have to get used to using technology for basic things. Unnecessary things.
A shape began to form in the particles. His first impression was that, although she was smaller than him, she was tall for a woman.
Then, an instant later, the woman fully appeared on the platform.
Black hair. Eyes the color of jade in the sun.
He felt as if he’d been thrown to the ground.
Hannah? His Hannah?
Hannah blinked into the bright lights of The Odyssey’s transporter room. God, she loved such instant travel. She could get used to this.
She smirked, shifting the strap of her duffel bag. “Thanks for getting me here in one piece, fellas.”
Striding forward, her foot went off the edge of the transporter pad. She barely had time to gasp as she went falling forward.
Instantly, strong arms were around her. Holding her gently but firmly. Her head rested against the broad, hard chest of a man. She inhaled sharply. Spicy but earthy. Something inside her warmed.
Then her every sense went on high alert.
What the hell? When was the last time you reacted like that to a man?
She knew instantly who it was. Liam.
She shoved at his chest, forcing him to release her. Springing back, the back of her knees hit the transporter pad, and she fell on her ass. Smooth, Hannah. Smooth.
“Are you all right?” A second Keltair stepped in front of Liam, holding out his hand.
She took the proffered hand slowly, allowing him to help her up.
His silver gaze ran over her. “You don’t appear hurt.”
Clearing her throat, she tried to smooth the fabric on her tight, black shirt. “I’m not. In fact, maybe I meant to do that. To make an entrance.”
The Keltair grinned. “Well, you certainly did that.”
Liam placed a hand on the other male’s shoulder, drawing him away. And then they were face-to-face again. Time stood still as her eyes traveled every inch of him. He looked better than ever. The material of his deep green uniform stretched over shoulders that were even broader than the ones in his dreams. And, if possible, his arms were bigger, bulging with muscle.
Oh, hell. You’re in big trouble, Hannah.
“What are you doing here, Liam?”
His gaze clung to hers. “What do you think I’m doing here? I’m the commander of The Odyssey.”
Shock struck her like a face full of cold water. She swallowed around the lump in her throat. “Well, it looks like I’m your new lieutenant.”
Her words were met with absolute silence. She tried to read his expression, but Liam’s face was impassive.
What is he thinking? Is he happy to see me? Or angry?
He has no reason to be angry. He’s the one who didn’t call you back, Hannah, remember?
“I gather you two know each other?” The other Keltair said, peeking around curiously from behind Liam.
Pull it together, Hannah. Is this the first impression you want to give your new crew?
She strode around Liam to face the other Keltair. “I’m Hannah Stowe.”
The second Keltair’s eyes widened. “I’m Hunter Magnus.”
Grinning, she winked. “Hannah and Hunter. I like it. And what do you do here, Hunter? ”
The massive Keltair blushed. “I—uh—head of security—ma’am. I mean, Lieutenant.”
She smiled wider. “Security is my favorite department. I know I’ll sleep better knowing you’ll be protecting me.”
Liam had rounded on them and watched the exchange through narrowed eyes. “Did you say Stowe?”
Trying her best to look innocent, she nodded. “Yes, Commander.”
“As in Fleet Admiral Stowe? The commander of the entire Earth fleet?”
The muscles in his jaw twitched. “I think we have some things to discuss.”
A short man with black hair with green tips suddenly stepped around the transport console, coming between them. “I’m Opter, Lieutenant, and if you want someone to show you around, I’d be more than happ—“
“I’ll take care of that,” Liam cut in, his voice laced with malice. “Back to your post.”
Hannah opened her mouth to reply, but Liam silenced her with a look.
“If you do your job right, you won’t have time to waste. Follow me.”He strode out the door, leaving the three of them gaping after him. Hunter recovered first, then Hannah. She tried to keep her composure as she followed him, nodding at each crew member as she passed. Every guy seemed to do a double take. Hopefully that means I’m looking good today. Although Liam’s reaction seems to suggest the opposite.
Liam didn’t slow down until he reached the elevator at the end of the hall. He waited impatiently for it to arrive, and a minute later, the three of them were standing, awkwardly silent, in the elevator.
Hunter cleared his throat.
“So.” She turned to Liam. “I imagine there’ll be lots to do before our first mission.”
Liam didn’t reply, pointedly ignoring them.
Hunter glanced at Liam, then answered. “Uh. Yes. Especially when it comes to handling all of the important guests.”
“Hannah will be perfect at that.” His voice was acerbic. “She can charm the best of them.”His dark eyes flashed with anger as he stared at the closed doors.
Ass. “Actually,” Hannah said, her voice dripping with sweetness, “as the daughter of the fleet admiral, I likely know most of the people on this ship. I’ll do fine with being a liaison between them and my commanders.”
When neither man responded, she continued, “I was actually the commander of my last vessel, so I can help with a number of other things. Including managing the crew and—“
“That is my responsibility.” The elevator doors opened, and for the first time, Liam turned those angry eyes back to her. “You will do exactly as you are told and nothing more.”
Every muscle in her body tensed. You think so, big boy? Well, you’re going to find out pretty damned quickly how wrong you are.
“Of course, Commander. But remember, my job is to make your job easier.”
His lips drew into a thin line. “Your job is whatever I say it is, Lieutenant Commander. Hunter, you are dismissed. Lieutenant, you’re with me.”
Hunter gave a cough that sounded suspiciously like a laugh. “Should we at least show her to her quarters and allow her to put her stuff down?”
Liam rounded on him. “Everything I told you about females—ignore it. This one is in a completely different category.” He plucked her bag off her shoulders and shoved it at the Hunter’s chest. “Drop this off in her room.”
Hunter nodded and looked to Hannah. “It’ll be on the second floor, room two.”
She nodded. “Thanks.”
“Come on,” Liam barked. “We don’t have all day.”
As she followed him down the hall, every complicated emotion she felt for him hit her at once. It was suddenly hard to breathe. This was the man who had broken her heart. The man who she hadn’t been able to let go of the past two years. Not only that, he was in charge. How in the hell was she going to work with him? For him?
Do what you do best. Pretend. Pretend this isn’t the man of your dreams. Lock the hurt inside and use that energy as fuel to do this job. Because, from what it sounds like, you’ll have to fight every step of the way or become the damned Keltair’s secretary.
Her eyes narrowed in anger and hurt, even as the treacherous part of her gazed at his firm ass.
If he sees an ounce of your feelings, of your weakness, you’ve lost. And you’ve worked too hard to let one man get in your way.
She clenched her fists, preparing for the fight of her life.
Liam leaned back farther in the chair in his office, stretching out his booted feet on the desk in front of him. To his extreme annoyance, Hannah didn’t even flinch under the intensity of his gaze.
Instead, she stared back, a sexy smile curving her lush lips. Her arms were behind her back, one hand gripped the other arm in a casual stance. But the worst part of it all was that the posture only further emphasized the lushness of her breasts beneath her skintight black shirt.
“You can’t wear clothes like that on board this ship.”
Her expression gave nothing away. “Well, I imagine I have a new uniform in my quarters. If we’d stopped there first, I could have been dressed according to my position.”
His blood heated for a moment as he contemplated the image of her room and her bed. He pushed it back. “I mean, you shouldn’t be wearing things like that at all.”
She tilted her head, her eyes sparkling with mischief. “Since when does a commander care what the crew wears in their downtime? Do you intend to raid my panty drawer after this? Because I’d better confess, you’ll find it empty.”
His manhood rose beneath the desk, and he cursed her under his breath. Her attempts to fight him were bringing out his dominant nature. This would be a lot easier if I wasn’t so fucking attracted to her. “Is that the kind of reputation you want on board this vessel? You hope to sleep your way to the top?”
“Of course!” She flashed him a smile. “What else could I possibly do, right? Don’t worry. I’ll make sure I dress appropriately for the task at hand. If I’m sucking some guy’s dick beneath his desk, I’ll make sure to wear something low cut. And if I’m having him fuck me on the top of his desk, I’ll make sure I’m not wearing underwear.”
“Enough!” He rose from his desk, gritting his teeth. “Wear clothes according to your position —on and off duty. And don’t try to tempt the crew. That’s an order.”
The smile fell from her face and she strode forward. Her hands clenched the edge of his desk as she leaned in, so that they were feet from each other. She gazed up at him, the fire in her green eyes begging him to find out whether her underwear assertion was true or not. This is what he’d loved about her. She wasn’t afraid to take him on, even though she barely came to his shoulders.
But she left you. You don’t love anything about her. Not anymore.
“Listen very carefully, Commander,” she said, as he tried to clear his head. “If you want a lieutenant, I’m the best. That’s why I’m here. But don’t confuse commanding me on the job with what I do off duty. You don’t own me. Outside of work, your opinion means nothing to me. And if you wouldn’t tell a male how to dress when they’re off duty, then you sure as hell won’t tell me. Got it?”
He narrowed his eyes. “I understand a lot of things, Hannah. And I’m only going to warn you once. I’ll put up with a lot. But don’t fuck with me. You might find one day you’ll push me too far.”
They stared at each other in tense silence, and he searched her face for some hint of feeling. But she gave away nothing. He hated that her bravado turned him on. That he still wanted her after all this time. He needed to get his mind off her. But coming face-to-face with her kissable lips, tight little body, and fighting spirit after all this time was almost more than he could handle. He reached down and adjusted the front of his pants.“Forget the clothes. Let’s get back to your position.”
Her gaze followed his hands. “My position?” She started to chew her bottom lip.
He sat down, tugging at his collar. How the hell had it gotten so hot? He’d have to talk to someone about the temperature of his office.
Pulling out his docket, he rattled off her schedule for the day. “Tour the ship, get settled in your room, and spend the remainder of your day escorting people from the transporter room and the cargo bay to their rooms. I’ll send the schedule of their arrivals to your pocket communicator.”
She shrugged. “No need. I memorized it. Anything else?”
He opened his mouth, but then his computer buzzed. Clicking the button on the screen, for one minute there was a frozen image of the captain. His bald head and dark eyes, before the connection was made.
“Commander. Is the new lieutenant there?”
He looked over the top of the screen at Hannah. “She is.”
“Good,” the older man nodded, “send her to me when you’ve got her settled.”
The captain clicked the screen, ending the call.
An image flashed in his mind, of the command deck ogling her as she walked past them. Liam glared at her. “Head to your quarters, and don’t head to the bridge until you are in proper uniform.”
She rose and leaned toward him over the desk. “So, I’m dismissed, Commander?”
Her voice was a seductive invitation.
It took him a second to catch his breath as he stared down her shirt at her ample chest. “I meant what I said, Hannah. Don’t push me. We’re not in school anymore. And you might not like what you find beneath the uniform.”
Turning, she strode to the door. But when it opened, she looked back at him. “I already know what’s beneath the uniform. And let me tell you, I like it.”
And then, she headed out into the hall, the doors closing on her swaying ass.
He tugged at the front of his tight uniform pants. I’m going to have to go up a pant size. Tonight.
Closing his eyes, he leaned back in his chair. What the fuck am I going to do? Hannah had returned to his life before he’d even healed from the hole she’d left in his chest.
His mind went back to that night at the academy, when he’d poured his heart out to her, and she’d pushed him away. Then, she’d made it clear her career was far more important than him. Does she still feel that way?
It doesn’t matter. He’d learned his lesson. He could not be connected to a fickle human. He needed to make a Keltair woman his mate. Only then would he have a female for life. Only then would he have a chance at not repeating his father’s past mistakes.
But the way he’d reacted to her had him worried.
What if it’s already too late?
Hannah had changed into her dark green uniform, happy to realize it only further emphasized her eyes and the curves of her body. I wonder if Liam will find this more appropriate?
She laughed as she stepped off the elevator, causing a civilian woman in gray robes to cast her a curious glance. Keep it together, Hannah. Remember, when you’re out of your room, you’re the third in command. Duty first. You’ve been born and bred for this.
The eye scanner on the bridge approved her entrance and she strode through the deck, sweeping the busy crew in one gaze. Two people sat at the communications’ console. Five sat at control panels facing the huge window staring out at the wide blackness of open space and the many, many smaller ships that drifted around them. Four other people faced control panels lining the walls.
This is one fine ship. The two men at the communications console looked up at her. One stood up and strode toward her. She had a minute to appreciate him as he crossed the deck. He was incredibly handsome, his hair a deep, dark blue that was almost black. As he got closer, she saw that he had silver eyes, ringed by blue. He was tall, but not nearly as muscular as Liam.
“May I help you?” His voice was rich and filled with strength.
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Stowe, reporting to Captain Vernan.”
He smiled, flashing a row of even teeth. “I’m Kaden Surleii, Head of Communications.”
His gaze met and held hers, and suddenly the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. He made her uneasy, even though she detected no malice from him.
“Nice to meet you.”
He reached out and took her hand, sending a strange tingle racing through her body. “I can take you to the captain, if you’d like.”
She nodded, trying not to snatch her hand back too quickly as he let go. “I’d appreciate it.”
Kaden led her to the right to a door that opened as they approached. Inside, a small, empty hallway greeted them. He took her to the end of the hall to the only door. The eye scanner ran over him, and the doors opened.
The room inside was far larger and far different than she expected. It was like stepping into her father’s study on Earth. Lush carpets covered the floor. A big oaken desk dominated the space, and a wall of windows stared out at space.
A bald man with dark eyes looked up as they entered, the captain. The years had been kind to him. Even though he had far more wrinkles, and a particularly angry vein visible across his forehead, he had changed little. A little more weight around his belly, but he still looked as strong and sharp as ever.
Another, unfamiliar, man turned in his chair. Immediately, she recognized that he was some mix of Vuret and another species. His face was that of a bull, but only a slight dusting of blond hair covered his pale skin. Emotions raced through her body. She’d developed a slight fear of the creatures since stepping into Ahmed Zhou’s dream years before, but she had tried to fight against it. Usually she worked harder to be friendly when she met one of them. But this man…he disturbed her in a way that was hard to identify.
“Hannah Stowe, it’s been a long time.” Captain Vernan stood, drawing her attention back to him. He came around his desk, opening his arms.
She smiled and crossed the space between them, folding into his hug. Closing her eyes, she took comfort from his embrace. She’d met the older man many times as a young girl. He’d always been kind, patient, and more than willing to teach the curious child. But she hadn’t been sure she’d made as great an impression on him as he had on her.
It was nice to be wrong.
He drew back from her. “Let me look at you.” His eyes held warmth. “Even after all the praises your captain sang of you, I half expected to greet a little girl again.”
She smiled. “You haven’t changed a bit.”
He laughed, a wonderful sound that came from deep in his belly. “You always were the charmer.”
Then, his gaze went to Kaden. “Thank you for bringing her here. Dismissed.”
The head of communications tilted his head in acknowledgment and stepped out.
“This is EueryLang, my schedule coordinator.”
Captain Vernan stepped aside and the thin male rose from his seat.
“A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant Commander.”
Shake his hand! It took all her effort to reach forward.
He curled his sweaty hand around hers and gave a smile that made her gut churn. “I’m sure we’ll enjoy working together.”
Please let that be true.
“Euery, you’re dismissed,” the captain said, giving Hannah a reason to hastily snatch her hand back.
She focused on the wall as he moved slowly out the door. Only then did she breathe a huge sigh of relief.
“Sit,” Captain Vernan said, indicating one of the chairs in front of his desk.
She complied, then waited for him to take his seat behind the desk. For some reason she was nervous. It was normal for a captain to want to speak to his new lieutenant, right? So why did she feel such a sense of unease?
“I wish we had time for small talk, Hannah, but the truth is that it was hard to carve out even this time with you.”
She nodded, folding her hands in her lap. “I appreciate it, sir.”
He rubbed at his face, looking even older and more tired. “I’m not so sure you will in a moment.”
His gaze met hers. Emotions swam in his deep eyes, but namely, reluctance.
“Before I gave you this position, I met with both the president and the fleet admiral. They shared classified information with me about you and your abilities.”
Her mouth dropped open. Never before had anyone been told about what she could do, outside of her parents and the president. How was it that none of them thought to include her in the decision?
“I know this likely comes as a fairly big surprise for you. But the truth is, I was told because the reward was greater than the risk for them.” He leaned back in his chair, pressing his fingers together in front of him. “We believe all the required pieces have finally lined up to catch Ahmed Zhou.”
Just the mention of the alien who’d hit her and tried to rape her in his dream sent goose bumps erupting on her arms. Without Liam’s comfort, her nightmares had roared back to life after that night. Unfortunately, Ahmed made regular appearances in them.
“But…” She froze, unsure of how she should discuss such a personal topic with her superior officer.
“Go on,” he encouraged, his mouth turning up in a slight smile.
“Even when we rescued…uh…even when we caught Ahmed red-handed with women within one of his ships, he still managed to go free. What could possibly help us this time?”
The thought twisted her gut every time she thought about it. Ahmed had managed to pin everything on the captain of his ship, The Magic Spicery, claiming complete innocence. And before the captain could be questioned, he was found dead in his cell.
Ahmed had covered his ass so seamlessly it sickened her.
His smile widened. “They told me about how you managed to save the president’s daughter and her friends by Dream Jumping into that monster’s head. Good work there.” He tilted his head, studying her. “The difference is that two of Ahmed’s associates, Lord Dry-fen and Ambassador Eupher, will be joining us for our maiden voyage.”
She almost jumped out of her seat. “On this ship?”
“Yes.” He nodded. “We believe that with them here, and you able to regularly enter their dreams, it may be the key to finally putting that sex-trafficking piece of shit where he belongs.”
Her stomach twisted. A part of her had always known that one day she would have to tangle with Ahmed again. A part of her wanted to. Once you catch him, you’ll be free from his grasp. He won’t be able to haunt you. A soft voice whispered, and you won’t have to think about the other girls who weren’t so lucky to escape him.
“I’m here to serve in any way I can, sir.”
He was quiet for a moment, studying her, his face unreadable. “This is going to be dangerous, Hannah. These two men are some of the biggest bastards alive, and the hope is that they’ll lead us right to Ahmed. Are you sure you’re up for this?”
She didn’t hesitate. “It’s my duty.”
“No,” he responded, too quickly, “it’s not. Your duty is to serve on this ship as a lieutenant. Walking into the minds of criminals is going above and beyond. That’s why I’m asking you, instead of ordering you.”
His concern for her was surprising, but unnecessary. “I’ve been doing this since I was a child.”
“I was given most of your files. Hannah, to say that I was disturbed was an understatement.” His eyes narrowed. “Off the record, I would understand if you refused this assignment. Even though we need you desperately.”
If only. If only I could.
Images flashed in her mind, and she shuddered. Just over the past two years alone, she’d jumped into the dreams of over a dozen people. Sometimes the dreams were nothing more than exhausting and inconvenient. Other times, she saw things she could never forget. Even though I’ve been careful not to get physically injured since Ahmed’s dream, there’s more than one way to be hurt.
But she’d also saved countless lives.
“I can handle the job.”
He stared a moment longer, then nodded. “Off the record, I disagree with this, but that call isn’t mine to make.” His eyes searched her for a moment. “The information will be delivered to your in-room communicator in a classified, encrypted document. Through reading your files, I’ve determined that they’ve often misused you by sending you to Dream Jump unprepared. This will not happen under my command. You will take the time to study these men and their habits, to speak to them, and whatever else you need to do. And that is an order, do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, sir,” she responded, although she was utterly confused. Her own parents hadn’t showed this amount of concern about the dangerousness of her ability and what they asked her to do with it. Was the captain overly cautious or were her parents not cautious enough?
She startled out of her thoughts. “Yes?”
“If you need more time to rest or recover after this extra work, you will be given the time. Do not hesitate to ask.”
He turned to the screen positioned on his desk and tapped, his fingers flying over the screen. “I’m glad we were able to have this conversation.”
She rose, but hesitated.
“Was there something else?”
The question came before she could stop it. “Are you doing all of this because you knew me as a child?”
His gaze left the screen. “Doing all of what?”
She felt her cheeks heat with embarrassment. “Being so protective.”
He frowned. “If you were strictly under my command, I would not allow another officer to take advantage of you the way they have. This has nothing to do with our history and everything to do with what I consider right and wrong.”
“You’re a good man,” she said, again the words leaving her lips before she could stop him.
His smile gentled for a brief moment. “You’re dismissed.”
She left his office, her thoughts a turbulent mess. Her meeting with the captain hadn’t gone at all the way she had planned. In fact, there had been one shock after another. A new person had been included in her secret world. She was going to have to Jump into the dreams of two dangerous sons of bitches, rather than focus on her new career. But more than that, Captain Vernan’s reaction to her situation had made her wonder for the first time if she had more choices that she’d ever considered before.
Maybe one day I can refuse to Dream Jump, and just be a captain. Would that be possible? Could I have some semblance of a normal life?
Because if I could, maybe I’d have time for someone else.
Liam stood in front of the transportation pad waiting for the two men he’d been forced to greet because Hannah was busy with the captain. He tried to keep his boiling rage hidden, but he knew by the worried glances the two humans were exchanging behind the control panel that he was utterly failing.
His scowl deepened. He shouldn’t be dealing with any of this at all. This was her responsibility.
You’re not angry because of this. You’re angry because she challenges you.
And turns you on.
He pushed the thoughts away. They were poisonous to him. He simply could not get mixed up with Hannah again. If he was hurt that way again, he knew he could never recover from it.
Unconsciously, his mind went back to the day he’d revealed his love for her and pushed for her to admit hers. She’d loved him, he knew that, but she couldn’t admit it. So rather than staying near her and solidifying their lifelong bond, he’d fled the Turongan Starflight Academy to join the Earth academy. And I never heard from her again.
Even though his connection had never faded. Even though he’d been plagued with heart-pounding dreams of her nearly every night. He’d held out hope that one day he could move on from her and find love again.
But Father told me if she came back, it might solidify the bond. Now I might never move on.
Two of the teleportation pads began to warm up, sending their strange beam of shimmering purple particles in the air. It’s time to focus on the task-at-hand. He would keep Hannah at a distance, and he’d fuel his energy into being a good commander. What else could he do?
A large shape appeared first, before the Vuret came fully into view.
Liam felt every muscle in his body tighten. Vurets were natural enemies of Keltairs. The creatures were huge aliens, half bull and half man, covered in hair with two twisting horns on their heads, and faces that bordered on deformed.
Many people compared the two races, but Liam knew there was no comparison. Keltairs were harsh, warlike aliens, but they also fiercely protected their women and children and lived by a code of honor. Vurets fed on the pain and misery of others. They lacked all honor, driving a knife in their mate’s back if it brought them wealth.
Liam struggled to breathe. At any other time, a Keltair might attack a Vuret on sight. But he was a commander of this ship, and he had no desire to be controlled by his natural instincts. Smile. Breathe.
Another shape came into view, and then another male stood in the shimmering stream of light. He had pale, blond hair slicked back. His irises were red, and he wore no shirt over his pale flesh. A Drysalin.
Again, Liam felt apprehensive. Drysalins came from a planet sharply divided. The wealthy lived like kings, working their slaves to bring them more wealth. Most of the planet either mined the rare minerals there, or worked to fulfill the sexual needs of their masters. These people disturbed him on every level.
The shimmering purple lights stopped, and the two aliens blinked into the darkness before slowly walking off the teleporting pads.
The Vuret locked eyes with Liam and reached out a hand. Liam’s instincts screamed as he reached out. Their hands closed around each other’s arms, and Liam couldn’t stop himself from pulling the alien closer. They were of nearly the same height, although the Vuret’s strange mix of fat and muscle made him wider.
“You must be Commander Fallow,” the alien growled, the sound low and threatening.
Liam had to force himself not to bare his teeth. “Ambassador Eupher.”
Their eyes locked, and Liam couldn’t help but wonder if the Vuret knew he was half Keltair, or if he simply sensed a challenge.
Removing one finger at a time, Liam released him, and the ambassador took a step back. “I am glad to come aboard your fine, new vessel.”
“We are…glad to have a representative of the Vurets.”
The creature flashed its sharpened teeth. “I’m sure you are.”
Liam nearly jumped as the other male touched his arm. Turning, his eyes narrowed. Of course a Drysalin could get so close without him knowing. “Greetings, Lord Dry-fen.”
His pale lips twisted into a pained smile, and he held out his hand, covered in massive rings. “Commander Fallow, so good to meet you.”
Repulsion snaked beneath his skin as he took the limp hand of the other alien. “Welcome aboard The Odyssey.”
Lord Dry-fen stroked the back of Liam’s hand with his thumb. “I’m looking forward to my time here. Especially now that I know the rumor of your…skills weren’t over exaggerated.”
Liam squeezed his hand harder, leaning forward. “You can feel safe here. It’s no lie that I can kill a man in seconds.”
The lord paled, eyes wide. “O—Oh my.”
Releasing his hand, Liam led them out of the room toward the elevator. He would drop them at one of the civilian floors and hopefully never set eyes on them again. Then he realized they’d be Hannah’s problem.
Liam glanced back at the two men. For some reason, he hated the idea that Hannah might have to deal with such scum. These two I’ll manage.
Because you care for her.
He shook the thought away, no because…he didn’t have an answer. But it had nothing to do with the beautiful woman with jade-colored eyes and raven-black hair.
Emotions swept through him as he pictured her. Had there ever been such a defiant woman? Such a sexy woman?
His groin tightened, and he almost swore aloud. No more thoughts of her!
But in the back of his mind he knew Hannah would continue to haunt him, like ghost he couldn’t let go.
Liam sank into bed, more exhausted than he’d ever been before. But he couldn’t sleep.
Because beneath the exhaustion was anger, uncontrollable anger. And the cause of it was clear: Hannah.
In less than a few hours, she’d gotten to him. She’d stuck her pretty, little fingers into the cracks of his facade and almost shown the world the man who lived carefully hidden beneath.
Only, the man she uncovered was a complicated mess of rage, jealousy, and desire.
He covered his face with his hands, trying to hide from the darkness. Why has she come back into my life? Why now? But the darkness gave him no answers.
After spending half the night reviewing the classified files of Lord Dry-fen and Ambassador Eupher, Hannah felt a sick sense of dread as she crawled into bed. These two men were some of the most disgusting, dangerous creatures she’d read about in a long time. Both had killed, raped, and tortured. Yet, it seemed multiple governments had allowed them to continue their violence, because they hoped these men would lead them to Ahmed Zhou.
Of course they care more about catching the big fish than protecting and getting justice for the women who are hurt by them.
She tossed and turned in her bed, her stomach twisting. If she fell asleep, she knew the familiar nightmares would come back. That she’d wake up sweating and crying.
But as the hours ticked away, she slowly closed her eyes.
Her entire body twisted at the sight of the red dream bubble in front of her. It wasn’t possible that she accidentally jumped into one of the men’s dreams, was it? Her heart raced as she inched forward. Usually she wasn’t on board a ship with the criminals she’d been researching…it was possible.
But instead of finding a nightmare of a dream, she discovered Liam standing before his desk, papers in his hands. Liam! Even more than before, she knew going into his dream was a terrible idea, but she also knew that if she was able to leave, she’d find herself slipping into a nightmare.
Caution, Hannah, this needs to be the last time. It’ll be hard to keep convincing Liam that these are no more than dreams, if you don’t stop. You’re bound to slip up.
She nodded, a smile coming to her lips despite all logic saying this was a bad idea. After the day she’d had, nothing could please her more than Liam’s soft embrace. Stepping into the dream, she moved slowly, not wanting to alarm him.
He glanced up, his eyes darkening. “Hannah, you’re late.”
She tried to hide her surprise. Was he angry with her? “I’m sorry, Liam. I—“
“No excuses.” He slammed the papers down on his desk. “And what did I tell you about being dressed properly?”
Glancing down at herself in confusion, she was startled. She was wearing a loose, see-through white tank top, with a lacy red bra underneath. Her leather skirt was so short, she was sure she could feel a draft on the scrap of panties she wore.
Is this how he pictures me?
“Sorry, sir.” She didn’t know what to say. The interactions in their dreams were always sweet and soft, even if the sex often got pretty intense.
She felt herself go hot at just thought of him between her thighs.
He thumped his fist on the top of his desk, startling her. “Sorry isn’t enough this time. Come here.”
Tossing her long black hair behind her shoulder, she bit back a flare of annoyance. This was his dream. She needed to act like herself, but also whoever he wanted her to be in his dream. Marching forward, she came to stop in front of his desk.
“No.” The muscles in his jaw flexed. “Here.” He pointed to right in front of him.
Trying to hide her apprehension, she moved around his desk and stopped just two feet in front of him. She shivered as his earthy, masculine scent washed over her. She took another step closer, close enough to feel the heat of his body.
“You wanted me, sir,” she whispered, her voice husky.
Unable to stop herself, she reached up to rest her hands on his chest, then to slowly draw them up to wrap around his neck. She fully expected him to kiss her.
Instead, he grasped her arms and pulled himself loose. Then, he spun her to face his desk. “Hands down in front of you.”
A tingle of realization ran over her. He planned to take her from behind. Good. She needed him inside her. She reached out far, pointing her ass high in the air.
Sucking her bottom lip, she embraced the heat that rushed over her. Soon his hard cock would be filling her. Her womanhood tightened at just the thought, and she shifted her hips, waiting for him.
She didn’t have to wait long. One warm hand trailed up her inner thigh and pushed back her skirt. She heard him inhale sharply.
“Still can’t find a proper pair of underwear I see.”
Her nipples beaded against the surface of the desk. The desire in his voice matched her own. “Well, feel free to remove them.”
“Quiet, Lieutenant! You don’t give the orders here. You will receive your punishment without speaking. Do you understand me?”
Punishment. Oh yes, she liked the thought of that.
His thumbs hooked into each side of her underwear, dragging the lacy fabric down to drop to the ground beneath them. She turned her head to observe him.
Again, he seemed to freeze and stare. His eyes had darkened even further. He stared at her backside, his mouth slightly open.
She grew wetter. Knowing she turned this beautiful, powerful man on made her feel light-headed, reckless. Slowly, she drew her legs farther apart, revealing her womanhood to his heated gaze.
“Gods,” he gasped. “You’re so…” He reached out and ran one finger along her outer lips.
Gasping, she rubbed herself wantonly against his finger.
When he drew it back, she groaned. “Liam, please—“
His gaze snapped to hers, anger roaring to life. “It’s Commander Fallow to you. Now, face forward.”
She did, surprised and excited by this new side of him. It isn’t a new side, though, she thought. This is how he was back at the academy. The idea thrilled her for reasons she couldn’t understand.
“I ordered you not to talk. An order you specifically broke. I will add this new infraction onto your punishment.”
She wiggled her ass, biting down the words please do.
Suddenly, a smack hit her ass. She tried to rise, but a hand pushed her back onto the desk.
“What the hell, Liam?”
He stroked the spot he’d smacked. “You really aren’t a fast learner, are you?”
Before she could answer, he smacked her again.
She cried out, shocked by the mix of pleasure and pain that swam through her. To her horror, she felt herself growing wetter. But when she tried to close her legs, a warm thigh parted them.
“Get off me!” she shouted, embarrassed.
“What part of silently don’t you understand?” Another smack hit her ass, followed by another, and then a third.
She struggled beneath his hold, bucking at the hand on her ass, trying to force her legs closed around his knee. But all it did was rub her wet, throbbing womanhood against him. And she HATED the thought that he might know how much he was turning her on.
As if reading her thoughts, one of his fingers brushed her mound. His voice was gruff when he continued. “Lieutenant Stowe. I knew there was something – extraordinary – about you. So that’s who you are.” He surprised her by landing another hard slap to her ass. “A wealthy military brat. And a liar.”
“I’m—not—a liar,” she panted.
When she turned to glare at him, he grabbed the back of her hair loosely and forced her to look forward. “Keep your eyes ahead!”
“Like hell!” Now, she was really pissed. “Let go!”
But instead, he shifted. Keeping one hand on the back of her hair, pushing her head against the desk, one finger ran lightly along her mound, then slid inside.
She tried to shake her head, but couldn’t. “I’m not.”
“You’re enjoying this.”
He brushed her inner lips lightly, back and forth, back and forth.
Again, she tried to close her legs, but his knee kept them open for his exploration.
“You’re an asshole.”
“Better an asshole than a liar. At least people know who I am.” His voice slid along her spine, and as his finger stroked her, sending every nerve singing, he continued to talk. “It all makes sense now. The attempts against your life. The security guards. Even the dean’s reaction to you.”
She bucked, then cried out as his questing, tormenting finger entered her a second time.
They both froze for a moment, and then Liam’s finger slid out of her. She started to take a deep breath, and then his finger plunged right back in.
“You must—“ He was panting now, too. “Think I’m—such a fool.”
“No.” She shuddered. “It wasn’t like that.”
She wanted to explain it all. But he didn’t know. The dream her couldn’t know either.
Suddenly, she wished she could think clearly. Jump back out of the dream before he grew suspicious, but she couldn’t. Her thoughts were a jumbled mess. His hands on her made it even more difficult, and her inner muscles clenching his finger seemed to scream you’re not going anywhere.
“I’m not going to—fall for it again,” he said.
And suddenly, he withdrew his finger from her. His hand smacked her ass cheek again, and she bit down another cry. Six more slaps, each one harder than the next rained down on each side of her butt, coming closer to her mound each time. When he stopped, her inner thighs dripped with her juices, even while her ass felt hot and red.
“You are under my command now, little human female. You will obey me, or you will be punished from now on, do you understand?”He released the back of her hair, trailing a hand down her spine to stroke the small of her back beneath her thin shirt.
She wanted to argue with him, but more than that, she wanted his cock in her. But what if she could have both?
“Maybe that’s true,” she retorted. “But you’d better enjoy being my boss at work, because on my off-time, you can’t control me.”
He leaned over her, his breath hot on her ear. “What are you saying?”
“That while each day you might be ass-fucking me all over the ship as my commander, some other man is going to fucking me every night in my bed.”
Silence followed her words.
“Is that right?”
The danger in his voice raced along her spine. Maybe this was a bad idea? But it was too late to back down now.
He leaned forward farther, and to her shock, she felt cold cuffs close over her wrists.
“What the hell?” She struggled against them, but they were chained to the ground beneath his desk.
Damn it. This is why she normally had a rule not to let people touch her in their dreams. They controlled their minds. They could change the ‘world’ around her any way that suited them.
“What are you doing?” she asked, trying to keep her voice firm.
He moved away from her, and to her horror, she felt cuffs clamp around her ankles.
If she could’ve Dream Jumped in that moment, she might have. He was angry, and she was completely at his mercy. As much as she wanted him inside her, as much as she’d always trust him not to hurt her, a flicker of fear raced through her.
“So, your plan is to torture me then?” he growled angrily. “To parade your many lovers in front of me?”
Be smart. Shut your mouth. But she couldn’t. “If you’re going to dish it out, I’m going to need someone else to ease the pain. I’m sure I’ll find someone who will know how to fuck me better than you ever could.”
Why, Hannah? Why?
But even thought she knew how foolish she was being, the spark of rebellion that blazed inside her was hard to ignore. And not something she wanted to ignore.
He shifted behind her, and she turned to see him slowly undressing. She was mesmerized by the sculpted muscles of his chest and stomach. As he unbuttoned his pants and slid them down his thighs, his manhood sprang to life, and her inner muscles tightened. He was so long and thick. Bigger than any man she’d seen before. Beautiful in a way she never thought a cock could be.
Whatever punishment he planned for her she would take, as long as she could have him inside her.
He ran a hand along her spine again, racing goose bumps along her flesh. “So the way I fuck you is becoming old, is it? You want something new? Better? Is that right?”
She raised her chin and tried her best to look defiant, while being chained over a desk. “You bet, Commander.”
He clenched the muscles in his jaw. “Done. And you’re going to get way more than you bargained for.”
His hand went back to her womanhood, two fingers rubbing a smooth and steady rhythm as she ground herself against them. Suddenly, his fingers grasped the bud of her clit and squeezed.
She screamed, pleasuring crashing over her in a wave that took her breath away.
His manhood brushed her anus. Reflectively, she rubbed against him, wanting his length. His fingers continued to alternate between squeezing and rubbing her clit. As she cried out and bucked, the head of his cock entered her ass.
Freezing. Tremors raced through her legs. “Liam…”
“Quiet!” he snapped, flicking her clit.
She cried out, and his cock slid deeper into her ass.
Fear coursed through her. She’d never had a man there before. And besides, taking his enormous cock had been hard enough. If he did this, he’d split her in two.
“You won’t fit,” she gasped.
“I will,” he ground out.
Three fingers entered her womanhood at once. They slid in and out, in and out. As she bucked around his fingers, she felt his cock sliding deeper and deeper inside her.
At first it was uncomfortable, something she tried to ignore as her womanhood grew even wetter, her climax building with each stroke of his agile fingers. But then, he entered her completely. She knew by the feel of his hard body behind her.
Then, he began to slide in and out of her ass, his fingers inside her womanhood matching his speed and pressure. She felt a sensation building inside her like nothing she’d felt before. Her hands clenched the desk. She arched to meet his every stroke.
When one of his hands gripped her hip, and he began pounding into her, she exploded. Mind, body, and soul.
Never had sex felt like this before, as if she was being torn apart in the best possible way. As if she was being filled completely. Her inner muscles squeezed his fingers, while her ass squeezed his massive cock.
She screamed his name until she was hoarse. Stars exploded as her vision went from black to white. Coming, over and over again.
And then he came, too, his hot seed filling her ass in a way that sent her over the edge again.
As he lay on top of her, he reached beneath her thin bra with one hand and squeezed her nipple, causing a pleasure so sharp it was painful. “You are mine again, Hannah. Mine to command, and mine to claim. If I see you with another male, I’ll kill him. Do you understand?”
Does he mean what he says? Is this truly how he feels?
Opening her mouth, she decided to at last ask him how he felt for her, when she went tumbling into darkness.
She hit the floor of her room, panting, her heart racing. A familiar melody played on her computer. Her father. Calling her in the middle of the night.
Shaking, she clutched the edge of her bed and rose to her trembling legs. She needed a cold shower. Not this. But as always, duty came before all else. And if he was calling this late, chances were that something was terribly, terribly wrong.
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“So, how is your day looking? Do you think I could meet you for lunch?” Doug’s voice comes through the door of the bathroom, and I can tell he’s standing right outside.
I close the door of the medicine cabinet and look at myself in the mirror. There is something wrong with Doug these days, but I can’t put my finger on it. It should be okay for a guy I’m seeing occasionally to ask about my job, right? The only thing is, he never took an interest in it until about a month ago.
And the last time he met me at my office he’d been a little too snoopy for my liking.
“Uh, no.” I try to sound reluctant. “I have to meet my boss for lunch today.”
I open the door and step out, and he puts his arms around me. It used to make me feel special, but now I just feel…worried. On the outside he’s the same man, green button-down shirt and black slacks, raven hair parted on the side. But now I look up into his piercing blue eyes and wonder what’s going on in his head.
“That’s too bad, Gillian.” His familiar grin is missing its warmth. “Dinner tomorrow, then?”
“Yeah, sounds great.” Maybe. I don’t think I’ll be seeing Doug again, but I’ll cancel by phone. It’s been a great few months, but I don’t have time to deal with his weirdness. My work comes first. Especially now. I’m pretty close to a breakthrough that could completely change my career forever.
Better get to it, hadn’t I?
Gillian works too hard. The errant thought startles me.
I’ve never cared about what the person I’m protecting does before. But there’s something special about Gillian. Something that draws me to her in a way I can’t explain. Maybe it’s her passion for her work. Or maybe she’s just the hottest thing you’ve seen in a long, long time.
Whatever it is, it makes being assigned to her rather difficult. And keeping my mind on my work is usually not a problem for me.
She’s finally leaving her lab at 7:00 p.m. As she crosses the street to meet her roommate for coffee at their usual café, I’m struck again by how beautiful she is. Faded blue jeans and a T-shirt, eyes so blue they’re almost purple, shiny blond hair back in a ponytail. I wonder what it feels like to run my fingers through it. She’s natural. No makeup required. And she’s a scientist.
Brains and beauty.
Next to her, I’m a beast.
My story is different. I skipped out on school, did my time in the service, and then built a security company and made a living protecting low-life scumbags from other low-life scumbags. Until I was shot point-blank by someone I’d trusted.
How I became an angel when I died I’ll never know. I guess Michael just needed people who could fight. Because I sure as hell can fight.
And I’ve got an instinct when one is coming up. Like right now. Something’s wrong, but I can’t put my finger on it. I knew when Michael assigned me to her that there might be trouble. But he wasn’t very specific on what that trouble might be. Hell. Maybe he doesn’t even know what it is.
I jump off the rooftop, extending my wings to float down to the ground. It’s a busy downtown metropolitan day, but I’m not worried. Most humans can’t see me when I do miraculous things like extend my wings or fly. There is the occasional exception, but other humans tend to think they’re crazy. Most see me only when I make a real effort to show myself.
I land in front of the coffee shop window, blocking the view of her from the street.
A blinding pain slices through my side. My eyes search for the thrower as my hand closes around the hilt of the dagger.
This is going to hurt.
I grit my teeth as I pull it out, but a muffled “Fuck!” comes out anyway. That burns like hell. I never said I was a fucking hero. I just said I could fight.
Another dagger comes flying, this time toward my chest. I block it with my wing. And my eyes have found the culprit.
It’s a demon. None of the pedestrians react—to them he looks human. But I can see him for who he is. Demons are slightly larger than humans, with grayish skin, horns, and long, thin whiplike tails. Beware the tails. The daggers on the ends of those little bastards hurt.
I raise my eyebrows in surprise, but don’t have time to wonder why the demons are here. Did I attract them, or is it the woman I’m protecting? The mystery deepens as two more appear out of nowhere.
I throw up a shield of protection around the window where she sits, then turn back just as the first demon jumps from the roof of a bus and lands on me. I toss him into the air and he flies into the side of the bus. I backhand the other demon that comes from the opposite direction. Two well-placed kicks throw him into the windshield of a taxi, which spidercracks while the occupants inside scream incoherently.
The third demon has reached me now. I grapple with him, throwing him into the shielded window. I punch him in the stomach with quick jabs, his head banging repeatedly against the glass. I peer inside the coffee shop over his shoulder briefly to make sure the shield is still working.
Sure enough, Gillian notices nothing. Her roommate is making her laugh with his crazy facial expressions. So innocent.
Unlike this demon.
I finally get a stranglehold around his throat.
“Why are you here?” I use my angelic voice, deep and powerful.
He splutters and I realize he can’t speak. I loosen my fist. Slightly.
“You don’t know?” He laughs. “The biggest news in the underworld and you boys upstairs know nothing. Typical.”
I tighten my other fist. I really want to put it through his jaw. But then he won’t be able to talk at all. “Are you after me?”
He shakes his head and his eyes burn with hatred. “Sometimes your arrogance astounds even me.”
“Who are you after?”
His eyes inadvertently roll toward Gillian. Then he snaps out of it. “I’m not telling you anything.” He gasps. “Giving us a fighting chance.”
Then the body slumps and I realize he’s just a walk-in. The real owner of this corpse is gone.
“Shit.” The body crumbles to dust at my feet. Long gone.
I hear a scream and see that the first demon has awakened and is attacking a random woman on the sidewalk. My stomach lurches. If he bites the back of her neck by her spine, then he’ll be able to walk in to her. And that’s the last thing I need.
They struggle and end up in the street. I look between my charge and the woman. It’s not my responsibility to protect every human on the street, but I know between the demon and the speeding cars, she doesn’t have a chance of walking away alive.
“Shit!” Sometimes duty is a bitch. I force myself between them and use the dagger I pulled out of my abdomen to stab him through the heart. He crumbles to dust at my feet. The woman runs off.
“You’re welcome,” I grumble.
Just then, I hear Gillian’s voice. Spinning around, I’m shocked to find her on the sidewalk right behind me. I’ve never been this close to her before. The late evening sun breaks through in the space between two high-rise buildings, framing her face perfectly. An expression of fear comes over her and she outstretches her hand toward me. I notice the flecks of darker blue in her eyes for the very first time.
For a moment, she glows.
I haven’t had feelings this strong since before I died. I step toward her in a trance.
I look to the left, and the last thing I see is the windshield of a bus.
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Immortal Angel has lived a hundred lifetimes all in one. She’s a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, and a best friend. She’s traveled the real world, enjoying what our three-dimensional reality has to offer. She’s hiked the stairs inside the Eiffel Tower. She’s watched a Shakespearean play in a grassy clearing outside of Cambridge, and she’s ridden a ferry to Ireland. In Australia, she cuddled koalas, in China, she cuddled pandas, and in the Middle East, she cuddled camels. And every time she opened a book, she entered a world beyond this one, one where the only limits are the imagination.
So many lifetimes of adventures have inspired her to reach beyond this planet to the stars above and to worlds rooted in fantasy. Her romances in space are meant to take her readers on their own adventures, imagining new and exciting place. With hot men. And maybe a few sexy aliens too.
You can follow Immortal Angel on Facebook, Twitter @ImmortalAngel22, and her blog .
Two years after graduating from the academy, Hannah Stowe's life is pretty damned good. Except for one thing. Even though her heart squeezes every time she thinks about the sexy Keltair male, Liam Fallow, she won't allow herself to miss him. How could she possibly have time, when her career is right on track? She's been offered the position of Lieutenant Commander aboard the brand new, state-of-the-art spaceship The Odyssey. It's an incredible opportunity, bringing her one step closer to commanding a Level 10 starship. Everything is going according to plan. Until she realizes her new boss is none other than Liam himself. I'm a professional, she reminds herself over and over. It shouldn't matter that her new commander is the only man she's ever loved. The only man to ever break her heart. He may believe she's simply going to obey. But unfortunately for him, he's going to find that she's not the starry-eyed cadet she once was. **** "To Challenge a Warrior" is Part One of a 5-part serialized novel that follows the relationship of Hannah and Liam after graduating from the Starflight Academy. **** Check out the entire series: Book 1- To Challenge a Warrior Book 2- To Obey a Warrior Book 3- To Wound a Warrior Book 4- To Forgive a Warrior Book 5- To Save a Warrior