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To Kiss a Warrior: An Alien Rouge Romance (Starflight Academy Book 1)

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To Kiss a Warrior

By Immortal Angel

Copyright © 2016 Immortal Angel

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author.

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

First Edition

DEDICATION

To my husband—you’re the reason I believe in true love. To my writing partner, Aeon Igni—you inspire me in more ways than you will ever know. To my critique group—your support is like a good cup of coffee, it keeps me going. To my readers—you’re the reason I publish the stories from my heart.

~Immortal Angel

Chapter One

The private spacecraft touched down in the shipyard with a familiar groan. Hannah swung her booted feet off the oversize chair in front of her and pressed her palms against the window. A few people outside had turned to stare.

My dad just has to travel in style! Yeah, the small craft moved faster and smoother than most, but just the sight of it would tell everyone that someone uncommonly wealthy and powerful traveled inside.

Which was exactly the opposite of what I wanted.

At least Mother hadn’t come. The woman had been a sobbing mess.

The academy was already like a ghost, its memories haunting her mother with every step. Seeing her daughter there… Hannah couldn’t even imagine how badly that would’ve ended.

But how to deal with her father?

She leaned back in her chair and regarded him. Here goes nothing!

“It might be better if you waited in the ship,” she suggested in her least argumentative voice.

Her father lowered his computer interface, one brow raised in annoyance. “Do you think I traveled with you all the way here simply to—how did you put it? Wait in the ship?”

Disappointment flared. A true parent would’ve understood that an adult child deserved independence. Even on one of the most important days of her life, it was “the commander” escorting her to the academy, not her father. She should’ve known the moment he’d donned his deep blue uniform, perfectly starched and pressed as always.

You did know, her brain insisted, but the ache in her heart said she’d hoped she was wrong.

“Please?” She forced a smile.

He raised his interface once more, so only his neatly trimmed, steel-gray hair peeked over the top of it. “I pulled more strings than you can possibly imagine to allow you to attend The Starflight Academy under your mother’s maiden name. Even though I consider it an insult to my family. I will not act as your chauffeur, too.”

Hannah took a deep breath, fighting the urge to explode. “There isn’t much point in all of that if we enter the school together, now, is there?” she challenged.

He glared over the top of his computer. “If I had it my way, you’d either be attending the academy with guards at your side around the clock, or I’d simply assign you a position on my ship. And before you interrupt me—yes, I do admire your desire to follow in my footsteps. After all your training already, I think it requires a certain kind of person to be willing to attend this challenging of a program, simply because your drive to never settle for less.” He paused. “That’s a Stowe family trait I might add.”

His praise, even wrapped in anger, stunned her. Perhaps he was starting to think of how much he was going to miss her when she was gone. Regardless about how much he mumbled about his “rebellious” child.

“But,” he added, squashing her hopes with one word. “I also think your ego is outweighing your intelligence. Being my child is dangerous. The fact that you want to pretend otherwise doesn’t make the truth of your situation any different. By going here, you are putting yourself and me at risk.”

It took her a second to answer. And when she did, her words came out dangerously calm. “One day I’m going to be the captain of a Level 10 ship, and there is nothing in the world anyone can do to stop me.”

Her father didn’t respond. His gaze was already back on his screen.

Frustrated, she tapped her fingers on her leg, feeling precious seconds ticking away. She needed to change his mind before it was too late. She was twenty-one goddamn years old. She didn’t need her daddy to drop her off, and she certainly didn’t need the Fleet Admiral ruining any chance she had at a normal academy experience.

“We both know why I don’t want to be connected to you here.” The idea of living in her father’s shadow forever made her feel as if the walls were closing in around her. “But you’ve got to admit, the fewer people who know I’m your daughter, the safer I’ll be.”

There was a moment of silence. “This topic is closed.” Then, after a moment, he added. “We both know how gravely you want to be free of me, but remember, your people still need you. Whenever I call, your service to us will come above all else.”

As if he would ever let me forget.

She touched the small scar just below her hairline. “I remember.”

Looking back out her window, she stared at the crowded dock. Spaceships of all shapes and sizes had come from many worlds to drop off the next class of students at the prestigious academy. She wanted to be anonymous among them. To create a new life, a new reputation for herself based upon her own merit.

At the same time, it wasn’t smart to push her father. She’d learned a long time ago that if she did, he would simply say no, and there wasn’t enough begging, pleading, or threatening in the world that would change his mind. But that left her few options in a situation like this.

A lot of people said his decisiveness was one of the many reasons he made such a great commander of the Earth fleet. But it made a lousy quality in a father. He simply didn’t bend. Ever.

“I hope William is here.” Her best friend was the one person who understood her complicated relationship with her father, and she’d missed him fiercely over the past few weeks.

“I wouldn’t count on it.”

She stiffened at her father’s response, not realizing she’d spoken her thoughts aloud.

“It’d take a miracle for him to reach Turonga. Without a private ship, he’d need a great deal of money and a whole lot of luck to find someone able to fly him this far,” he stated, not looking up from whatever he was reading on his computer. “The academy strives to accept its recruits from families of good standing. A gardener’s son is hardly—”

“You mean families with money.” Heat rushed over her as anger built.

“Contrary to what you think of me, it isn’t his lack of money that concerns me as much as his race. Chamyions are gutless weasels. His father was a gardener. His father before him was a gardener, and if I was going to make a bet, I’d say this boy will be a gardener, as well. Working on a ship requires a certain…strength of spirit and will that his genetics simply don’t lend themselves to.”

She clenched the plush handles on her seat and leaned forward. “You don’t know him at all. He’ll be here.” She paused only a second, not long enough to stop her words before they came. “Although we could’ve guaranteed it if we’d only allowed him to use our ship.”

He lowered his computer and met her unwavering gaze. “If he can’t make it here on his own, he’ll never pass the test to get in. It would’ve been a waste of all our time.”

She stood. “You just wait—”

“Sit down,” he commanded, his tone no longer that of a father, but a captain. “This isn’t the time for female hysterics.”

Every muscle begged her to do exactly the opposite. Her heart urged her to shatter his computer console against the window. But her mind knew how all of this would end, which was quite badly. He’d probably march her right up to the front door and announce her identity to the entire academy.

With effort, she forced herself to sit.

Her heart pounded. William had to be here! And he had to pass the test! That would show her father he was wrong.

The door to their ship opened and Father set his computer down. Rising to his feet, he smoothed the deep blue fabric of his uniform and strode out the door and down the carpeted steps. “Dean Sufters, Professor Walters, how good of you both to meet me here.”

The dean’s voice was grave as she answered back. “Of course. The new recruits will be amazed to see Fleet Admiral Stowe here to greet them.”

Their voices grew quieter. Glancing back through the window, she saw them walking across the spaceship dock. The dean raised her bony arms in one direction, and then the other, pointing out things around the docking yard.

Now is my chance.

Grabbing her duffel bag, she sprang out of her seat and down the steps. Instantly, the commotion of the dock sent her pulse jumping in excitement. Engines roared as spaceships both landed and took off. Airspace Marshals in flashing yellow clothes directed traffic. Chattering students walked the path leading into the academy, causing their own sort of chaos.

It hit her that she’d never felt more at home anywhere in her life.

Darting toward the wide pedestrian path, she effortlessly avoided baggage cars all while keeping her eyes on the skies. Just in case. She didn’t want to be the woman nearly squashed by a spaceship. Not on her first day.

An Airspace Marshal glared at her, blocking her way. “Where’s your escort? Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to be running through the dock unaccompanied—”

“Apologies!” she shouted, ignoring his warning.

She didn’t slow until she stepped onto the glowing blue surface of the path. Glancing back at her father, she saw his attention was completely consumed by whatever conversation he was having. Good. But it wasn’t until she was out of his sight that she finally took a deep breath and eased into a walk.

Her father would be angry when he discovered she’d left, but he wouldn’t do anything about it. Because if he did, everyone would know that the great Fleet Admiral Stowe might be able to effortlessly control the skies, but not his daughter. Never her.

She was free for the first time in her life! Or at least as free as she could ever be. Her father would have eyes everywhere, watching her. But this was not like being back at their mansion, or on board her father’s ship the Allure. She’d finally get to interact with people whose jobs and lives didn’t depend on her father.

And there would be lots of other people around her age. What would that even be like?

Stopping, she looked up at the towering school building. Made from pristine white stone, it was both beautiful and extremely strong. It had endured five attacks over its three hundred years. Although she knew a few sections had been rebuilt, the rest showed no signs of any of it. At twelve stories tall, with glittering windows, it was everything she’d always dreamed of. And more.

This is what she’d been working her entire life for. One year from today, she’d be graduating from the best flight academy in the universe. After that, she wouldn’t be given a Level 10 ship right off the bat, but eventually, she’d be the third woman in history to ever command such a large vessel.

She smiled. That was the plan. All she had to do was stay focused.

A ship flew overhead, but the sound it made was a soft hum, unlike anything she’d heard before. It landed lightly, like a bird settling upon a branch, rather than a giant mechanism touching down. Her jaw dropped. It was a living ship.

Bright green and the size of a small building, twisting vines made up its hull. There were windows and weapons woven into the outside, a seamless combination of technology and nature. Tiny white flowers sprang up in intricate patterns, giving it a beauty lacking in the ships around it.

She took a step toward it. Only Keltairs could fly a living ship. They were given to a child when they reached puberty and grew with the child, if given enough care. She’d studied them extensively, since peace with the Keltairs never seemed to last for long. And her father had taught her- it was important to always know one’s enemy.

But what was a Keltair doing at the academy?

“Hannah!”

She turned instantly at the familiar voice, all thoughts of the unique ship gone with her excitement. “William!”

He grinned and started to jog toward her down the path. His thin body moved almost awkwardly as he ran. He slowed a bit, raising one hand to push back his dark glasses as they slid down his nose. His pale green skin looked paler beneath the harsh sunlight of Turonga. For an instant, she wondered why he wasn’t wearing his floppy hat over his bald head to help protect his sensitive skin. But as he drew closer, his widening smile pushed away her concerns.

“You’re here! I’ve been waiting for you to arrive.”

She embraced him. “I’m so glad you made it.”

Tears choked her throat as they clung to each other for a long moment before she pulled back.

His face was flushed. “I told you nothing would stop me.”

“And, you’re officially in?”

He pulled a neatly folded paper from the pocket of his frayed shirt and opened it gently. “I just got the notice.”

She hugged him again, crushing the paper between them. People said the gardener’s son was overreaching when he became her unofficial training partner in preparation for the academy. But she’d known better.

In her life, she’d come across many different people, and she knew he had it in him to be a great engineer on a spaceship. So, she’d made him her partner whenever she trained at the mansion, teaching him all she learned from her official tutors aboard the Allure.

Even knowing that he’d never be recruited for the academy, he’d focused on learning everything he needed to know to become a spaceship engineer. He’d have to join the 1 percent of people who arrived the week before sign-up to be tested. If he passed, he’d be given a full scholarship to attend. She’d spent the past three weeks wondering if he’d not only made it safely to Turonga, but also if he’d passed the test. The fact that he’d done both was almost miraculous.

That’ll show father!

“I’m so proud of you.” She squeezed his arms, then released him, shifting her bag. “Do you know what group you’ll be in?”

He avoided her gaze. “The Hawks.”

It took her a second to recover from her surprise. “That’s…that’s amazing!”

The Hawks were the most elite group of trainees. She’d been placed in it with ease, but from a young age she’d spent day in and day out on a Level 10 spaceship learning the ropes of her future career firsthand. The Hawks were groomed for such success from the time they were born. The fact that William had gotten into it…well, it was yet another miracle.

“Yeah,” he said. “It was a surprise to me, too.”

“Wow!” She pushed a strand of her long black hair out of her face. “Has a walk-on ever entered the Hawks before?”

He shrugged. “Not sure.”

“Well, we’ll have to celebrate for sure.” She tried to hide her shock with pleasure. “And now we’ll have at least our core classes together.”

He nodded, staring down at his feet.

A sound from behind made her turn around. The live ship had opened. The most incredible man she’d ever seen stepped out. His shirt was unbuttoned, showing off his impossibly muscular chest. Even his stomach was covered in hard, tanned muscles.

Something within her tightened. She didn’t know what a human was doing coming out of a Keltair ship, and she didn’t care.

He was big—bigger than any man she’d seen before. His dark hair, left a little shaggy, and his scruff of beard gave him the undeniable look of a man who knew what he wanted and simply took it. She bit her lip. Alpha males were a particular weakness of hers, and this man set off every alarm she had while he simultaneously drew her toward him. Like gravity.

His gaze snapped up to meet hers. The world melted away. Need flashed in his dark eyes. His jaw tensed. She could sense his physical response to her. It was an electric current running between them. He strode toward her purposely.

“Hello?” William stepped in front of her, trying to get her attention.

She almost pushed him out of the way. “Move.”

Anger flashed across his face. “Too busy checking out the eye candy to notice that Fleet Admiral Stowe is heading straight for you?”

It was like a face full of cold water. She looked behind her and, sure enough, her father was heading in her direction. No one else would’ve noticed the flicker of annoyance in his eyes, but she knew, and she had no intention of dealing with it.

“Let’s go.”

They hurried toward the academy building. She allowed herself one last chance to look back at Mr. Muscles. His eyes were locked on her as he stared around a Keltair who’d blocked his path.

Good. That was dangerous. She’d promised herself no more than a one-night stand or two to get herself through the academy. And that man didn’t fit the bill. He was the sort of guy she’d want to spend weeks on, exploring every inch of him. She’d want to know what turned him on. She’d want to bend him to her will and leave him begging for satisfaction.

She felt herself growing wet.

Shit. She was glad she’d brought her trusty vibrator, Turbo. Otherwise, this year was going to be the most frustrating one of her life. But she could manage, with Turbo’s help, just as long as she stayed as far away as possible from Mr. Muscles.

But for some reason, she was sure the real thing looked a hell of a lot better than something she’d have to leave charging by her bed each night.

Chapter Two

Liam wanted his father, Gurgo, to get the hell out of the way. The woman he’d just seen wanted to be fucked as badly as he wanted to fuck her. He could sense her needs from across the shipyard, and damn if he didn’t want to satisfy them.

“Are you listening to me?” the large Keltair invaded his space, puffing his chest out in a show of dominance.

Liam knew better than to back down. He let his gaze run from the two white horns sharpened to deadly points on his head down to his deep brown face. The silver eyes that stared back at him grew paler in anger.

“I heard you the first time.”

His father grasped his shoulders, squeezing them so hard Liam had to fight to ignore the growing pain. “This human academy is a dangerous place to be. Do you understand me? You have grown into a man, but you are not yet ready to Bond with a female. This place cares nothing for your unique needs as a Keltair. They will throw you in with their wanton females and rely on your own control.”

Staring into his father’s eyes, he didn’t blink. “I have lain with too many females to count. I don’t fear them the way you do.”

His father spat on the ground. “Laying with them is different than being surrounded by them. Understand me well, son of my blood. If you form too close a relationship with any of them, I will have you removed to a Keltair training center. I will not risk you Bonding with a human who will toss you aside and leave you forever weakened, unable to Bond with another. Do you understand?”

He shoved his father’s hands away. “I do not need to be told the obvious or threatened like a youngling.”

They exchanged glares for one long instance before his father growled, “Enough! I must pay my respects.” His voice grew harsher. “Not for the last time I’m sure.”

He turned away, heading for the academy.

Liam watched him go. Had there ever been a better father? Not many males would push aside their pride to help their son. Or fight so hard to allow him to train with the humans.

The man tried to hide his pain, but Liam had been there the day his father had found his only child, brought to the edge of death for his human appearance among the Keltair kind. All his dreams had come crashing down for his son that day. Not many men could so easily accept that the world they belonged to was the very world that would destroy their child. Nor would many males have extracted such a slow and systematic revenge on those who had harmed his blood.

Liam took a deep breath, pushing his thoughts aside, and looked back for the female. She was gone.

He closed his eyes and pictured her. Big breasts, a narrow waist, long legs. Her body pleased him in every way. Then, his thoughts strayed to her face. Had he ever seen eyes that color of green before? Never. They drew him in. He wanted to see how they widened with awe as he entered her. He’d grasp her fine mane of black hair and take her deeply.

A ship lifted off noisily beside him, and he clenched his fists. What a time to be growing hard with need. The woman wasn’t even present to please him!

Turning back to his live ship, he reached in and took his bag. Unconsciously, he ran his knuckles along the hard shell of its body. Rest. Grow. I shall be back.

The ship gave a soft hum of acknowledgment.

An Airspace Marshal waved his hands in front of Liam’s face, gesturing for him to move to the path. Liam wrapped one large hand around the side of his throat and drew him so close their breath mixed. The man gave a tiny squawk and shrank back.

These are humans, not Keltair. He chided himself.

Against his instincts, he loosed his grip on the man and let him wiggle free. “Continue as you were,” he said, then tried to give a reassuring smile.

The man shot away.

They already think that having a half-Keltair at the academy will be a problem. I need to show them that we’re not all war and death. That peace between our nations is plausible. I need to remember the time before my father took me, the days with Mother.

He decided right then and there that he would do better. It would be difficult, but he’d relearn what it was to interact the human way.

When he entered the academy, he was surprised by how large and grand it was. A Keltair would’ve called such a place a useless waste. When they trained, they selected the most dangerous terrains and pitted the males against each other. Mercy was for the weak, and only the strong survived. This place was…dainty. Pretty even.

He hoped he’d made the right choice in coming here. He gritted his teeth. It had to be. If he ever wanted to serve on a ship other than a Keltair war machine, he’d need to graduate from here. And even then, the prejudice against his Keltair half would limit his options.

Unless he proved himself a thousand times over.

He joined a line of students, waiting for their assignments.

A pretty redhead turned around. Her eyes widened and she spun back around. Not so subtly, she elbowed a petite blonde beside her. The other woman turned and, after the initial shock, let her mouth curve into a smile.

“Hello, I’m Summer.”

He sensed her need, but he felt no stirrings of passion. Which was strange. She was pretty enough, wasn’t she? “Hello.”

“You didn’t tell me your name,” she said, blinking her big lashes slowly.

Staring at her, he wondered if she would be quite so flirtatious when she learned of the alien blood running through his veins. No doubt, by the end of the day, everyone would have reviewed the files of their fellow classmates. Then, he would know for sure, if he was any better off among the humans than he was among the Keltairs.

“Liam.”

“L…i…a…m.” She stretched out his name into four syllables, licking her lips. “I like it.”

An officer in black shouted for the next person in line, and the two women flushed with embarrassment.

“Maybe I’ll see you around,” Summer whispered, winked, and left.

He watched the two get their assignments with little interest. These women stirred nothing inside him. Unlike the dark-haired beauty. His muscles tightened. It was the strange woman’s fault. Once he buried himself inside her, he could move on to the next woman. Like he always did.

“Next!” the officer shouted.

He approached the man and noticed how his annoyed expression faltered. The officer took his papers and typed into his computer. Liam knew the moment the man read that he was part Keltair when the officer’s lips curled.

“Your assignment is the Hawks. Top floor.” His disgust was poorly concealed. “They’re the best, and usually include our most talented recruits.”

Liam leaned in as he took his papers. “Thank you.”

The man cringed.

As he walked away, Liam felt a spark of pride. Not only hadn’t he grabbed the man’s head and smashed it against the desk, he’d been polite. After eleven years of being under his father’s care, he would slowly remember the ten-year-old boy who used to cook beside his mother in the kitchen. Who smiled and meant it. He would let the human side of himself finally come free, now that he knew that part of him wouldn’t get him killed.

His time in the academy would be wonderful. He’d find himself again. He’d interact with humans once more. Maybe even make some friends.

And he’d track down the beautiful dark-haired woman and satisfy himself until the tension building inside him fled.

Chapter Three

The auditorium was jammed full of recruits for orientation. Light shone through windows high above, illuminating the whole room in a gentle glow. On stage, the teachers sat in awkwardly placed chairs, some chatting with one another, others scanning the students themselves.

William’s leg bumped Hannah’s as it shook nervously, his new uniform resting in his lap. “What do you think is taking so long?”

She shrugged, not really caring, and tried to move her leg farther from his. Unfortunately, the little desks were practically on top of each other, so her leg would either be against his or the stranger on the opposite side of her.

Oh well. This was orientation day. No one cared how comfortable the chairs were or how well everyone would fit in the room. A certain amount of chaos was to be expected.

Most of the students probably felt the same way William did, nervous and excited. But she’d visited nearly every planet in the Alliance and nothing really fazed her anymore. She’d seen kings and queens being crowned. She’d shaken the hands of ambassadors. And on the Allure, she’d been on the bridge witnessing countless battles and odd situations alike.

The academy was exciting because it meant the beginning of her freedom, but it was really little more than a stepping stone to get where she really wanted to be. Captain Hannah Stowe.

She never got sick of imagining what her future would bring.

Looking toward the doorway, her breath caught in her throat. The ridiculously hot man she’d seen in the shipyard entered the room. His eyes scanned everyone quickly before he walked to the back of the room and leaned against the wall. The handful of overprotective parents near him shifted to give him more room.

What an arrogant son of a bitch. His entire demeanor radiated “I own this room and everyone in it.”

She looked away, her heart beating rapidly. Trouble, trouble, trouble. That’s exactly what you don’t need. One night with him, and you’d be throwing away your career to chase some man around the galaxy like Mother.

The thought chilled her to the core.

Her focus remained trained on the stage for a painfully long time before Dean Sufters and her father walked in side by side, followed by two Keltairs. One of them, she was sure was the alien she’d seen in the shipyard earlier that day. The other, she recognized immediately as Professor Irtun. He often advised her father on diplomatic relationships with the Keltair nation, and now he would be her combat instructor. Both had smooth dark brown skin and twin horns on their heads, although the professor’s were far larger.

Of all the teachers at the academy, he was likely the only one who would recognize her. The rest hadn’t seen her since she was a child. I hope he keeps my identity to himself if he does.

When the students caught sight of her father, murmurs of excitement rose. By the time he reached the stage, the people around her had erupted into applause. To her annoyance, everyone around her stood, until students and teachers alike were standing and cheering for her father.

She stayed seated, kicking at the duffel bag by her feet. If I’d been a little earlier, I could’ve already been to my room and put my stuff away.

The guy next to her leaned down. “Oh my freaking God, it’s Fleet Admiral Stowe! My parents are never going to believe this.”

He waited for her enthusiastic response. “Uh, yeah. Pretty amazing.”

Frowning, he stood straighter and applauded harder.

“Students and teachers,” her father’s rich voice drowned out the sound of the clapping and, within a moment, everyone was seated and quiet. “It is a great honor that I get to address this year’s new recruits.” And suddenly, his gaze met hers. “I have high hopes for all of you. Do not disappoint me.”

He turned to the teachers behind him, shaking some hands, and returning the salutes of a few others. Heading back down the stairs, he cast her one last glance, then disappeared out the doors.

She released the breath she was holding. He was gone. She was…free.

Orientation went by in a blur, and shortly thereafter, she was squeezed into an elevator with a dozen other students. Shoved in the back, she tried to hide her annoyance as one overly friendly guy held the door open for one after another person. The guy in front of her shifted even closer, practically pressed up against her.

She was about to shout for the idiot to let the doors close when Mr. Cocky himself squeezed in. The words died on her lips. People cleared from around him, squeezing into one another, and finally, the doors closed.

As they stopped at each floor, a student or two would step out. When they got to the eleventh floor, a pretty blonde stepped out, casting an appraising glance back at the massive man before the doors closed once more. It took her a second to accept that they were both heading for the twelfth floor, and another second to accept that they were alone together.

He looked back at her, then did a double take, his dark eyes widening. “You?”

She stiffened, tossing her hair over one shoulder. “Did you need something?”

He crossed the space between them and placed one arm above her, leaning in. Her gaze traveled from the buttons of his shirt, which strained across his broad chest, to his chiseled face. Time stood still.

Every part of him screamed male. He smelled of rich spices and green life. Warmth radiated from his flesh, and his gaze held a possessiveness she longed to explore.

“I’m Liam Fallow,” he said. Each word held a rolling accent that sent the hairs on her arms standing on end. He lowered his mouth toward her own.

The ding of the elevator had her ducking beneath his arm and out the door.

“Where are you going?” he yelled after her, but she didn’t slow.

I can’t be like Mother. I’ve got to focus.

Halfway down the constantly curving hall, she found her room number. Her fingers shook as she typed in the code to open the doors.

“What’s your name?” he asked, suddenly at her side.

She jumped, but forced her face to remain calm. “What’s it to you?”

The doors to her new room slid open, and she turned to him feigning absolute confidence, but he spoke before she could say any more.

“I find you to be the most attractive woman I’ve ever set eyes on, and I’d like to know your name.”

She swallowed. “Hannah St…Clark. I’m Hannah Clark.”

Her head felt light as she stepped into her room and dropped her bag on the floor before turning back to stare at him.

His appraising gaze traveled slowly up until he met her eyes. “Well, Hannah Clark, I intend to bed you before the day is out.”

It was a second until she could catch her breath enough to answer him. “Good luck with that.”

One corner of his lips quirked up as he took two steps away from her. “I don’t think I’ll need it, neighbor.”

The doors slowly slid shut as he was entering his code to the room across from her own.

Shit. Shit. Shit. That’s exactly what I don’t need!

She told herself to stay focus, to unpack, and to prepare for the night’s celebration. Especially before William got back from purchasing his secondhand books, since he’d be all over her then, his nerves palpable. But staying focused was harder than she imagined. Her entire body hummed with need…with tension, and she knew exactly how she could ease every muscle in her body. And the thought alone was enough to make her legs tremble.

Focus! Damn it!

She inventoried her room. It was incredible by academy standards. The Hawks usually came from wealthy background, so the academy couldn’t exactly stuff them into small, shared spaces like the other cadets.

Even though it was a massive difference from what she was used to.

A pristine white kitchen was to the right, with its food combiner and rehydrator exactly where they should be. Standard blue couches with The Starflight Academy logo were in front of her. A model of a miniature Level 10 ship served as a coffee table centerpiece. The bed and dresser in the back were small but functional.

She moved past the bed, where her larger suitcase had already been delivered. Opening the drawers to her dresser, she unpacked her clothes, her thoughts on Liam Fallow and his sexy accent. It’d been such an unfamiliar combination, a little Irish, and something harsher.

When was the last time she’d heard an accent she didn’t recognize? She loved a good mystery. And a mystery man? Even better.

Her hand closed around Turbo, and she looked down at it in surprise.

Turbo. That’s exactly what she needed to calm her raging hormones. And since it was waterproof, she could take a shower and get ready at the same time.

Chapter Four

Liam unpacked his things and headed for the hall. The woman wanted him. Why was she denying it? He would approach her again. He would tell her how he could please her, and she would be his for the night.

Then, his thoughts could be his own again.

The doors to his room slid open on Professor Irtun’s scowling face. Even for a Keltair, he was old. Silver slid through his black locks, and his horns were longer than almost any he’d seen before. He had to be older than his grandfather…perhaps three or four hundred years old, at least.

“Your father has requested I keep my eyes on you.”

Calm. Respect your elders.

“I do not need such help.”

Professor Irtun strode past him and into his room, glaring around before turning back to Liam. “You are only the seventh Keltair to ever be allowed at The StarFlight Academy of Turonga. It is an honor beyond your youthful understanding. Your success or failure will reflect upon us all.”

He took a deep breath, unclenching his fists. “Grandfather,” he started, using the term of respect, “I understand my responsibility.”

A hiss emanated from the old man’s throat. “You know nothing!” He spat, then sat on the dark couch. For a long minute, he didn’t speak, just glared. “Your father tells me you have the face of a human and the heart of a Keltair. If this is true, I have a lot to be concerned with. Humans are weak, squishy creatures driven by their feelings and emotions. We must walk among them with gentle steps or we’ll crush them. And because they multiply like rabbits, their numbers alone make them a dangerous enemy.”

“They aren’t my enemy,” he spoke truthfully.

The old man nodded, the anger in his face easing. “That will make this much easier.” He paused, setting his boots upon the coffee table. “Your father tells me you have excelled in every test, and that your results, along with your human demeanor, are the reason our leaders sponsored your training here. But you must know, half the people here will suspect you are a spy, and the other half will simply fear you because of your race.”

Knowing that it was unwise to stay standing when one’s elder sat, Liam eased into the large chair facing the old man. “Do you think it was any easier to train with the Keltair when I have the face of a human? I can handle this place.”

The old man tilted his head, studying him. “Perhaps that is true. So then, I have one last warning for you. Do not let the human females distract you. Learn from your father’s failure in choosing an unworthy human mate. Use them for their bodies. Do not connect with their minds.”

He swallowed down the insult to his mother. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard such disrespect. “My father has already said—”

“But if you make the wrong choice, I will be the first to let your father know of his son’s failures. And if you show yourself to be weak, you will not remain here.”

Liam growled. “I am not weak.”

The old man stood, moving surprisingly rapidly for a male of his age. “We shall see.”

Liam watched him go, considering his situation. His father had no need to bring on the old professor as a spy. He had no intention of growing attached to a female. He’d be a fool to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.

Rising, he picked one of the papers he’d been given off the painfully white countertop of the kitchen. The map showed where he could keep his live ship. The StarFlight Academy had made a small space near the garden, having learned a long time ago that live ships could not be kept in a spaceship dock. They didn’t enjoy the noise and the lack of nature. Such things could make them shrink in size, or worse, grow ill.

Just the thought of his ship made him speed back down to the shipyard.

Once there, he pressed his palm to the outside of Zenon. He felt a slight vibration, the ship’s acknowledgement of him, and the door swung open. Inside, he touched the control panel and the vessel slowly rose. He gazed out at the twenty-foot wall surrounding the expansive academy grounds, and to the cleared space around it where a dozen turrets pointed threateningly at the skies. Beyond that, a deep jungle separated the academy from the nearest city.

He steered Zenon over the gardens in the back of the massive building. For a minute, he frowned. There was an odd, short building tucked in one corner, covered in vines. A memory ticked at the back of his thoughts, the campus pub. They’d been told about it in orientation.

When you want to get drunk, relax, and party, don’t go into the town. Recruits have a tendency to get hurt, or even killed, on their way back here. The Wet Whistle is on campus, so students can have a little fun in a safe way.

Tonight will be the first of many nights there.

It didn’t look like much, but he shrugged. He really didn’t require much in a place to drink.

A small expansion of gardens separated Zenon’s new home and the bar. Not the best spot, but certainly not the worst. He set his vessel down and stared out at the gardens.

Now to shower and prepare for the celebration.

All the better to bed Hannah Clark, a tiny voice whispered in the back of his mind.

He almost smiled. There was nothing a Keltair liked better than to beat a worthy opponent, and he suspected she would not disappoint.

Chapter Five

Hannah put on her tightest pair of jeans and a leather corset. Subtle. She laughed at her own image. She screamed sex, from her thigh-high boots to her hair pulled up high. A glittering pendant nestled between her breasts.

But tonight she didn’t care what people thought. What she wanted was to find the right man to satisfy her. After being so close to the sexually charged man, Turbo simply hadn’t been enough. She needed the real thing so badly she itched for it.

Any man will do, as long as he’s someone I can walk away from.

Unlike the intoxicating Liam.

She slid her card off the nightstand and into her pocket, then glared back at herself. No more thoughts of him. Not tonight.

Her door buzzed.

“Open doors.”

They opened, revealing William. His gaze ran over her, froze, and his eyes widened.

“What do you think?” she asked, grinning.

One of his brows rose. “I think you plan to get into some trouble tonight.”

She laughed. “Don’t you?”

He tugged the baseball hat a little lower over his bald green head and walked into her room. “Yeah, I’m sure all the ladies are just thinking ‘Man, I want a little Chamyion in me tonight.’”

She strode across the room and punched his shoulder lightly. “Hey, you never know. Some of these girls are into some way more freaky stuff than you, my friend.”

“Yeah,” he mumbled. “I guess it’s possible.”

Sympathy squeezed her heart. She couldn’t imagine what it was like to stand out wherever you went. After the Chamyion home planet was destroyed, most of them had relocated to dark forests all over the universe, while the others had taken on serving jobs with some of the more wealthy citizens of the world. There was a good chance William would never be among a group of his own kind again.

How lonely.

But there was a reason why he was her best friend. He was kind, intelligent, and determined. A worthy woman would see that. She bet as soon as they got there, he’d be too busy with all the attractive women to remember how different he felt.

“We’ll have fun, okay? Don’t be so glum.” She went back to the full-length mirror and picked a particular dark shade of red to paint on her lips. “We might both go home with hot dates tonight. But let’s keep each other company until then. Okay? And tomorrow let’s have breakfast together.”

He didn’t speak for a painfully long time.

She casually gazed at him through her mirror. His expression was troubled.

Turning around, she smiled. “Or I could spend my night trying to find some hottie for you to hook up with.”

He shook his head and gave her a strained smile. “No worries. Let’s just head out. It’s already past nine o’clock. I bet there’ll be an awful line.”

Seeing her normally grumpy William at least make an attempt to be positive gave her some hope.

“Let’s go.”

They walked to the elevator where a group of people were already piling in.

One guy caught the door. He gave her a nice smile. Blond, taller than her, decent muscles. She might have found her man for the night.

“Going down?” he asked, grinning.

She raised a brow. “We can’t exactly go up, can we?”

Sliding unnecessarily close to him, she checked to see that he’d hit the ground floor button.

“What’s your name?” he asked, too close to her ear.

“I’m Hannah, and this is William.”

The guy didn’t look in her friend’s direction as the doors closed. “I’m Greg.”

One girl spoke aggressively from behind her, a brunette with no bra and a see-through shirt. “I’m Jennifer.”

Hannah swept a stray strand of hair out of her face. “Nice to meet some fellow Hawks.”

“Yes,” the girl said, squeezing between them. “We’re heading to The Wet Whistle.”

Greg’s eyes ran over Hannah. “I’m guessing you’ll be joining us there?”

Hannah smirked. “You bet. Who could miss a night of drinking, dancing, and attractive men?”

His eyes sparked with interest. “Got any particular attractive guy in mind?”

Not Liam.

She winked. “Maybe.”

Chapter Six

The bouncer at the door took one look at Hannah and ushered her into the club and past the line. She draped an arm around William’s bony shoulder and pulled him along with her, not giving the bouncer a chance to protest. The group they’d met in the elevator hurried in along with her, casting nervous glances back at the line.

She wished she could tell them to relax. With the male-to-female ratio about five-to-one at the academy, she knew their group, which included three attractive women, would be let in without a problem.

It was the two guys that’d be separated and thrown out.

Not that she would let that happen.

They traveled down the steep steps and into the underground club. With each step, a heart-pounding song grew louder. It vibrated through her boots and seemed to surround her, as if they’d stepped into the belly of a beast.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, she stopped and stared in awe. The club was bigger than she imagined. Silver lights flashed in unpredictable patterns on the roof. Shadowed tables lined the outside of the crowded dance floor. The harshest light came from the massive bar to one side of the room, which sparkled gold.

She made a beeline for the bar, swooping in right on time to seat herself at a newly opened barstool.

The bartender, a thirty something male with a long beard and harsh eyes turned to her. “What are you having?” he yelled above the pounding music.

She pointed to her new friends as the two other girls seated themselves beside her. “We’ll take a round of Jungle Juice and shots of Saturday Night Fevers.”

He shot her an annoyed glance and went to gather the ingredients for the complicated drinks.

“What’s Jungle Juice?” William asked, sounding out of breath.

She leaned back and grinned. “Trust me, you’ll like it.”

He frowned.

“It’s sweet. You might even forget there’s liquor in it until you’re dancing on a tabletop,” she grinned. How many times had that happened to her?

Greg leaned in, blocking her view of William. “I’ve never had a woman order for me before.”

Feeling bold, she leaned in closer so that her lips hovered above his ear. “Maybe I’ll show you a lot of things you’ve never experienced before.”

She could practically feel his heartbeat speed up.

“Your drinks!” The bartender set them down in front of her, his lips curling.

She reached into her back pocket and took out her card for the needed credits. He scanned it with a band on his palm, then handed it back to her, mumbling something about rich brats.

His problem, not mine.

With her card safely in her pocket, she reached for the pale-colored shots and gave them to her little group. “To The Starflight Academy!”

“To us!” Greg said, and they all clicked glasses.

She drained the shot in one gulp, then slammed it on the counter. The coconut and passion fruit left a sweetness in her mouth that almost masked the warmth of the liquor.

William winced and set the glass down, shaking his head.

“That bad?”

He opened his mouth to answer, but she pressed the next drink into his hands. “Drink it. Trust me.”

“Dance?” Greg asked.

She held up a finger and reached for their other drinks. Handing one to him, she grinned.

“I think you might be trying to get me drunk,” he said, hot breath puffing into her ear.

Taking a long sip, she watched him over the top of her glass. This man would do just fine. He was attractive enough. Interesting and fun. She could sleep with him and then forget him tomorrow. He was perfect.

Unlike Liam, who sends every muscle in my body tightening.

She released the breath she was holding. That was exactly why she needed to stay away from him. One conversation and she couldn’t get him out of her mind.

Draining the rest of her drink, she set it down next to her shot glass. She needed to dance and enjoy her relative freedom for the first time in her life.

And forget a certain man who haunted her.

Linking a finger in Greg’s shirt, she pulled him toward the dance floor, but froze. William was standing next to the bar, looking lost.

“Hey, Jennifer!” The girl turned, scowling. “Do you know my friend, William?”

She turned to him, her scowl deepening.

Poor guy.

She released Greg and leaned toward the other girl. “Stay away from him, okay? His people mate only once a year. But when they do, their dicks grow ridiculously large, and they have to fuck. All. Night. Long.”

Jennifer’s eyes widened.

It was a load of crap. But after a few drinks, no one really cared who they went home with, and the lie would give her friend a fighting chance.

Hannah started back to the dance floor, winking at William when she passed him.

He caught her arm in a surprisingly tight grip. “Shouldn’t we stick together?”

She pried his fingers from her arm. “Not if we want to have any fun.”

Over her shoulder, she watched as the other girl sidled up to her friend. He’ll be thanking me a thousand times over in the morning.

And that’s when her night really began. The combination of liquor, music, and the man rubbing up behind her made her lose herself. She danced with abandon, the music’s bass pumping through her. Greg could’ve been anyone at all that night, she didn’t care. She was free. Finally far from her father and his many rules. Finally where she always dreamed of being.

Several songs later, she stopped dancing. The people around her were a blur of colors. Her head felt like a balloon, trying desperately to fly away. The lights from the club were making her dizzy.

She needed some air, or better yet, to splash water on her face. She weaved through the dance floor and toward the stairs in the back. William blocked her entrance, but she couldn’t hear his words over the booming music. She shook her head, moving around him. He tried to grab her arm, but suddenly Jennifer had her arms around his neck in an intimate hug.

Hannah tried to move faster as she started up the steps. She felt strange, as though she’d spent the night pounding drinks. What the hell had been in that Jungle Juice?

In the bathroom, she splashed water on her face until her mind and body seemed to connect more completely. A girl handed her a small bottle of water, and she took it with gratitude, slamming it and throwing it in the wastebasket.

My body must’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a little fun.

Stepping out of the bathroom, she suddenly felt a desire to go up higher rather than back to the crowd on the dance floor. She took a few steps up, but didn’t make it far. Someone knocked into her shoulder, almost sending her falling back, but a strong hand caught her.

She looked up. It was him. Liam. Touching her. Invading her space.

He released her arm but moved closer, shifting to stand behind her.

One big hand ran down the length of her spine, sending shivers through her body, before coming to rest on her lower back. “I need you,” he whispered in her ear.

His warm breath made the hairs on her arms stand on end. She nibbled her bottom lip and turned to him. Their eyes met and heat raced down her body.

She nodded.

He guided her up the steps.

A man stepped out in front of them, carrying a case of liquor on his shoulder. He shifted past them and Liam sprang forward, catching the door before it closed. In moments, he’d steered them into the room, the door closing quietly behind them.

It was a storage room for the bar. Every wall was lined with shelves filled with cans and bottles. Tiny blue lights lined the path through the storage room and slightly lighter white lights flickered on the edges of the shelves.

She could no longer hear the music, but the walls vibrated with the bass. Pressing her back against the door, she watched him. This is exactly what I promised myself I wouldn’t do.

But she couldn’t care less in that moment. The man looked fine. A dark shirt, jeans, and his hair still unkempt. Bad boy was written on every inch of him.

She bit her lip, willing herself to show at least a little bit of restraint.

“You’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen,” he said, his gaze traveling from her boots, lingering on the swell of her breasts, and then meeting her eyes.

It was a second before she realized her hand had drifted to the zipper on the front of her corset. She tugged on the metal tag, lowering it one inch and then another.

His eyes darkened. She watched in fascination as his large chest heaved, noticing as his hands clenched into fists at his side.

“What do you want?” she asked, the words coming out breathless.

He didn’t answer, but instead, drew closer. Their gazes held as he invaded her space, so close their bodies almost brushed. Almost.

That would never do. A man like him needed to be touched, to be explored. Her hands moved to his shoulders, then slid down to rest on his chest. The muscles tightened with the slight pressure of her touch. He wants me as badly as I want him.

His hands grasped her lower back, bringing her even closer to him. They shifted restlessly, sliding onto her hips and gripping her possessively.

His mouth lowered.

For a second they both paused, their breath mixing. Their lips inches from one another. Their noses brushed. His hand ran up her body to sweep along the curves of her neck before tilting her face up.

Her whole body ached and trembled as she grew wet. His lips were so close. His smell, rich and earthy, surrounded her. She was more aware of this man than she’d ever been of any other person in her life. Even though their bodies hadn’t yet come together, every inch of him radiated heat against her.

The chest beneath her fingertips was a gift, a piece of a godlike man, hard and strong. She dug her nails into him, standing up on her tiptoes until only an inch remained between their mouths. Nothing else mattered in that moment but capturing his lips in her own.

He groaned and closed the distance between them. His lips met hers in a flash of need. His were burning hot, threatening to consume her own beneath his touch.

She slid her hand into his shaggy hair, the strands running through her fingers, awakening every nerve on her hands. He growled, increasing the pressure on her mouth until she spread her lips.

He pressed her back against the door, his body conforming to her own. His tongue swept inside her welcoming mouth, and she felt a quiver run through her body. Heat pooled at her core.

Her hands were restless. There was too much she wanted to touch, needed to touch. Her fingers ran down the front of his shirt, fumbling with his buttons. When they trembled at his first one, she closed her hands around the material and tore.

Suddenly his skin was hers to explore. She grazed the lines of his muscles and let her fingertip brush one of his sensitive nipples, which hardened beneath her touch.

He swore.

Grabbing her ass, he lifted her up.

Her legs automatically wrapped around his waist. They both cried out against each other’s lips. His arousal pressed between her thighs, and she rubbed against him enticingly.

He broke their kiss, gasping. His gaze met hers. Need and disbelief filled his expression. “It’s never been this strong before. I need to be inside you,” he said, shifting his hardness.

She cried out, digging her fingers into his shoulders. “That feels so…so good.”

Her hips ground against him.

He threw his head back, grabbing her ass harder and pulling her even more tightly against him. “I could fuck you forever and never get enough.”

The world suddenly tilted sharply, and her thoughts grew foggy. Pushing him away, she struggled to fight the strangeness of her slowing mind.

After a moment, he drew back. “What is it?”

“Air,” she gasped, clenching her stomach. “Something’s wrong.”

It wasn’t that she was going to puke. It was that she felt herself pulling apart. It was the dance floor all over again, only this time, she thought she might pass out.

A second later, she was swept up in his arms.

“I’ve got you,” he murmured against her head.

He took her out of the room and up the stairs. At the end of the hall, he kicked open the door and, suddenly, they were hit by a crisp spring night. The flowery scents of the garden washed over her and she closed her eyes.

This was better. Right?

Why had she left the club again?

“Hannah!”

Whoever yelled her name, the voice was familiar…somehow.

“Give her to me,” the familiar voice demanded.

The man holding her tightened his grasp. “And who’s going to make me?”

Chapter Seven

The weakling pushed his huge glasses up the brim of his pale green nose. “She’s my friend. If she isn’t feeling well, I should care for her.”

Liam shoved past the little green man. “There’s no one better to watch over her than me.”

“You!” he cried, scrambling after him. “No way.”

“This is not up for discussion.”

He looked down at the woman in his arms. She looked pale. Her brilliant green eyes stared at the sky above, or perhaps more accurately, stared at nothing at all.

“How much did you drink?” he asked her gently.

Her glazed eyes focused and unfocused on his face. “One drink. Two maybe.”

Liam frowned. She wasn’t drunk.

“I’ll bring her to the academy doctor.”

“No!” Hannah and the tiny man cried in unison.

“If you bring me there, Father will know, and he’ll withdraw me—”

“You’ll get her into a lot of trouble,” the little man interrupted.

Liam looked between the two of them, feeling his annoyance rise. The woman needed treatment. Nothing you can’t provide yourself, a tiny voice whispered.

He nodded, not liking the panic in her dilated eyes. “I will not take her to the doctor. I shall care for her myself.”

“Just give her to me,” the other man whined. “We’ve known each other since we were kids. She’d want me to be the one to care for her.”

If he spoke the truth, Hannah might prefer the comfort of an old friend. But in her current state, the only person he trusted her with was himself.

“If you get in my way again, not only will I take her to the doctor, but I’ll break one of your bones, too.”

He shrank back, and Liam walked toward the gardens, a plan forming.

Leaving behind the noise and chaos of the club, he took her down the paths until he reached his ship. By then, she had passed out. Touching his palm to his ship, the door opened for him. He ducked and entered with her in his arms. The door closed behind them.

With quiet steps, he took her to the back of the small craft. Laying her on the ground, the rich green floor of his ship seemed to melt until it softened enough to cradle her. He selected a large blanket from a compartment and spread it over her.

In sleep, the woman looked more innocent than any woman he could imagine. Her features were soft. Her mouth opened slightly, curving her already full lips.

His cock twitched. Not tonight, he chided himself. First, he would care for her until she recovered, then he would bed her.

Chapter Eight

She stared at the pale blue bubble that signified a person’s dream. Frowning, she drew closer. Liam lay on the surface of a red rock. Blood pooled beneath him. His chest and face were drenched in scarlet. Overhead, a cloudless sky burned harshly down upon him.

Her mind felt fuzzy. She was entering the bubble of his dream, without her normal caution. Leaning over him, their gazes met.

You?”He frowned. “You weren’t here. No one was here.”

She stared around her at the desolate planet, then crouched down next to him. “What happened to you?” Never before had she seen a human being torn to shreds like he had been. “Who did this to you?”

They did. They left me for dead.”

She pushed the hair out of his face, realizing for the first time that he was younger than the man she knew. “But you’re not going to die. You know that now?”

He pressed his face into her hands. “No. I did die that day, and the man that was reborn is a man I fear.”

His expression wavered. The whole dream wavered. She stood. How was it possible that she’d Dream Walked into Liam’s dream? How was any of this possible? It took her months to grow close enough to a person to enter their subconscious without a great deal of effort.

And then, everything faded to black.

Hannah awoke hours later, feeling safer and happier than she could ever remember. She was warm, too. Slowly opening her eyes, she winced at the slight headache that pounded to life. Where was she? Everything was green.

It was as if she lay in a cocoon of vines.

No, that wasn’t quite right. It was as if she lay in an ancient ship, long forgotten, and swallowed by a greedy jungle. Metal peeked out, tangled in rich green vegetation. White flowers grew, glowing softly, woven across the ceiling like a sky full of stars.

Wherever she was, it was beautiful.

The floor vibrated softly.

Her fingers curled, and she glanced at them, noticing for the first time the muscular chest of a man. What had she done? Slowly glancing up, she gazed at the man lying next to her. It was Liam, his eyes closed in sleep.

Her breath caught. He was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. Not just hot or stunning, but in sleep, he seemed different. More real and less like a fantasy.

She slowly sat up. The blanket fell away, and she stared at herself, still fully dressed. They hadn’t had sex? The realization brought both surprise and relief.

Frowning, she tried to recall the events of the night. Everything was a blur, except the kiss she’d shared with Liam. She remembered nothing after that.

Nice one! She’d really gotten that shit-faced her first night at the academy. How embarrassing! She must’ve had, what, ten or twelve shots? The last time she had twelve shots, she’d ended up dancing on a bar top.

But she’d still remembered it all the next day. Never before had she been “blackout drunk” as her friends liked to say.

Rubbing her face, she tried to clear away the dark cloud that hung over her memories, but all of it was hidden in shadows. Wincing as she stared around the room a horrible realization hit her. She was in a Keltair ship.

Scrambling to her feet, her pulse raced.

“Hannah?” The man at her feet blinked into the morning sunlight.

“Quiet!” She hissed, “We’re in a Keltair ship.”

He sat up, the blanket falling away from his bare chest. Her gaze instantly went to the deep red scars covering his chest. A memory brushed along her mind, but fled in the face of the seriousness of their situation.

“Calm yourself. The craft is mine,” he whispered, following her gaze and frowning down at his scars.

It took her groggy mind a moment to process his statement.

“How is that possible? You’re human.”

He ran fingers through his dark, tousled hair. “Half human, to be exact.”

Fear overwhelmed her panic. “Have you kidnapped me? Are you holding me for ransom?”

He laughed, a harsh sound. “How much do you imagine one beautiful human is worth to my people?”

She inched toward the door.

Frowning, he started to rise.

“Don’t!”

He settled back down. “I thought you were joking. I didn’t kidnap you. I brought you here to keep you safe.”

“Safe?” she challenged, the word laced with sarcasm. “So I can walk out of here anytime I want?”

He pressed his hand to the floor. Behind her, the wall lowered, becoming steps down into a garden.

She turned to go, but his words stopped her. “You have nothing to fear from me, but someone decided to drug you last night. And if I were you, I’d try to figure out who it was. We can probably guess at why.”

Her stomach twisted. “I was drugged?” That’s why her memories were gone.

“I wanted to bring you to the academy doctor, but your green friend advised me against it.”

Thank goodness for William! “My father would’ve withdrawn me if he’d found out about this.”

Liam looked relieved. “I am glad. All night I watched you, debating about whether or not I’d made the right decision in bringing you here instead of to the medic.”

She stared at her hands. “It was the right decision. But we…we didn’t…do anything, did we?”

“Are you asking me if I forced myself on an unconscious woman?” His voice was cold.

Her gaze met his. “I just woke up with almost no memories of last night.”

His expression softened. “Other than our kiss at the club, nothing happened.”

Relief flooded her. “Thank you, and thank you for taking care of me.”

She turned back to the door.

“This doesn’t mean I’ve given up. I will have you.”

Her cheeks burned as she left the ship. She couldn’t think of that now, but she was sure it was all she’d be thinking about in the days to come.

Chapter Nine

The door to William’s room was open as Hannah walked past. She needed something to drink and a shower before being questioned to death by her friend.

“Hannah!”

She didn’t turn as William called her. Just a few more minutes. Typing in the code to her door, she entered, with him right behind her.

Sitting on the couch, she unzipped her boots and pulled them off.

“Where were you? Are you okay?”

Her head pounded with each shrill word. “I’ve been better, but I’m fine.”

She leaned back and stared as her friend nervously paced, wringing his hands. “I wasn’t sure if I should’ve let that guy take you, but I couldn’t stop him. Did he…are you…?”

“He didn’t hurt me. In fact, he was a complete gentleman.”

William didn’t look the least bit relieved. “Do you remember anything?”

“I…” It hurt to think about it. “Not really.”

He sat down, pulling his hat off and placing it on his knee. “Well, okay. I mean, don’t do that again, all right? No more drinking for awhile.”

“I don’t think it was the alcohol,” she said, the words slipping out before she could stop them.

He went rigid. “What do you mean?”

She stood and moved to her dresser, feeling restless. “Liam said something.” Pulling out clothes at random, she threw them on her bed. “He mentioned I might’ve been drugged.”

Silence met her statement.

And then, after a moment. “Hannah, you spent the night slamming drinks like there was no tomorrow. Could it be that you just overdid it?”

She turned back to him. “Honestly, I don’t remember.”

After a moment, he shook his head. “No, you don’t remember and that should scare you, because it scares me.”

“William…”

He met her gaze. “You’re guaranteed a spot working on a spaceship, but I’m not so lucky. This is my chance to be something great, and it’s going to require everything inside of me to do it.” He stood, turning and walking slowly to the door. “As much as I might want to put energy into watching over you, I just…I just can’t. So, you need to figure out what’s important to you—partying like last night or our friendship? You can’t have both.”

He walked into the hall and her door slid shut behind him. She stared at her own reflection in the mirror, dark eyeliner smudged, face pale. Was he right? Was all of this her own fault for drinking too much?

Or was Liam right? Had she been drugged, and if so, by whom?

She leaned against her mirror, her legs shaking. Her warm breath puffed against the glass, as she watched her blood-streaked eyes. There’d be time to consider things later. She needed to refocus. Classes were starting and, although William was right that she could work on any starship in the galaxy with her firsthand experience and family name, the only way she could become a captain of her own ship was to graduate from the academy.

Turning her head, she brushed aside the stray hairs along her neck to reveal the tiny scar left over from her experimental surgery. The one that had saved her life. She didn’t have time to worry about drinking too much or mysterious men—she would have her hands full. The academy would push each student to their breaking point, including her. But no matter what, she’d have to divide her attention between her training and continuing to serve the people of Earth. The two responsibilities together were daunting.

Her focus would be laser-centered on her goals. She wouldn’t walk in her mother’s footsteps. And the best way she could make sure not to fall into the same trap was to stay as far from Liam as possible.

With her resolve restored, she stripped off her clothes and headed for the shower. But with each step the tiny scar ached, almost as if to remind her of all the things she couldn’t remember, and how the loss of such memories might be dangerous.

Chapter Ten

Liam could think of nothing but Hannah. Her face. Her smile. Her laugh.

Should he be worried? Was this the beginning of the Bonding?

He shook the thought aside. Once he had her, hopefully he would be free of his new and unexpected obsession. There were two things he could be sure of: he would bed the female, and he would find the person who drugged her and make him pay.

His first week at the academy was already proving more interesting than he could’ve hoped for.

Chapter Eleven

Across campus, two men met in the shadows of the gardens.

“Imagine my surprise when I saw Hannah Stowe walking through campus this morning.”

The other almost choked on his reply. “I failed. I’ll do better next time.”

Only the sound of his racing heart filled his ears as he prayed for a miracle.

“You better. Once is a mistake. Twice will make us doubt your loyalty.”

The man felt a wave of gratitude. He’d expected a dagger to the throat. “Before the year is out, the fleet admiral’s daughter will be yours. I promise it on my life.”

“Good, because your life is the very thing we’ll take.”

Overhead, gray clouds blocked out the morning sunlight, a sure sign of the storm to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Here’s a preview of the next story in this exciting series “To Touch a Warrior.”

 

To Touch an Alien” Preview

Chapter One

 

Hannah stared from afar at the pale, golden bubble surrounding Liam’s dream. She lingered as far from it as she could, like a reluctant observer, torn between fascination and worry. Why was she here? Going into the dreams of others usually required a lot of work and as much of an understanding of the individual as possible. She slipped into dreams by accident only if she knew the person well. Until now.

She neither knew Liam well nor studied him extensively. This shouldn’t be possible. What did it mean about her powers? Were they growing, changing, or was there something wrong with her?

There was a groan from within the dream. Her heart raced. Almost unwillingly, she padded closer on bare feet to the translucent bubble, until she could see Liam clearly.

He was straddling a woman. Their golden bodies moved together in a slow rhythm. Her legs wrapped around his back. As she watched, he rocked faster and faster.

Their moans of pleasure built until Hannah felt her own need rising. She didn’t want to watch, but seeing the perfect muscles of his ass left her transfixed. A longing to touch him filled her. The need was so powerful that she stepped into the bubble and moved toward him.

He turned. They both did. And suddenly, she was staring at herself beneath the Keltair male. The Hannah beneath him vanished. He rose from the ground, his gazed fixed on her.

Come back. I need you.”

She awoke, sweating. And frustrated beyond belief. What the hell was she doing jumping into Liam’s dreams when she’d spent the past few weeks doing her best to avoid him at every turn? She pushed her tangled black hair out of her face and wiped at the moisture on her forehead. Her whole body was tied in one giant knot.

Without wanting to, she sat up in bed, her gaze trained on the door to her quarters. Just a few steps across the hall, Liam was lying in bed dreaming about having sex with her. It would be so easy just to go over and—

No! She would not allow herself to be distracted any further. Not only was she already up too early on combat testing day, she was exhausted from Dream Jumping. She threw herself back on her pillows and groaned, rubbing her face. There was no more denying the very simple fact that if she didn’t have sex soon, she was going to explode.

She’d been putting it off for reasons she didn’t want to consider. But no more. By the end of the night, she promised herself, she’d have done the deed. With someone.

Putting her hand on her stomach, she closed her eyes. It just wasn’t soon enough. Glancing at the clock again, she saw that she still had plenty of time. She walked to her dresser and pulled out Turbo. It wasn’t sex with a real man, but it was the next best thing.

An hour later, she was showered and dressed in her deep blue uniform. Her golden Starflight Academy logo shone on the front of her button-down shirt. Smoothing back her hair one last time, she smiled at her own reflection.

In a short time, she’d have her first combat test. By the afternoon, all the teachers will have posted their scores. She was bound and determined to be at the top of every list.

Even though Liam is my biggest competition.

She scowled at the thought. Her only competition should be herself, wasn’t that what her father always said?

Her computer console played an angry tune. Speak of the devil! Her heart raced as she crossed the floor and sat down in front of her desk. Taking a deep breath, she hit the blue button on the screen.

Fleet Admiral Stowe, better known as her father, was staring down at a pile of papers on his desk. A pen had been placed behind his ear, slightly disturbing his neatly trimmed, silver hair. Next to his elbow, a small glass held an amber-colored liquid. His most expensive scotch.

None of this was good. The admiral didn’t allow a single hair to get out of place. Or drink during the daytime. And the fact that he was contacting her…well, none of it boded well for her.

He looked up, and she swore there were more wrinkles at the sides of his eyes than when she’d seen him last. But, the change was subtle. As always, his pale green eyes hid all emotion. “Good morning, Hannah.”

She leaned back in her chair, trying to look casual. “Miss me so soon?”

He sighed loudly. The lack of chastisement in his face made her palms sweat. Definitely not good.

“I told you before you left that your people would need you no matter what, and that your responsibility to them would come above all else.” He paused, searching her face. “You’re needed.”

Her stomach sank, but she simply raised a brow. “Are you just calling to kill my good mood, or is there something specific you need from me?”

Picking up the papers on his desk, he shuffled them, making certain that all the edges were even. “The president herself has ordered your latest assignment.”

She sat up straighter in her chair. “Seriously? Okay. What does she need?”

“As soon as we finish this call, I’ll send you information on your target.” He cleared his throat. “President Luna would like you to enter the man’s dream tonight.”

The air rushed out of her lungs. Tonight? “No, Dad, that’s too soon—“

“She wants you to do it immediately.”

She shook her head. It was too dangerous. She needed time to study him, to view any and all information. The only time she entered dreams is when she could perfectly recall every one of the target’s physical features in her mind’s eye, and only if she had a firm understanding of who they were as a person. To do otherwise was dangerous.

Not knowing the person made it harder to separate herself from them. And what was more, she could make a mistake out of pure ignorance.

That lesson had been learned the hard way. The really hard way.

“We both know how dangerous what you’re asking me to do is…”

His gaze met hers. “I’ve never argued with the president before. But I argued with her about this. I bought you until tonight, but not a day longer.”

She swallowed the excess saliva in the back of throat. What was she supposed to say? That she was terrified? That she refused to do it? None of it mattered. The man she was speaking to was the admiral in that moment, not her father. And a command was a command.

“Okay, what do I need to know?”

He didn’t look relieved. “The specifics will be in the file, but in general, your target is Ahmed Zhou. He’s most well-known for being a wealthy arms consultant and dealer. But to nearly every advanced government, he’s known for running one of the largest sex trafficking groups in the known universe. The problem is, no one has ever caught him red-handed, so to speak.”

Am I really being forced into this sadistic man’s dream without the proper preparation? A shiver ran down her spine. She didn’t want to do this.

Nibbling on her bottom lip, she met her father’s gaze. “Why does this need to be done right away?”

And that’s when his admiral mask faltered. “On another unrelated, highly classified situation, the president’s daughter and a small group of her college-aged friends have gone missing.”

The hairs on her arms stood on end. “Gabrielle?”

He nodded.

Gabrielle had been her close friend until the realities of their lives drew them further and further apart. They’d see each other several times a year at important functions, but they were always busy trailing their powerful parents. Until Gabrielle went to college and Hannah’s training grew more intense. But still, being the daughters of two of the most influential people in their galaxy connected them in a way that seemed permanent.

“I’ll do it,” her voice came out an angry whisper.

And she was angry. Angry at the thought that they still lived in a world where young women weren’t safe. That there were people who bought and sold women like livestock. It didn’t matter that Dream Jumping so soon would be dangerous. She could help her friend, and she would.

“Hannah,” her father’s voice drew her gaze. “Be careful. And if things start to go badly, jump out. You’ll have followed orders. She can’t ask for more than that from you.”

“Of course.”

He clenched his jaw. “Damn it. Losing both of you won’t do anyone any good.”

Her eyes opened wide in surprise and she simply stared at him. “I’ll be okay.”

He nodded, then rubbed his mouth. “I’ll send the information. Call me first thing in the morning.”

For a minute, she thought he’d say more. Instead, he reached forward, their gazes held for a moment before he tapped the screen. It went blank.

She sank back into her chair. Eat. Prepare for the combat exam, then study the asshole. Her legs trembled slightly as she rose. No. No! Don’t get distracted. She slammed her fists on the table. She would not allow her other responsibilities to impact the rest of her life.

Push it out of your mind, or you’ll explode. She took a deep, calming breath and stood up, her back stiff. She would be Hannah the Unbreakable. No matter what.

Grabbing her leather backpack off the bed, she strode out the door.

Across the hall, Liam’s door opened. This is your world. These are your problems. Not the others. His gaze slid to hers and held.

Seeing him, no matter how often, always took her breath away. The large, half Keltair male looked like every woman’s deepest, darkest fantasy brought to life. Dark hair, a dusting of a beard, and a body that was both impressively massive and muscular. He stirred things inside her that she’d much rather keep hidden.

She raised a brow, trying her best to hide her reaction. “Waiting for me again?”

The lighthearted words lifted a bit of the weight from her chest. She could do this. She could live only in this world.

He smirked in response. “How many times do I need to remind you? We have nearly the same schedule.” His slight Irish accent slid over his words, warming something inside her.

She shook it off. Don’t let him wind you up!

Yeah, there was logic to his point. They were both Hawks and, even worse, they were both specializing in Starship Command. That meant that not only did they have their core classes together, but they had most of their specialty classes together, too.

Which was beyond frustrating.

She turned, heading for her friend, William’s, room. “Weird. There are a lot of other Starship Command majors here, but you’re the only one I constantly seem to run into.”

Her finger hovered over the green button next to her friend’s door.

“We’re across the hall from each other, too.”

She jumped a little, surprised to find he’d silently come to stand so close to her. “Whatever you need to tell yourself.”

His arm reached over her, touching the wall.

Turning, she suddenly found herself trapped by the sexy Keltair male. She swallowed hard, gazing up into his dark eyes. Whatever he wanted, she’d need all her wits about her to refuse him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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About the Author

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 were her 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.


To Kiss a Warrior: An Alien Rouge Romance (Starflight Academy Book 1)

It’s the first day of Starflight Academy and Hannah Stowe has her eye on the prize. Captain Stowe has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? That’s why she’s not going to be distracted by the spectacular Keltair male who just stepped off the ship next to hers. That would be dangerous with a capital D. But how can she stay away? With his quarters just across the hall, and the sexual tension between them building at every glance, the real question is which will be more difficult: Passing her classes or staying away from him? **** “To Kiss a Warrior” is Part One of a 5-part serialized novel. **** Check out the entire series: Book 1- To Kiss a Warrior Book 2- To Touch a Warrior Book 3- To Protect a Warrior Book 4- To Trust a Warrior Book 5- To Love a Warrior

  • Author: Immortal Angel
  • Published: 2016-06-24 23:20:11
  • Words: 14367
To Kiss a Warrior: An Alien Rouge Romance (Starflight Academy Book 1) To Kiss a Warrior: An Alien Rouge Romance (Starflight Academy Book 1)