scroll down for excerpt Book 14 in the Heart & Soul series
Twice the Heat…one resistant Reeka warrior woman, and one
Very sensual and determined Argon bodyguard…
Twice the Obsession…a happening from the past that claws into
Twice the Danger…where murder is just one of the goals…
With satisfaction, Temil watched the small craft rock and veer sharply off course. Smoke billowed out from the torn underbelly, and fire seared along the sides of it.
Over the communicator he could hear the savage cursing of the Reeka warrior. Notoriously hard to kill, she’d given him and his co-pilot a hell of a fight. No running for that woman, no sirree, but then he hadn’t expected her to run. It wasn’t the Reeka way even when they knew they were losing the battle.
That’s why he’d been hired, because he was the best.
This bitch had come close to shooting him right from the sky, but his superior fire power was so much more. And he’d taken the added precaution of blocking her distress calls to…well, basically everywhere.
Laughing softly, he sighted down the missile barrel once more and fired.
The explosion took out most of the side of the ship, leaving sparking wires and fire burning through the wreckage. The communicator went dead.
The Reeka was finished. He knew it even as the craft fell through the sky, heading through space in an uncontrolled dive.
His co-pilot started to follow, but within minutes a planet shuttle appeared on the radar. If they followed the wreckage, they’d be spotted, and his boss would not be pleased if he was discovered in the vicinity of the wreckage. The wreckage might have passed from scanner, but his ship would stay on.
The warrior was finished anyway. With a decisive nod, he ordered his co-pilot to return to base.
“You bastard!” Jonette yelled, grappling with the controls.
She’d been ambushed and shot from space by some idiot! If they’d tried to attack then board, they’d have been pirates, but who the hell attacked a lone ship for the sole pleasure of blowing it from the sky?
No fool, she knew they were going to kill her and she was out-gunned, so she’d staged the fall from the sky, cutting the power in the remaining engine to do so. Once out of range, she’d managed to restart it and control the free fall, but the emergency override circuits were smoking.
The planet ahead of her was approaching at an alarming rate. Blues, greens, a swirl of colours.
She was going to crash, she just knew it.
The viscomm flared to life and a face appeared, but she barely glanced at him.
“You are an unidentified craft invading our air space,” the man snapped. “You are ordered to stop and wait for identification and confirm-”
“There’s a problem with that!” she snapped back. “I don’t have control over my craft!”
“Are you deaf, man? I’m going to crash!”
His eyes hardened. “Steer away from the planet.”
“Oh, like I’m not trying?” Jonette hauled back on a lever and it snapped off in her hand. “Uh-oh.”
The man’s mouth dropped open. “Is that a control lever?”
Give the man a medal.
Jonette frantically stabbed at the accelerator panel and the top gave a popping sound and smoke started to swirl out.
“Oh crap!” How much worse could it get?
The screen flickered, blacked out, and then another face appeared, this one older, wiser – and, oh look, an identical incredulous expression when he saw a section of the control panel in Jonette’s hand.
“Wherever I’m going to crash,” Jonette said to him, “You better track ahead of me and clear out whoever lives there!”
“We’re trying to get a lock on you,” the man said, and then he caught full sight of her face and his own paled in recognition. “Hell! I’ll get-“
The screen blew in a shower of sparks. Oh, this was just great. Now she had no communication with anyone.
Her heart was pounding as she wrestled with the manual controls, figuring she might as well override the automatic pilot.
The emergency override wouldn’t let her, and all she could do was watch the planet grow larger and larger, the blues swirls turning into rivers and oceans, the greens into forests.
Crap! Fancy having come through the outlaw years in one piece, hunted and hunting, only to die now by some ambushing prick’s hand. How bloody ironic was that?
Several sleek, low ships bristling with huge laser guns appeared on either side of her craft. The ships kept pace with her, far enough away to avoid disaster, but close enough to…well, yes, blow her out of the sky if it meant she was going to crash into a settlement.
Sort of divert the disaster before it happened.
She just hoped the pilots weren’t too trigger happy. She still stood a bit of a chance if she cleared the settlement and landed in water or something. Mayhap. Probably not.
Gritting her teeth, she wrestled the controls again, slamming her hand on the emergency panel. The craft slewed sideways, jerking as the emergency override circuits and computers tried to gain control of it. It veered up sharply and slowed down, and Jonette felt relief spear through her as the ship suddenly gained altitude and levelled off, skimming over mountains and then high above a beautiful settlement, all white buildings and a graceful palace that rose majestically up in the air.
The ship bucked not far from the settlement, whirled, slewed sideways and dropped, skimming above tree lines at a dizzying speed.
Strapped in to the seat, Jonette gritted her teeth and watched as a forest appeared. The tip of a tall tree actually slammed the space shield, and the ship spun crazily around, throwing her to the side.
The belt bit into her, holding her steady but so strongly that her body weight slammed against it.
And then it snapped.
Oh goody. Now the belt was as useless as the rest of the craft, she thought hazily as she was flung across the cabin to land against the control panel, and then spun across to land against the pilot’s chair.
She tried to hang on and was hit on the side of the head by the broken lever that went flying past. She managed to hang on to the chair for stability until the craft hit something, flipped over and plummeted from the sky.
Everything passed in the shrieking of metal, pain as she was flung around the cabin like a rag doll, a red haze that she dimly thought might have been blood – or the fires of Hell, for which she was possibly long overdue anyway – and the snapping of branches.
She didn’t know when it all stopped. All she knew was that there was a buzzing in her ears, her body hurt – oh yeah, the devils prodding her with pitchforks, no doubt – and deathly silence.
What, no screams of the damned?
Cracking open her eyelids, she looked around cautiously. She was still in the cabin of the craft. Sort of. Half out of the cabin, actually. The cabin was caved in, the space shield ripped from the frame and flung half onto the grass.
Jonette was hanging out of the cabin. The ground wasn’t far below her but it wasn’t a good idea, she thought, to slide out to it.
Not that she had a choice. The craft gave a last groan, shuddered, tilted and she tipped over the edge of the frame and fell to the ground.
The breath was knocked out of her and she saw stars. Not nice little stars, but huge, bursting stars that exploded with pain behind her closed eyelids, making her cry out and her body throb.
Silence. All around her silence. But she was still alive, that much she knew. Opening her eyes, she looked up. The smoking craft loomed above her, and she thought it was probably a good idea to get away from it in case something fell off the bloody wreck and finally did kill her. Now that would be ironic…and just her luck.
Slowly she rolled onto her stomach and started to inch away from the destroyed craft. Using her elbows, she moved painfully across the thick grass, using the last of her precious strength, glancing behind her several times to judge a safe distance in case the craft exploded.
Every bit of her hurt, even more so now. Blood trickled down the side of her face and her sight was a little blurry around the edges. Faintly she heard voices and then suddenly there were people approaching. A ship soared overhead, voices closer. Hands on her shoulders, easing her over.
Faces, voices. Hands. An older man with golden eyes and a beard liberally sprinkled with grey bent over her, running a little handcomp down the front of her.
A beautiful woman dressed in a flowing gown with silver buckles on the shoulders knelt beside her, wiping the blood from the side of her head and talking softly.
Another man, his emerald green eyes intent, older and wiser than the boyishly handsome face they were in. A hank of golden hair fell over one eye and he flipped it back with an impatient jerk of his head. His black tunic had gold epaulettes on the shoulders and around the collar, she noticed.
That was familiar. He looked familiar. Her head swam, her vision blurring.
“Sarcan?” The golden Adonis leaned down to peer at her. “Is she hurt? Jonette, can you hear me?”
“I don’t think she’s hurt anything vital,” the older man, obviously Sarcan, replied. “Soft tissue injuries, some blood loss, nothing broken on first vital statistics. Blood pressure and pulse up, no big surprise. But I’ll do a more through examination back at the healers’ quarters.”
“Good.” The Adonis smiled down at her in relief. “We’re taking you back to the healers’ quarters. You’ll be all right.”
There was something strange she thought hazily. His words were such a caress to her senses…he was so sensual…even the older man…Oh shit. Surely not…Her staggering thoughts started to whirl.
She couldn’t be so unlucky…
Wait, it was a big planet…what were the odds?
Another voice, sort of familiar. Deep, another caress to her addled senses. A handsome face topped with thick red hair, concern on his face.
Dimly she heard more voices, but she couldn’t get her addled wits to work properly as she drifted towards unconsciousness. Her head hurt so much, a pounding taking up residence in the back of her brain.
From the corner of her eyes she saw something black and she looked sideways with a building sense of foreboding. Black boots. Grey uniform pants. She looked a little higher, then blinked when the man standing beside her crouched down.
For several seconds she couldn’t focus on his face above her and she had to squint.
“Are you sure there’s no vital damage, Sarcan?” A deep voice asked.
“At first look.” Sarcan nodded. “She was incredibly lucky. No internal injuries are registering on initial assessment, but we still need to take care in case of unexpected surprises.”
“That is such good news.”
Oh no. It wasn’t…it couldn’t…Jonette finally focused and looked up right into dark, chocolate eyes in a sinfully handsome face topped with fair hair.
A face that was familiar and smiling down at her in relief.
“Hello, Jonette” Wylin said softly.
Oh shit. Wylie. Of all the dumb luck. Crashing here. Though it could be worse. It could be the enemy…an enemy…wasn’t he an enemy? Hazily she blinked again, trying to focus her thoughts.
She felt a prick in her arm and looked up at the woman. “What the hell?”
“You’ll be fine,” the woman said soothingly. “This will just help with pain and steadying your heart rate while we shift you and attend your injuries. Everything will be fine.”
“You think?” she whispered, wishing the beautiful woman hadn’t mentioned pain, because now it was thrumming though her body in mindless abandon.
“We’ll take good care of you,” Hanna – it was Hanna, aye? – assured her.
A finger came under her chin, making her look at Wylin even as blackness started to creep into the edges of her vision.
“We’ll take very good care of you,” Wylin promised her in that silky voice of his.
“I’ll contact Reya-“ the golden Adonis she now recognized as Kiile began, only to stop when Jonette reared up.
“Reya? Nay!” She gasped with pain, her head swimming so much she thought she was going to throw up.
Hands grabbed her shoulders and firmly but gently pushed her back to the ground. Weak as she was she couldn’t fight against it, but she did manage to shoot out a hand and twist it into someone’s jacket.
Through a blackening haze, she looked up into Wylin’s face and whispered shakily, “Do not contact anyone, do you hear me? No one.”
She didn’t hear anymore because everything went black. But she managed one last threat before she fell into oblivion. “You tell her or anyone else and I’ll personally gut you!”
Copyright Angela Verdenius