Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt
Wealthy, reclusive celebrity, Shara
Weston, hides from her countless fans on a private asteroid in Earth's orbit,
but that doesn’t stop captivating alien Cade Archer from crash-landing into her
Cade’s on a mission to free his
people from cruel enslavement by opening a portal from his planet to Earth, but
a powerful enemy has followed him, hell-bent on stopping Cade at any
cost.While Cade’s plan sounds noble, Shara can’t help but worry that an
untested passage between his planet and hers could lead to the destruction of
everything she’s ever known or loved.
Alone amid the stars, the attraction
between them explodes. Shara must follow Cade down a sensual path of sweet
domination . . . a path that frightens her . . . a path that pleases her . . .
a path that could risk the lives of every man, woman, and child on two worlds.
Will she surrender to Cade’s intentions, or will his quest
for freedom destroy them both?
streaming stars behind Cade’s viewscreen appeared to slow, then stabilize.
clenching with excitement, Cade popped into the normal space of Earth’s solar
system, the transition smooth and easy. The old mining asteroid in synchronous
orbit over Earth’s equator sat right off the bow, her newly terra-formed blue
landing procedures,” his artificial intelligence system, AIS, confirmed his
final approach toward the asteroid.
made it. Finally, Cade could begin his mission.
"Warning! Warning!” the
AIS’s siren blared. "We’re under attack.”
shields.” Cade pivoted in the command chair, his thoughts bleak. Had stealth
mode failed? "Identify the aggressor.”
attack. Gathering data.”
technology in this solar system shouldn’t have spotted him. Unless stealth mode
really had failed. "Assess faster. And get me to that asteroid in one piece.”
ship banked hard to starboard.
ship is Raman,” the AIS said.
it. No one from his planet should be here. Cade’s "secret” mission had somehow
communicator went online. A three-dimensional image of his dominating,
predatory older brother, Jamar, filled Cade’s bridge. Every First had a temper,
and Jamar’s was clearly about to go supernova.
could do more than hurt Cade. Jamar could crush the mission.
May the Stars have mercy on me.
Because Jamar wouldn’t. The man had no mercy. No heart. Just formidable power,
and Cade would bear the brunt of it.
mind raced to find a way to salvage something from the disaster. He had to
survive. He could not fail. Too many people back home were counting on him.
move,” Jamar ordered, voice harder than anything ever mined from an asteroid.
went completely still at that order, felt it slam into him like a fist and send
him back to his childhood. You, slime worm, are beneath me. Pick up
that pot of boiling water. Spill it over your face so the world will see
how ugly you are.
had used every ounce of his five-year-old’s will, but his brother’s power was
too strong. The pot handle scorched his palm. But he couldn’t let go. He could
only obey. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Terrified, he tipped the boiling water over
flesh burned. And burned. He didn’t make a sound. Jamar had forced his mouth
closed, his tongue still, his throat frozen. Cade’s agony poured into a silent
scream that only he could hear.
to medical technology, the facial burns had long since healed. No evidence of
the agony he’d endured remained on his face. But the scars had burned into the
core of his soul.
felt the same searing rage now that he’d felt then. Fury that almost gagged
him. That left him raw and powerless in the face of a truth he couldn’t escape.
He was second born. Inferior.
not helpless. Not yet. Jamar wasn’t yet close enough to exert his full powers.
made the most of every second of free will, and he banked hard to port. At the
extra distance he put between their ships, he regained use of his voice. But he
had mere seconds before Jamar’s faster ship would put him back in dangerous
range. He toggled the privacy mode so his brother couldn’t hear his commands or
the AIS’s replies. "Locate the transmission’s source.”
ship is on an intercept course between us and the asteroid.”
him to the seven hells of Haden. Jamar wasn’t only ruthless, he was very, very
smart. Obviously, he’d known where Cade was headed. And Jamar held every
superior tactical advantage.
AIS gave Cade more bad news. "He’s trying for a weapons’ lock.”
salt-sucking slime worm.” Jamar’s holo image arched a condescending brow. "You
should never have been have been allowed to leave the crèche.”
ripped Cade’s concentration, and he had to wrestle control of his mind back
from the instinctive, conditioned tendrils of obedience curling through him. He
had to fight the urge to give up, to agree with a First.
Focus! He couldn’t out-fly the other ship’s
superior engines. Couldn’t avoid the missile.
wanted to fight back so badly he could taste it. But he didn’t have the weapons
to shoot Jamar down. Nor would he retreat.
hands flew over the controls.
guidance system is locking onto our vector,” his AIS informed him.
lifted the privacy mode. "Missed me, did you?” he almost snarled his anger. He
would not fail. He could not fail. Too many people had sacrificed too much to
get him this far.
can’t outsmart a First.”
I stole this ship from a First,” Cade taunted his brother, needing more time to
save his precious payload.
may have more lives than a dock rat, but your time is up.” Cade heard his
brother savoring the sweet taste of victory. "The penalty for rebellion is
should be so lucky. At least in death I could escape you, brother dear.” Almost
there. Cade scanned the distance to the asteroid, then toggled back to privacy
mode to give a last order to the AIS. "Buy me a few more seconds.”
may not be possible. Jamar has entered a firing code into his system,” his AIS
shouted, as if pronouncing sentence, "You have lied and betrayed all of Rama—”
true,” Cade retorted.
now you will die knowing that your people will suffer for your actions.”
firing,” his AIS intoned.
brother’s boast still ringing in his ears, Cade ejected.
Weston had abandoned her holovid career almost five years ago, and hadn’t
sniffed, injected, or drunk herself into oblivion in almost a decade. She was
at a loss to explain the unexplainable—a man plummeting toward the sea of her
sonic boom that had drawn her attention from the perfectly duplicated
Polynesian coral reef to the manufactured sky had been real. Lifting her head
from the azure water, she’d anxiously thrust back her face mask and searched
for the spacecraft responsible for disturbing her late afternoon swim in her
favorite island cove.
she couldn’t see a spaceship—just a body falling through clouds too wispy to
hide a metal hull. Shara held her breath, watching him fall, waiting for his
parachute to deploy.
the horrifying notion finally sank into her stunned brain that no canopy was
about to open, Shara’s adrenaline revved. Replacing her mask over her eyes, her
rebreather into her mouth, she swam for her boat.
her arms churned the water, her thoughts swirled. It didn’t matter if he was a
downed military pilot, a stuntman, or a paparazzo come to spy on her in a plan
gone terribly wrong—whatever his circumstances, she was the only person around
who could help him. Her home on Haven, on an asteroid that orbited Earth over
the South Pacific, was wonderfully private—yet sometimes privacy could be damn
inconvenient, especially if someone required medical care.
crashed into her sea about twenty feet from her and struck the surface with
enough impact for the backwash to tug her under. Fighting the waves, spinning
ninety degrees to the left, she searched the clear water.
Please, please let him be alive.
heard of freak accidents where foolish tourists survived space walks gone wrong
and falls onto asteroids with less gravity than hers. But on Haven, gravity and
weather were matched to Earth’s.
he’d landed hard.
gulped a large breath of air through her rebreather then used her flippers to dive.
Below a tiger shark darted after a grouper and disappeared into the depths.
caught her attention. Air bubbles surrounded a body clad in a golden flight
was about four meters below the surface, and with the sea calm and the sun
bright, she had no difficulty snagging him. Grabbing his gloved hand, she
tugged hard, kicking them both upward.
burst back to the surface and prayed he’d be able to suck oxygen into his
lungs. She turned him onto his back, slung an arm around his neck and shoulder,
and staying on her side, towed him toward the stern of her boat.
she tossed her flippers onto the swim platform and climbed aboard with one hand
while preventing him from floating away with her other. With both her feet
planted on the deck, she hauled him up, first his powerful chest, then his
muscular legs. After removing her mask and spitting out the rebreather, she
rolled him onto his back.
had been around the Earth’s top holovid stars. She’d been jaded about gorgeous
for a long time, but this man was beyond gorgeous. Perhaps the most handsome
guy she’d ever seen.
blood seeped from his straight nose, full mouth, or ears. A pulse beat in the
strong cords of his neck, but the color was draining from his face. He wasn’t
it. Surely he hadn’t been in the water long enough to drown?
no. No way was he going to die in her puddle of the solar system.
back his head, she pinched closed his nostrils, placed her lips over his mouth,
and blew a strong breath into his lungs. "Come on. Come on. Come on.”
exhaled more air into his mouth.
Damn you. Breathe.”
as a jellyfish, he didn’t so much as flicker one stunning black eyelash. Shara
kept filling his lungs with air. "Take a breath. Come on, man. Stop being so
difficult. One breath.”
coughed, spit out water. He grunted, a purr so low and so deep that she almost
responded to his pain on an elemental level. With a groan, he opened his eyes,
mesmerizing eyes—emerald stars on a background of vibrant black. Wow, oh wow.
He was big and handsome and impossibly alive.
his bronzed skin tones replaced his former pallor with inhuman speed, she felt
as if her heart was going to beat right out of her chest.
she soothed, wanting to ease the wariness in his gaze. "You’re going to be
clasped one hand over his obviously injured shoulder, his stare watchful,
waiting. Patient eyes. Dangerous eyes took in the pulse racing at her neck, the
expansion of her chest as she gulped in air. The reminder that she wore only a
minuscule bikini forced more wariness to trickle through her psyche.
it simply coincidence that out of the myriad of asteroids orbiting Earth, he’d
crashed into hers? She had to consider if he’d deliberately sought her out.
While the world hadn’t forgotten Shara Weston the holovid star, one
compromising holopic of her could still sell for a large cache of credits.
that matter right now? He was too weak to do much about anything at the moment.
Don’t sit up yet.” Shara placed a hand on his good shoulder, pleased at the
warmth that indicated he’d thrown off the chill of the deep. She ignored the
heat that blazed up her arm. Ignored the way the predatory gleam in his eyes
made her stomach flutter and made her uncomfortable.
fine.” Voice tough, commanding, but threaded with pain, he shoved his good hand
onto the deck and raised himself to a sitting position. Instead of looking at
her, he shaded his eyes from the sun and searched the empty sky.
Shara’s looks had rocketed her career to a pinnacle of success that had made
her an inter-solar sensation. She wasn’t used to men ignoring her. These days
she wasn’t used to men. Period.
that why she couldn’t seem to stop staring at his massive chest? He really had
a super-fit body, sculpted abs, and bronze skin the color of warm honey.
beaded on his strong brow. "Have you seen anything... odd?”
than you falling onto my asteroid?” she cracked, and when he simply continued
to scan the sky and cradle his arm, she figured that maybe he was in more pain
than he wanted her to see. "After your swan dive into my ocean, you may have
dislocated that shoulder.”
finally lowered his head to scan the water. "Ocean?”
so I have pretensions of grandeur. It’s my asteroid, and I prefer to think of
it as an ocean. Just like I call the artificial atmosphere a sky.” She was
babbling. Nervous. Stop it. She steadied her nerves with a deep breath.
"I’d really like to know what you’re doing here.”
glancing sideways at her, he spoke carefully. Too carefully. Like he’d learned
elocution from a textbook. "You have medical training?”
Don’t trust him. Although she’d
detected an almost military briskness beneath the softly spoken words, she
reminded herself he hadn’t made even a token attempt to answer her question.
look at the formidable determination in his eyes, and she knew it would be a
wasted effort to confront him head on. "You’re holding that arm just like my
stunt double did after Sweetie Pie bucked her off.”
horse that ever made a holovid.” She bit her bottom lip. "Maybe you should—”
fine.” His eyes gleamed stardust. His confident tone suggested he was
accustomed to giving orders.
he was fine all right. So fine that as he clutched his forearm to take the
weight off his shoulder, his fingers trembled. Yet, with his piercing gaze once
more focused on the sky, he exuded stubborn determination, even as he licked
his top lip and a tiny smile of satisfaction curled his mouth.
breeze carried his tantalizing male scent to her nostrils, and his gold flight
suit molded to his wide shoulders and reflected the glow of sunlight. His wet
blond hair, cut military short, slicked back and emphasized his chiseled
cheekbones. A chest wider than her ocean suggested the guy was in shape,
possibly dangerous. No, definitely dangerous.
cold.” His gaze noted the goose bumps on her skin. All of her exposed
having bought such a skimpy swimsuit on her last shopping trip to Bali seemed like a bad idea. With her shoulders bared and
her cleavage and flat stomach exposed, plus the low slung bottom that formed
the tiniest of triangles over the essentials, she felt as if she was offering
too much of herself.
back felt like retreat. But she didn’t care. Needing a moment to regroup, Shara
moved farther into her boat, opened a locker, and tossed him a towel. Grabbing
a robe, she thrust her arms into the sleeves and tugged the belt tight.
two bottles of ice water from the cooler, she kept one, untwisted the cap of
the second, and offered it to her guest, who had yet to make use of the towel.
"I’m Shara Weston.”
held her glance and introduced himself as if he’d never heard of her or the
scandal. That raised her impression of him a notch. However, he might just be
in too much pain for her name and face to register—or he’d grown up under a
crater in the lunar tunnels. Otherwise he’d undoubtedly have connected her with
the celebrity whose face had frequently been plastered across vidscreens during
her scandalous heyday.
for... saving my life.” Cade accepted the water bottle
without letting his eyes drop to the open V-neck of her robe, or mentioning
that she’d covered up, winning another point in his favor.
problem.” She twisted off the bottle cap, took a healthy swig. "You a pilot?”
one of my skills.” He downed his water in several long gulps, then neatly
recapped the bottle with only one hand. She’d bet the man had lots of skills.
to get her nerves back in control, she sipped more water. And summoned courage.
She had every right to find out who and what he was. Yet when he focused his
stare on her, questioning him wasn’t easy.
acting skills might be rusty, but she was pleased she could still sound cool
and casual when her heart was pounding. When he didn’t volunteer more
information, she raised an eyebrow. "So exactly how did you end up here?”
muscle clenched along his jaw. A hint of something feral and painful came
through in his flat tone. "I was shot down.”
an accident? And somehow he’d survived when that crash should have broken every
bone in his body.
missile disintegrated my spacecraft.” Was it her imagination, or had she heard
a soft growl beneath his polite tone? And why couldn’t she place his accent?
Was that why she hadn’t seen any burning metal falling into her ocean? Not that
she was complaining. It had cost a fortune to convert the abandoned mining
asteroid into a luxurious replica of a South Pacific paradise. The last thing
she wanted was debris polluting her reefs and upsetting the delicate
supposed there was only one reason he hadn’t disintegrated with his ship. "You
ejected before your ship was hit.”
eyes sparkled with interest. "Safe guess or experience?”
shook her head. "I’ve read a lot of scripts.” She made note that he was sparse
with the details, especially the back story, when other men might have spun out
a tale to fascinate the ladies. She’d have to be direct.
haven’t heard of a war breaking out. The Martian colonies have been quiet. The
rebels on the Moon have finally made peace. Even the scientific colonists on Io
and Europa have joined the Solar System’s Alliance.”
She fisted her hands on her hips and raised her chin. "Where are you from? Who
shot you down?”