Authors: S. E. Smith
By S. E. Smith
With thanks to:
My husband, Steve, for believing in me and being proud enough of me to give me the courage to follow my dream. A special thanks to my sister and best friend, Linda, who not only encouraged me to write but read it as well.
-S. E. Smith
IMPRINT: Science Fiction Romance
Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Smith
First E-Book Publication March 2012
Cover Design by
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters, places, and events in this book are fictitious or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is strictly coincidental.
Cara Truman is a pint-size pistol whose inquisitive nature has gotten her into trouble on more than one occasion. Her next adventure takes her further than she even expected when she ends up on a journey out of this world.
Trelon Reykill thought he had his hands full. A militant group of Curizans had captured his brother Zoran, he was busy trying to fortify the Valdire defenses against the Sarafin Warriors, and his dragon was roaring for him to find a mate. He was furious about the first, excited about the second, and pissed about the last. The last thing he expects to find on the primitive planet his brother has taken refuge on is his true mate.
Now, he has a whole new set of problems…capturing Cara long enough to make her his. His symbiosis loves her, his dragon wants her, and he can’t catch her. On top of all that, someone is trying to kill her.
His solution: Capture Cara and love her so well she will never want to escape him -if he can.
“All stand for the honorable Judge Tineman.” The bailiff said in a deep, booming voice that echoed around the near empty courtroom. The five people in the small room that acted like a courtroom in Tinville, Tennessee stood as an older man came into the room pulling a dark robe over his t-shirt and jeans.
After the judge had seated himself behind the huge podium, he pulled out a pair of reading glasses and glanced down at the papers in front of him. “What’s the first case, Bill?” He bit out to the prosecutor who traveled from county to county in the poorer communities just as he did. They had been weaving their dance for the past twenty years.
“Case 101-283, the City of Tinville vs. Cara Jean Truman.” The squeaky voice of the prosecutor said.
Judge Tineman’s head jerked up as his eyes flew around the room. It wasn’t until the small clearing of a voice drew his attention to the tiny figure standing next to a well-dress woman of about forty that he saw her.
A huge grin lit up the little girl’s face as she called out, “Hi, Uncle Wilfred!”
Wilfred Randall Tineman let out a groan as he stared at his nine year old god-daughter. Glancing down at the paperwork again, he saw she had been caught speeding down Main Street – on a riding lawnmower. It wouldn’t have been so bad except she had modified the engine and had been caught doing fifty miles an hour in a twenty-five mile an hour zone. This wasn’t the first time he had seen his god-daughter in court and he had a bad feeling it wouldn’t be the last. He closed his eyes as he took a deep breath and remembered his promise to Cara’s dearly departed mother. He had promised to help Cara’s dad, James, any way he could in making sure Cara was raised in a safe, happy home.
Wilfred cleared his throat and looked over at Bill who was trying to act like he wasn’t there. He then fixed a stern gaze on Cara. “Hi, honey. Now, do you want to tell me what in the hell you were doing driving fifty miles an hour?!”
Cara jumped out of the taxi and hurried around to the back waiting impatiently for the cab driver to unlock the trunk. She rolled her eyes when the young kid eyed her up and down before popping it open. At five foot two and barely over a hundred pounds when she was wet, Cara was used to guys sizing her up – and usually finding her lacking. She had a head full of short, dark auburn hair with streaks of purple in it, a scattering of freckles across her small, perky nose and a ready smile on lips just a little too full to be fashionable. Not to mention at twenty-four, she looked more like she was about fifteen. Unfortunately for her today, the young driver didn’t look much older than she did and had been eyeing her in the mirror ever since he had picked her up outside her apartment.
“So, would you like to go out sometime?” The pimpled face driver asked nervously.
“It all depends.” Cara said with a mischievous smile. She moved quickly around the kid to grab her small backpack containing her extra clothes and a heavy tool belt. “You see, I have to get clearance on you first. My uncle is head of the Eastern Mafia so you will have to submit a blood sample.” Cara said as she handed the kid a twenty dollar bill. “Not a big sample of course, just a tube or two.”
The kid’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed nervously. “Blood sample? For a date?”
Cara grinned as she balanced the super-sized coffee she had bought after leaving her apartment in one hand while picking up her tool belt with the other. “Of course.” She winked at the boy and leaned closer, whispering, “You know …in case you are an undercover cop.”
“Undercover cop…” The boy stuttered.
Cara nodded knowingly. “…Undercover cop. He has to make sure you are cleared which means a full background check. If you were a cop, well…let’s just say you wouldn’t like it if he were to find out. Or maybe worst, a convict. You haven’t ever been arrested, have you? I hope you don’t do drugs!” Cara paused for effect. “He really hates that. I mean, if it’s business he might be able to be understanding as long as you aren’t cutting into his revenues but doing them? That’s a
no-no. He says it leads to indiscretion and he hates anyone who is…well, you know.”
“Well, maybe another time.” The kid said nervously looking a little green. Cara chuckled as she watched him bounce off the driver’s door as he tried to get into the cab before he had it opened all the way. God, she loved pulling someone’s chain. It really didn’t matter what you said as long as you said it convincingly enough. East Coast Mafia! What a joke! Her Uncle Wilfred, bless his soul, would be turning over in his grave if he knew what she had accused him of. Still, it had been fun to watch the kid’s face as he ate up what she was saying.
Ducking under the cover of the terminal, Cara glanced outside thankful for the small covering that had protected her from the majority of the heavy downpour. The day had begun with a weather front moving through rapidly. She had talked to Trish earlier who had seemed confident the front would be through by late morning so they could fly out. Cara had been asked by the engineers at Boswell International to fly out with Trisha Grove and Ariel Hamm who were piloting a new experimental business jet Cara had been lead mechanic on for the past two years. She was supposed to have them put it through a series of tests on the way back and monitor and record her findings. Cara took a sip of her coffee and made her way through the private lounge area of the small airport that housed Boswell International’s fleet of stream-line business jets. Waving her security badge to one of the guys who worked the front desk, she moved through the sliding doors leading to the hanger.
“Cara!” Ariel called out from under one wing as she did a pre-flight inspection.
“Ariel!” Cara grinned as she met up with her and gave Ariel a quick hug. Ariel, Trisha, and Cara had been working together for the past five years at Boswell International and often hung out together on the weekends when they were all in town. Cara had been an only child growing up so it had been natural when Ariel and Trisha took on the role of surrogate older sisters when they met her.
“Where’s Trish?” Cara asked setting her tool belt and backpack down on the ground.
“She’s in the cabin doing a run through. The new controls look like something out of a science fiction movie. We have been spending more time in the simulator this past week then at home.” Ariel said as she ran her hand over one of the wings.
“Yeah, I’ve been following along. I’ve gone over the specs from the simulator and analyzed the stress factors base on the tests you two have been doing.” Cara replied bouncing from the undercarriage of the airframe to the wings before using the footholds to climb up to look over the engine.
Ariel tried following Cara but soon gave up as it was like watching a super bouncy ball in motion. Shaking her head, she asked. “When did you do that? I heard they had you on two other projects as well as this one. Weren’t you in Detroit yesterday and Philadelphia the day before that?”
Cara shrugged her thin shoulders as she took a deep gulp of her coffee, “Yeah. Haven’t slept in almost seventy-two hours! I did it last night when I got back. I headed for the office to finish up and had just enough time to get a quick shower before I came here. The cab driver asked me out but I told him my uncle was in charge of the East Coast Mafia and he would have to submit a blood test before I could go. Did you know that this baby can cut about 42 minutes off most cross country flights? Doesn’t sound like much but over the year it adds up. I want to see just how fast she can go on the way back. I heard you were taking a passenger to California? Have you heard from Carmen lately? I wonder if the new engine design can be modified for the TX-11 Detroit is working on?”
“Hold up, hold up!” Ariel called out in exasperation. “You lost me after the cab driver. Since when was your Uncle ever involved with the Mafia? I thought he was a judge or something.”
Cara lightly jumped down from the wing being careful not to spill her coffee. “He was. I just told the kid driving he was some bad ass to get him to bug off.”
Ariel groaned. “Why did you want him to bug off? You do this every time! How are you ever going to get a guy to like you if you never give them the time of day?”
“Trust me. This guy was not ‘the one’”. Cara said motioning with two fingers. “He reminded me of the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. At least give me some credit with having taste. Besides, I was at least six years older! I’d feel like I was denying some poor girl her prom date.”
Cara swung under the airframe of the small business jet heading to inspect the other side. She could hear Ariel grumbling under her breath. It wasn’t her fault none of the guys Ariel and Trish kept introducing her to lit a flame inside her. Hell, she had only had that flame lit once and look where it had gotten her. Cara seldom reflected on the bad things that had happened to her in her life. What was the point? It happened. Shit happened. Then you either died or got over it. Cara had done just that. She just made a point to never take another chance on loving someone again. Everyone she had ever loved had either left her or died. Well, with the exception of Ariel and Trish and Cara always waited for one or the other to happen with them. They were test pilots, for crying out loud. There must be some type of short-term life expectancy for that!
if she wasn’t careful she would be in danger of becoming morose.
Since when did she give a rat’s ass about what anyone else thought about her? She had learned early on that the only one she could depend on was herself. Hell, her mom had died before she was a year old and her dad couldn’t even keep her around once she had turned fourteen. Sure, she had been a handful. She was smarter than the average bear, after all. She had been pissed as hell when her godfather and surrogate uncle, Wilfred, had found a boarding school for gifted kids like her. She had been sent away to live most of the year at a school devoted to expanding the creative skills of super smart kids. She had excelled simply because she didn’t fit in. Most of the kids had come from upper-crust families with either some title before their name or after it. She had come from a small, hick town in the mountains of Tennessee no one had ever heard of. Her one saving grace was her skills with any type of engine or computers. She could communicate with them on a level she couldn’t with another human being. Hell, even Trish and Ariel could only take her in small doses.
Cara was finishing up just as Trish was coming down the steps. “Hey, Trish.”
Trish turned and smile. “Hey, Cara. Welcome aboard! Is this your first flight on the new Phantom Series?”
“Yeah. I’m really looking forward to putting her through the ringer.” Cara said grabbing her backpack and tool belt. She turned to watch as a figure dressed all in black came out of the door leading from a side office. Her eyebrows rose in surprise and she glanced at Trish. “Carmen coming too?”
“Yeah.” Trish said softly watching as Ariel headed toward her sister. “Ariel got permission for Carmen to tag along. We were heading to California to take an artist home the Boswell’s had commissioned to do a piece for and Carmen needed a lift.” Trish said pulling Cara’s tool belt from her. Glancing back one last time before she turned to head up the stairs of the jet, she said softly, “She’s still not doing to good.”