Authors: S. E. Smith
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Science Fiction, #Adult
“Even as a child he loved the tales that
Salvin, our teacher, would tell of the old ways. He could barely
walk when he found one of father’s bows. He would drag it out of
the chest where it was stored. Of course, it was much too big and
heavy for him to use but he didn’t care. Melek, my father, gave him
his first bow when he turned six. Mother finally gave up trying to
take it from him. Jazar ate, slept and would have bathed with it if
it wouldn’t have ruined it. Adalard started calling him Arrow and
it just stuck until that is the only thing we call him anymore,”
Ha’ven said, leaning back against the wall, staring at her as he
He loved watching how her eyes sparkled in
the moonlight and the way the colors of her aura changed as he
spoke. When he first saw her standing on the balcony, the colors
around her had been dark and ominous. He didn’t know what she had
been thinking about but he wanted to chase the shadows away. Her
mind had been protected by the icy walls of protection that she
used to hide behind when he tried to reach her in the dining
He had not returned to the dinner after
their meeting earlier. He had parted ways with Adalard after one of
the female servants had caught his brother’s eye. Another tried to
catch his but there was only one female he was interested in now.
Instead, he had wandered through the gardens again hoping to figure
out what was happening to him. It didn’t take long before his power
had flared, pulling him through the shadows until he found himself
staring up at the cause of his confusion.
There were so many questions he wanted to
ask her but he didn’t. He could see that she didn’t trust him. He
could see the stiffness in her body as she fought against her
instinct to flee. He also saw the hesitant curiosity in her eyes
when she glanced at him when she thought he wasn’t looking.
Everything about this female confused him.
He wanted her with a desperation that he had never tasted before
but he also knew that if he was not careful, he could lose her. So,
he continued to tell her about his world. He also asked her simple,
harmless questions like what her favorite color was… violet like
his eyes. He bit back a grin when the thought swept through her
mind when she let down her guard. She loved to sing and dance. He
saw the images of her with an older man as they twirled around in a
He realized questions about her past were
off limits at the moment. She withdrew from him the moment he asked
her if she could go to any place in the star system where would
that be? He hid his grimace of frustration behind a calm mask as
the icy walls in her mind rose, blocking him from seeing into her
thoughts. Even so, he could feel the pain and grief before she hid
it from him. Understanding that she was not ready to share that
part of her life with him yet, he continued with his tales of
Emma curled her legs under her on the seat
and leaned back. She enjoyed listening to Ha’ven’s deep, rich voice
though she would never admit it. At first, she had been uneasy when
he would ask her a question and she realized he could ‘see’ what
she was picturing. It was only when she realized that she could
also ‘block’ him from seeing into her mind that she relaxed a
After the first couple of hours, she was
surprised to realize that she didn’t even think of it anymore.
Sometimes she answered him with a flickering thought, other times
she would hold the wall she had built around her and just look out
over the garden at the softly colored glow of the plants. She found
she enjoyed the comfortable silence between them just as much as
when he spoke. They reluctantly parted ways as the sky began to
brighten on the horizon.
“I will not be able to see you tonight,”
Ha’ven said as he stood up and stretched. “You must promise me you
will stay inside until you are told it is safe again,
. Promise me that you will listen. These are dangerous
times and it is important that you understand that.”
Abby already told us,
wrapping her arms around her body.
She said two warriors would
remain with us until it is safe.
Ha’ven bit back a low growl of jealousy at
the thought of another male being near Emma. He wanted nothing more
than to bundle her up and hide her away until all the danger was
past. Instead, he gave a tense nod.
“I will return as soon as I can,” he
promised, aching to kiss her again but mindful of his promise.
Not for me,
Emma whispered back.
This has been... nice but I just want to be left alone.
Ha’ven stared at Emma, a dark frown marring
his face. “I will see you,
. I promise to keep
my vow to not touch you… for now but I will see you again,” he
swore in a steely voice filled with promise.
He watched as Emma shook her head in denial
before she slipped into her bedroom. His hands clenched at his
sides as he fought the overwhelming urge to follow her. His eyes
darkened as he thought of the battle ahead. Not just the one with
Raffvin but the one to earn his mate’s trust.
The next day, she and Sara were told they
had to stay inside their living quarters for a couple of days. Emma
remain in her bedroom. She wasn’t comfortable being around the two
warriors who were assigned to protect them.
She heard Sara talking with Audrey, the
human doctor who had been by to see her before. Audrey tried
drawing her out into the living room. She finally gave up,
realizing that as long as the men were there, Emma would not come
out of her room.
“Emma doesn’t like it when others are
around,” Sara explained softly to Audrey, looking over at where
Jaguin and Gunner were talking quietly. “Those are the two that
brought us aboard the warship. They were there when we…” Sara’s
voice broke as memories crowded her.
“It will take time,” Audrey said soothingly.
“I worry that Emma isn’t showing any improvement, though.”
Sara nodded and turned her head to hide the
tears in her eyes. “It’s hard,” Sara whispered. “I never used to be
afraid. Now…,” she glanced toward the men when she realized they
had stopped talking and were watching them. “Now, I don’t like
being around other… people. I can understand where Emma is coming
from.” Sara bowed her head, ashamed to admit to Audrey she was
scared of being around people, especially men.
Audrey touched Sara’s arm. “Sara, you and
Emma have been through a very traumatic experience. I wouldn’t be
surprised if you both weren’t suffering from some form of PTSD.
There is nothing to be ashamed of,” Audrey assured her.
“What is PTSD?” Jaguin growled. “You said
you were fine! I thought my symbiot healed your wounds,” he bit
out, glaring at the huge golden shape laying at Sara’s feet.
“Do you mind?” Sara snapped out. “I was
having a private conversation and you were not invited to
Jaguin ignored Sara’s retort and turned to
glare at Audrey. “Do you know how to heal this PTSD?” He
Audrey folded her arms across her chest and
looked pointedly at Jaguin. “This is a private conversation between
myself and Sara but I will explain what PTSD is. It stands for Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder. It often occurs after an individual has
suffered a terrifying ordeal, often from physical harm or the
threat of physical harm. What Emma and Sara went through would
definitely classify as such an ordeal.”
“Audrey,” Sara whispered in a strained
voice. “I don’t want to talk about it. Especially with him
“I was there, Sara,” Jaguin said tightly. “I
saw what was done to you.”
Sara’s eyes darkened in distress and she let
out a low, wounded cry before turning and rushing from the room.
Jaguin took a step to follow her but Audrey put her hand on his
chest and scowled up at him.
“Enough!” She said in an authoritative
voice. “I’ll go to her. You two… just stay here and make sure no
one takes the silverware,” she ordered before turning to follow
Gunner walked over to where Jaguin stood
near the couch. He laid his hand on his friend’s shoulder and
squeezed it in support. His own eyes followed the figure walking
stiffly down the hallway, a golden symbiot by her side.
“Give her time,” Gunner said quietly. “You
were there. You know what was done to her.”
“But not everything,” Jaguin said, a muscle
throbbing in his jaw as he gritted his teeth in frustration. “I
don’t know everything that was done to her.”
Gunner looked at his friend’s tortured
expression. “You may never know,” he responded. “Just accept and
support her. That is all you can do.”
Jaguin nodded stiffly. “I will be there for
her, even if she refuses to accept me.”
Gunner grinned and smacked Jaguin hard on
the shoulder. “Since when have you ever accepted defeat?” He asked.
“You have a challenge, my friend, to get her to accept you. Now,
you must think of the best way to break down her barriers.”
Jaguin’s eyes narrowed for a moment before a
slow smile curved his lips. “You are right, Gunner. I think it is
time I took this challenge to more familiar ground. Somewhere I
know and somewhere that she won’t be able to resist going.”
Gunner’s eyebrow rose. “How do you plan to
“She loves unusual plants,” Jaguin said,
looking at Gunner with a devious smile. “I know a place where there
are all kinds of unusual ones.”
Gunner stared into Jaguin’s cunning eyes and
saw the determination in them. His friend had a plan. He grinned
“You are too cunning for your own good
sometimes,” Gunner said. “Now, what do you think my mate meant when
she told us to make sure no one took the silverware?”
Emma glanced over as Sara entered her
bedroom two days later. She sat at the small table looking out over
the garden. She was replaying the unusual meeting with the huge
warrior once again. It was like a broken record in her head. She
couldn’t stop thinking about him and it was beginning to drive her
even crazier than she thought she already was!
Sara walked quietly across the room and sat
across from her. They sat in silence for several minutes before
Sara sighed loudly. Emma knew something was wrong when she felt the
tremble in Sara’s fingers as she touched her hand.
“I’m going away for a little while, Emma,”
Sara said reluctantly. “I’ve been invited to go up into the
mountains where there are some very unusual plants. I… I miss my
research,” she admitted softly. “I need to find a place for myself
on this world and this is the one thing I know I’m good at.”
Emma looked at Sara’s tear-filled eyes. She
could see the guilt waging a war with the need to start living
again. She knew that Sara had put her own wants and desires on hold
in a misguided effort to help her. She felt the weight of her own
guilt surface as she realized that Sara was waiting for her
approval to move on.
Emma forced herself to respond. She gently
touched Sara’s cheek with the tips of her fingers. Her lips curved
into a ghost of a smile in understanding and acceptance. She didn’t
blame Sara at all for wanting to move on. Sara squeezed her hand in
“You have to fight back, Emma. This is a
good place to live even if it is different. The people here are…”
Sara paused as if searching for the right words. “The people here
are strange and different as well but they would never hurt us. Not
like Cuello did. You have to fight back. I can’t stand watching you
fade away any longer. I… I need to heal and I can’t do that unless
I get back to doing what I love,” she finished in an emotion-choked
Emma stroked her thumb over the dampness on
Sara’s cheek and nodded. She understood what Sara was saying. Sara
was strong. She had fought against the men who had kidnapped them.
She had lived a life back on Earth. Something had broken deep
inside Emma during her captivity. She wasn’t sure if she could ever
I just don’t fit in,
Neither here nor on Earth.
I think you fit perfectly with me,
Ha’ven’s husky voice broke through her dark thoughts.
What are you doing back in my head?
She asked testily.
I thought you were busy,
Never too busy for you
have dinner with me tonight?
she thought back, looking out the
I… I think it best if you left me alone.
came the dark promise before
he had faded away again.
Emma signed as she picked at the hem of her
skirt. She sat at the small table near the windows overlooking the
gardens, impatiently waiting for the sun to set. Her mind was
focused on a certain tall, dark-haired alien. She touched her lips
as she remembered his kiss yet again. She swore she could still
feel his lips touching hers!
She impatiently rose from her seat and
looked around the empty room. Everything seemed so much quieter
since Sara had left almost a week ago to travel to the mountains to
study the plant life there.
At first, Emma had wandered around the empty
space trying to convince herself that it was what she wanted. She
thought if she was alone she would be able to find the icy solitude
that she had surrounded herself with before. So far, it wasn’t
working thanks to one very irritating male who refused to leave her
She still didn’t understand how or why he
could talk to her the way he did. She had briefly fought against it
before she just accepted that there was no way to totally shut him
out. She had tried to understand how this could have happened but
she kept coming up with a blank. She finally decided it was just
part of the crazy world she now lived in and should just accept
that she would never understand it.