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Authors: Melissa F. Hart


BOOK: HeartsAflameCollectionV
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Hearts Aflame
Collection V: 4-Book Bundle


Copyright © 2014 by Melissa
F. Hart.
All rights reserved


No part of this book may be replicated,
redistributed, or given away in any form or by any electronic or mechanical
means, without the prior written consent of the author/publisher.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the
author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental




Apple Muldoon is an artist who has fought her way
tooth and nail out of a difficult time, and finally, she has achieved the skill
and the recognition to show her work at one of the finest art galleries in Colossal
City. At the gallery showing, she rubs shoulders with some of the city's best
and brightest, including members of the city's superhero force, but the person
who commands all her attention is the handsome caterer who introduces himself
as Alexius

After a charged encounter, Apple cannot believe what
she is feeling, but she would have a harder time believing that the man she
spoke to was the last alien prince of a destroyed planet!




Apple Muldoon stared into the eyes of the wolf, and
she took a deep breath, drawing herself up to her full five-foot height.

All right,” she said. “Let's do this.”

The wolf she spoke to was a metal sculpture almost
eight feet high. Formed from twists of shining steel and wrought iron, it was
enormous and menacing, an alien predator that glared out at the world from two
bright green eyes of blown glass. It was an imposing piece of art, but Apple
touched its cold nose with confidence, gaining strength from it as she had
throughout the year she had spent working on it.

Miss Muldoon? The first guests are coming in...”

She nodded at the gallery manager, tugging at her
green velvet gown self-consciously. She had done showings before, of course,
but most of them were student affairs where she had been able to wear the jeans
and loose peasant tops that were her uniform when she wasn't in the studio.
Those events had been full of her friends and her colleagues, and when the
gallery managed a cheese plate, it was a really big deal.

Now, as the first guests made their way through the
enormous echoing space, painted in shades of pale green and gold especially for
her art, she knew that she was far out of her depth. The Hillman Center for
Fine Arts prided itself on showcasing promising visionaries and artists, and the
people who entered to look at her art now were among Colossal City's prime
movers and shakers. The handsome man inspecting her copper woman statue could
be none other than Mayor Mike McIntyre himself, and Apple's eyes widened when
an Amazonian woman with a fall of lavender hair came up behind him, linking her
arm with his. They conversed quietly for a moment, and Apple felt slightly
faint at the idea of
, one of the heroes of
the city, stopping to look at her work.

Apple was momentarily distracted by the gallery
manager asking her a quick question, and when she turned around, it was to find
the tall heroine striding up to her. Apple almost squeaked in surprise. She had
seen the heroes' battles on television and countless YouTube videos, but there
was something awe-inspiring about the alien woman in the flesh. She was a full
half-head taller than her husband, and in a quiet corner of her mind that was
not consumed by nerves, Apple longed to sculpt the broad line of her shoulders,
the dramatic sweep of her hips and the fine arch of her brow. Metal wouldn't do
it, but perhaps clay...

Are you the creator?”
demanded, and her voice, a low contralto, vibrated with command.

... yes?
I think... no, yes, I am the artist.”

looked at her with narrowed eyes,
glanced at the copper woman statue again. It was an
abstract form of a woman in mid-rising from a crouch and flinging herself
forward. Apple had worked with martial artist friends to get the tension right,
and she was rather proud of it.

You don't look like a warrior,”
said finally. “That piece captures a warrior's spirit.”

Apple started to stammer an explanation, of her
who had tensed and leaped over and over
laughing at her for her insistence on capturing just the right moment, but
waved it away.

Where I come from, no one but a warrior could
capture such spirit, but you seem like a small thing.”

Apple frowned at that and thrust her chin up.

And where I come from, it's rude to say that people
can't do the things that they did.”

looked momentarily taken aback, but by
the mayor had caught up to her. Up close, he was a
devastatingly handsome man with rather smooth good looks, but the smile he gave
to his famous wife made his face come alive with love.

Dear, I think you're scaring Ms. Muldoon. She's
done amazing work; we should see all of it.”

eyed Apple for another moment, and suddenly her
face broke into a surprisingly sunny smile.

If I've offended, forgive, and if I am wrong about
your warrior spirit, may you teach me better,” she said. “Truly, your work is
captures something that sings to me, and I must see more.”

With nothing more than that, she took her husband
by the arm and led him off to look at another piece. The mayor smiled at Apple,
calling, “I'd like to talk with you again in a bit!”

Apple let out a deep breath and tried not to sag
with relief. She couldn't imagine that many people got away with talking back
to a woman who could lift and throw cars, but she had done it. The rest of the
opening should be a piece of cake, comparatively.

BOOK: HeartsAflameCollectionV
8.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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