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Authors: Anna Alexander

HeroUnleased

BOOK: HeroUnleased
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Hero Unleashed

Anna Alexander

 

Book two in the Heroes of Saturn series.

 

Princess Amaryllis should have been
sad to be exiled from her home on the Saturn moon, but on Earth she finds freedoms
she never imagined existed. She embraces her new home with big, open-mouthed
kisses and establishes herself as a prominent businesswoman catering to the
humans’ most intimate desires.

When the former head of her
father’s guard enters her domain, he rouses not only old insecurities but also
a burning desire to see him lose the formal constraints and succumb to the
promise in his command.

Lucian Kilsgaard was a warrior
without a mission until he received word that an assassin had been sent to
ensure the exiled princess does not return to reclaim the throne. He goes to
warn the princess and instead of the unconfident, impulsive girl he remembers,
he finds a bold temptress. How can he protect her when all he wants is to sink
into her softness? He vows the line between protector and lover will never be
crossed, yet Amaryllis will test his resolve until he takes exactly what he
needs.

 

Hero Unleashed

Anna Alexander

Dedication

 

To my MOTHER and Lana. Yes, you will have to share. And as
always, to my chicklets.

 

Chapter One

 

“What is that?” Lucian asked, pointing to a red star growing
larger in the night sky.

“I was wondering the same thing about that one right there.”
His brother Kristos gestured to a spot over their heads.

The star burned a brilliant blue with a gold light trailing
behind it like stardust. More streaks of white and silver blazed across the
blue-black background in the largest meteor shower to blaze over Washington
state in twenty years. The sight really was spectacular, but Lucian’s interest
was firmly focused on the two orbs and their vivid colors that pulsated like
warning beacons.

Kristos rose from where he had been reclining on the grass
with his wife, Brett. She too jumped to her feet and grabbed his hand.
“Kristos, what is it? You two sense something.”

“I don’t know,
alskata
.”

“You know, boys,” “Uncle” Harlan said as he joined Lucian at
the edge of the deck, “that looks a lot like your spacecraft did when you
crashed to Earth.”

Lucian froze as his heart rate doubled. He didn’t need to look
at his brother to know they shared the same thought, for his empathetic powers
picked up Kristos’ excitement and trepidation like a punch in the sternum.

They all held their breath as the closest sphere appeared to
slow its trajectory and the blue light flickered like a flame going out.

“It’s heading for the gulch.” Brett reached for her boots
and tugged them on. “The red one is too far away to tell where it’ll end up.”

The blue ball disappeared into the tree line about a mile
from their location. A second later the ground trembled beneath their feet as a
plume of light shot into the air.

“I’ll don the armor,” Kristos called out, barely beating
Lucian to the back door as they raced into the house with Brett hot on their
heels.

Lucian dashed to his room. From under his bed he withdrew
his short sword and scabbard. He buckled it around his hips as he bolted back
into the hall. It wasn’t necessary for both he and his brother to don the royal
armor. Besides, he was too impatient to change his clothes.

“Lucian, wait for me.” Brett pulled on her coat, marking her
as sheriff, and tightened her own belt loaded with her pistol and Taser.

“Brett, you’re not going,” Kristos shouted from his former
room.

She paid him no heed. “Who knows how many others saw that
explosion? I’ll do my best to keep people from investigating.”

On this, Lucian agreed. Kristos could fight, and lose again,
the ongoing battle over Brett’s profession another day.

Harlan met them outside. He checked the barrel of a shotgun
before setting it in the front seat of his truck. “I’ll meet you out there.”

“Yes sir.” Lucian crouched down low. “Climb on my back,
sister. We’ll be faster on foot. Ready?”

“Yep.”

Brett was a light weight to carry on his back, her knees
locked onto his sides and one arm banded across his chest as he ran with speed
and grace into the night. With her other hand she grasped her police radio.
“Unit one to base. Come in please.”

“This is base. Sheriff, we’re having a lot of calls coming
in about an explosion out in the gulch.”

“I’m already at the scene. It appears that the good people
of Cedar got a little more up close and personal with the meteor shower
tonight. It’s nothing major, just a good-size chunk of rock and a nose full of
dust. There aren’t any flames, so let the captain know that a crew isn’t
necessary. I’ll do some more investigating, and if something sparks, I’ll call
him in.”

“10-4, Sheriff.”

She shoved the radio onto her belt. “There won’t be any
flames, right?”

“How would I know? I was inside the module when we crashed.
That’s a better question for Harlan.”

“Jiminy Christmas,” she muttered and clung on tighter. “I’ve
bought us maybe five minutes. Someone’s bound to be suspicious and come
calling.”

“We’ll be there in one.”

Brett let out a startled shriek and tested the integrity of
his shirt with her clutching fingers as he blazed a trail through the brush and
bramble of the forest. His two hearts beat hard and fast, not from exertion,
but with an excitement he hadn’t experienced since long before he and Kristos
had been banished from their home planet.

Deep in his gut, Lucian knew that whatever it was that
crashed to Earth was not a simple meteor and the urge to laugh tightened his
throat. Where was his usual vigilance to remain aloof and avoid entanglements
with humankind? He was usually the one to caution his impetuous brother to hide
their abilities and to forget that they were once great warriors and live the
life of unassuming, law-abiding citizens.

Oh but now. Now the flush of impending action fired his
muscles, driving him forward to face the unknown. To search for the treasure he
didn’t think he ever wanted again.

A purpose.

Lucian set Brett on her feet as they approached the
smoldering wreckage. His lips tightened against a shout of anticipation
inspired by the sight of the oval-shaped pod nestled in the dirt. The
cobalt-blue paint was scraped to the bare metal and the once-smooth sides were
crumpled, looking as if the whole thing had been brushed with coarse sandpaper.

Brett let loose with a low whistle and swept her hand toward
the fallen trees and scorched bushes around them. “Holy shit. Look at this
destruction. That trail has to be at least a few hundred yards. People are
going to expect a gigantic meteor caused all this.”

“We’ll cover the tracks,” Lucian replied absentmindedly. His
attention was fixed firmly on the craft before them.

He reached out a hand and snapped it back from the too-hot
metal. Eager to know who was inside, he circled around the perimeter in search
of clues.

The crunch of leaves signaled Kristos’ arrival. He wore the
Skandavian royal uniform, including the black cowl that covered most of his
face. A tunic of finely woven minerals clung to his chest and back. The
material protected the wearer from a slice from a sword or a hit from a blast gun,
and also refracted light so it blended in with the surroundings. In the dark,
Kristos was nearly invisible.

“By the Gods,” he exclaimed. “It is one of ours.”

“Any idea who it may be?” Brett asked.

Lucian gestured to the faint symbol etched in the metal. “This
insignia marks it as a royal.”

“The King?” Kristos gasped. “I don’t believe it. And if it
is, he can kiss my ass.”

Lucian shared a similar sentiment, however he wouldn’t have
phrased it in such a manner. “Help me roll it right-side up. Watch out. It’s
still hot.”

Together they maneuvered the pod to a position that gave
them access to the seam where the two halves met. This was an escape pod, only
to be used in times of emergency. If the palace were to come under attack and
the guard had fallen, one or two people could use the craft and escape to one
of the neighboring moons. Traveling to somewhere as distant as Earth was
suicidal in such a vehicle. That honor was reserved solely for banishment. And
Lucian and his brother were the first to have received that honor.

“Perhaps it’s your missing princess,” Brett suggested.
“She’s the only other royal left, right?”

“No.” Kristos immediately rejected the idea. “She
disappeared long before we were sent away. How do we get this open?”

“I hear Harlan coming now.” Lucian ran to meet the truck
where it parked at the top of the rise. “It’s one of ours. Did you bring any of
your tools?”

“They’re in the back.” Harlan opened the tailgate and
reached for a battered toolbox. He withdrew a crowbar and a large rubber mallet.
“Here. This is what I used to spring you boys free.”

“Thank you.” He rushed back down the hill. “Stand back.”

He wedged the flat end of the crowbar against the seam.
Despite the damage to the hull, there was very little room to slip in the tool.
With his super strength it took only three blows of the hammer to bust the
seal. The top gave way with a hiss and popped open a few inches. He lifted the
hatch and peered into the dimly lit interior.

A few lights flickered, sputtering out one by one with the
loss of pressure. A green glow remained around the figure slumped in the
forward seat. By the breadth of the shoulders, Lucian guessed it to be male.
His face was covered by a mask that fed the wearer breathable air, and kept the
lungs from being crushed during entry. With the man being unconscious, there
were no emotions to give away the motive for the trip or a hint of identity.
The man was attired in the same manner as Kristos. His uniform declaring him a
fellow guard.

“Shine a light this way,” Lucian ordered and jumped into the
pod, squeezing his big body between the console and seat.

He turned the valves on the mask to carefully adjust the
mixture of air and slowly acclimate the stranger to the new environment. The
air on Earth was thinner than on Skandavia but very similar. Still, too much at
once gave you such a headache, you wished you hadn’t made it through entry.
When it was safe to shut off the valve, Lucian unlatched the headgear and
removed the mask.

“Great Being,” he whispered. “Dhavin.”

Lucian pulled back the cowl and laid his palms on the man’s
cheeks and wrapped his fingers around the base of his skull, measuring the
temperature and clamminess of the skin. He pried open Dhavin’s eyelids and
watched as the pupils dilated and constricted in an attempt to focus. At the
base of his neck the pulse was weak but steady. A harness had kept Dhavin
firmly in his seat, but from experience Lucian knew that beneath the straps
deep bruises were already forming. Other than the obvious, Dhavin looked for
the most part unharmed.

“Do you know him?” Brett asked, with Taser in hand.

“It’s our cousin,” Kristos answered as Lucian worked on
releasing the harness.

“Come on, Dhavin. Wake up.” He shook his younger cousin’s
shoulders and tapped him on the cheek. “Wake up. Show me you made it through.”

Dark lashes fluttered ever so slightly as a crease formed on
his forehead. Lucian held his breath as he watched consciousness slowly return
and Dhavin struggle to open his eyes. After several tries, the lids finally
lifted. He looked up and gasped when he spotted Lucian.

“I found you.” The words came out on a sigh. Tears filled
his brown eyes as his face crumpled. “I found you.”

“You most certainly did.” He kept a bracing hand on his
cousin and reached out with his emotions for any sign of pain. “Not that I’m
unhappy to see you, but what in icy hells are you doing here?”

Dhavin jolted at the words. It took a considerable amount of
strength to lift his hand and place it over Lucian’s, managing a firm squeeze
of importance. “Warn you. King’s dead. Assassin. After you. Kristos.”

“After us? Why?”

“You—” He began to pant and his eyes rolled back. “You.
Know.”

“Know what?” He barely managed to keep his tone level. He
grasped Dhavin by the arms and shook. “Know what?”

His head flopped back as he whispered, “The princess.”

“Amaryllis?” he breathed in surprise then winced.

Never should he think of the princess so informally, yet
after all this time, he had begun to think of her as belonging solely to him.
Only in his fantasies did he address her in such a manner, which he only
allowed because he couldn’t fault his subconscious. But he’d best remember to
mind his place in the future. His beautiful, delicate princess was in danger
and as her guard, he needed to be focused on her protection.

“Dhavin. Dhavin!” He shook his cousin by the shoulders with
barely leashed restraint. With every passing second, his princess could be
lost. Answers were required. Now.

“Ah!” Dhavin’s eyes snapped open and he grimaced. “What is
happening to me? By the Gods, I feel like
rohaul
dung.”

At this, Lucian smiled a mere fraction. “You’ll never
believe me. Just wait. You’re still adjusting to the climate. It will wear off
and then you’ll be up doing things you’ve never dreamed.”

“Like lift my head?”

“And so much more. Come on, we need to get you indoors.”

Dhavin started as Kristos reached out a hand to assist him
from the craft. “Kristos, is that you?”

“Ya. It’s good to see you, cousin. I’m going to have my wife
Brett and another friend of ours help you to the conveyance. You’ve made quite
an entrance we need to conceal.”

“Wife? You found a woman who would have you?”

“She couldn’t resist my charm.”

“Charm?” Brett asked as she slipped under Dhavin’s arm. “I
would have called it begging and pleading.”

Lucian left Harlan and Brett to help Dhavin up the incline
to the truck and went to tackle the wrecked spaceship. From inside a
compartment under the seat, he pulled out a small gel-filled explosive and
attached the grenade to the waistband of his jeans. In minutes the Earth’s nitrogen-rich
atmosphere would break down the combustible components, rendering the bomb
useless, but he only required a little of the accelerant to suit his purpose.

“Kristos. Grab the other end. On two,” he commanded when
they settled into place.

Together they easily managed to get the craft onto the
flatbed. Kristos used his super speed to create a whirlwind that destroyed the
majority of the path of torn shrubs and fallen trees, ripping trunks out of the
ground to make it look as if they had never been there in the first place.
Lucian retrieved a pony-sized boulder from along the bank of the nearby Cedar
River. Breaking the seal on the grenade, he doused the boulder with the gel and
reattached the empty shell to his belt.

“Incoming,” he warned, then lifted the boulder above his
head and let it fly.

The stone soared high in the air before retracing the ship’s
original landing path and settling into the vacant hole. It wasn’t a perfect
cover, but it would do.

BOOK: HeroUnleased
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