Authors: Crystal Jordan
ON THE PROWL
SEXY BEAST V
(with Kate Douglas and Vonna Harper)
SEXY BEAST 9
(with Vonna Harper and Lisa Renee Jones)
UNDER THE COVERS
(with Melissa MacNeal and P.J. Mellor)
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
This book will forever be labeled in my mind as “the burn out book.” Making it through to the end was a task of herculean proportions. I would never have survived without the help of some very wonderful people, to whom this book is dedicated. First, of course, is my best friend, Michal. Never doubt that I appreciate everything you do for me. Even when I'm in deadline hell, I notice. Second, to Loribelle Hunt and Dayna Hart, who were standing by the phone waiting for me to call when a meltdown was imminent. Your fortitude in not putting me out of all our misery still astounds me. Third, to Rowan Larke and Robin L. Rotham, who held my hand and read far too many versions of these stories before we got to the final product. Fourth, to Emily Ryan-Davis and Jennifer Leeland, the most lightning-fast of beta readers in the history of beta reading. Last, but never least, to my editor and agent, without whom none of this would ever have come into being in the first place.
renna couldn't sleep.
She sat at her kitchen table, wrapped in a bathrobe and nursing a mug of decaf. Two in the morning was no time to pump caffeine into her system. It sure as hell wouldn't help. She wasn't an eighteen-year-old army private who could go days without sleep and not feel it. That time had come and gone over a decade and a half ago. When she was on duty tomorrow, she'd be hurting and wishing to God she'd found a way to get some shut-eye. A sigh slid from her, and she scrubbed a tired hand over her forehead.
This wasn't the first sleepless night she'd had recently, and they were becoming more and more frequent. The plus side was her house was spotless. The down side wasâ¦well, she was parked in her kitchen at o-dark-thirty blinking grit from her eyes. Again.
She focused on the only thing out of place in the pristine room. The little device sitting in the middle of her table. It was round, had a dome-shaped speaker on top, and could fit snugly in the palm of her hand. Reaching out, she pushed down on the dome and a high-pitched static with a buzzing, electronic squeal issued from the speaker. Wincing, she clicked it again and turned it off.
It was hard to believe that something so small could dull the massive psychic powers of an alien. Her commanding officer had had scientists working on the prototype for months, but now it was ready for use in their war against the Kith. She wasn't sure how it worked exactly, or even how they'd tested it to make sure it did work, but there were a lot of things she wasn't sure about anymore.
Which was what was keeping her up at night, if she was honest with herself. Not that she wanted to be. She'd be a lot better off if she could stuff her head back in the sand. Taking a sip of her coffee, she closed her eyes and slumped in her chair.
“Jesus,” she groaned.
Pushing to her feet, she wandered into her living room, flipped the television on to the news, and plopped onto her couch. The headlines scrolled by, reports about the imminent alien invasion and what the military was doing to stop it. She shook her head and set her mug down on the coffee table.
It all came back to General Arthur and the Kith. An entire armada of alien warships had shown up almost a year ago, and they'd been orbiting Earth ever since, a constant menacing presence in the sky. They claimed to be from a planet called Suen. They claimed Earth was an abandoned colony settled by slaves of the weaker Kin raceâweaker
. They claimed they had no interest in Earth except to find their emperor's soul mate, his One, who was somewhere among the unwashed of humanity.
As if a fleet of warships traveled all the way across the universe for one human woman. Bren snorted and flipped her long braid over her shoulder. They could have at least come up with a story that didn't insult people's intelligence.
Leading the campaign of bullshit was Lord Farid Arjun. Her mind provided an image of the tall, blond, and gorgeous Kith diplomat. She shivered, a frisson of excitement, longing, and loathing went through her. The alien was her enemy, cold, condescending, and rude, but he could do things with his mind that were indecent, and since the first day he'd met her, he'd never stopped toying with her. She stomped down on that thought, embarrassed that she couldn't control her reaction to an alien with a smooth tongue gilded with lies.
No matter what diplomats like Arjun said, the world had devolved into mass hysteria when the Sueni arrived. Some people wanted to roll out the welcome wagon, but most were just afraid of a vastly more powerful race of people with technology and weaponry the likes of which had never been seen on Earth before. People were scared. Bren was one of those people. But more than scared, she was mad. Mad that anyone thought they had the right to show up after a couple of millennia and say, “Oh, we're back, slaves. Thanks for looking after things, now get back in your cage.”
Hell, no. Earth wasn't going down without a fight, and she was determined to be on the front line. She'd been William Arthur's right hand for fifteen of the eighteen years she'd been in the service. She was behind him when he ordered a preemptive strike against the Sueni that had blown one of their ships out of the sky, and she was behind him when he worked to consolidate the military forces of Earth to create a global defense system.
But more and more often in the last few months, she'd questioned the orders Arthur had given. His new campaigns seemed to be less about protecting people than they were about gathering more power for himself.
She swallowed, clicked off the TV, and scrambled to her feet, all but running to her bedroom and slamming the door behind her to shut out the truth. Dread cramped her belly. She didn't want to think about this, didn't want to consider what it meant.
The ramifications were even more terrifying than the Sueni shuttles that came and went despite the warnings and missiles fired from Earth. Other than the one ship down, the Sueni hadn't lost a single person and had deflected further attacks. So far they'd done nothing violent. They hadn't even retaliated for the lost ship. It made her uneasy. The shuttles stayed no more than a few hours in one place before leaving again. They could be searching for somethingâsome
âas they'd said, or they could be scouting out vulnerabilities for a violent, bloody endgame.
How much would Arthur's little white noise device, his new secret weapon, actually help them in driving away the Sueni? She didn't know. No one did. Yet. The one question that kept resurfacing in her mind was: when did it end? If they finally managed to get rid of the Sueni, what would be left of the world? Would Arthur hand military control back over to individual countries? If they tried to break away from him by force, who would win?
No one. That was the answer. Everything circled back to this being a no-win situation. Shrugging out of her robe, she flopped into bed and beat her pillow into a comfortable shape. If she could learn to nap through bombs going off outside her tent in a hellish desert, she could snooze through stress and doubtsâdoubts that might not be founded in anything other than sleep-deprived paranoia. She closed her eyes, shut down her mind, and
herself into slumber.
But it wasn't dreams that found her. It was
Heat screamed through her body, a sudden sexual awakening that was as much pleasure as pain. The shift was so abrupt, it was almost terrifying. Almost.
The moment sleep claimed her, he was over her, on her, in her. Her body arched on the mattress as his cock filled her. And filled her. Her pussy throbbed, clenching tight. Her fists bunched in the sheets, her hips writhing as pleasure rocketed through her. She tried to jerk back, tried to escape the onslaught of ecstasy, but there was no escaping her own mind. He came to her like this, in her dreams, flooding her thoughts with sensations so real she couldn't tell where the fantasy ended and reality began.
She wished it were just a dream, a fantasy, but she knew it wasn't. It was
. Farid. He was doing this to her. The Kith nobleman was using his mind to fuck her senseless. As much as she craved it, she hated itâ
âhated the power he wielded, hated that the sensual alien had shredded her world when he'd landed on Earth.
Fire licked at her flesh, and she bit her lip hard enough to draw blood, fighting him, fighting herself. It was no use, she knew. She'd struggled every time he'd reached for her psychically, and every time she'd failed. He sucked her into the maelstrom of carnality, drowned her in feelings she usually avoided at all costs. She hated the lack of control, the inevitable betrayal of her own body.
God help her, it felt so fucking amazing.
The sensation of being stretched beyond bearing was so vivid, she thought she would die. The last tethers between her and reality ripped loose as he began thrusting inside her. Then she was there, somewhere lost in a dream. The bed was still beneath her, the soft sheets rough against her sensitized flesh, the thick, hot summer night breeze still brushed across her naked breasts, and yet he was with her,
His green eyes sparked as he looked at her, a physical manifestation of his power. The more excited he was, the faster the sparks would come, bursting like tiny fireworks in his irises. A distant part of her wondered if the sparks would stop when the white noise device was turned on, then she tamped down on the thought as fast as she could. The man was inside her head. He could read her thoughts.
He froze over her, as though he sensed that her mind had strayed to something besides what he was doing to her. She struggled to lock away the secrets she knew, scrambling for something to distract this enemy who was deep within her. Licking her lips, she watched his gaze zero in on her movements. His cock throbbed in her pussy, and she squeezed her inner muscles around him. He shuddered, groaned, and began thrusting again, caught in the tempest as much as she had been. She gasped when he ground his hips against her, forcing her thighs wide. A whimper escaped her when his big hand closed over her breast and he pinched her nipple hard between his fingers. Her body bowed under the lash of pleasured pain.
“Brenna,” he breathed, and the word echoed in her mind. His need crackled through the connection between them, driving her desires higher. “Bren. My little
Her hands left the sheets, reaching up to bury in his hair. The silken strands sifted through her fingers and they both shivered. He leaned into her touch, his eyes closing as something beyond ecstasy flickered across his expression. Some part of this had to be pure dream. The man was never this open in real life.
Then he withdrew his long cock, only to slam deep inside her pussy, and nothing mattered but this moment. There were no secrets and no lies, no hiding. She didn't care what was genuine and what wasn't, only that he could give her what she needed. His heavy muscles played against her, the heat of his flesh branding her as their hips rolled against each other. The friction of his rougher flesh on her clit made her cry out, ecstasy reverberating through her. His strong hands slid under her, his fingers bit into her ass, and he lifted her into each hot, hard penetration.
Sweat slipped down her temples to tickle in her hair. She shivered, sobbing for air as her nails dug into his flesh. A low growl rumbled in his chest, and the other side of his nature flashed in his eyes. The animal, the beast, the shape-shifter. Long fangs curved from his mouth and he hissed softly when she grinned at him and raked her nails down his back.
“Always pushing me, Bren.” He shook his head.
She laughed up at him, mocking him and his control. If she had to be stripped of
control and if she couldn't win the fight against him
herself, she was dragging him down with her. Clenching her internal walls around his thick cock, she closed her eyes and smiled when he gave a low, helpless groan of pure need. His muscles bunched and released beneath her hands as he hammered into her, his thrusts picking up speed and force. The impact of his skin slapping against hers echoed in her bedroom, the sound shockingly carnal.
Her heart raced and her excitement built to a screaming fever pitch. She could feel an orgasm rising like a tide inside her, threatening, beckoning. God, she wanted it, threw herself toward it. If she couldn't have the self-discipline she always craved, she'd revel in the lack of it. It made her blood rush in her veins, her breath come faster, her muscles shake with pleasure and fear of how that pleasure overwhelmed her.
“Now.” She wrapped her legs around his flanks, digging her heels in to lift herself higher into his thrusts. “Make me come.”
” His groaned tangled with an almost feline hiss. His chest heaved in bellowing breaths, great shudders wracking his body. “Iâ¦can't hold on much longer.”
“Don't. Come withâ” She went over the edge before she could finish the sentence, the heat and need and ecstasy coalescing into one blinding explosion. Her sex pulsed around his cock, milking his hard length. He ground his pelvis against her clit and sent another wave of orgasm slamming into her, dragging her deeper. Her body arched and she screamed, the sound drowned out by the deafening leonine roar from him as he followed her into orgasm.
She clung to him, squeezing his hips between her thighs as he flooded her pussy with his hot fluids. His eyes widened, meeting hers, the green sparks coming so fast the entire iris seemed to glow.
He was so beautiful.
The smile that kicked up the corner of his mouth told her he'd heard her thought. She could only hope that was the only thought he'd heard. Ice flowed through her veins. If anyone
found out about this, her career was over. If she found out he'd dug information from her while mind-fucking her, she'd never forgive herself. It might be worth it to see if sleeping with the white noise maker on could ward him off, but she had her doubts. The man had power that wouldn't quit, and she hated that she needed a machine to help her control the situation.
She swallowed, let her arms and legs fall away from him, and collapsed back to the mattress. His gaze shuttered, withdrawing as she had. His mouth opened and closed again. Sighing, he shook his head. At her or at himself, she didn't know. She worked hard to control her breathing, to slow her heartbeat down to normal levels, kicking herself as she always did for losing out to her baser needs.
He brushed tender fingers down her cheek and over her eyes, closing them. “Sleep now,
A soft, replete sigh escaped her, and still she struggled against a command that went beyond words. He used his powers to fog her mind, to make the sweetness of dreams take her all the way under into real sleep, and she knew when she awakened he'd have evaporated like so much smoke on the sultry midnight breeze.