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Authors: Trista Ann Michaels

Star Crossed

BOOK: Star Crossed
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Star Crossed
By Trista Ann Michaels

An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

Star Crossed

ISBN # 1-4199-0592-9

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Trista Ann Michaels

Copyright© 2006

Edited by Ann Leveille.

Cover art by Syneca.

Electronic book Publication: March 2006

This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Warning:

The following material contains graphic sexual content meant for mature readers. This story has been rated S-ensuous by a minimum of three independent reviewers.

Ellora’s Cave Publishing offers three levels of Romantica™ reading entertainment: S (S-ensuous), E (Erotic), and X (X-treme).

S-
ensuous
love scenes are explicit and leave nothing to the imagination.

E-
rotic
love scenes are explicit, leave nothing to the imagination, and are high in volume per the overall word count. In addition, some E-rated titles might contain fantasy material that some readers find objectionable, such as bondage, submission, same sex encounters, forced seductions, and so forth. E-rated titles are the most graphic titles we carry; it is common, for instance, for an author to use words such as

“fucking”, “cock”, “pussy”, and such within their work of literature.

X-
treme
titles differ from E-rated titles only in plot premise and storyline execution. Unlike E-rated titles, stories designated with the letter X tend to contain controversial subject matter not for the faint of heart.

 

Prologue

Daego, Legana Sector of the galaxy

Present Day

“I now pronounce you man and wife, Lord and Lady Marcone.” Stefan stood back, admiring the newlyweds. His brother Sidious had married the love of his life, Mikayla. They were perfect for each other, and he was thrilled Sidious had found the same kind of love their parents shared—the kind of love that lasted forever.

He’d given up on finding that kind of love. For one, he didn’t have the time to put into the search, and two, women were usually only after his money and status anyway.

So he just had fun—no-strings sex and lots of it.

Letting his gaze wander around the onslaught of well-wishing family and friends, he locked eyes with Mikayla’s maid of honor, Krista. They hadn’t been introduced, but his mother had pointed her out to him earlier. He’d barely made the ceremony, and his mother made sure he knew she was aware of it. So sneaking in through the side entrance to the garden hadn’t been all that great of an idea after all.

Mothers. Always on your ass about something.

Throughout the wedding, he couldn’t stop sneaking glances at Krista. She was beautiful, with eyes the color of a spring sky—so striking and intense. When he smiled at her a blush covered her cheeks before she looked away. The sunlight beamed down and highlighted the gold streaks in her long honey-blonde hair. The strands teased him with soft curls he could easily see wrapping around his fingers, and he had no doubt they would be soft as silk.

She strolled across the garden to the refreshment table and he swallowed, his eyes mesmerized by the soft swaying of her hips. Her blue dress mirrored her eyes and

draped over every last luscious curve of her hourglass figure. Curves his hands craved to touch and explore.

She’s your sister-in-law’s best friend, you idiot
, the voice of reason screamed at him.

Mikayla considers her a member of the family
. Yet his feet and hardening cock urged him forward. It had been a long time since a woman had affected him this quickly and this strongly. He’d be a
vigic
if he didn’t at least explore the possibility.

Standing behind her right shoulder, he leaned forward slightly and whispered, “I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced.”

She jumped and spun from her perusal of the refreshment table to face him. Her blue eyes narrowed and darkened like impending storm clouds. “I know who you are.” He raised an eyebrow in amusement. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“Let’s just say your reputation precedes you.”

“I have a reputation?” A grin tugged at the corner of his lips.

“Several.”

“Such as?”

“Your reputation as a leader and fighter is flawless. We’ve all heard the stories concerning your organization of the rebels. Your reputation with the ladies, however, leaves much to be desired.”

“Wow.” He sighed in mock distress. “I don’t recall ever hearing any complaints.” He wiggled his eyebrows, but frowned when she turned away from him. Her animosity surprised him, and he wondered what was behind it. He knew he had a reputation as a lady’s man, but was that a reason for her to hate him? Reaching out, he brushed her hair from her shoulder. “How about we start over? I’m Stefan—”

“Yes, I know. Count Stefan Marcone, recently appointed Senator for Tilarus in the newly formed Senatorial Government. And of course let’s not forget, all-around playboy and womanizer.”

“Ouch.” He winced.

Setting a sweetball on her plate, she turned to face him. Her gaze met his as she placed her finger in her mouth to suck off a bit of powdered sugar from the confection.

The action, seemingly innocent, shocked him. Damn, he wanted to kiss those lips, to slide his tongue into her mouth and taste the sugar she’d just licked off her finger.

Without thinking, he took a step toward her.

A scowl crossed her china-doll features as she retreated.

“I think I’m being judged a little unfairly.” He moved even closer. “After all, we’ve never met before. Don’t you think you’re making a lot of assumptions?” For some reason he couldn’t stop himself from invading her space, from pushing buttons he had no business pushing. There was something about her that drew him in, made him think with his crotch instead of his head. That was a first for him. He loved seducing women and he was good at it, but one thing he never did was lose control of his common sense. He’d never met a woman that made him addle-brained. Until now.

She swallowed, placing her hand against his chest to stop him from getting any closer. The warmth of her palm seeped through his shirt and sent jolts of electrical sensation throughout his limbs.

“I’m not judging you. I’m just stating a fact.”

Her voice came out like a croak, and he had to bite back a grin.

“Then shouldn’t I be entitled to an opportunity to prove those facts false?”

“At the moment, you’re proving them true.”

This time he did smile. “Then you won’t be surprised when I do this.” Before she could utter a word, he dipped his head and captured her lips. They were soft and warm against his, sending liquid heat straight to his cock. Framing her face with his hands, he ran his tongue along her bottom lip and she stiffened. He tasted powdered sugar and fruit punch, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to feel her silken tongue gliding against his, to feast on the essence of her mouth. He silently encouraged her to open for him.

With a soft moan, she melted against his chest and opened her lips in silent invitation. He slid his tongue inside and stroked hers. He was lost. Audience or not, he couldn’t stop kissing her—couldn’t stop feeding from the sweetness of her mouth.

Sliding a hand into her hair, he pulled her closer, deepening the kiss. With his lips and tongue, he let her know exactly what he wanted to do with her.

He completely forgot about the other guests. He could only feel her lips molded against his, her dainty hands gripping his shoulders. At least until he heard Sidious clearing his throat behind him. Reluctantly, he broke the kiss and growled, “What?”

“What the hell are you doing?” Mikayla hissed.

Stefan glanced over his shoulder and caught his new sister-in-law shooting daggers in his direction. For someone so little, she had a temper to rival his younger brother’s, or his own.

“I was just acquainting myself with the newest member of the family.” Mikayla crossed her arms and glared at him while Sidious tried his best to hide a grin. Okay, so maybe the kiss had been a little forward, but for some reason he’d just had to. He couldn’t have left without kissing her at least once. Other family members stood around watching, the smiles on their faces evidence of the fact they found the whole thing amusing. A few scowls sent their way quickly dispersed the crowd.

“Stefan,” Krista’s soft, sultry voice purred behind him.

He turned around to face her and was greeted with a punch bowl being dumped on his head. Lavender punch fell over his shoulders and down the front of his shirt. He gasped as the ice-cold punch hit his skin. In shock, he watched Krista stomp away as laughter rang around him.

“Oh dear,” his mother sighed in annoyance, and he cringed at what he knew she would have to say to him later.

“She’s my best friend, Stefan, not one of your playthings.” Mikayla pointed her finger at his chest. “If you run her off with your antics, I’ll have your head.”

He stared after Mikayla as she joined Krista by the fountain. His brother chuckled, and Stefan clenched his teeth in aggravation. Turning, he glared at him. “It’s not funny, Sidious.”

“Considering your platinum blond hair is now purple, it’s hilarious.”

“Nice of you to stand up for me, little brother.” Sidious snorted. “You’re well capable of taking care of yourself. Isn’t that what you continually insist, anyway? Besides, I have to agree with Mikayla on this one. What the hell were you thinking? You can’t treat Krista like a challenge.” Stefan winced. “You’re right. But damn, the woman is gorgeous.” His brother shook his head and patted him on the shoulder. “You’ll never change.” He made a face at Sidious’ retreating back before casting his gaze back to Krista.

She caught him looking at her and scowled. Even when she was ready to kill him, she was adorable. His mischievous side couldn’t resist, and he winked at her before heading to the house.

So she wasn’t interested. There were plenty out there who would be, lavender hair and all, but as he walked up the steps to the veranda a slight pang of disappointment hit him. At the top, he came to a stop and turned toward the garden to study her. She stood beneath the rose trellis, talking to Mikayla, a smile lighting up her face.

What was it about her? He could still feel her lips against his, could still smell her flowery scent.

“I’ll be damned if that’s not a first,” Taron’s amused voice sounded behind him.

Great. Just what I need. The adopted brother’s smart-ass humor.
“What are you talking about?”

“A beautiful woman not succumbing to your charms.” Stefan rolled his eyes. He would never hear the end of this one. “It’s for the best.

Mikayla considers her a sister. She would have a fit if I seduced her then dumped her.”

“True.” Taron’s dark brown eyes raked over Krista in interest. “She is definitely a beautiful woman.”

Stefan frowned. “Mikayla is not going to let you do it, either.”

“Who said I was going to?” The amusement in Taron’s eyes made Stefan grit his teeth.

“I’m going to take a shower.”

“Might want to make it a cold one.”

Laughter laced Taron’s voice, and Stefan clenched his hands in frustration. He was tempted to knock the hell out of him, brother or not.

“Go to Venok, Taron.”

Stefan stepped through the double doors into the house. He didn’t have time for this. He had a Senate to rebuild. The last thing he needed was a stubborn, opinionated, sassy woman to distract him.

But damn. The woman would be one hell of a distraction.

* * * * *

“Are you okay?”

Krista turned to look at her best friend. Mikayla’s green eyes narrowed slightly in concern as she studied her. She hated it when Mikayla watched her like that—as though she could read every thought running through her mind.

“I’m fine,” she answered with a hesitant smile.

“Fine, my ass. I still can’t believe he did that.” Krista couldn’t believe he’d done it either. Especially in front of all these people, but then, it fit what she’d heard about him. Stefan was the last type of man she wanted in her life. Her friend’s lips lifted slightly and Krista squirmed uncomfortably. “What?”

“I can’t believe you kissed him back.”

She closed her eyes and sighed. “Neither can I. I can’t figure out what the hell got into me.”

Mikayla grinned in amusement. “You want me to tell you what I think?”

“Not really.”

“Don’t let what Stefan did unsettle you.” Mikayla reached out and rubbed her hand down Krista’s arm in a soothing motion. “He’s harmless, I assure you.”

“All I’ve heard about him is how much a playboy he is.”

“You can’t always believe what the news media on Earth have to say. They were only going on what people knew of him, and most of what he did was for show.” She frowned. “Show for what?”

“Stefan played the philandering, partying womanizer to take the focus off what he was really doing.”

Out of the corner of her eye Krista caught sight of Stefan on the veranda steps, talking with Taron. Both of them were incredibly handsome. Taron was dark and brooding with brown eyes and a bald head. Very hard and unyielding. Stefan was light and playful with long platinum hair and light gray eyes. A breeze blew, whipping Stefan’s hair into his face, and he brushed it back with one strong hand.

She still felt the touch of those fingers against her cheek. And damn, the man could kiss. Just thinking about it made her nipples tingle. She crossed her arms over her chest to hide the evidence of her arousal. When Stefan headed into the house, she turned back to Mikayla.

“Let’s talk about something else,” she mumbled.

“Okay. Are you sure you don’t want to stay on here?”

“And feel like a third wheel?” Krista grinned. “No way. Besides, I want to start my life over, and I think the job Sidious set up for me back on Earth will be the perfect opportunity. It’ll be the first time in my life I’ve been on my own, and I’m looking forward to it.”

“I’ll miss you, though. You’ll be so far away.”

“We have the communicators. We’ll keep in touch, and I promise to come back for visits as often as I can.”

Mikayla pointed a finger at her. “I’m going to hold you to that.”

“Krista.” Taron’s deep voice boomed from the veranda, and she spun to face him.

Raising her hand, she shielded her eyes from the late afternoon sun. “Yes?”

“We need to get going.”

She nodded and faced her best friend. “Taron’s giving me a ride back to Earth so I don’t have to take the public transport. He thought it would be quicker.” Mikayla nodded, her eyes filling with unshed tears. “It’ll definitely be quicker.” They embraced in a quick hug. “I’ll send you a communique to let you know I’ve made it back safely.”

Wiping at the burn that signaled oncoming tears, Krista headed into the massive stone house that resembled a French château to grab her bags. She hated space travel, but at least they would be in Taron’s ship. The
Vultair
was huge, and she could stay in a room toward the center. With no windows there would be no evidence that they were moving, which was perfect with her. She could pretend they weren’t flying through deep space at twice the speed of light.

With a bag in each hand, she rounded the corner of the second-floor landing and almost ran smack into Stefan. Her gaze took in his open shirt, showing off a smooth tan chest and washboard abs. His feet were bare and his pants clung to his thick thighs and outlined the impressive bulge between his legs. Her fingers clenched the suitcase handle tighter as she realized just how long it had been since she’d been with a man.

BOOK: Star Crossed
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