Authors: Marie Harte
Book three in the Talson Temptation series.
Kidnapping Rowe Trainer, co-heir to Chartrell Shipping,
might not have been the smartest thing Val Talson’s ever done, but he wants
answers, fast. He couldn’t have expected the beautiful little bully to be
half-human, nor could he have anticipated that she could turn the tables on him
so easily. She’s powerful, and he’s learned to be wary.
His violent arousal in her presence makes little sense. Lust
he appreciates, but the deeper draw to his rival baffles him. Soon he can’t
think of anything
Rowe. When he finds her again, he gets more than
he bargained for—attraction not only to Rowe, but to her bodyguard as well. Then
add the shock of her Selection—a female Otra’s readiness to mate.
Val doesn’t intend to give in easily. He’ll handle rogue
saboteurs, Rowe’s larger-than-life bodyguard, and the idea that he’s entered
the Testing, the time in a male Otra’s life when he’s ready to bond to his
destined mate. As for Rowe…Val’s more than willing to give her what she
deserves. And then some.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Talson’s Net Copyright © 2011 Marie Harte
Edited by Grace Bradley
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication June 2011
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
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characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
New Hattan, Earth Year 2110, January
The winter weather outside on the misbegotten planet had no
effect on cooling his temper. Earth could never compete with the temperate
clime of Werfal 7, the Otra homeworld. He’d be there right now if it weren’t
for the dickheads screwing with his livelihood—Talson Shipping. A glance around
the cheap, dingy room suggested he really had reached the end of his rope. But
what better place for an interrogation?
The subject of said interrogation squirmed on the bed, her
movements a welcome relief from the stagnant air of decay in the place.
“Asshole. Let me go!”
“Sweetheart, begging and pleading will go a hell of a lot
further than the filth coming out of your mouth.” Valis Talson ‘Or Fal smiled
through his teeth at the woman struggling against her restraints in the middle
of the large bed. The seedy hotel he’d taken her to asked few questions, and
the desk clerk had a remarkable sense of amnesia for the right price. “I’m
surprised Fulton tolerates you all that much. It’s a known fact anything even
resembling low breeding bores him to tears.”
“Look, Talson.” Though her voice was even and slightly
husky, his intriguing captive shot daggers at him through green eyes threaded
with silver—eyes stemming from the intermingling of human and Otra blood.
Unwillingly fascinated, he studied the exotic woman.
The initial intelligence he’d received hadn’t indicated her
humanity. He’d expected Chartrell Shipping’s wondergirl to be one of his kind.
An Otra female—a tall woman with long black hair, golden skin and ink-dark eyes
that turned a molten silver when impassioned. Instead, he’d captured a petite,
exotic half-breed with enough sensuality brimming underneath that bluster of
anger to melt the ugly paint right off the walls.
“You aren’t the authorities, so release my hands before I
feed you to my uncle!”
“It’s Rowe Trainer ‘Or Ryi, right? Can I call you Rowe?” At
her glare, he continued. “Well, Rowe, I’ve had as much as I can take from your
Uncle Fulton and Chartrell Shipping. Your trading policies—if you can call them
that—lack even the slightest degree of legality. You people take theft and
murder to an all new level.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
He snorted. Nice innocent act. If he hadn’t been so focused
on the rise and fall of her full breasts, he might not have noticed the small
quiver that shook her. But the tremors in her breathing told him she knew more
than she was saying. He needed that information. Four months ago, he and his
older brother Z had nearly fallen prey to thieving pirates at the behest of a
Chartrell saboteur. Only the quick action of his brother’s mate had saved the
ship and its passengers from death and worse.
Glaring down at the stubborn little liar, he wondered when,
or even if, he’d be as blessed as Z. One of four brothers, Val had watched his
youngest brother, and then his oldest, find their
—their true loves.
Yet here he was, dealing with another Talson Shipping nightmare, no closer to
romance than he’d been last month, or the month before that, or the month
Because of this woman and her fucking family, he’d turned
into an unpleasant bastard who hadn’t gotten laid in way too long—at least,
according to his brothers.
He sat next to Rowe on the bed, pleased at her wide-eyed
alarm. Running a hand over the soft skin of her abdomen where her shirt had
ridden up from her jeans, he told himself he only wanted to confuse her, to put
her off balance.
The thought that she felt like
silk came out of
“Rowe, I think it’s more than admirable to show loyalty to
family. But don’t you think protecting murderers is going a bit too far?”
“Talson, you jerk, I’m going to—” She gasped when he snaked
his hand farther along her rib cage toward her breasts.
“I think you’re beginning to understand who’s in charge
here, aren’t you?” He inched his hand higher, grazing the underside of those
soft, round globes begging for his attention.
She nodded frantically, looking panicked, and he regretfully
withdrew his hand from beneath her shirt. He wondered what it was about the
woman that made him simultaneously aroused and aggravated.
“Fine.” Rowe swallowed audibly. “You’re in charge.”
“You’re in charge, Valis Talson ‘Or Fal,” he corrected, and
refrained from adding,
my humble master
. “I want to hear you say my
to say your name.” He swore she muttered
under her breath, and he found himself starting to like her.
He stared at her breasts and considered touching her again.
Unfortunately, his urge had less to do with prodding her and more to do with
fulfilling his desire to feel her soft skin.
She gritted her teeth. “You’re in charge, Valis Talson ‘Or
Fal. Look, I’m telling the truth when I say I want to find out who’s behind
these crimes as badly as you do. We lost one of our most lucrative freighters
two weeks ago due to a pirate attack in the outer rim.”
He paused. He hadn’t heard anything about Chartrell losing a
She apparently noted his suspicion, because she added, “I’m
not lying. There was a small blurb about it in
The Shipping News
paid a lot of money to keep it quiet and buried it. You can access the data
from my chipset.” She nodded toward the small device attached to the strap of
her purse on a nearby chair.
He crossed to the chair and picked it up. He recognized the
latest newsgathering gadget worth a pretty penny and searched to verify her
information, then rejoined her on the bed.
“I second that.”
Feisty. Instead of annoying him, she made him want to laugh.
He grinned and she blinked at him, her gaze shifting from
his eyes to his mouth.
“So, you were telling the truth. That’s good, sweetheart.
Now maybe you can tell me what you know about Project Overhead.”
She frowned. “Project Overhead? What’s that?”
“Now, now. I thought we were becoming friends.” He ran his
fingers along the band of her jeans over her taut belly, and she sucked in a
breath. So fucking pretty. His heart raced, and to his surprise, his
suddenly flared. The psychic power inherent in all Otra that had made his kind
feared for years on Earth wanted nothing more than to connect with Rowe.
He didn’t like the notion. Not unless body parts were
tied the universe together, even if the
humans couldn’t tap into it. The energy connected him to his siblings and
family, to his clan, the ‘Or Fal. Not to some pain-in-the-ass sexpot giving him
He glared at her, wondering if she was trying to screw him
over with some weird burst of power he could feel but couldn’t quite identify.
While he could communicate with his kin telepathically, his real gift lay in
telekinesis. Time to use it to his full advantage.
“Tell me what I want to know, sweetheart. Don’t make me bring
out the big guns.” In a subtle warning, he used his mind to shake a picture
hanging on the wall—a tacky rendition of New Hattan in all its pre-Otra glory.
She glanced at the wall then turned a wary gaze back to Val.
“I’m telling you the truth. I don’t know what Project Overlord is.”
“Not Overlord, Over
.” He scowled. As much as he
wanted to treat her the way her clan had treated his, it wasn’t in his
character. He’d never in his life harmed a woman. The thought alone made him
ill. Yet something about Rowe tempted him to push his own boundaries. He didn’t
have to hurt her to make his point. The thought of tasting her ripe lips
plagued him to no end.
Rowe had the carnal beauty of a woman who knew her way
around a man. Though petite, she possessed a perfect hourglass figure, with
breasts he had a hard time ignoring. She had a jaw-dropping sensuality. Pouty
lips sat under a slender nose. A forest of thick black lashes framed exotic
eyes. Wavy black hair fell to the middle of her back, thick and lustrous, making
him want to fist his hands in it to keep her under his control. He could all
too readily imagine imprisoning her by those silken strands while he sampled
her honeyed mouth.
Shit. I am getting in way too deep with this one.
The first moment he’d seen her, Val had been entranced. And
annoyed. To find that such a lovely package belonged to the Chartrells, a
family rival, seemed a cruel twist of fate. Val had seen too much of the
Chartrells to trust anyone who worked for them. Then to learn that the gorgeous
termagant ordering everyone around in Chartrell Headquarters was none other
than Rowe Trainer ‘Or Ryi, Fulton Chartrell’s niece and co-heir to the company…
“Um, Talson?” She sounded too quiet, too innocent, and it
set him on edge.
“What’s that, sweetheart?”
Her eyes flashed. She really didn’t like his pet names.
“It’s just that I don’t know what you want from me. I work
for Chartrell Shipping, yes. Fulton Chartrell is my uncle, yes. But beyond
that, I can’t help you.”
Val wondered at her sincerity.
She bit her lip, and like a magnet, drew his gaze to her
mouth. “I was wondering, would you undo these restraints, or at least loosen
them? My wrists really hurt.”
He blinked, nonplused that he’d actually tied the poor woman
to the bed. What the hell had he been thinking? He should have simply asked for
her help. She would have told him anything he wanted to know. Chartrell and
their piracy connections, the rumors of insider trading, the schemes to
monopolize the lanes to Werfal 6 and 7. But no, he’d thought imprisoning the
poor woman might net him some answers.
She’s right. I am an asshole.
“I’m sorry,” he said gruffly, disturbed by the tears pooling
in her eyes. Pools of sorrow that tugged at his heartstrings made him hurry to
free her. In his haste to undo the bands holding her to the bed frame, he
leaned over her body. Way too close. And forgot everything but the need to
For a heartbeat they shared the same breath, and suddenly
his mouth was on hers. He lost all thought, buried in sensation.
* * * * *
First he’d surprised her on the street, alone, without her
usual security. Then he’d kidnapped her and taken her to this God-awful hotel.
Tied up and under his control, Rowe had little recourse but to agree with the
bastard. As he questioned her, she tried to figure him out, wondering how best
The Otra-sensitive bonds restraining her wrists had been
designed to prevent an Otra’s
from burning them. Tricky Talson.
Though he didn’t need to use them on her. Regular ropes would have done as
didn’t particularly work on command. She had no real
control over her psychic ability, hence her need to play along with the sexy,
She’d heard about his family, of course. Who in the space
trade hadn’t? Rhenec Talson ‘Or Fal headed one of the strongest shipping
empires in recent Otra history. He’d taken over seventy-five percent of the
business on the homeworld. Talson Shipping, Chartrell, and several other
smaller Otra companies struggled for control of the interplanetary lanes on
Fighting to dig a foothold deeper was a daily struggle. She
never stopped pushing those under her control to think bigger, broader, outside
The Talsons, on the other hand, seemed to have a lock on the
industry. Four strapping sons, all warriors, like their father—gave them Otra
business. Rhenec had mated with a human after the death of his
giving him a leg up in most Earthen businesses as well. Considering her uncle,
the head of Chartrell Shipping, was an asshole and her cousin and co-heir a
jerk, she could readily believe they had work to do when it came to public
It didn’t help that the Talsons had currency, fame, and sex
appeal—if Valis Talson was anything to go by.
, but the male
brought out every hormone in her body to stand up and shout. She wanted him to
scoot away, to move far back before she begged him to move closer, so that she
might feel his lips pressed to hers.
As usual, her on-again, off-again ability to manipulate
minds refused to show itself. She had barely enough control to hold onto her
aggravation with the heavy-handed Talson, repressing her sudden overwhelming
lust. Confused and feeling betrayed by her body, she almost asked him to lean
closer, to better inhale that delicious scent of his.
Then a thought struck. Had Talson entered The Testing? If he
had, it would make sense that he appealed to her on such a deep level. The
Testing occurred in a male Otra’s life when he readied to take a mate. Similar
to a female’s Selection, the male would emit pheromones that attracted unmated
females by the dozens.
Attributing a chemical reaction to her attraction, she felt
much better about her inability to escape. Not a frail woman by any means, Rowe
couldn’t help the fact most Otra looked down on her because of her weaker human
blood. And most humans hated her because of her alien nature. Talson probably
thought her worth little more than the dirt under his precious, pure-blooded
As if fate had taken pity on her, Rowe’s
flared. She leaped at the opportunity. A glance at Talson showed him fixated on
her breasts, so she cleared her throat to regain his attention to her face. “I
was wondering, would you undo these restraints, or at least loosen them? My
wrists really hurt.” Focusing her energy, she willed him to do what she wanted
and called on a few fake tears to spur him along.
She would have helped him
if he’d only asked. She was a friend, not a foe.
him to believe in her.