Authors: Christine D'Abo
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
The Bond That Ties Us
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The Bond That Ties Us Copyright © 2007Edited by Briana St. James.
Photography and cover art by Les Byerley.
Electronic book Publication July 2007
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.
For my husband Mark, who has encouraged me every step of the way in my writing journey. Thank you for every time you kept the kids busy while I wrote, rubbed my back when it was sore and gave me a hug when I was feeling down. This book would never have been written without your love and support.
I would also like to thank my editor Briana. I know there is nothing more challenging than walking a new author through the editing process. Thank you for all of your support and advice!
Thank god, she was finally here. With a shiver of anticipation, Haylie Bond stepped off the shuttlecraft into the bright hangar bay of the Eurus colony. Casting a glance around she was pleased to see the large windows on the far side of where the shuttle had set down. They’d landed on the planet mid afternoon but the winds were so strong the bright red sand of the planet was whipping around the colony like traveling tornadoes. Still, the alien sight reassured her she really
made it. If someone had told her a year ago she’d be taking up residency on Earth’s newest colony, twenty light years from home, she would have laughed.
She hadn’t been this excited about anything since, well, ever. Haylie took a deep breath, held it for a moment and released it.
Stay focused on the situation, take in
what you need and get down to the business of being the best damn security chief this colony
The crowd behind her began to grumble and Haylie quickly found herself being pushed past by the other colonists. She sighed, grabbed her bag and hopped into the newly formed line that led them to customs. A strange scent tickled the end of her nose, something resembling cinnamon.
Must be my imagination.
As she and Sara stood in line, Haylie scanned the rest of her surroundings. The shuttle bay consisted of sleek, reinforced acrylic plastic walls. There wasn’t a sharp corner in the hangar. Black and gray seemed to be the only colors available to the interior decorators.
. It could be worse—puce, for example.
The floors were composed of some compound she hadn’t seen before. Tapping the toe of her boot against the surface didn’t reveal anything special, nor did it leave a scuff.
It would be interesting to see if a laser blast would mark it. She’d have to find out what it was made from. The surface was black, of course, and shiny, which added to the new feel of the station. Hard to believe this place had been around for thirty years.
Haylie spun on her heel and let her excitement sharpen her senses. The simple beauty of the place struck her. Even the warm glow of the lighting strips gave the place a surreal feel. She was grinning like a fool, but she didn’t care.
“God, this place is dull. Earth has been setting up colonies all over our galaxy for two hundred years—you’d think they’d have learn how to dress these places up a bit.
The first impression people get…boring,” Sara said as she dropped her knapsack with a thud.
“I think it’s stunning.”
“You would. I bet you’re twitching to grab your notebook. Do a quick sketch.”
God, she hated it when Sara did that.
But she’d get her friend back. “You have your papers, right? I don’t want them to throw their doctor out the airlock ‘cause you left them on the shuttle.”
“Oh for the love of…they’re right…” Sara frantically patted down her jacket, searching every pocket.
“It looks like about a ten-, no, fifteen-minute wait. Better hurry.”
“Check your bag.”
“Ha! Here there they are.” Sara pulled the papers from the end pocket of her travel bag, stood triumphantly and waved them under Haylie’s nose.
“Excellent. Now put them in your coat pocket so I can keep an eye on them.”
Haylie laughed. She was
this happy. But after months of preparation and the lengthy trip, she was finally at the colony. She was about to embark on the next phase of her life, one where she was in complete control. It was going to be heaven.
“I don’t think I would have made it off Earth without you. I’d have forgotten to get on the shuttle,” Sara said and gave Haylie’s hand a squeeze.
Haylie rolled her eyes. While Sara was a highly accomplished doctor, she tended to be a bit unable to manage the daily details of her life.
But at least she had one.
Sara grumbled and gave her travel bag a light kick. “Why is this taking so long?
They knew we were coming.”
“We’re the first settlers to visit the colony in over a year. I think they’re allowed to be a bit disorganized.”
“Pffft. They’ve had lots of time to plan.”
Haylie set her own duffle bag gently on the floor next to Sara’s. “What was it the shuttle pilot said again? Oh yes.” Haylie lowered her pitch an octave. “Due to the large number of settlers arriving and the temporary setup, your expected wait in the hangar bay will be longer than normal. Please form an orderly line and be patient while you are processed.”
Sara’s laugh drew some chuckles from bystanders. “That is so perfect. You missed your calling, hon.”
“Last time I checked, the ability to impersonate pilots’ voices wasn’t a skill sought after by most employers.”
“Well, lucky for you, your qualifications considerably more padded than that.”
And they were. While she had worked like a dog to earn every single acclaim she had gained, it still wasn’t quite enough to win the position as the colony’s security chief last year. She’d been number two. It was pure luck that her predecessor resigned and she’d gotten the nod to take his place.
Mentally, she chastised her slip. Luck had nothing to do with getting the position.
Never luck. Only hard work and an opportunity to make it a success.
As the line moved slowly forward, Haylie danced her bag forward using her feet.
Normally, she would have picked it up to move it, not wanting to ruin the bottom. Her hands twitched, wanting to play with the straps. She was a terrible fidgeter. The last thing she wanted to do was give Sara a reason to tease.
In typical Sara fashion, she had momentarily forgotten Haylie and was chatting with the two men standing in front of them. They were human but definitely not from Earth. And while they were exceedingly good looking and, from the bit she overheard, charming, Haylie wasn’t interested in them at the moment. Because she saw
No chance of confusing
with humans, though the two races looked similar.
Their size and not-quite-human skin tone alone made them stand apart. This one appeared to be some sort of dignitary, out of place in the makeshift arrival area. While the rest of the humans were ragged and tired looking, the Briel looked relaxed as he walked amongst the newly arrived strangers. She quickly looked around, but there were no other Briel in sight.
I wonder what he’s doing here.
He stood just under seven feet. Not as tall as some Briel, but larger than most humans. Well, he was head and shoulders above her at any rate. His black outfit appeared to be more of a tunic than a suit a human might wear. It was simply adorned, not that it needed fancy decorations to catch her attention. The man the tunic clung to was able to do that all on his own. It hugged his chest and well-defined arms before flaring out, concealing the one part of his anatomy she wouldn’t mind getting a look at.
His pants were just as tight, showing off muscular thighs. She shouldn’t stare, but what the hell. She was still too far away to get a good look at his face, but there was something oddly familiar about him.
Her heart pounded and her skin tingled. This had to be the aftereffects of the trip here. That had to be it. She tried to ignore the strange sensations that teased the skin along the back of her neck.
“Yo, Haylie. Line’s a moving.” Sara’s voice sounded amused, as always.
It took Haylie two kicks to get her bag caught up to Sara’s spot in the line. The movement took the edge off her restlessness, but her skin still seemed to itch. She bent slightly at the waist to peek at the dignitary and mirrored the deep frown she saw on his face.
Damn, he looks confused.
She forced her eyes forward and swallowed another giggle as the Briel looked her way. Her face grew hot and she prayed he wouldn’t notice the change in her color.
Smooth, Bond. Nothing better than getting caught gawking at an alien.
They’d accuse her of being infatuated with the Briel and ship her back home.
Her stomach lurched.
No, no, no.
What was going on? This giddy schoolgirl routine wasn’t her. Sara, perhaps. But not Haylie Dawn Bond.
“I need some water,” she whispered.
No one heard, of course. She closed her eyes and tried the relaxation techniques her father had taught her when they’d done the shuttle supply runs between Luna colony and Earth. But each beat of her heart grew louder as it continued to push the rising levels of adrenaline through her body.
Haylie’s eyes flew open when Sara pulled hard on her arm, bringing her in close.
Sara’s voice, a low whisper, was amplified in her ear. “So, Michael and Todd,” she motioned with her chin, “are on the engineering team. They rather fancy taking the colony’s new doctor and security chief out to supper some night in the next week. I told them that we would love to. Haylie?”
She turned her head and blinked. “Yes?”
“Cute guys, date, are you listening?”
“Of course.” She hadn’t heard a thing, but it was best not to admit that to Sara. She wouldn’t understand Haylie’s immediate crisis. If too much energy and a growing arousal could be considered a crisis.
“Then get a little more excited.”
“Sara, we just got here. A date is the last thing I’m looking for.” She hadn’t meant to snap, but the sudden wave of annoyance hit her.
Haylie took a deep breath. “I’m fine. Tired I think.”
“You look a bit flushed. Are you sure?” Sara turned Haylie around to get a good look at her face.
“Maybe it’s the change in the air pressure from what they had set for us when we were in cryo sleep.” She looked at Sara and smiled. The last thing she wanted was for Sara to jump into super doctor mode. Her friend would insist on giving her a full physical before leaving the hangar.
“More likely it’s the change in gravity messing with your head. You’ll adjust in no time.” Sara gave her a gentle squeeze before letting go. “All I ask is that you give me a sign before you pass out. Deal?”
Haylie chuckled and smiled so widely it hurt. “Absolutely. I’ll make sure to give you ten to fifteen seconds’ notice before any loss of consciousness occurs.”
Haylie wasn’t known for her poker face, but she somehow managed to convince Sara. No sense in causing worry if she didn’t have to. Haylie turned away and began to tap her foot to some unfamiliar music in her head. It figured. She finally got her life exactly where she wanted it and things went to shit on her. Leave it to her to screw up her dream job with a bout of hyperactivity.
She couldn’t tell if
was still moving down the line. Damn, she should have turned her head in the other direction. At least she would have been able to sneak a look. As the line shuffled forward another few steps, she tried to locate him again but couldn’t see past the group of five or six that had begun to chat in front of her.
She mentally forced her foot to stop tapping and relaxed her body. This infernal waiting was going to kill her. She didn’t mind lines any more than the next person and no one else seemed to be having problems dealing with the inactivity. She needed a distraction.
Haylie twisted around, checking out the other people in line. She tried to guess what role they would be filling on the colony by how they were acting, how they were dressed. She managed to figure out a few when a movement ahead caught her attention. She sucked in a quiet gasp.
was coming her way. The Briel was smiling, stopping to talk briefly with some of the new settlers before moving on. He struck her as some benevolent ruler having an audience with his people.
Oh good god, he was gorgeous. The shivers returned with a vengeance. The recycled air from the ventilation shaft high above them blew against her back and neck.
Every piston in her body pumped full steam ahead as he inched closer to her. He was so much taller than any of the humans he stood beside. His hair color wasn’t a human black either, lacking the half and semi-tones. She found it odd that he had it trimmed neatly in a fashion that was currently all the rage with the men back on Earth. Maybe he was trying to put everyone at ease.
From the conversations she was overhearing, it wasn’t his hair that was drawing their attention, but his deep rich laugh. The sound traveled over her like a warm caress.
It was hypnotic and Haylie found she couldn’t look away, the pull of his voice too strong for her to resist.
The dark hue of his skin looked almost as if he had spent far too long under an alien sun. She tried to distract herself by figuring out what the color would be. Not quite olive, but darker than a human for sure. She’d check it out later.
This is nuts
! She had to pull it together quickly.
Her heart was racing, palms sweating and the tingling of awareness traveled across her body, pooling in her pussy. All of the short range travel she’d done on cargo runs had never generated this type of reaction in her. And while deep space travel was a bit harder on the system, it didn’t explain the buildup of energy. The nerve-rattling desire that had suddenly built up in her body. Haylie took a deep breath and hoped to ease the tight feeling in her chest. But it didn’t lessen, instead increasing in intensity with each step the Briel took toward her.