Driving in the rain is the worst, especially at night. This stretch of the 70 through Colorado was awful. The bends, twists and steep inclines were enough to make any driver weary. I’d lived here long enough that I knew it well and it still gave me the creeps. I made a note to see about pushing up my Zumba class, so it ended before it got dark. I hoped my clients wouldn’t mind. It was getting to be fall soon and snow was horrible in the mountains. I couldn’t be the only one who hated driving in this weather.
As if to spite me, the torrential down pour picked up. I flicked my wipers on as fast as they’d go. Not that it helped much. I might need to pull over. I’d do it a little after this next bend. The last thing I needed was to get rear ended. Or hit something.
It was like I had a sixth sense tonight. I gasped as I rounded the corner. There was something burning in the middle of the road. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was ginormous and there was no way for me to go around. I slammed on my brakes. My car skidded, hydroplaning across the ground. I pumped the brakes.
“Please stop,” I whispered repeatedly. It wasn’t going to happen. I clutched the steering wheel and screamed. The front of my car smacked into whatever was in the road with a sickening crunch. I was thrown forward, my seat belt caught me slapping me back into my seat. The air bag deployed and hit me like a punch to the face, and a puff of white blinded my view.
“Ugh,” I said as I caught my breath. For something meant to help you, airbags sure did pack a mean punch. I pushed on the airbag making it deflate as fast as I could. It was a good thing too.
Flames billowed over my car. The smell of burning rubber filtered into the cabin. Oh shit. My car was on fire too. I had to get out of here.
I shoved on my door. It wouldn’t budge. I yanked and tugged on the door handle, but it refused to open. My eyes went to the hood of the car. Flames were crawling up the metal closer to me. My pulse thundered in my ears. Gas and fire were a bad combo. I undid my seat belt and crawled out of my seat to the passenger side. When I pulled on the handle the door thankfully fell open. I climbed out and darted away from my car, not stopping until I’d reached the other side of the street.
I turned back and covered my mouth at the sight. Fire had engulfed my car. I patted my pants in search of my cell. Thank God for pockets in workout pants. I pulled it out and unlocked it ready to call 911 when I saw movement by where my car and whatever the hell that was in the middle of the road.
A man stood up, or he tried to. He made it halfway up and then collapsed.
He needed to get away from there. That fire was raging. I shoved my phone back in my pocket and ran back to the inferno.
“Hey, Mister,” I screamed as I flailed my arms trying to get his attention. “You have to get away from there.” I didn’t know how long it would take for my car to blow but it was covered completely in flames already. The fire was burning so hot it was almost white. The heat took the chill from the air. I was starting to sweat. Me and this guy needed to get out of here.
I hurried around the flames and found him laying on the ground. He had long blonde hair that might very well be longer than mine and he was shirtless and shoeless. Weird but I’d worry about that later.
“Hey, we have to get you out of here.” I came around him and put one arm under his shoulder. Somehow, we managed to get him to his feet. He was massive. Probably at least a foot taller than me and he was all muscle. We stumbled forward. He tripped and almost fell. It was through sheer strength of will that I kept him upright. We had to get away from the vehicles. I had no plans to die today.
We kept moving and made it to the tree line. Not a second too soon. The ground shook and we were thrown forward as my car erupted. We tumbled down a small hill and landed in a deep puddle, sending a splash of water up when we landed. I coughed and spat the sludge from my mouth. Great! My cell was probably ruined now too. I turned so I was leaning on my elbows and watched as what was left of my car turned into an inferno. Flames shot at least twenty feet into the sky. My car was a total goner.
At least my night couldn’t possibly get any worse. This was just what I needed. Not! At least I’d saved the guy. I turned to look at him. Whatever was in the road didn’t resemble a car. So, what was it? I tried to get a good look at the guy, but I only had the light of the fire, and we were a distance from it.
He hadn’t moved since we’d collapsed over here. He was lying face up. At least I didn’t have to worry about him drowning in all this water. What if he was injured or worse? I crawled toward him and looked down at his chest. I still had no idea why he was half naked, but he was ripped. And breathing. Thank goodness. Wait a second.
I squinted and stared down at him, leaning closer to inspect his chest. Were those scales? They were flesh colored, so it was hard to tell but his skin looked off. I reached into my pants and plucked out my phone, praying that it worked so I could turn on the flashlight. It did. That was a small miracle.
I shone it down on him. They were scales. Flesh colored scales. How in the world was that possible? People didn’t have scales. It had to be a tattoo. A really well designed one. I put a finger on it. It felt weird, scaly. Not possible. It had to be some sort of weird body art. People did all sorts of crazy things nowadays
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Aurora took a step back, regarding me with weary eyes. She held a blade in her hand that I hoped she wouldn’t try to use. I knew why she was afraid, but it still hurt. She had nothing to fear from me. I’d keep her safe, always.
“What’s our status?” I asked.
She blinked and then came out of her revere. The knife thankfully got tucked away. “Shields are nearly depleted. I’ve run a work around to keep them up, but we don’t have enough power to jump and…” she trailed off her eyes widening in obvious alarm.
I frowned as weightlessness washed over me. My body lifted off the ground, floating upward toward the ceiling. We’d lost gravity. That couldn’t be good.
Aurora grabbed onto a lever and used it to pull herself toward a console. She held on with one hand and used the other to type as her legs floated upward like she was laying on the air.
“I don’t understand, core systems are still online. We should have gravity,” she said reaching up for the comm button over her head.
As she did the gravity kicked back in throwing us both toward the ground. I reached out for her, but I wasn’t close enough. I hit the floor with a jar. One knee gave out and jammed against the grates.
Aurora fell. Her forehead smashed against the console with a sickening crack and her body fell backward. I jerked toward her catching her lithe frame before it contacted the floor. She didn’t move.
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My parents sold me as a child into slavery, but I escaped and have been on the run for six years. I just made a mistake that might cost me my freedom. I trusted the wrong guy. Gray was charming and kind, and I was starting to fall in love. But he works for the king that enslaved me. When we crash land on a planet, I have no choice but to work with him. He says he’s trying to protect me. My heart wants to believe him, but it’s not just me I have to worry about. I have a secret too, one that we created together. I’ll do anything to protect my child.
Aurora thinks I betrayed her. I would never do that. Fate brought us together for a reason. She is my soul mate, and I’ll do anything to protect her. I need her to trust me, but the secrets I still keep would scare her away. We share a common enemy. If caught, they’ll kill me and return her to the Orion as a courtesan slave. I’ll protect her at any cost. I just hope I don’t lose her forever.
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I moved back home for a fresh start. Instead, I crash my car, save and alien’s life and then got abducted by more aliens. I’m on a freaking spaceship with these crazy blue aliens and the things they insinuate terrify me. My only hope is my cell mate, also an alien. He looks mostly human, except for his fins and eyes. I don’t have much choice but to trust him. I can’t fly this ship by myself, and we have a common enemy. My gut tells me I can trust Loc. He’s kind, strong, and maybe a little bit sexy. I just hope I’m not making a mistake.
I barely survived the crash landing on a strange planet when the Orion descend on me and the beautiful female who rescues me. Taken prisoner, I have no time to see if my sisters survived the crash. My priority is escape. The feisty human, Max, seems to agree. Together we take over the ship. But can we get back to her home world? I must protect Max from the evils of my galaxy. I’m drawn to her. My world is dangerous, and I make it my mission to get her home. But if we get to Earth, how can we possibly have a future together? Aliens don’t exist in her world.
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Heat enveloped me. I tried to get up but there was something pressed against my side. A moment of panic washed over me until I remembered Gray. His arm was flung loosely over my waist holding me to him while he slept. I sighed contentedly before carefully rolling out from underneath him so as not to disturb him.
Light shone in from a crack in the metal shutters, illuminating the room enough for me to make my way to the lavatory. My eyes drifted to Gray as he grunted and reached out in his sleep. I smiled at the sight already eager to climb back into bed. He really was a sight to look at.
Maybe after the lavatory, we could continue where we left off last night. I took a step and hissed as my foot landed on something hard and poky. I jerked my foot away from it, but the gold glint of a badge caught my eye.
My heart skipped a beat as I stooped down to pick it up. I held it up in the streaks of sunlight filtering in through the drawn curtains. Gray was no freedom fighter. He wasn’t even a bounty hunter. He was something far worse.
He was the royal guard for Prince Kai of the Orion regime. And he knew exactly who I was. I dropped the badge to the floor and stifled a scream. I had to get out of here. I wasn’t going back, I’d die first.
Tears pricked my eyes. A few droplets escaped, cascading down my face until I wiped them away. How could I have been so wrong about him? I thought he was a good man. I thought he was different from everyone else. He was the worst kind of scum alive. He'd used my vulnerability against me. For fucks sake, he was probably planning to turn me in to his prince the moment he arrived. It had all been a ruse to not only get me but the entire crew of the Nightfall. That bastard. I would never make the mistake of trusting him or any man again.
“Aurora?” Gray asked sleepily as he stirred in bed.
I gasped, my heart thundering in my chest I was too late. He was already awake. I grabbed my clothes and started yanking them on.
“What’s wrong?” Gray was out of bed and by my side in an instant. He grasped my forearm lightly. “Aurora?”
My hand whipped upwards connecting with his face before he could stop me. “You’re a member of the royal guard. You lied to me. You used me.” I hated the way my voice trembled with my accusations. Traitorous tears pricked my eyes.
“Aurora, wait.” His other hand reached out to grab my other arm.
I yanked it away and put it on his cheek to cup it. Inhaling I let out a deep breath to center myself. “Let go of my arm.” My pheromones permeated the room as I used my power of compulsion.
Gray’s pupils dilated as he inhaled my scent. His grip loosened and he swallowed. He was fighting me. “Let go.”
He still held my arm. No one had ever resisted me before. How was I not affecting him? “Let go,” I said through clenched teeth.
His fingers trembled before they dropped away from my arm. “I…what are you doing?”
I kept my hand on his cheek and stood on my tip toes to place a chaste kiss to his lips once again pushing my pheromones at him. The moment my lips touched his I felt that spark between us again. I cursed under my breath hating that I still felt something for him when I meant nothing to him. “You used me. Why? Was this all some sort of sick game to you? Were you and Prince Kai going to have a good laugh about my stupidity when he showed up?”
My bottom lip trembled, and tears rolled down my cheeks. I didn’t really want to know the answer to my question. I’d let myself fall for him like an idiot.
“What? No. Aurora.” He went to reach out to me again.
“Don’t move,” I whispered. My emotions must be stopping me from having the effect I wanted. I could control him if I could reign in my own feelings.
“I was going to tell you.”
“Liar,” I hissed through gritted teeth. “You used me.” I grounded myself and pushed another dose of pheromones at him. “Did you know they used to have me use my skills for interrogation too? I’m able to use my pheromones to compel people. I could make you tell me anything. Make you do anything.”
Gray opened his mouth and closed it. His eyes widened slightly.
“Oh, was that not in my file?” I asked darkly as anger surged through me. He’d played me. I opened my mouth to ask him why he’d done it again but couldn’t bring myself to do it. If he said he’d used me for whatever reason it would crush me. How could I have been such a fool?
“Go back to bed, Gray.”
“Aurora,” he said his voice gravely as he tried to fight me.
I gave everything I had into one final push. “Go back to bed.”
He nodded and took a step back. I wasn’t sure how long I would have before my effect wore off. He was unusually strong and good at resisting me.
Dressing quickly, I slipped out of the room and turned on my comm to alert Echo that we needed to leave immediately. I wasn't going to allow my carelessness to get everyone captured and we needed to get out of here before he snapped out of my spell.
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Guardian Daire has one mission: eradicate the lycanthrope before they can prey on the citizens of St. Joseph, Michigan. Then, he meets the stunning Grace. He’s an immortal dragon shifter tied to the goddess Astraea and bound to the constellation Aquarius. He can never have anything more than a passing relationship, but that doesn’t stop him from coveting her. The full moon is quickly approaching, and if he fails his mission, Grace and all the residents of the tiny town will become victims of the lycanthrope.
Single mom Grace is barely getting by, living paycheck to paycheck. Luck isn’t on her side, and things only seem to be getting worse. Little does she know, her whole world is about to get turned upside down. Grace is thrust into a world she never knew existed. Lycanthrope are real, and she's got a target on her back. Determined to work with Daire to save her town, she offers to help the Zodiac guardian. He’s immortal, and she’s human. But that doesn’t stop her from craving his touch.
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War is brewing between the packs.
Devon must protect his mate and his family at all costs.
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“How bad is it?” One voice asked. There was that voice again. I know that voice. It’s…it’s Cedric. Anger clouded her vision as her commander’s betrayal rippled through her.
“Let me see.” Cedric pushed through the crowd, causing her to gasp when her suspicions were confirmed. He wore a rebellion black jumpsuit, but he was here with the World Alliance. She tried to speak but her words got caught in her throat. Her commander had betrayed her — the entire team. Cedric had led the beta team straight into an ambush. Bastard! She had to do something, but her body simply refused to move.
“Her leg’s shot. Two bullet wounds: one to the chest, the other her shoulder. One’s hit her lungs. She needs a medevac now,” another person answered.
Lara’s eyes drifted shut. Her last thoughts were wondering why they were trying to help her. Why would he save her? The truth hit her and she forced her eyes back open. The cyborg program.
“Keep her alive,” Cedric said. “She’s a valuable asset.”
Her fear was confirmed. No. She wasn’t going to let them turn her into one of those monsters. She fumbled for the gun that was still in her palm. There had better be at least one bullet left. If she took Cedric out then he couldn’t betray anyone else at least. How many soldiers had died because of him? Jack. It hit her like a ton of bricks. The mission Jack died on as one where the intel had come from Cedric.
I’m going to kill you.
Someone grasped her wrist, tugging it sharply to the side. The bones snapped under the pressure, causing her to scream, but instead of a shriek, it sounded more like a gurgle to her ears.
The soldier plucked the gun out of her hand and handed it to someone else. She let her eyes fall closed again as fear filled her. What were they going to do to her? What were they going to make her do?
She didn’t get an answer to her questions: again the darkness pulled her into its tight embrace.
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Bethany Shaw writes paranormal, science fiction and contemporary romance. Vampires, shapeshifters, and good old-fashioned romances are her favorites. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she enjoys creating fun and imaginative characters and worlds.