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Authors: Natasza Waters

Code Name: Luminous

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A Warrior’s Challenge series

Book Four


Natasza Waters


Sensual Romance


Secret Cravings

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Secret Cravings Publishing Book

Sensual Romance


Code Name: Luminous

Copyright ©

E-book ISBN: 978-1-63105-380-1


First E-book Publication:
November 2014


Cover design by Dawné Dominique

Edited by Tamara

Proofread by Laurie White

All cover art and logo copyright ©
2014 by Secret Cravings Publishing


This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in
whole or in part, without express written permission.


All characters and events in this
book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is
strictly coincidental.



Secret Cravings Publishing


the warriors who dedicate their lives to a greater cause, and a greater good.

to love, which shows them the way home.




No writer brings a book to
publication without many moving parts. I love all of mine.

My family, who gives me the time I need to allow my stories
to breathe life.

Tamara Hoffa, you are more than an editor, but I think you
know that.

Justin Tatum, you are the face of Tony (Tinman) Bale, and I
know you understand what a warrior is, because once upon a time you were one.
From soldier to model, a new journey for you has begun. Good luck!

Waters’ Warriors, thank you for your help and support.

Tonya Smalley and Sheri
my BFFs who live too far away, but are never far from my heart, a thousand
hugs. T.J. Mackay, you’ve made sacrifices that many don’t know about, but
that’s what a brave woman does when she changes the world.

Once again, I thank the warriors around the world who stand
boldly in the way of our enemies, but never lose grip of their humanity. May
you all have loving arms waiting for you at


The Cravings

The Cravings Paranormal


you heard about the newest idea in
, the
club? Secret Cravings Publishing has two
clubs, The Cravings
Club or the Cravings Paranormal
Club, and we
invite you to become a member.


As a
new member, you will receive
a Cowboy*
by Sandy Sullivan and
Blood Kisses**
by H.N.
FREE, just for joining!


also receive
specially selected by our Editorial Director, every month in a variety of
genres for a total price of only $9.99 for all 4. This comes out to barely
$2.50 per book,
much less
than the retail price and you’ll be able to
enjoy your books
even before
they are
uploaded to the popular sales sites.
One of several privileges of club membership.


Trouble With a Cowboy
, a western, erotic romance:

18 wheels had her heart until one hard-up cowboy found her
' up her heels and propositions her to take his bull
to Vegas.


Hawkins drives big wheelers for a
'. Something not a lot of women do. Littleton Oklahoma
is just a dry stopover for a few hours of rest and relaxation at the nearest
needs to find a hot cowboy to release some
of her pent up frustrations on for the night, but wannabe's aren't her style.


Tucker Marshall needs a big-rig driver to haul his prize bull
to National Finals Rodeo and he needs one fast. Who would have thought he'd
find one
' pool at the local bar dressed to
kill and takin' numbers?


Can some slashed tires and an ornery bull bring two
hard-headed people together for some fun in the sun and a little more?


Blood Kisses
(Nightwalkers 1)
, paranormal erotic romance:

Brown, the author of the popular Nightwalkers series, lives a quiet life free
of the limelight.
She keeps her
real identity secret by writing under the pen name, Victoria Allure.
She soon finds herself in a bind when
she's kidnapped by a group of handsome vampires seeking Victoria.
She then agrees to meet their Master,
who's a huge fan of her books.
instead of meeting him, she accidentally crosses paths with her rock star
He is the sexy muse behind
Nightwalkers and the man she based the hero in the series upon. She would do
anything to meet him but little does she know her crush has a secret...


We will try to match your
books to your
however, if you’re a major
paranormal fan, we suggest you join the Cravings Paranormal Club. Everything is
the same except that three of your four books will be paranormal. The remaining
book will be of a different genre.


As a
club member, you will also receive:

our monthly newsletter

sneak previews of new books

exclusive interviews with your favorite authors

special offers not available to the general


join, visit the Secret Cravings Publishing website. At the bottom of the page
you’ll see a button for the club. You can sign up there and share your
preferences for genre, format and heat level with us. You will be charged,
automatically, through PayPal, only $9.99 every month.
Your b
ooks will be shipped within 1 day after PayPal payment has cleared.
You may cancel at any time by clicking on the “unsubscribe” button located on
the Cravings Club tab at the bottom of our website and keep the FREE BOOKS as
our gift.


We hope
our Secret Cravings books will delight you each and every month.



Beth Walker


A Warrior’s Challenge series

Book Four

Natasza Waters

Copyright © 2014


Chapter One


Lumin paced across the hotel room, stopping at
the window to gaze at the mountains skirting Las Vegas. She squinted as the sun
breached the peaks, spearing her eyes. A pre-recorded message on her phone
droned on while fear chilled her to the core. She laid her palm against the
glass. The heat of the July morning penetrated its thickness, but not the cold
reality of the moment.

The voice directed the caller to press the
appropriate number for different departments. None sounded right. Her
fingertips slid down the glass as the little bit of hope she clung to
. The bed sheet she held to her body drew taut as
she twisted. Swallowing hard, her gaze swept over the man’s body lying
on the bed.
Yeah, he was still dead.

“Press zero for an operator,” the voice
Why did they always leave
that to the end?

“Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, how may I
direct your call?” the woman on the other end asked.

“Please.” She cleared her throat. “I need to
find someone who works on your base.”

With a healthy dollop of boredom, the operator
inquired, “What department does he work in, ma’am?”

“His name is Tony Bale, he’s a SEAL, uh, Team
One, Alpha Squad. Can you please find him for me?”

“One moment, please.”

Lumin squeezed the cotton sheet between her
fingers and breathed out slowly while her heart thumped in her chest. How could
she have gotten herself into this? She knew better. She was smart.
In Las Vegas she’d learned to watch and listen,
but never slip into the darkness that was an unseen counter-balance to the
bright lights and tourists who lost their restraint in an adult playground
indulgent of misdemeanors, if not sin.


The operator’s voice made her jump. “Yes?”

“Petty Officer Bale is not on the base.”

“Could you find him, please? This is very

“Ma’am, we do not give out personal

It sounded like the switchboard operator was
going to hang up. There was no one else she could share the information with.
She’d met Tony Bale last December when he’d asked for her help. Pedro Quadero,
the head of a large cartel operating in Las Vegas, had kidnapped a little girl.
She’d taken Tony and his friends, Mace and Nina, to Steven Porter, a powerful
man in Las Vegas who helped them find Quadero. Steven Porter and his wife,
Moira, were like Lumin’s adoptive parents, but they couldn’t help her now. If
she involved them they might all end up dead. Tony was a Navy SEAL; maybe he
would know what to do.

She altered her voice, professional, calm, the farthest from what
she was feeling. “This is extremely important. Mr. Bale told me to call him if
I had information of a—” She paused.
“A sensitive nature.
You don’t have to give me his number, but can you patch me through to him?”

A deep sigh penetrated the phone line.
“One moment.”

Lumin stepped to the room’s control panel and
checked the air temperature. She was freezing, and switched off the AC.

“Tony Bale.” His voice enveloped her like a
warm blanket. Optimism glinted like a shiny coin for the first time since she’d
opened her eyes this morning.

“Tony,” she whispered, holding back tears of
relief. “It’s—”


“I’m sorry, but I didn’t know who else to

“What’s going on?”

Loud music in the background, water splashing,
and the laughter of small children and adults filled the airwaves between them.
She bit her lip with doubt. They’d only spent a short time together last
December. She pictured Tony in her mind, his image clear. A lean body with
roping muscles and a chest any woman wanted to be held against dangled in her
thoughts. Their meeting, although brief, seemed unfinished when he’d left her
on the steps of Steven and Moira’s home.

While every man in Vegas looked at her and saw
a tall blonde whose legs they wanted to lie between, Tony had looked deeper.
His eyes broke through her exterior and saw more, making her nervous and
excited at the same time. Tony’s actions, the way he talked about the little
girl they were trying to find, and the way he carried himself proved to her he
was brave, noble, but when trustworthy popped into her head she knew she’d hit
on the right word. “I think I’m in big trouble. You need to tell me what to
do.” The signal cut out, and her heart leaped into her throat. “Are you still

“I’m here, sweetheart, what kind of trouble?”
he asked, his voice hardening. “Is it Quadero? Did he find out you

The adult voices in the background ceased.

“No, it’s not Quadero. Where are you?”

“In Mexico.
Nina and Mace just got married. Are you in Las Vegas?”

Lumin hooked her fingers in a strand of hair,
tugging to replace her rampaging fear with pain. She hesitated.

“Don’t hang up,” Tony commanded as if sensing
her misgivings. “You can tell me, Lumin. I can hear you’re scared. Whatever it
is, you’re not alone, okay?”

“Do you know what
Yersinia Pestis
is?” she blurted.

A deep rumble from Tony’s throat preceded his
“The Bubonic Plague.”

“Yes. In the
Ages it was passed through contact, but imagine if it were engineered into an
airborne virus and mutated every thirty-six hours. It would kill millions of
people.” She licked her dry lips. “I think they’ve made one.”

“The Bubonic Plague is a
and who is
, Lumin?”

“I—don’t know who they are, but I think they
know who I am.” Her voice stuttered. “You must have contact with people who can
look into this. I heard a name, Dr. Clifford Bjornson. That might lead you
somewhere. I have to go.”

“Wait! How do these people know you?”

Lumin dropped the sheet and reached for her
dress. She pulled it over her head. Squeezing the phone between her ear and
shoulder, as she did up the buttons she said, “Because Dr. Bjornson’s partner
is lying dead in my bed.”

“Okay, listen—I want you to drive to San

“I don’t have a car.”

“Then get on a plane and fly to San Diego.
I’ll meet you.”

“But you’re in Mexico.”

“I’m leaving now. Wait for me. Stay in the
airport until I get there.”

“I can’t.” Lumin twirled, looking for her
flats. The tip of her shoe poked out from under the couch. She bent to retrieve
it, and dug her hand underneath to grasp the other. “If they’re trying to find
me, I’m not going to draw their attention to you. I just wanted someone to
know. You’re the only Navy SEAL I’ve met.” Her voice choked off in fear as her
gaze slid over the carpet and came to rest on the dead scientist. “I don’t know
what killed him. He doesn’t look sick, but he might be infected and now maybe I
am too.” Fear squeezed a tear from her eye, and rolled down her cheek. “I can’t
take the chance of infecting others if I am.”

If he isn’t showing signs of the Plague than he
died some other way.
Get on a plane and wait for me in San Diego. I’m
coming.” Tony’s voice softened. “Don’t make me track you down, because I will.
We’ll lose time and it sounds like time is running out.”

A bang on the door made her pulse jump. She
waited to hear the words “Housekeeping” but they didn’t come, only another hard
“Too late.
They’re here,” she whispered,
backing away. There was nowhere to go. She was on the thirtieth floor of the
Grand Palms Hotel with no way out.

Tony’s voice strained tight. “Sweetheart, do exactly what I say,
and do it quick.”


* * * *


Four hours later Tony hit the San Diego
terminal gate at a full run. Nearly at the head of the lineup for Customs, he
turned on his phone. Lumin had followed his instruction and luck helped. The
men who broke into her room didn’t want to stick around with a dead body on the
bed, and he’d counted on it, telling her to hide between the mattress and box
spring, concealing the edges with the sheets.

A couple with burns that screamed “give me
Aloe Vera or give me death”
the only people ahead
of him in the Customs lineup. Checking if he missed any calls from Lumin, he
spared a glance at the agents, hoping he didn’t get the old gal who wore a
scowl like she had it out for the world. He thumbed the numbers in his cell
till he found Lumin’s number.


“I’m just about through Customs. Where are
you?” he asked.

“At the bus stop.”

“Bus stop?

“I could pay cash.”

Lumin might be scared, but her focus and good
sense were intact. Keeping his attention on the kiosk, he suppressed a groan
when the old biddy Customs agent became available. “I’m up next. Take a cab to
this address.”

“Where is this?” she asked, after he gave it
to her.

“My condo.
I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes.”

“Tony, maybe I shouldn’t. Not until I know for
sure if I’m infected or not. Getting on the bus was risky enough.”

“Don’t argue with me, Lumin. I know for sure.
If you were sick, you’d be experiencing symptoms by now. Get in a cab. I’ll see
you in a few minutes.” He plastered a charming smile on his lips. Old, young,
didn’t matter. He had the gift of drawing women’s attention. For once it was
going to come in handy for something besides a roll between the sheets.

Keeping his patience and his answers short,
Tony tapped his foot. The old girl gave him the stamp of approval, and he took
off at a fast run. He pushed past two businessmen and hustled through the
airport doors to the taxi stand.

Cutting off a couple of young tourists about
to step into a taxi, he apologized. “Sorry, it’s an emergency.” He grabbed the
gal’s bag from the back seat and thrust it at her.

“We can share,” she said, smiling at him and
raising her shades, giving him

“Sorry, beautiful.” He hopped in and closed
the door, giving the cab driver his address. Traffic was light on the Coronado
Bridge. “Can you hurry it up, buddy?” he said to the Mexican driver.

“No speed. No ticket.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony gripped the door handle,
his heart hell-bent on overdrive since departing the team in Mexico. Mace
offered to come, as did the other guys, but he and Nina were on their honeymoon.
They didn’t have a lot of time before their next deployment and needed their
time together.

The cab came to a neck-snapping halt in front
of his condo, and he jumped out. Lumin stood in the entryway nervously watching
her surroundings. His heart rolled over and sat on its haunches seeing her.
Lumin’s straight blonde hair coursed over her shoulders and rested against a
divine body. Checking the area as he approached her, he noted all was clear.
She spotted him, but didn’t move. Fishing for his keys, he stopped within
touching distance and stared into the blue eyes that had wandered into his
dreams for months since he’d seen her last.

“I didn’t know who else to call,” she said as
if in apology, her forehead rippling.

“You called the right guy. Come on. Let’s get

Tony cracked the door to his first floor condo
and stalled to be certain the space was as he left it.

“Something wrong?” she asked, standing close
enough to feel her aura chafing his.

He reached for her bag and slipped it from her
shoulder. “Coast is clear. Make yourself at home.”

Lumin followed him in and he turned up the AC.
The July heat in San Diego could melt you into a puddle. A text bleeped its
intention and he knew it was Mace.

Got her?

Roger that

On our way.

Negative, I’ll handle this

Wife’s orders.

Beads of sweat gathered on Lumin’s forehead,
and her cheeks flushed. He led her to his leather couch. “

She nodded and sat down.

“I’ll get us something to drink and you can
tell me what’s going on.”

“Just water, thanks.”

Tony cracked the fridge. “I’ve got beer.”

“I don’t drink alcohol.”

BOOK: Code Name: Luminous
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