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Authors: Aubrey Ross

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Codename Spring

BOOK: Codename Spring
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Codename Spring

Aubrey Ross

 

Undercover Embassy, Book Three

 

After the Gathosian takeover of Earth, Spring is one of the few remaining doctors tending to the survivors. But she has a secret role—spy for the Resistance, disguised as a pleasure ambassador. She’s heard the legends of Evard Keenan, the alien chemist who supposedly discovered a way to break the aliens’ control. When Evard sends for an ambassador, Spring knows it’s her only opportunity to recruit him.

She anticipates the mission’s danger, yet she’s unprepared for the passion that ignites with their first kiss. Never before has she so ached for another. She’ll complete her assignment at any cost. But how will she find the strength to walk away?

Evard is every bit a captive as the people of Earth to the ruthless Gathosians. He knows the Resistance is his only hope of escaping, and he’s just as sure Spring is part of the group. But to communicate his needs he must create a telepathic bond with Spring, formed both from lust and intimacy. Beyond desire, he needs her trust.

 

Codename Spring

Aubrey Ross

 

Chapter One

 

With his heartbeat thundering in his ears, Evard Keenan triple-checked the results of his most recent simulation. If this data was accurate—and he had no reason to believe otherwise—he had finally found a stable antidote for the Gathosian compound.

Hope and dread bombarded him from opposite sides, shredding his composure. He wanted to shout for joy and scream in frustration but he couldn’t afford to draw attention to himself with any sort of emotional outburst. Concealing his conflict behind professional detachment, he quickly saved the simulation and encrypted the file. He pushed back from his workstation and stood, glancing around the modest lab. Everything was neat and orderly and he was alone.

What had he expected? He was always alone, unless he counted Inwatta’s unwanted visits or the infrequent appearance of one of the guards.

Inwatta, his enemy and tormentor. She often appeared when he allowed his thoughts to dwell on her, so he tried to shove the subject from his mind. The Gathosians had arrived on Earth four years ago but he’d been their prisoner much longer. His people, the Bartonese, had the unhappy distinction of being compatible with Gathosian energy. The Bartonese also had regenerative capabilities seldom found in humanoid species. As a result, they were often used as physical hosts and corporeal anchors for the interdimensional conquerors.

Evard gave himself a firm mental shake. Thinking about Inwatta’s people was not drawing his thoughts far enough away from his hated captor, and it was imperative that he solidify a strategy before he encountered her again.

It had taken him the better part of six years to refine the formula and he still wasn’t certain it would work in real-life conditions. How could he move beyond theory when he was isolated from the rest of the world? He needed access to a fully mechanized lab and numerous test subjects.

Earth-based technology was a bit primitive but it was easily salvaged from the abandoned cities. Finding people willing to participate in a clinical trial would be no problem either. The Gathosians used addiction as their primary control mechanism. Every person on Earth, from the lowliest worker to the heads of the Protectorate, craved regular doses of the compound.

Which meant freeing the population from this addiction was counterproductive to the Gathosians. They would kill Evard without hesitation if they realized he’d succeeded in mapping the elemental makeup of their compound and systematically constructing a combination of chemicals that would nullify its effects.

Did you miss me?

He caught a shimmer out of the corner of his eye as the thought spread through his mind.

I’m sorry I’ve been so neglectful lately. It hasn’t been by choice.

After weeks of spiteful attempts to motivate him to submit to her twisted desires, Inwatta had been suspiciously absent for the past few days. Evard suspected her superiors had taken her to task for her erratic behavior and neglecting her duties, but he couldn’t be sure. All he knew was her absence had allowed him the time he needed to finalize his formula.

“I’ve had plenty of work to keep me busy.” Pouring energy into his mental shields, he blocked her intrusion as much as possible. An energy tether anchored her to his mind, so it was never possible to shut her out completely. However, forcing her will upon him risked brain damage and a brain-damaged anchor was no use to her. So she preferred indirect motivations when settling their differences.

He walked to the wall nearest the sparkling cloud that indicated her presence and activated the display. He’d prepared this file months ago, hoping the day would come when he would need it. “You asked me to refine the compound, to strengthen each dose by twenty-five percent so the drug can be administered less often.” Information scrolled down the wall, complete with diagrams and projections. “If these simulations are correct, I’ve increased potency by thirty-seven percent. This will lower your cost as well as decrease the amount of compound needed to sustain the current population.”

Has the new compound been tested?

A thrill shot up his spine and he fought back a smile. She had neatly stepped into his carefully laid trap. “Shall I try it on the guards?” He tried not to sound too sarcastic, but he’d stopped pretending to feel anything but contempt for her years ago. “They’re the only humanoids with whom I have any interaction. Unless you expect me to try it on myself, of course.”

Her illumination spun and darkened, taking on the basic shape of a person. He didn’t know if the Gathosians had corporeal bodies in their home dimension. Their interest in tangible resources indicated they did. Yet her obsession with physical pleasures seemed to be caused by never having experienced them before. Either way, it was only their energy and consciousness that traveled between dimensions and wreaked havoc on other worlds.

“You need something from me, and I want something from you.” Her voice was audible now, the tone decidedly female. More and more these days, Inwatta chose female characteristics. He wasn’t sure if she related more easily with the gender or if she thought it pleased him. “Can we finally come to an understanding?”

He touched the wall, deactivating the display. “Increased potency benefits you. I couldn’t care less if it works or not.”

She spun around the room like a petulant tornado, knocking over chairs and toppling a utensil tray. He watched the display with dispassionate indifference. They were locked in a stalemate and she knew it.

Hovering in front of him again, she shoved him back with the force of her bluster. “You are the most irrational creature I have ever encountered! Why will you not allow me this one pleasure?”

“This one pleasure” was fucking some unsuspecting female while Inwatta inhabited her body. No, it was even more disgusting than that. Inwatta wanted him to willingly have sex with her while in the host body, to pleasure her in any way she requested, knowing all the while that she was his enemy.

“You can inhabit my body at any time and force me to do whatever you choose. I can’t stop you and we both know it. But I will end my life before I willingly give you pleasure.” He spoke the vow without rancor or passion. It was a simple statement of fact.

After a long, tense pause, Inwatta asked, “Will you let me watch?”

He closed his eyes with a heavy sigh. “Why won’t you let this go? You’ve forced me to perform every sexual act you could think of since I’ve been your anchor. You must know what sex feels like by now.”

“That’s just it. I’ve either compelled or coerced you every step of the way.”

Unsure where this unexpected turn was leading, Evard opened his eyes. “Then what do you want from me this time?”

“I will arrange for as many test subjects as you want if you make love to a female of your own free will. Abandon yourself completely to the pleasure. Hold nothing back.”

His pulse raced and his mind buzzed with possibilities. He couldn’t allow her to see how important these test subjects were or how tempting he found her suggestion. Not since before his captivity had he immersed himself completely in carnal pleasures, allowing himself to be utterly swept away.

He shrugged then crossed his arms over his chest, retreating into his role. “I said it before, testing the refined compound benefits you, not me. What do I get out of this arrangement?”

“What do you want? You can’t imagine how well I’ll indulge you if you’ll just stop fighting me. Most anchors are spoiled rotten. They live in comfort and luxury. You won’t allow me to pamper you.”

Most anchors were traitors who willingly sold their souls to the enemy. Asking for his freedom was a waste of breath, but he had to think of something. Something she would be reluctant to grant, yet within the realm of possibility. “I want three full days and nights alone with the female first, and I mean completely alone. If I sense you for even a moment, our arrangement is null and void.”

Inwatta glowed brighter, her excitement rippling into Evard’s mind. “Two days alone, and on the third night you allow me to flow freely between you and your lover.”

“You said you wanted to watch. That means outside, looking in!”

“We’re negotiating. If you want to be alone with her, you have to offer me more.”

He shuddered, revolted by the compromise. Always before Inwatta had been in control, using his body like a puppet for her own enjoyment. Cooperating with her on any level made it all the more degrading. But there was so much more at stake than his pride, or his pleasure. If the antidote was ineffective or even toxic, he had to know before it was distributed among the masses.

Unable to bear the humiliation of what he was about to do, he looked away from Inwatta. “No compulsions and you keep your presence light enough that the woman is unaware.”

“Agreed.”

Hating himself a little more with each passing moment, he asked, “Where will you find the female?”

“That’s entirely up to you. Would you prefer a refinery rat or a pleasure ambassador?”

What an abysmal choice. The Gathosian invasion had left human females with very few alternatives. “I want her willing, but the thought of fucking a woman who has been passed around from man to man is…distasteful to me.”

Inwatta scoffed. “Then you’re on the wrong planet. Monogamous relationships aren’t just impractical, they’re basically impossible under the current circumstances.”

“You’re the ultimate authority in this sector. I will not fuck a terrified virgin, but I don’t want a practiced whore. You’ve been in my mind often enough to know what appeals to me. Find me such a woman or our deal is off.”

* * * * *

 

“All right,” Saroji said with a laugh. “What’s so urgent? Or are you just trying to avoid the grabby jerk in exam room two?”

“The clinic is fully staffed and we both need a break.” Jocelyn looked at her friend and smiled, unsure how to broach the real issue. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a couple of days, but we can’t seem to catch a break at the same time.”

“Well, I doubt it will take long for someone to come looking for us, so speak,” Saroji urged with playful impatience.

Saroji was one of the few people on Earth that Jocelyn trusted implicitly. This conversation shouldn’t be so awkward. She stepped closer and lowered her voice as she continued. “I’ve been committed to the Resistance since I met you, but I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in.”

Her pale-blonde hair swirled about her shoulders as Saroji shook her head. “You’re more valuable than you think. Without your skills and access to medical supplies, those the Gathosians consider expendable would die without treatment. Your web of influence spreads wider than you realize.”

It was a bit of an exaggeration. Saroji’s primary function was counselor, but she was also a trained medic, which gave her access to medical supplies. Though they were both loyal to the Resistance, on the surface they served the Protectorate. Of course, everyone on Earth fell under the authority of the Protectorate now. And the Protectorate enforced the will of the Gathosian invaders.

Afraid their conversation would be overheard, Jocelyn had taken Saroji to a secluded courtyard nestled in a lesser-used section of the medical complex. The gardens were neglected and the trees in desperate need of pruning. So much of Earth was simply deserted because of the drastic reduction in the population and the forced shift in priorities. The staff had cordoned off sections of the sprawling hospital for living quarters and most seldom ventured beyond the overgrown grounds.

“I’m first and foremost a doctor,” Jocelyn stressed. “That will never change. However, I see the value in what Autumn and Ra’jen are doing. Their operation is—”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Autumn runs the most profitable embassy on the planet, and General Noirte is her lover.” Saroji’s smile was anything but innocent.

“Ra’jen is your half brother.” Jocelyn laughed. “Does he make everyone use his title?”

Saroji stilled and her expression turned serious. “The point is, you must maintain appearances at all times. One seemingly innocent slip could get us all killed.”

“You’re right.” She paused and chose her words more carefully. It was unlikely anyone was listening, but it was foolish to take chances. “I never thought I’d enjoy being…a pleasure ambassador, but the rewards far outweighed the risks.”

Ambassadors and embassies. No matter how the labels evolved, the world’s oldest profession never changed. At least not on the surface. Not all of the women working for Autumn were actually prostitutes. She also operated the Codename project, an elite network of female spies. And it was this exclusive offshoot of Autumn’s embassy that had captured Jocelyn’s interest.

Challenge crept into Saroji’s smile while her eyes darkened from silver to smoky blue. “One night of make-believe and you’re ready for more? I should have realized the excitement would appeal to you.”

“It was exciting and dangerous. I still can’t believe what we were able to accomplish. When Autumn first explained the expected outcome of the evening, I literally laughed. I didn’t believe it was possible, and yet we succeeded.” She leaned in and whispered, “Without any loss of life. I can’t help it. I want to do it again.”

Saroji pulled a small device out of her pocket and turned it on. “This is probably overkill but we need to talk specifics.”

BOOK: Codename Spring
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