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Authors: DJ Michaels

Freedom's Fall

BOOK: Freedom's Fall
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Freedom’s Fall

DJ Michaels

 

Book Three in the Dragon Alliance series

Tansy Coleman is a fighter. She survived being taken from
Earth. She even survived her captivity as a rich man’s mistress. Now she’s
free—and safe—she’s ready to embark on her long road to recovery.

She’s determined to build a life with Rye and Dev, the two
sexy dragon riders who rescued her, and to do that she must not only face her
demons but conquer them. With their help she tries to reclaim her sensuality,
but the scars of her imprisonment run deep.

And then her past comes back to haunt her, reopening old
wounds and putting her life at risk. Once more she fights, but she fears the
weight of her past will drag her under and all her progress will count for
nothing.

Tansy found the courage to fall in love—now she has to find
a way to fall into freedom.

Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and
scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!

 

An
adult science fiction romance
from Ellora’s Cave

 

Freedom’s Fall
DJ Michaels
Prologue

Eight weeks ago

 

Tansy was almost too scared to believe she might finally be
free. She couldn’t bear the idea that this rescue mission might fail, so she
went through the motions and refused to think any further than the next five
minutes. Then the next, and the next.

She’d learned to compartmentalize since she’d been stolen
from her home in Australia and brought to this alien world. In the last two
months she’d been exposed to physical, emotional and sexual torture—and the
only way she’d survived was to box it up and keep it separate from who she was.
The real Tansy was a fighter, but the woman who existed in this luxury prison
had to be smarter than that to survive.

Without quite meeting her eyes in the mirror, Tansy pulled
her long, black hair into a ponytail and quickly braided the loose strands.
Snatching a few personal items from the bathroom, she stuffed them in an empty
pillowcase and headed to her dressing room. An array of sheer, filmy gowns and
silk robes hung in colorful splendor and the sight of them made her feel sick.
They were the only clothing she was permitted to wear—no outerwear or shoes
were provided for her.

Pulling out the single opaque nightgown in her closet, she
smoothed it over her tall, athletic frame. Then she donned a red silk robe and
belted it as tightly as she could. Shoving the last few items into her
pillowcase, she walked to the doorway and flipped off the light. She didn’t
look back and she prayed she’d never have to set foot inside that place again.

There were four other women making this escape with her, and
they all lived in apartments on the forty-eighth and forty-ninth floors of the
Residence. Their rescuers were coming in from the roof, so the women were
meeting on the fiftieth floor, a space reserved for a common pool area.

As Tansy walked along the corridor she tried to appear
relaxed and casual. There were security cameras everywhere, and she had no
reason to doubt the vigilance of the guards monitoring them. When she met up
with her new friend Sorcha, they simply smiled at each other and fell into
step.

Sorcha was the reason this rescue was even possible. When
the kidnapped Earth women had arrived on Gemarra, they’d been taken down to the
surface in shuttles. One of those shuttles had been commandeered by Enforcers
and the thirty women on that craft had been flown to safety on the other side
of the world. Sorcha—as well as Tansy’s best friend, Chelsea—had been on that
purloined shuttle. Unfortunately Tansy had not.

According to Sorcha, the place she’d been taken to was a
technology-free zone. Ion storms on that part of Gemarra made technology so
unreliable that nobody used it. They still had mod cons like air conditioning,
running water and elevators—they just came by them through non-electronic
means.

The continent of Ivasta also boasted lush forests, clear
lakes and four small settlements. Attached to each of those settlement were
dens where battle dragons lived with their partners, the Enforcers who were
responsible for initially freeing Sorcha, Chelsea and the others.

Now eight Enforcers and their dragons were winging their way
to Allsgate to perform another rescue. And this time Tansy would be going with
them. She longed for freedom with a desperation so extreme she didn’t dare let
it linger in her mind. Afraid the fear of failure would cripple her, Tansy
blocked out everything but the need to move forward.

She and Sorcha climbed the stairs to the pool area side by
side. At the landing they stepped into a vast chamber that looked like an
oversized Roman bath house. Each wall was about twenty meters long and adorned
with murals so graphically carnal they made Tansy wince. Chairs and lounges
were scattered about either in conversation groups or in solitary splendor, and
heavy potted greenery formed privacy screens. The entire space was dominated by
a square pool tiled in black. Two water-walls cascaded from the ceiling and
provided just enough sound to cover a whispered conversation.

Hurrying over to where Mackenzie, Sara and Kate were waiting,
Tansy and Sorcha pulled up some chairs to join their tight circle. Stuffing
their pillowcases under their seats, they settled down to wait, their
conversation hushed and their bodies tense.

Sorcha could speak to two of the dragons mind to mind, and
she was keeping the women updated on their rescuers’ progress. They were only
ten minutes away when the door to downstairs clicked open and slammed shut.

Tansy and her friends huddled together like frightened mice
when footsteps sounded on the stairs and Medalyn Consbaregh entered the room.
He was Sorcha’s new “owner”, and Tansy could see by the look in his eyes that he
meant to claim his most recent toy.

Like a slow-motion horror movie, Tansy watched the scene
unfold. The women knew the Enforcers were close, so Sorcha played for time.
Easing out of her chair, she shed her robe and walked toward the man who
planned to rape her.

Tansy fought the urge to throw up. She didn’t want to watch
what Sorcha was about to do. She couldn’t. Squeezing her eyes shut, Tansy tried
to hide in a darkness of her own making, attempting to become blind and deaf.
They were so close to liberation, so close to being taken from this living
hell, and it could all crumble in an instant. Councilor Consbaregh could ruin
their plans with the press of a panic button, and Tansy couldn’t afford to hide
from that.

Eventually she got a grip on her cowardice. When she opened
her eyes, she saw Sorcha on her knees, her hands working the buttoned fly of
Medalyn’s trousers. The son of a bitch was smirking, so sure his place in the
world was unassailable. Seeing Sorcha like that, in a position Tansy herself
had been forced to endure, was too much.

Tansy’s resolve hardened and she rose to her feet. She’d
been a victim of this scene too many times—albeit with a different man—and she’d
fantasized about all the ways she could kill her tormentor. She couldn’t do
much about Willersby Lockmehdyhn, because he wasn’t present. But she could sure
as hell do something to the bastard who wanted to hurt Sorcha.

Using the greenery as cover, Tansy circled behind Medalyn.
She felt more like a timid cat than a predator, and with every step her heart
pounded harder and faster. When she was close enough to her quarry she picked
up the heaviest potted plant she could find. Creeping closer, she smashed it
over Medalyn’s head with all the power she had in her. Damp earth and shards of
clay exploded as the councilor crumpled to the floor.

Tansy stood over him. Her vision narrowed to the gash on his
head and the thick spill of blood that was spreading out on the floor tiles. It
mixed with the dirt, flowed around the chunks of clay and crept closer to her
bare feet.

She stared at the blood and the body, certain she had killed
him. Somewhere in her mind she knew she should be shocked, or at least
concerned about taking another life. But she felt nothing, and for a few
glorious moments she soaked in the absence of emotion. She’d been so frightened
for so long the respite was dangerously seductive.

Tansy came back to herself in a hurry when Sara grabbed her
by the arm and hauled her out of the way. The movement of her body and the
physical contact with her friend yanked Tansy’s mind back to the here and now.
Once again the familiar mix of adrenaline and fear churned in her belly.

As she tried to get a handle on her emotions, Mac and Sorcha
dragged Medalyn to a bench and tied him up. Then they gagged him.

Tansy looked at Sara. “He’s not dead?”

“Not yet.” Sara’s clear blue eyes telegraphed her concern. “Are
you okay?”

There were many answers to that question, but only one Tansy
could give. “Yes, I’m fine. Good to go.” Which was a total lie.

Sorcha hustled over, shoving her fire-truck-red hair back
into some kind of order. “The cavalry’s arrived. Grab your stuff and let’s get
ready to fly.”

They snatched up their pillowcases and stood in a tight
clump behind a screen of ferns. There was no sound, no kind of warning, and
Tansy startled when eight large men appeared at the top of the stairs. They
wore black armor with vicious-looking spikes down the arms and legs, and longer
spikes flowed out from their shoulders and helmets. Two stayed at the door as
sentries while the others moved forward to clear the room.

Their movements were smooth, competent and lethal.
Everything about them screamed professional military, and as soon as that
thought registered Tansy relaxed. She came from an army family, so this was
something she knew. What might have seemed frightening to the other women was
the one thing that comforted her like no other.

When the Enforcers came to guide them out she obeyed without
hesitation, right up until they emptied out onto the roof. As they broached the
wide expanse, Tansy’s heart tried to jump out of her chest and her throat
closed up tight.

The dark sky didn’t show any stars, but the city lit it up
from below with a sickly yellow light. A waist-high wall surrounded the
rooftop, but she knew from personal experience that wall was a waste of
plexiglass. She’d been over that barrier too many times to count, and as the
whir and buzz of the city sounded below them, a different kind of buzzing started
in Tansy’s head. Terror. Memory. It all came crashing down on her and drove her
to her knees.

Her lungs cramped and she couldn’t catch her breath. The
roof was Willersby’s favorite place to torture her, and try as she might she
couldn’t get past the conditioned fear.

She knew what happened up here, and none of it was good. Her
vision narrowed and she thought for one awful moment that she was going to pass
out.

Grasping her stomach, she doubled over, desperately trying
to haul some air into her lungs. She didn’t even flinch when a big pair of
black boots entered her line of sight.

“Tansy?”

She nodded but didn’t have it in her to look up.

“My name’s Devonelle. Dev to my friends.” He dropped to his
haunches but was careful not to touch her. “I know you’re scared but we don’t
have time to talk you down. We’re exposed up here, and the faster we get in the
air, the safer we’ll be.”

She nodded again. Knowing that wasn’t enough, she forced one
arm from around her waist and gripped his hand. “Don’t leave me.”

He curved his fingers around hers and placed his free hand
lightly on her back. “We won’t leave you, I swear. But we need to get you on a
dragon. What do I have to do to make that happen?”

Tansy forced herself to focus, to ignore everything but the
warrior beside her. This was her chance to escape and she’d be damned if she’d
let her fear get in the way. If she couldn’t get off this roof she’d be handing
Willersby Lockmehdyhn the ultimate victory.

“I think…” She licked her dry lips and tried again. “I think
I need a blindfold.” If she couldn’t see where she was going, she wouldn’t
start screaming when she got close to the roof’s edge. She hoped.

“We can do that.” Dev didn’t move, didn’t shout out a
request, but within moments another Enforcer hurried over with a rectangle of
fabric in his hand.

Dropping to his knees and lowering his head to make eye
contact, the new Enforcer smiled. “I’m Rye. Dev and I will be looking after you
tonight.”

His face was a pale blur in the dark, but she did her best
to look him in the eye. “Just get me off this fucking roof.”

“On it,” he replied as he moved behind her. “Just let me
secure the blindfold.”

Once the fabric was in place, the blurry night went black.
Tansy tried to imagine that she was on the ground, tried to will herself into
believing she wasn’t fifty floors high. Her breathing was a series of panicky
gasps by the time someone wrapped her in a warm blanket.

“I’m going to lift you up now.” She wasn’t sure who had spoken,
or whose arms gathered her up and settled her against an armored chest. “Still
good?”

“Yes.” Her voice came out as a jagged whisper. “Just don’t
let go. And whatever you do, don’t drop me.”

“Never going to happen. Dragonback is safer than any
armchair ever invented.”

Tansy didn’t think that was true, but she tried to believe
it. Riding a dragon was the only way off this roof, so there was nothing she
could do but climb on board.

At some point she was transferred from one set of arms to
another and moments later they were airborne. The awkward lift and lurch could
only be the result of a dragon using its wings, and the motion was unsettling
enough that Tansy pressed herself into the arms of her rescuer.

He seemed to understand what she needed, because he held her
tighter and tucked the blanket up to completely envelop her. Cocooned in the
dark and wrapped in an iron grip, Tansy finally relaxed. And not long after
that she drifted into an unexpected but welcome sleep.

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