Authors: Taylor Dillion
“I can’t work without touching your skin. When I’m finished your ribs won’t be broken,” he told her in his deep gentle voice. “My name is Moz.”
She watched him for another moment and nodded and then told him, “My name is Taylor.” He continued cutting away the wraps. When he was finished her breath was slightly labored.
“I’m going to place my hand under your shirt against your skin,” he told her quietly. She felt the fabric move and then his large hand came to rest on her skin. Heat from his skin seared through her. The sensation was electric. She opened her eyes and looked at him. He looked slightly startled himself as though the sensation was new for him also. The heat from his hand spread and the pain began to ease. She closed her eyes again and simply reveled in the heat spreading from his large calloused hand. After about fifteen minutes, he spoke again.
“How do you feel now?”
“Warm,” she smiled, eyes still closed. The peace she had been unable to find since they’d been taken settled over her.
“I have the overwhelming urge to kiss you,” he confessed.
That statement opened her eyes. He was still but she could see desire had darkened the gold of his eyes. She sat up slowly. His hand slid to her waist but he didn’t remove it. She reached out and touched his cheek and jaw. His face was as smooth as hers. Sliding her hand to his temple she traced the spots which had a slightly different texture and his breath hitched. She smiled.
“The spots are sensitive to touch?”
“When you touch them, they are,” he growled softy. She let her fingers wander into the short silky black hair. He didn’t move but his eyes and his spots both darkened further. His hand tightened slightly at her waist. “You’re coloring is much darker than the others, why?” he asked her.
“I’m a Navajo Indian. Our people have darker skin than those with European backgrounds.”
“You’re beautiful. Your hair is stunning, I can’t wait to see it loose,” he said as he played with the end of her long, thick braid slowly loosening the silky strands. “Who hurt you?” his question was a soft growl.
“Private Jennings, he attacked Rose and we tried to stop him. We failed but Ashaa came to just in time to prevent the attack from escalating beyond the bruises and broken bones.” She continued to explore his features with a light touch. His spots had darkened to almost black and his metallic eyes had turned a deep bronze but he stayed very still.
“What happened to him?” his voice was deep, low and dangerous.
“I think Ashaa killed him. The little green beings dragged his bloody body out of the cell and out of the room. After that who knows,” she explained. She couldn’t stop touching him. She didn’t know what it was about him that drew her. She only knew she wanted to spend as much time with him as she could. She had only just met him but somehow she knew with certainty that she couldn’t live without him.
“Good, then I don’t need to hunt him down.”
She raised her brows at that statement but she knew with that same certainty she couldn’t explain that he meant the words. He stood slowly. The hand on her waist slipped to her back. His other hand slid along her jaw and into her long black hair which now flowed free. He lowered his face till his lips were only a breath away from hers.
“Now is the only chance to stop me,” the soft words feathered across her lips. She smiled and closed the distance. The touch of his lips on hers was even more electric than his hot hands on her skin. The kiss started off gentle and teasing. She opened for him and he took the invitation and crushed her to him. His mouth consumed her. He pulled her tight against him. With him standing between her knees the patient bed made her the perfect height, his erection pressed into her core. Taylor could feel the heat of his body burn through the light fabric she wore. No man she had ever known had made her burn this way. Sometimes she had wondered if she were defective and cold on the inside. More than one man had accused her of being unfeeling and she had to wonder if it were true. She would never wonder that again. His touch, his scent, and voice had started a blaze inside her that threatened to consume them both. His mouth moved across her jaw, down her neck where he nipped her gently making her shiver again.
“You taste like the heavens,” he groaned into her neck. He wanted much more but knew this wasn’t the time. Holding her tight to him, he fought for control. Damn but no woman had ever brought him so close to the loss of control. Her hands stroked down his back. He shifted and pressed his forehead to hers and looked into her eyes. His breathing still slightly labored.
“You have no idea how tempted I am to lock that damn door and pretend no else exists. Unfortunately, Dezek is about to knock and tell me I have to return you to your leader and get back to work,” he told her with a regretful smile. A tone sounded and they both smiled. He shifted back from her slightly before answering. “Yes?”
The door slid open and Dezek strode in. He surveyed Moz for a moment. Dezek’s eyes narrowed before they widened and Moz laughed. Taylor looked over her shoulder and then laughed and rested her head against Moz’s shoulder.
“Moz, get your hands off that woman and return her to her guardian. Sienna is about to gnaw on the walls.” With that he turned and walked out of the room as laughter broke out behind him.
“You heard the boss.” He helped her off the bed and threaded his fingers through hers and led her into the passageway. “This isn’t finished.” His eyes smoldered.
“I certainly hope not,” Taylor told him with a smile.
The door in front of them opened and he ushered her into the room where there was a delicious smell in the air. She glanced around and then she frowned slightly, “Where is Ashaa?”
“Someone is caring for her, I promise,” he said.
Before he could say more, Sienna noticed them and came across the room to hug her.
“Are you okay?” she asked. But she already knew the answer, Taylor’s serenity smile was back in place and she breathed easier.
“I’m much better thank you,” Taylor said with her smile. Sienna then noticed her slightly swollen lips and mussed hair and the intertwined fingers of the pair. Her brows rose and Taylor laughed. “Really, I’m fine.”
“Have something to eat and let me see what else Dezek needs done. I’ll come back when I’m done,” Moz told her as he kissed her lips and left the room.
“Something I should know about?” Sienna asked with a smile.
“Really, then why do you look like you were kissed senseless?” Sienna leaned in and whispered.
“Because I was!” Taylor laughed and headed for the table. Upon reaching the table she knelt next to Zabyss. “Are you alright?”
Zabyss squeaked excitedly and wrapped several tentacles around Taylor. Taylor hugged her back.
“Zabyss happy you back. You better, friend?”
“Yes, I’m much better now. We were worried about you when we woke and you weren’t with us,” Taylor assured her.
“Trusky not nice. Zabyss not like,” the little orange creature huffed indignantly.
Taylor laughed and looked around and went to hug Rose and Jasmine. Rose, she could tell was much better. Sienna pulled out a chair for Taylor and served her some of the soup.
“Eat. Have you seen Ashaa?”
“No. Moz said someone else was caring for her,” Taylor assured her.
Rev was starting to worry. He’d had his hands on her for nearly an hour and she was still unconscious. He also wasn’t sure how she was maintaining her camouflage while unconscious. He had never seen anyone do that before. Usually injury would cause their kind to return to their natural coloring but then he had never met a female Zargarzian before. As far as he knew no one had in nearly five hundred years. Females weren’t born to their people any longer due to the stupidity and arrogance of the fore fathers which had split the people into warring factions and nearly caused their extinction. Their DNA was dominate when they mated with one of four species they were compatible with so most of their traits weren’t lost. But the pairings still only produced male offspring so mates were gathered from those four species. Maybe the Mirkndaks were wrong and she hadn’t been green or spotted. Maybe the Trusky was a liar. He just didn’t know and it irked him. He swore hotly under his breath. He was going to need his little brother. He cursed and paced the room. He watched her then hung his head. He needed help. Time to face the little brother.
The door opened as he started for it and Dezek entered.
“How is she?”
“No change. We’re going to need Vax in here. We both know he’s the strongest empath and healer we have on board.” Rev spit out the words that left a bad taste in his mouth. It galled him to need his little brother’s help. Dezek grinned at him. He knew how much the words galled Rev to say. The door slid open as Vax and Moz entered.
“Problems?” Vax questioned.
“Yes, no change in her condition. I had my hands on her for a solid hour.”
“Maybe you just don’t have the right touch,” Moz, always in search of ways to irritate the big man his brother called best friend, said buffing his nails against his shirt. “I’ll try my magic hands.” He wiggled his fingers at Rev who started to growl. Dezek laughed and stepped between them.
“Unfortunately, my mother would be really upset if I let you pummel my little brother into oblivion,” Dezek told Rev standing between him and Moz. His younger brother knew how push Rev’s buttons almost as well as Rev’s own.
Vax laid his hands on her and went still.
“Are you sure she’s Zargazian?” Rev frowned at Vax and Ashaa. “Maybe the Trusky was just telling tall tales.”
“No,” Moz and Dezek said at the same time. Dezek raised his brows at his brother.
“Taylor confirmed she was colored exactly like me.” Moz explained.
“Sienna and Rose also confirmed the sighting.” Dezek supplied. The three men waited on Vax to tell them more. Suddenly, the human skin tone began to fade and the pale green with telltale dark green spots began to appear. Vax continued his deep concentration and lines of strain began to show on his face. Rev raised his brows in question with a look to Dezek. Dezek nodded and the two moved to Vax’s sides so they’d be close if it became necessary to break the connection between Vax and the unknown hybrid. After a few more minutes, Vax lifted his own hands and stepped back. He shook his head several times rubbing at his temples.
“Nasty Mirkndaks damn near melted her central nervous system down. She needs to rest but Rev made more progress than he realizes. The slow and steady seems to have done much for her,” Vax explained. “She’s actually in good shape, just exhausted at this point. I have no idea how she was managing to maintain the camouflage in her condition. She fought it like a black hole but I shifted her out of it, it’s using way too much of her energy. But I can detect your residual energy still in her and she’s still with us. Let her rest a few hours, then, you’ll need to connect with her again. I don’t want to confuse her by adding anyone else’s energy to her.”
“Sienna isn’t going to like this,” Dezek smiled. Vax frowned at him.
“Why does that make you smile then?”
“Because, Kid, she’s gorgeous when she’s mad! Plus I’m having fun keeping her off balance. I can tell she’s too used to being in charge and bearing all that weight alone. She doesn’t realize it yet but I intend to make sure I’m the one standing next to her when we get home,” he laughed. “Come with me to deliver the news in case she snaps and injures me.”
“She’s your mate,” Vax said with a surprised look on his face.
“Yes, why does that surprise you?”
“Well, more than once you’ve said you didn’t know if you were cut out for mated life.”
“I hadn’t met
,” Dezek said with huge grin.
Vax shook his head and followed Dezek. At the door he paused and turned back.
“Stay with her. It shouldn’t be long before she wakes,” with those instructions he turned and followed Dezek. Vax smiled to himself thinking about Rose. Moz told them he was going to check if Axon needed help to finish securing cargo since they’d left so quickly.
The door slid open and HE was back. Only he wasn’t smiling and he didn’t have Ashaa with him.
“Sienna, can I speak with you?” She rose from the chair and followed him to the passageway. “Ashaa still isn’t conscious but Vax said she is doing better.” Sienna looked to see Vax had taken a seat next Rose and was completely focused on her and her alone. She looked at Dezek as though trying to read his thoughts.
“Can I see her? Please.” Her concern was apparent on her face and he decided not to tease her on this. It was obvious she had become attached to the hybrid in the time they had been captive together. He had a suspicion that she was an instinctive care taker and guardian to everyone in her circle. She probably didn’t even realize she did it. Everyone depended on her, but, she didn’t depend on anyone. Independence was a fine thing in a mate, to a point. Call him recessive but he wanted her to lean on him.
“Come with me.” He led her down the passage way to the room that contained Rev and Ashaa. They entered the room and Rev was sitting in the chair next to the bed with his eyes closed. Both of them wore the green color scheme. Sienna frowned.
“Is he okay? He looks as exhausted as she does now.” She said quietly watching Rev who also appeared to be sleeping.
“Being an empath is not always easy,” he explained. “Using that empathy to heal another being can be taxing. Her nervous system had taken a huge hit from the Mirkndaks’ weapons.”
Sienna reached for Ashaa, and Dezek intercepted her hand. She looked at him questioningly. He shook his head gently.
“Vax doesn’t want anyone but Rev to have contact with her right now. She is one of us and therefore empathic. He’s afraid too many energy signatures will confuse her nervous system more,” he explained still holding her hand. She nodded but didn’t pull her hand away.
“She’s empathic?” Sienna questioned. When Dezek nodded, she closed her eyes against the pain the thought caused her heart and squeezed his hand. “She felt every one of the deaths the Mirkndaks carried out, didn’t she?” she asked in a hoarse whisper that held tones of horror after opening her eyes to look at him.
Dezek nodded with a serious face, “It’s one of the reasons the weapons did so much damage. She was already under extreme duress.” Sienna wanted to cry again or throw things or something that would release the hurt and anger but remained calm with a huge effort. The beautiful Ashaa had given no clue as to the pain she experienced while helping them.
“I feel horrible. She was trying to help us protect Rose. She also healed the first black eye Jennings gave me.”
“Who is this Jennings?” The question was a low growl and the look on Dezek’s face was fierce and feral.
“He was a soldier from the base. He was in the cage with us on the Mirkndak ship. He went crazy a few days after the Mirkndaks took us and we realized they were eating us. He suddenly attacked Rose. That’s how we wound up with bruises, Rose’s broken arm and the broken ribs for Taylor and Rose. Ashaa probably caused enough injuries that he died even before the Mirkndaks could eat him.”
“Why did he attack Rose?”
“He was going to rape her.”
“I guess he got lucky that I can’t get to him then,” was the soft dangerous reply.
Sienna didn’t know what to make of that statement and so she just looked at him.
“Come on, we’ll let them rest and you can assure the others she is getting better. We also need to assign all of you to quarters so you can sleep.” He led her from the room back to the lounge area. She didn’t realize he was still holding her hand until she saw Samantha grin and wag her brows at her. She tried to pull away but he didn’t let go just smiled at her. And just like that she wanted to smack him, again!
Vax and Rose approached them together. Vax’s face had that look Dezek knew meant he was troubled.
“We need to talk and Sienna needs to be there,” he conveyed softly. He and Rose exchanged a look. Sienna was puzzled by this but allowed Dezek to lead her back out of the room. He entered a door halfway down the passage. It looked like a large room in a nice hotel with a bedroom suite to one side and a small sitting room suite on the other with a small dinette table and four chairs and possible bar/kitchenette tucked into the corner. Dezek sat on the small sofa and pulled her down next to him still not having released her hand. Rose and Vax sat together in the oversized chair opposite them.
“First, my connection with Rose failed to disengage. The connection is telepathic and empathic. I’m fairly certain it’s permanent,” Vax started. “I don’t know how I did it and even if I figure it out, I don’t want to break the connection anyway. It’s too right.”
“Kid, you’re killing me here.” Dezek ran his hands through his hair which left it in a slight disarray. Unlike himself, just into his third decade, Vax was very young to be recognizing a mate.
“What does this mean?” Sienna asked.
“When I was healing her wounds my mind created a connection to hers in order to move the healing energy from my mind to her wounds. It should’ve dissolved when I let go of her and it didn’t. It was such a natural feeling for me that I didn’t even notice it was still with me until about ten minutes ago. I started thinking I’d ask her if she wanted to have dinner with me, just the two of us, and surprised the heavens out of both of us when she heard me and answered back mentally.”
“Does this happen often?” Sienna asked.
“Not usually. Some of us recognize our mates instantly at the first meeting but usually the connection comes with time and physical mating. I’m guessing Rose had a strong empathic nature to begin with and it was reinforced when Vax used his energy to heal her. When humans connect with us it also opens the section of your brains that most of you haven’t yet evolved to access. That portion controls not only the empathy but telepathy as well. The connection just doesn’t usually happen this fast,” Dezek answered. He looked at the young couple and smiled and shook his head. “Well, your mother will be happy. One of her boys has a mate.”
“Now, wait just a minute, Rose is only seventeen,” Sienna protested hotly.
“Vax is only twenty-one but it doesn’t matter,” Dezek told her gently but firmly. “Trust me once that link has occurred, there is no disrupting it. Look at them and tell me what you see.” He looked at Sienna with a curious face.
Sienna looked at the couple carefully while trying to open her tired mind to possibilities normally found in fiction. After a moment, it became clear what Dezek was trying to tell her.
“Peace, joy, love, connection: two halves of a whole.” She sighed and shook her head as Dezek nodded and Rose and Vax beamed. “I’m still concerned about this but I see the point. What was the second item and please don’t tell me it’s as disconcerting.”
Vax looked extremely uncomfortable. He looked at Rose and they both grimaced.
“Oh, hell, just spit it out!” Sienna finally snapped when the tense silence stretched too long for her nerves.
“Three of your group are pregnant.” Vax stated baldly.
“WHAT!” Sienna was on her feet pacing. “Oh, God. Oh, God. It’s not you, is it?” she eyed Rose.
“No!” Rose laughed.
“Thank god. Who?”
“Samantha, Holly and Blanca,” Vax said quietly.
Sienna’s face paled and she collapsed into the chair. “Blanca. You’re kidding me, right?” When he shook his head, she sighed, “Her father is going to have a cow.”
Dezek was frowning deeply, his expression troubled. Vax and Rose shared a look.
“What is that look for?” she asked them.
“Sienna,” Dezek began. “Her father is never going to know.”
“Wait, what? Of course…” Sienna stared at him and the dawning comprehension crossed her face and she closed her eyes. “You’re not taking us home, are you?”
“No,” was Dezek’s soft reply, remorse coloring his voice. “Even if contact with your world wasn’t forbidden by the Coalition of Planets’ Council, you told us the suPonicks destroyed the base you were on so no one would know they had been there and had taken Ashaa. If you were to return, how would you explain your survival? If you tried to tell them there are aliens they’ll try you for treason, commit to you mental facility or just make you disappear to shut you up.”
In her heart she knew he was right. But it hurt so much to know she would never see her grandmother or any of the other family again. “Samantha is married, what will she do? I know don’t know about Holly we just met her after the second abduction.” She couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. Relief at being rescued by a group of obviously caring people only to learn she would still never see home was just too much. The tears slid down her face and she broke into sobs. Dezek nodded to Vax who took Rose from the room. Dezek picked Sienna up and sat back in the chair with her in his lap, rocking her gently. He let her cry knowing the emotions were better released than strangled inside her. He sent a mental message to Fazon to see the others were settled into quarters on this deck and to show the Xydrav to the hydroponic level where she would be more comfortable in the higher humidity. After Sienna had been quiet for a while, he gently ‘pushed’ her mind into a sleep pattern. He sat holding her a long time while she slept before he carried her to the bed and gently placed her there. He lay beside her for a while not wanting to leave her. It bothered him to see the fight go out of her. They might not ever achieve the telepathic connection that would allow her to respond to him mentally that Rose and Vax now had but the empathic connection between them was strengthening that he could feel. He also knew he couldn’t rush her.