Bonnie Rose Leigh
Copyright 2007, eXtasy Books
Available September 1 at http://www.extasybooks.com
Amy Morgan, an Earth born Lionese woman has spent the last few years as first a prisoner then breeding slave for the Black Rose. Rescued from the ice planet where she'd been imprisoned, Amy learns that her entire family and most of her Earth Pride are now hostages of her captor. Not only must she locate and rescue her family and her pride, she must learn to accept the man the Goddess Alana has chosen as her mate, for only by completing the mating ritual, will their mission be successful.
Hunter Shi'Lan has searched the known universe for the women the Black Rose has kidnapped throughout the years. After five years of futile hunting, he connects with a woman—a woman suffering at the hands of her captors. Using their connection, Hunter locates the woman on a planet of ice. Now Hunter must not only track down the Black Rose's home base and rescue an entire Pride of Lionese, he must convince a traumatized woman that she's meant to
be his mate, for only after they complete the bonding ritual will his heart ever be complete.
Excerpt: (unedited and subject to change)
"Which of my traitors do I kill, dear brother? Those who would only help my cause because I hold their families or should I kill their families themselves? I hear you have found your mate. Did you know that her brother is the only male born to her pride in the last nineteen years? Should we kill him or should we continue to torture him with the drugs that make him the animal he has now become? You choose, dear brother, who shall live and who shall die? You will never find us. The Black Rose will forever be out of your reach."
Amy fell to her knees. "Nineteen? He's nineteen now?" Somehow the passage of years hadn't reached to her brother. He'd remained the loveable teenager he'd always been in her mind. How can so many years be lost? How does one woman feel that she has the right to do this? She fisted her hands, her anger finally showing in the changing color of her skin tight pressure suit.
"What gives her the right? What makes her think she has the right to
interfere, to torture and dictate other's lives the way she does?"
Hunter took her by the arm and practically dragged her from the area to the rendezvous point. On their way, they found a severely injured Chrissie. Her arms were bent at odd angles. Her face was battered and bruised, barely recognizable. Cuts, some minor some inches deep, ran up and down her entire body.
Amy searched her mind ruthlessly to see if she'd been left as a spy or for dead. Apparently it was the latter as the woman knew nothing and was near death. They quickly transported her into medical stasis and headed toward the recreation room. As soon as they reached Mikel, they found him directing his people.
"Did you find any traitors on board?"
He nodded. "A few. Some were influenced by drugs. Others were just fanatics following The Black Rose. But your mate's suggestion of taking Empaths along was a wonderful idea. There were several spies. It was just a good thing they weren't in areas where they were privy to any sensitive information. She still knows nothing of our plan. This was just another raid to gather single females. By the looks of it, she has no idea about our impending raid."
"Hull breach now repaired, recommend removal of environmental suits," the computer announced as Maryann walked into the room tugging on the face mask.
"Why the hell can't I take this thing off and what the hell is that I feel
crawling up my aiieee!"
"Uh oh," Amy muttered as she slid her own face mask off, followed quickly by"By the Goddess, not now." She whipped her head around, to find Mikel on his knees, quaking. His gray pressure suit was quickly changing colors and within seconds had turned vibrantly red.
Amy turned her head and looked back to Maryann. Her suit changed colors too and now matched Mikel's. Maryann had her eyes squeezed tight as she panted.
"Well, Hunter it seems these two need a few minutes alone. Why don't we go back to the medical bay and check on Chrissie while the computer counts personnel and finds out just how many people the Black Rose seized this time "
Hunter smiled at Mikel who had begun to groan. Beneath his face mask sweat pooled and heated hunger filled Mikel's gaze. "I think that's an excellent idea, Amy. I think these two have some serious talking to do." Amy watched Hunter's shoulders shake as they made their way out of the Recreation Room. He may like Mikel but he was certainly finding this situation humorous.
"You think Mikel's situation is funny do you?"
"Well, yeah actually, I do. Mikel has been searching for his mate as long as I have. The fact that the suit won't free him until she commits to him, I find incredibly ironic."
"Well how do you think Maryann feels? Her body is being used against her again, but this time she has nothing and no one to fight but her own fears. She's going to feel helpless, then angry that her body is betraying her. I don't think anything about this is funny."
"Put that way, I agree."
"Tell you what, when all the danger is passed let's see who could withstand the pressure in the suit better, you or me?"
Hunter quirked and eyebrow and smiled as though the bet had already been won. "I'll have to take you up on that when we have the time. But right now, we need to question Chrissie then head to our targets. We aren't going to let this latest attack change our plans, no matter what my sister thinks."
Amy squeezed his hand in comfort then went silent. She couldn't imagine what it must feel like for Hunter knowing his sister was the Black Rose and was responsible for the horrendous acts of slavery and sexual torture of others. When she opened herself to the bond she could feel his sense of guilt. It was eating him alive.
She stopped dead in her tracks. Faced her mate. "Hunter," she said lifting her hand to caress his cheek, "what your sister has done as the Black Rose is not your fault. The fact that she's still free is not your fault. Eventually, she will get caught. She will pay for her crimes. And in the meantime, we're going to continue doing just what we are—rescuing those she's captured."
Hunter smiled slightly then closed his eyes as he leaned into her hand as though savoring her touch. "You are too good for me, love. I don't think I'll ever deserve you. I'll pray to the Goddess everyday, thanking her for blessing me with you for a mate."
Amy could feel the heat flood her cheek, could feel Hunter's sincerity
blasting through their bond. He truly felt she was the greatest blessing of his life and she couldn't quite believe it. Her life, her psyche, was so messed up, she might never be whole yet he though she was a blessing.
"And you are, my mate. I will never, ever regret that you are mine. The Goddess blessed me and that's all there is to it. Get used to it. You're mine and I'm never letting you get away from me."
Amy licked her lips nervously then searched his gaze. Was it the right time to tell him what she was feeling? What if something happened to her during the coming battle? And that thought was all it took for her to make her decision. After taking a deep breath, she laid her other hand against his heart, once again caressed his cheek as she looked deep into his eyes. "I think I love you, Hunter. I'm not sure I could live my life without you. Not anymore. You're my blessing."
Amy's heart clenched when she noticed the tears filling her mate's eyes. He didn't even try to hide them from her. When he let the flow freely down his cheeks even though they stood in the middle of a busy corridor, she knew she loved this man. If it was the last thing she did, she'd show him just how much his love for her, his faith in her strengths, and his belief in her courage meant to her.
Wrapping her hand around the nape of his neck, she slowly pulled his head down. Standing on her tip toes, she leaned in and lightly skimmed his lips with her tongue. When he gasp, surprised more than likely by her boldness, she took full advantage. She kissed him, tangling her tongue with his, lingering and savoring his taste. Only when her knees began to quake and threaten to buckle did she slowly draw the kiss to an end.
She turned to face into his neck, doing her best control her wildly beating heart. She heard Hunter clear his throat just before he tipped her face up to his. This time he searched her gaze, seeming to look for something.
"What was that all about, moya?"
She met his gaze without flinching and spoke from the heart. "I don't think I love you. I know I do. It felt the right time to show you, that's all."
"Oh, Moya, the gift of your love will be treasured all the days of my life and beyond."
Now, tears filled her eyes, and she too let them fall. She didn't care what the others in the corridor watching them thought. All that mattered to her was that Hunter loved her and she loved him. That's it. That's all that mattered.
Amy looked around the crowded corridor and smiled. "Haven't you all seen a mated pair in love before?" she said, shaking her head in amusement. She turned back to Hunter. "I think we better get to Chrissie. She should awaken soon from the healing chamber."
Hunter dropped a kiss on the tip of her nose then stepped back. "You're right. Let's get things figured out, speak to the navigator on this ship, and see about destroying the Black Rose and rescuing all their hostages. After that, you and I are going to spend some time exploring just how much we love each other," he whispered following that brazen statement with a wink.
Amy couldn't help but chuckle as she reached for Hunter's hand. "Sounds like a plan to me." Taking her at her word apparently, Hunter made no stops on his way to the medical bay.
Bonnie Rose Leigh
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