The door to Walker’s bedroom is wide open. As I approach, I try to think of what I’ll say when I wake him. But when I arrive at the threshold, I find him awake, sitting on the windowsill, gazing out at the night sky. He’s wearing nothing but a pair of jeans, and his dark hair is wild, as if he’d been tossing and turning before he got up.
I enter without announcing my presence, but a creaky floorboard does it for me. Walker turns his head slowly to watch me approach. He doesn’t seem surprised to see me in his bedroom.
I stand next to him and look out the window to see what he’s gazing at. The sky is pitch black and studded with twinkling stars of various sizes and colors. It’s not a city night sky, muted by light pollution. It’s a brilliant, shimmering cloak wrapped around the world, beckoning us to embrace the night.
When I turn away from the window, Walker is staring at me, a new quiet confidence in his eyes. The moonlight paints silvery streaks over his cheekbones, collarbone, and pectoral muscles. He looks beautiful enough to paint.
Taking a cue from the look in his eyes, I turn toward him to let him see all of me. His gaze skims over every inch of my body, stopping for a while on my breasts. Taking a step forward, I take his hand in mine and hold it for a moment. When his eyes look up to meet mine, I lay his hand on my chest, so he can feel my heartbeat.
The corners of his mouth turn up at the sensation of my pulse pounding against his fingertips. “You are real.”
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#1 Bestseller in Historical Fiction Top 100 Bestselling in Paid Kindle Store Best Cover Award Winner Readers’ Choice Award Winner Best Sci-fi Fantasy Novel Winner
Author Tish Thawer writes paranormal romances for all ages. From her first paranormal cartoon, Isis, to the Twilight phenomenon, myth, magic, and superpowers have always held a special place in her heart. Best known for her Witches of BlackBrook series, Tish’s detailed world-building and magic-laced stories have been compared to Nora Roberts, Sam Cheever, and Charlaine Harris. Tish's books have been featured in British Glamour and Elle Magazines. Tish has worked as a computer consultant, photographer, and graphic designer, and has bylines as a columnist for Gliterary Girl media, RT Magazine, and Literary Lunes Magazine. She currently resides in Missouri with her husband and the youngest of her three wonderful children. Tish also operates Amber Leaf Designs, an online custom retail store, and is represented by Sarah Hershman of Hershman Rights Management.
A common FAQ: “How do you pronounce her last name?” Answer: Think “Bower” or “Thow-er.” It’s Persian!
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“How the fuck did you get in here?” she demands.
“Your bot let me in,” I say, putting up my hands. Because her eyes are lit up white. She looks like an evil silver demon in this moment.
“What?” She whirls to address the Rexbot. “What the hell? Why would you let him in here?”
The bot flies up out of her reach just as she takes a swipe at him with her metal spoon. His chirping fills the room and my eyes follow him as he descends high up into the dome.
But then I get lost in the view.
The fucking view. I walk forward, unable to even process the threats that come spilling out of Veila’s mouth because I can’t quite believe what I’m seeing.
The thick, reinforced vacuum-grade plasti-glass dome starts at the floor, curves all the way up—several levels up—and allows me a full-on view of one side of the Harem Station ring.
But that’s not what has me breathless.
Because this ship—due to the nature of the top-level airlock on the outside of Harem—is positioned in such a way that looking from one side of the dome to the other affords a view of both of ALCOR’s gates.
I’ve seen them together before. When you enter the ALCOR Sector through one of the gates you can see the second gate immediately because they are positioned on opposite ends of Harem Station. And if you swing your ship around in the right way, you can see both of the gates at the same time.
Typically no one does that. So when you enter the sector you only see the gate you’re aiming at, and not both.
Right now, standing here in this dome, on this ship, in this dock, I can see them both at the same time and when I tip my head up I see the blobs of suns and the reddish-purple nebula that everyone calls the Seven Sisters. They are far, far away. Thousands and thousands of light years away.
When open the gates are fiery blue-violet rings with long, crackling tendrils of purple reaching out along the perimeter like flowing hair in zero-g. The inside of the gates are a deep, blue well of… well… no one really knows what the inside of a gate is made of. Space, for sure. But blue space, not black space. So some different kind of space.
“Wow,” I say just as Veila’s metal spoon cracks against the side of my head. “For fuck’s sake!” I yell, turning to face her. “What the hell?”
“Why are you here, sneaking around my place?” She’s fuming. Like if she wasn’t wearing that stupid frumpy shirt and her hair wasn’t all messy, I’d be afraid of her.
But somehow, despite her blazing silver eyes, she can’t quite pull off the whole villainess thing. So I just kind of smirk at her and say, “Calm down, you silver freak. The bot let me in! I just told you that!”
She grits her teeth and sets her jaw, clearly unable to reconcile me invading her space.
“What are you doing? And why are you dressed like that?”
Her brows furrow in confusion. Then she looks down at herself, realizes she’s wearing her comfy clothes and someone just caught her in them, and then the rage is back. She picks up a long knife from the counter and points it at me. “Get out!”
But I’m not ready to get out. I need answers and maybe she doesn’t have all of them, but she has some. “What’s going on here? Is this ship your home?”
Her knife is shaky in her hand as she continues to point it at me. “Get. Out. Or I will cut your throat with this knife from across the room.”
But then the damn knife is hurling through the air at me and I just barely slide to the side in time for it to miss piercing my throat.
Grayton Beach Dreams
Cassidy glanced around. “Um, can we talk somewhere for just a quick second?”
“Sure,” he said, picking up his board. He led her through the doorway to the stairwell, maneuvering his board through, and then hefted it expertly up onto a wall mount, the muscles in his tattooed arms rippling as he worked. He turned around and faced her, still dripping from the ocean, his shorts sagging, those muscles below the stomach that form a broken V on broad display.
She glanced around at another door that must have exited to the outside, and then to the staircase in front of her. She pointed upward. “So, is this your apartment?”
“Yeah, did you want to…”
“No, no. I just,” she said, inhaling a deep breath, “I just came here to say that I’m sorry about the other night.”
“I think you probably realize that I sort of freaked out a bit after we…” She trailed off, unable to believe that she somehow had lost part of her own vocabulary.
“Had sex?” Jesse asked.
She closed her eyes, the heat seeping up to her ears. “Yes, thank you.” This was ridiculous. He had moved on from her now, was probably onto the next girl already. For all she knew, he’d already slept with some other girl. He was a bartender with an apartment above his bar. How convenient did it get?
She just had to spit this nonsense out so she could move on and never see him again. She’d send Marigold with the cookie order from now on, and if she couldn’t come, Cassidy would hire a courier, or just admit that cookie recipes can be found on the backs of chocolate chip bags.
She met his gaze, trying to garner her courage. “Jesse, what happened the other night…I don’t do that.”
“Okay,” he said, resting his hands on his hips, his six-pack on full display.
Look up, Cassidy. Look up.
“I realize that it’s no big deal and that people have one-night-stands all the time. But I come from a time where that wasn’t as prevalent as it is now, and I’ve never really enjoyed them like many women do.”
He lowered his chin. “You didn’t enjoy yourself?”
She held up both hands. “No, I very much enjoyed myself. I’m just trying to explain why I had such an…” He inched toward her, causing her to lose track of what she’d been saying. “Ungraceful exit,” she somehow managed to finish saying. Despite her pleas with herself, she looked down at his stomach. “Is that a raven tattoo?”
He touched it with both sets of his fingertips. “Yeah, I’m sort of a book nerd. I love Poe.”
Her exhale of the breath she’d been holding was loud and included a little chuckle, because this was just getting ridiculous. A book nerd? Was he kidding her?
Her gaze slid to the other side which showcased a tattoo of a self-effacing quote about masculinity. She studied it, her brain reaching for its place but coming up short. She met his gaze, making a question with her eyebrows.
“Hemingway,” he said. “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Geez. The fact that he loved books enough to plaster tattoos celebrating them on his body just made her even more fascinated with him. Stop it, Cassidy.
She shook her head, trying to clear her brain for the task ahead. “So anyway, I’m really…” He moved in closer, his hand on the wall beside her head. She swallowed hard, then continued, “sorry that I…slept…with…”
His lips were on hers at the same time her hands cupped his shoulders, squeezing them for dear life. His lips tasted like the ocean, but his warm tongue on hers tasted like him…all man and all need. He pressed his hips into hers for just a moment, and then pulled away. “Sorry, I don’t want to get you wet.”
The Living Canvas
Claimed by the Demon Hunter
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