Dr. Sheleigh O'Brien was supposed to be a scientific observer, not mated to the future ruler of a planet on the cusp of civil war.
She came to study his people. Instead, Kleet Kryszan, heir to the planet, claimed her as his mate, unlocking the passion between them and the secrets of Avera no outsider has ever seen. But their secret hides a darker one--a deep unrest among a faction considered inferior.
Length: Full Novel
Word Count: 90,317
Genre: Futuristic Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, January 2007
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
The young Averan mother’s eyes were huge with terror. She clutched her small child to the front of her body until it whimpered. The two Averans drew back from us as though we were monsters.
This was the strongest fear reaction to humans I’d witnessed since we landed on the planet two months ago. Averans in the capital had grown accustomed to us and no longer flinched at the sight of us. But this excursion was the furthest we’d been from the capital since we arrived. The Averans here had never seen humans before. It was a forceful reminder that they were afraid.
Dr. Sheleigh O’Brien stopped typing her observations as one of her orange curls fell forward into her eyes, obscuring the computer screen. She brushed it back, and then returned her hands to the keyboard. But her train of thought had evaporated like morning mist in sunlight.
She exhaled a disgruntled breath and frowned. She was a trained anthropologist and should have found a reason for their fear by now. Averans looked so much like humans that the depth of their fear didn’t make sense. She’d found nothing in the Averans’ current society to explain their reactions and, for some inexplicable reason, she’d been unable to learn their history. When she asked questions, she received polite silence. Why couldn’t she concentrate hard enough to find answers?
She knew the reason why: Kleet Kryszan, oldest son and heir of the Averan ruler. She’d never felt the desire for another man that she felt for Kleet. Between studying hard for her dual doctorate, then anthropological missions to various planets belonging to Unified Sentient Planets, most of whose species weren’t human, she’d never met a man as magnetic as Kleet. And he was forbidden fruit. Scientists were strongly discouraged from fraternizing with the native population on newly discovered planets like Avera. Too bad she couldn’t seem to keep a clinical detachment about him.
As though her thoughts had conjured him, he dangled a piece of orange food in front of her. She followed the long familiar fingers up the masculine arm to gaze at Kleet’s face. Her heart sped up and her breath caught, as it did whenever she saw him. His dark brown hair set off his burnished skin beautifully. His light eyes sparkled with happiness. They reflected whatever he wore. Today they were the warm gray of his neatly pressed shirt. He smiled and she melted inside.
“I brought you something,” he cajoled in a smooth baritone that caressed up her spine. “It matches your hair. Open your mouth.”
She’d learned to trust his frequent gifts of food.
She allowed him to slip the segment between her lips and she chewed the sweetly succulent fruit. It tasted similar to tropical fruits she’d eaten on Earth.
“Umm,” she relished the morsel.
He smiled at her response and moved around her desk, handing her the rest of the fruit. “I chose the ripest one for you. I thought you’d like it.” He sounded smugly satisfied. Her heart fluttered at the thought that she’d made him feel that way.
“You’re going to make me fat with all this food.” It was hard to think with him standing so close.
He eyed her body, openly hungry, and she grew warm inside. “Never. May I taste it?”
She offered him the fruit, but he sampled her lips instead. The kiss electrified her. A sensual jolt shot to her lower body. She savored the taste of his kiss as hungrily as she’d savored the fruit. His kisses had become more frequent and more ardent lately. They were always exciting and usually unexpected.
“Umm.” The sound rumbled through their joined lips. His hand slid down her shirt to mold her breast and she jerked. “Easy,” he murmured. She tried to calm her rioting nerves. Her nipple pebbled under his stroking hand. Heat pooled in her loins.
His lips moved to her neck to nibble the soft skin there. “When will you give yourself to me?” he invited, not for the first time. A nip on her ear made her gasp.
“You know I’ve never given myself to anyone. It has to be right.” But her protest had begun to ring hollow in her ears.