[BookStrand Futuristic Sci-Fi Romance, shape-shifters, HEA]
As embattled worlds welcome a long-awaited cease-fire, High Commander Ty Draycie seeks evidence against a rebel force undermining his family’s rule of their growing kingdom. Under royal insistence, he takes along on his mission a gorgeous, raven-tressed alien priestess who will serve as lure for a traitor. Disbelieving space tales of shape-shifters, Ty’s mind is filled with want for the pink-eyed witch.
Priestess Zia Valentis has lost much to this shaky new peace. Now a genocidal monster hunts her. Her defense awaits in the majestic white tigress, the priestess’s companion-spirit in the Second Universe. Safety lies in the virile high commander’s guard, but falling into his sensuous temptation will cost her the sacred shift forever. Could she steal Ty’s healthy genes for her dying world without suffering his great power to smash her plans?
The vicious Desert Viper gives chase, ready to eliminate the shape-shifting priestesses of Pygras, beginning with Zia, the shifter held by his worst enemy, Ty Draycie.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
“Ty, where are you taking me?”
Oblivious to Zia’s protests, he tugged her across the soft white sand of the beach and into the blue-purplish ocean. When the waterline reached her thighs, she repeated, “Ty! Where are you taking me?”
“Not half as far as I’d like. Climb onto my back so I can deliver you safely to your hunting grounds.”
“I’ll do no such thing!” But a thought later, she perked up. “My hunting grounds?”
“Aye, priestess. You’ve probably not thought of souvenirs to take back to Pygras.”
She seemed to damn him with her eyes for mentioning home.
Finally, she brightened. “I would like a souvenir, something to remind me…of you.”
She waded to where he bent to compensate for his great height, and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. He tugged her legs around his waist, thinking the position deliciously intimate.
With her aboard, he rose and headed for deeper waters. The two made risqué jokes as the sea rose up their bodies. She wiggled, dealing damage to his concentration.
“Ty, what lunacy is this! Take me back to the shore. I’ll go myself!”
She released him and attempted to swim away, but he held her tight.
“I’ll not allow you to go. Do you not trust me, priestess?”
Soon the water was up to his neck, fractions of distance from his mouth, yet he cared more for the state of her trust in him than he worried for drowning.
“You must trust me. I’ll not have less than your complete faith.”
She ceased her struggle and clung to him, clearly divided by her desire to trust him and her mistrust of the water depth. The sea around them became more tempestuous and active, and they were far from the shore. Unconcerned, he did not stop wading toward the open sea.
After some time, the water leveled out across his chin, as he knew it would, and it stayed there. The lively breeze cut the surf, tossing it. The water level soon dropped down his body. The wind took its rest.
“All you had to do was trust me.”
Rising to the sandbar he knew was there, he let her slide from his back, and he gritted his teeth in silent recitation of the honor pledge to keep his body from reacting to it.
Standing now in knee-deep water, Zia covered her mouth with her hands as she gushed and gasped, “Oh, look, Ty! The creatures in the water!”
She moved from wanting to see what were to her alien water beasts to wanting to explore with her hands at a break-neck speed.
“Oh, Ty, look at that giant gliding mat! Can I hold it? C’mon about it, can I?”
His arms spanned across his chest, and he chuckled at her innocence. “We call that a seabat. Wait now, don’t be too eager. You are the beginner here. You’ll be trying to make friends with a grinderfish, if you’re not prudent. I’ll show you which to pet and which to avoid. I’ll even show you which would make a fine souvenir.”
With childish glee, she sat on the shallow end of the shoal and plucked a shiny shell, discovering she’d disturbed the home of a persnickety clawfish. She dropped it posthaste and exploded in delight. He warmed at the sight of her joy, having figured she would flip to see his world’s sea life. Pygras’s seas probably didn’t have half the wildlife Rhonta’s waters carried.
I’d live in the water if she were a sea creature.
The creatures swarmed her, nibbling her legs. Did the fish sense she was a visitor to this world? They didn’t hide their curiosity. She belonged in the sea.
Or was it really that she belonged in life, the very middle of it, loving many kinds of life? Partaking in life? Funny that he saw her as incomplete.
Or was he incomplete?
What madness am I thinking?
Reaching again, she cradled a particularly large weed-colored seasteed that swam into her arms, and she began to play with the beast, stroking its long beak with one gentle finger. Her smile was one as special as he had ever seen. If only the seasteed knew such a lovely and perfect land creature adored it so.
Sitting in the water of the sandbar to keep the creature submerged, she sang to the curly-tailed fish about the size of a kitchen sack of grain powder, rocking it in her arms as the water lapped up its fragile body. The seasteed’s long tail wrapped possessively around her arm, mewing up at her, its watery eyes worshipful. A half dozen varieties of sea life tickled her for her attention, and they might as well not have been there for all the attention she gave them. She was enchanted by the little beast she rocked in the cradle of her arms.
They were in love, this seasteed and its alien captor. It postured to her shamelessly, nuzzling its long-billed nose into her dripping hair, dining a bit on her fallen black locks. When she sang to it, the crafty sea monster gave her its undivided attention.
If the shrewd animal was a man, I’d punch him out for coming on to my—
“This is him, Ty.”
She looked up to the high commander, rocking the humming beast like a babe in her arms, her lovely pink eyes flashing with glee. “He’s what I want for a souvenir.”
Ty inspected the animal locked in her awe-filled gaze, and he felt the creature’s skin, gauging its texture for preservation.
“I don’t know that it’ll dry very well. Perhaps, freeze-drying it will do—”
She splashed water in his face, furious at his suggestion.
“No, you miserable lout! I want to take him to Pygras alive!”
Recovered from her assault, Ty sat down beside her in the water. “You really don’t want to do that, do you?”
“It would die away from its home. That would make you unhappy.”
“No, no. I–I could bring some sea water with me.”
“Zia, you should not take a live sea creature to another world. Life is just too fragile. Who knows if it could survive?” He plucked up a suckerfish that had latched on to his ankle and wiggled his finger to tickle its slow, balletic tentacles. “Besides, you wouldn’t wish it separated from its mate. Would you?”
Her blush-pink eyes filled with dismay, and she regarded the creature, who now hummed the very song she’d sung to it only moments earlier. Its bulging eyes, ocean blue, twinkled up at her, and she was almost lost forever. But finally she broke down and surrendered the creature to the currents. Sending it off with a kiss, she halfheartedly began playing with the other animals around her for distraction.
After a giggles-filled hour of frolicking with oddly-designed water creatures, she sadly conceded, “I’m sure I’ll take a nice souvenir back to Pygras. I’ll be receiving it tonight.”
Memories of a hot time with him in the sack. Ty planned much more than a kiss.