Winter of Discontent
STAR CROSSED Series
Book 3 - Winter of Discontent
The art of deception will lead back to the truth.
After experiencing a little bump in the road, Kayla and Kaleb are stronger than ever. But they are about to encounter their biggest challenge yet.
Kaleb is determined to teach Kayla the art of teleporting her body safely from one place to another. However, her frustration lands her in a parallel life. Much to his dismay, he discovers she’s traded places with an even sassier version of herself, and her alter ego is on a mission to seduce him.
Meanwhile, Kayla discovers her mistake, and is now faced with fighting off the advances of a Kaleb whose dark desires spark an answering interest inside of her. Determined to remain faithful to the true Kaleb who shares her heart, she must use deception to escape in order to return to her correct time.
Will these star-crossed lovers be able to deceive their alter egos long enough to set things right, or will they get lost in their baser desires?
Kayla closed her eyes, and brought her Light energy closer to the surface. Her body hummed, and a smile graced her lips.
Kaleb’s voice broke her concentration. “Focus.”
Irritation disturbed the peace that had transcended over her, and she cracked one hazel eye open. Kaleb Warner stood a few feet from her, ever the patient teacher and friend. His green eyes sparkled from under the rim of the black wool hat covering his bald head.
He stomped his feet on the spot to warm up, and clapped his gloved hands together, speaking in the same gentle rumble she’d come to know and love. “A friendly reminder.” He crossed his arms over his chest, the action bunching up the white parka he’d donned in order for them to train in her backyard on the calm, wintry day.
“I know,” she grumbled. “But I like how it feels when I summon my energy like that. It tickles.” A small giggle escaped, and she puffed out a breath, watching as it made a cloud of steam in the cold air, then disappeared. She lifted her arms to the side. “I feel free.”
“I hear you,” he said, smiling, “but you need to clear your mind, and keep it devoid of all emotion and thought, even positive ones. Otherwise you’ll end up stuck in a tree again. Or a rock. Or the side of the house.”
An exasperated sigh escaped, and her smile vanished. Did he have to remind her of her trials and errors while learning to teleport again? Thankfully, she’d always managed to get out of whatever pickle she managed to get herself into, with his help, of course. Sometimes it bothered her that she needed his help at all. Due to a childhood incident where she’d hurt Kaleb, she’d blocked out some of her abilities, allowing fear to rule her heart.
He came to stand in front of her, brushing back a few strands of chestnut hair that had escaped from her grey, fuzzy cap keeping her head warm. Even with the layers of fabric of their winter outwear, when he rested his hands on her shoulders, she could feel the heat of his touch. She looked into his eyes, seeing love reflected back at her. “I want you to be able to do this at will,” he said. “It should be as automatic as breathing. When you can do this, it opens up a whole new world for you. You’ll be able to blend in with your surroundings like a chameleon, teleport vast distances in an instant. It’s amazing.” He placed a kiss to her forehead. “And the best part—we’ll be able to do it together some time.”
His words should have been a soothing balm to her soul. They weren’t. Kayla frowned, anger rising inside of her; anger for forgetting her powers, guilt over hurting her friend, and healing old wounds were still close to the surface. She wished she could get past things already, move forward. Healing could be a slow process, especially with wounds that cut so deep.
A tired groan emanated from her throat. “Can’t we take a break?”
Kaleb pulled back from her, one eyebrow raised. “We just started. Now—do it again. Tell me where your destination is going to be.” Snow crunched under his black boots as he stepped back.
Kayla rolled her eyes, receiving a stern look from him. Damn, pain in the ass. As good of a friend as he was, sometimes she wanted to shake him for being such a slave driver.
“I heard that.”
Of course, he did. They could read each other’s thoughts. In a fake show of defiance, she stuck her tongue out at him. His snort of laughter reached her ears, but she closed her eyes, jammed her toque down onto her head a little more, and blocked out everything as he’d taught her. “I’m reappearing over by the shed at the edge of the property.”
Summoning her Light energy to the surface once more, she merged her body and soul. With a pop, she disappeared, reappearing at her intended destination. She opened her eyes, and looked over at Kaleb. “I did it!”
Kaleb rushed over to Kayla’s sanctuary—a circular hedgerow in her back yard where she performed rituals to thank nature or pay tribute to the Lord and Lady of the Light—in time to see a woman exit. He stopped short. The woman shared Kayla’s physical features, but had blonde hair instead of chestnut-colored. She wore a thick grey sweater and tights, not at all dressed for the weather.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“It’s me, Karla.” The woman giggled, launching herself at him.
“Uh, Karla?” He caught her in his arms, and she proceeded to squeeze him tight, then rub her body all over his. Surprised at her affection, he held her away at arm’s length. “What are you doing?”
Purring in a seductive manner, she stuck her lower lip out in a pout. “Oh, let’s go inside and play some more. Hide and seek is always fun, but I know what else you like.” She began removing her sweater.
“Whoa, whoa,” he said, steering her toward the house. “We can play later. Let’s go inside and have some tea. And we’ll talk.” Whoever this woman was, it wasn’t Kayla. Or was it Kayla, and she’d done something to herself on transport? Crap. He’d never heard of anything like this happening before.
She made another sad, pouty face. “Talking?” She sidled up next to him, brushing her breasts against his side. Her face brightened. “Oh, you mean talking! You’re gonna tell me what game we’re playing next.”
Bewildered, he eyed her like an exotic beast. His Kayla would never act so ditzy. “Um, yes,” he said, a cautious note in his voice. “We’re going to play a game.” He put an arm around her shivering frame. “Let’s pretend, I don’t remember any of the games we play, and you have to tell me.”
She clapped her hands together. “Okay!” She nibbled a fingernail, stumbling as he led her up the back porch steps. “How did you make it so cold?”
“Uh, a trick I learned.” He opened the door, and guided her into the kitchen.
“Oh, I know!” She spun to face him, walking backward.
“Yes?” He encouraged her, guiding her to sit in a chair at the island situated in the middle of the room.
Her eyes widened with adoration. “We could play the game where you tie me to the bed and—” She grabbed hold of his arm, yanking him in close to speak into his ear.
The heat of her breath on his skin, coupled with the heat from her suggestion as to what he should do to her while tied to the bed, caused him to blush all fifty shades of red, never mind the erection he willed to keep at bay.
“Wow, that is a good idea,” he said, praying he didn’t sound over-enthusiastic. “A really good idea, but, um, what else?”
She put her fingertips to her lips to ponder. Kaleb stripped off his gloves and set them on the counter. He unzipped his jacket, and wandered over to set the kettle on to boil. While he and Kayla hadn’t taken their relationship to the physical level, it’s not like he hadn’t pondered a few ideas of his own for when the time came. This woman’s suggestions were making him think things he didn’t feel were wise, especially considering their physical likeness.
“Well, we are in the kitchen. We could play the game where you bend me over the counter and spank me with the wooden spoon. I like that game,” she said, her tone all throaty and seductive.
Kayla reappeared next to the house and looked around. Taking a moment to wiggle all limbs, fingers and toes, she let out a whoop of joy. “Yee-haw! I did it!” Happy dancing on the spot, she reveled in the fact she’d teleported without thought, and reappeared at her destination with no troubles.
It will take him a while to find me. Pleased she’d outsmarted him, she looked out over the expanse of his back yard. Eventually, he’d sense her presence and come after her, but for now she’d revel in her small victory.
Sauntering around the house, she stopped short when she came face to face with him. “How did you get here so fast?”
“I live here.” His tone of voice wasn’t welcoming.
“B-but w-we were j-just at m-my place,” she stammered.
He snorted and looked at her like she’d landed on earth from the planet Mars. “Your place? We got rid of that dump months ago. You live with me now.”
She blinked at him in confusion. Then something else struck her—his appearance. A scruffy beard adorned his face. He no longer wore his winter outwear, just a thick blue sweater and jeans. “Who are you?” she asked.
He waved a hand in front of her face. “What’s wrong with you? It’s me—Kevin.” He eyed her up and down. “When did you change? This isn’t part of our game, Karla. I didn’t tell you to do that.”
Karla? He must have her confused with somebody else. She glanced down at her attire. Her clothes remained intact. Looking out over the yard, she saw it was filled with machine parts and scrap metal, brown grass in place of snow. This isn’t Kaleb’s place either. Where am I?
“Don’t play dumb,” he barked. “This isn’t how we play the game. What’s the deal with changing it?”
“What game? We were training a few minutes ago.” Complete bewilderment caused her head to spin.
“Training? For what?” He produced a flask from his back pocket, and took a swig from the bottle.
Alcohol? Kaleb doesn’t drink. What the hell is going on? She threw her hands up in the air in exasperation. “Okay, I don’t know what’s the matter with you, but I’m going home. We’ll talk later.”
“You’re not going anywhere.” His voice boomed out across the expanse of the yard. “Now get your pretty arse in the house, and let’s finish this game.”
“Excuse me?” She crossed her arms over her chest at his rudeness. Have I landed in the twilight zone?
A stony expression took over his face. “You know how this game works. You hide. I find you. I have my way with you.”
Wide-eyed, she stared in disbelief at Kevin. She and Kaleb hadn’t consummated a physical relationship. Why on earth did this guy think he could do whatever he wanted with her?
He cocked his head, studying her. “Oh, I get it. You think you can change the game without permission?”
Kayla stood her ground. While Kevin was bigger and physically stronger than her, size had nothing to do with defending herself. The only way she’d find out if he was friend or foe, is to face him, and take him down if need be.
She shrugged, going for coy. “I didn’t think it would hurt.”