Since Jasarah arrived in Denver, her life has taken her to places she never imagined were within her reach. Now she lives under the alias Shadow with her true love, Ghost. He brings out the best in her, including abilities she was unaware she possessed.
The other members of Ghost’s group have accepted Shadow as one of their own, although one of them, Fixer, makes no bones about how much he desires her for himself. Ghost fears he can only tolerate such insolence for so long before he cracks under the pressure and his desire to teach the man a lesson. Shadow tries not to let Fixer’s fixation tear them apart or make their group unable to function as a team. But there is a limit to how much even she can do.
Shadow has much to learn, and Ghost has much to tell her. Will his revelations of his past bring them closer together or tear them asunder? Is 001 the answer they seek for the future they hardly dare to imagine?
Shadow and Ghost face a life-changing event which threatens the existing social order. It may redefine the races for all time. Can they handle the challenge, or will it defeat them?
Dodger offered a weak smile and looked at his glass.
Shadow sat next to him and nibbled her bottom lip. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?”
He looked at her. “I don’t hold anything against you, lady. I said you’re a good friend, and I meant it.” He glanced at Ghost, who now sat beside her. “I saw the situation, and Ghost only had two chances out there. The first was a no-win scenario. The second was hoping someone would create a distraction. That someone was you or me. And he knows me better than that.”
Ghost nodded. “He’s right.”
Shadow stared from one to the other. “You mean both of you figured I’d interfere in one way or another?”
Ghost nodded slowly.
She held his gaze. “And you were counting on it?”
“Yes and no. I figured you’d drag Dodger out there to see what was happening. If it looked bad, I was hoping you’d create a diversion.” Ghost frowned. “The way you did it though, wasn’t quite the method I had in mind, but it worked.”
Shadow stared at her drink. “You used me.”
“That’s not the way it was meant,” he stated defensively. “I needed you to help me.”
“Help you? Needed me to help you?” She shook her head. “I can’t imagine you needing anyone’s help.”
Ghost took her hand. “You’re wrong. I need you. I already told you the other night that somehow I need you in my life, as part of it, as part of me. And I want that just as much. Do you remember those words?”
“Yes, I remember them.”
“Would you still be in my house if I were using you?”
“Until you were done with me,” she whispered.
Dodger interceded, “What he’s saying is if he were using you—”
Ghost glared at him. “You’re not helping me with this situation.”
“Let me finish.” Dodger turned back to her. “As I said, if he were using you, he wouldn’t have risked his life in two fights and against a friend. Not for someone he was just using.”
“I know he cares. He tells me that much, and he shows it, but…never mind.” Shadow shook her head. “It’s too confusing to explain.”
Dodger sighed. “Should we go home?”
Ghost nodded in agreement. He stood and gently pulled her up. “If I were using you, I wouldn’t do this in a place like this.” He embraced her and kissed her deeply, holding her as she swayed, then broke the kiss. “I’m not using you.” He pulled her close and whispered softly, “I just find it very hard to say the words you want to hear.”
Ghost escorted her to the bikes and quickly jerked on his gloves as she pulled on her helmet. After slipping on his headgear, he started the black machine and swung his leg over it. With a glance at Shadow and a gentle tap to her helmet, he angrily slapped his own, then pulled out slowly. Her spoken words raced through his mind. Furious at himself, he opened the throttle and increased his speed.
* * * *
Dodger shook his head. Nothing good will come out of this.
With her gloves on and her helmet adjusted, Shadow mounted her motorcycle. She took off at top speed, clearly attempting to catch Ghost.
Aware both were hurt, Dodger quickly fixed his gear, mounted his motorcycle, and started it. He followed them but kept his distance, occasionally glancing at the speedometer. Her lack of riding knowledge and her speed concerned him. All he could do was stay close.
A war machine could easily cruise at 250 mph for extensive periods, but the smaller bike, geared toward outmaneuvering rather than speed, wasn’t built to handle more than 130. He watched with growing concern as the black war machine kicked into another gear and lunged forward at over 200 mph. He heard her force open the throttle.
The small motorcycle shook under the strain until the engine exploded with a shattering sound. The bike swerved under the force and went down, taking her with it.
Dodger commanded full control of his blue war machine while closing the distance to Shadow. He snarled as she slipped free of the sliding wreckage and rolled to the side of the road. The bike tumbled into the ditch behind her. When he was close enough, he stopped and dropped the kickstand while dismounting. He raced to her side and dropped to one knee. Sparing a glance to make sure the black machine was returning, he removed his helmet, yanked off his gloves, and dropped it beside him.
* * * *
Shadow’s cry ripped through him as Ghost downshifted almost too fast, the engine whining under the sudden strain. A pivot turn allowed him to spin and gun the bike back to where she’d crashed. After braking hard, he dropped the kickstand and jumped from his war machine. He rushed over and yanked off his helmet, regret mixed with agony flooding through him. He knelt on the other side of her unconscious form. “Med program, please.”
Dodger raised a glowing hand. “Shut up.”
Ghost nodded. That beautiful blue glow emanating from Dodger’s palms meant the med program was already active. If there was anything, their friend would find it. He watched and waited.
Dodger checked her neck and shoulders, then quickly pulled off his jacket. He rolled it up and placed it under her neck for support. Then he gently removed her helmet, careful not to move her head too much. He leaned over Shadow, his hands traveling over her head, neck, and shoulders again and then her body in the same manner. Nowhere on her body did his hands miss scanning. He straightened with a huge sigh of relief.
“No detectable internal damage and, aside for the blood, bruises, and scratches, only two cracked ribs.” Dodger’s face suddenly darkened with anger. “What the fuck were you thinking? Where was your mind?” In the span of a breath, he drew back a fist and swung.
Hit square in the jaw and knocked to the ground, Ghost shook his head. He rubbed the rapidly numbing jaw as he got up. “I wasn’t thinking the way I should have been. She took my words wrong at the bar, and I got upset about it.”
“She made you lose your cool,” Dodger stated placidly.
“Yeah.” Ghost contemplated the unconscious Shadow on the ground in front of him. I was amazed at what she’d do for a man she cared about but knew little of. I asked what she’d do for the man she loved, and now I know. “Is it safe to move her?”