Following an explosive space battle, Captain Jasmine Hale’s escape pod crash lands on an unknown planet. She communicates with some of the world’s natives, but grows frustrated when she learns signaling her crew for help is impossible. Though she acknowledges she is stranded on Ryk indefinitely, she dreams of the day when she can return to piloting a ship through the stars.
Aras, leader of the Rykians, hasn’t had contact with a human in five hundred years. Due to his lengthy life span, little excites him in his day-to-day life, until he meets Jasmine. Captivated by the woman who was suddenly thrust into his world, he desires to ease her anguish while showing her the wonders of his kingdom.
Caught between two worlds, Jasmine struggles with a difficult dilemma—continue searching for a way home or accept her new life on Ryk. Choosing one means leaving the other behind forever. How will she decide?
Jasmine let out the scream she’d been holding back and swept the pages to the floor with her arm. Pitching forward, she collapsed on the desk and buried her face in her elbow. Tears spilled forth as despair finally overtook her.
Lieutenant Moore was dead. The whereabouts of Commander Garrison and the rest of her crew were unknown. The ship she’d believed to be indestructible had exploded as she watched on, helpless. Reading the anguished writings of Dr. Coates and learning of her potential fate proved too much to bear. Her loud sobs echoed in the room as she mourned all she’d lost.
A heavy arm draped across her back, and someone stroked her shoulder. She slid off the desk toward Aras and allowed him to scoop her into a sturdy embrace. Balling her fists in his shirt, she wept against him, crying for her crew, her ship, and her doomed career. His skin felt smooth and warm beneath her cheek, and his body was solid and firm as he held her tight. Her grip loosened, her fingertips grazing the uncovered expanse of his chest. She let them linger, desperate to not feel alone and abandoned in the universe.
He stiffened at her touch. The slight movement was enough to make Jasmine regain her composure. She wrenched away from him, wiping her face with the backs of her hands. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—” Her spine straightened and her chin lifted, yet she avoided making eye contact. “If you’ll excuse me, I’d prefer some time to myself right now.” Before he could answer, she turned and fled toward her room.