Special Task Force agent Alexei Night has been in lust with Interstellar Council Representative Briana Michaels ever since the first time he saw her on the vid comm. But their lives are worlds apart. He’s a vampire. She’s not. There’s no possibility of a relationship between them. Yet he still dreams of her…
When Briana’s unpopular position supporting vampiric rights threatens her family, Alex leaps at the chance to protect her and be with her. It’s a two-week journey to her homeworld, and he’ll spend it making love with the woman he can’t keep, trying to get enough of her to last an eternity. Their erotic connection is easily established but their bond doesn’t overshadow the danger surrounding Briana.
A hopeless romance with a woman whose mortal life is threatened… Things can’t get any worse for Alex. And then somehow…they do.
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Alex Night’s entire body hummed with anticipation as the lovely blonde cut through the crowded lounge and headed directly toward him. The dancing throng parted for the tiny woman without protest, her presence so compelling it demanded respect and received it without question.
A moment ago, the popular band had held his complete attention. Now his keen hearing tuned out the music and focused instead on the steady, rhythmic tapping of her high-heeled boots upon the vented steel floor. Dressed in a black bio-suit that hid her rank, Representative Briana Michaels had forgone her customary tight chignon in favor of soft, shoulder-length curls. She’d made no overt attempt to mask her famous features, but the difference wrought by her clothing and hair was remarkable enough that she went unrecognized by everyone but him.
She looked harmless enough, cute actually, if one failed to note the blaster strapped to her thigh. A newer model gun, by the look of it. Briana was a deadly beauty with a razor-sharp mind—a potent combination for a man like Alex.
Proceeding with the mission when the brain in charge was between his legs broke every protocol in the database. But then Alex wasn’t known for following protocol, which was why he’d been chosen to handle such a delicate undercover assignment to begin with. Failure was not an option and the Special Task Force wanted an agent who would go the distance, using whatever means necessary. Alex had been their first choice and when he learned Briana Michaels was the target, he’d leapt at the opportunity.
Rolling a small, cylindrical data chip between his palm and the cool metal table, Alex kept his eye on his mission as she swayed toward him with slender hips and narrowed green eyes. The press loved to portray Briana as a woman whose passions were incited only by political debate, but Alex saw untapped sexual passion in her full red lips and arrogantly arched brow. Just looking at her heated his blood and made his jaw ache.
He closed his eyes and savored her smell—spicy but a bit tart. Oh yes. He’d been spot on, as usual. Chief Donny swore a man couldn’t tell a damn thing about anyone from watching them on a vid unit, but Alex knew better. A vamp didn’t reach 223 years of age and not learn how to read women.
“Taking a nap, Captain Night?”
Ummm… Her voice was divine too. Just the right side of prim with a raspy inflection.
He’d been in lust with the powerful politician from the moment he first saw her on the vid comm. Her endorsement of vampiric rights and controversial medical research that could lead to reproductive capability in vampires intrigued him. But the reality of her physical presence was far more alluring than any monitor could portray. He was attracted to her convictions and political fearlessness, but when such admirable traits were packaged in a body like that…
Ah, hell. He wanted her bad.
“If you prefer,” she continued. “I can hire another smuggler to perform the tasks I require.”
Alex raised his lids slowly and lounged deeper into the bar booth. His fingers curled around the data chip and then slipped it into the chained holder he wore around his neck. “Ah, sweetness. I’m more than willing to perform in any way you desire.”
“I bet.” Briana slipped into the booth across from him, her long legs brushing against his, causing a deeper sensual awareness. She flipped open a comm link and spun it around so he could see the split screen.
“Duncan Chiles and Mitchell Sandoval,” he said, eyeing the relay. From the looks of it, the other men were seated in the same bar. They were waiting for Briana to make her appearance, just like he had been. He schooled his face to remain impassive while inside he admired her initiative. However, he couldn’t allow her to hire them. Unlike Alex, they were criminals. “Very good smugglers. But not the best, which is why you need me.”
“Yes, I’d heard your skill was matched only by your ego. Having witnessed one, I’m suitably impressed by the other.”
He laughed. She would be fun, in more ways than one.
“One hundred thousand credits,” Alex said, getting straight to the point so they could go straight to his ship. The bar was packed and the band played too loudly for a proper seduction. It wouldn’t be easy to woo her into his bed. He’d have to finesse her properly and that took time. An impatient man by nature, he was eager to get started.
She arched a dark blonde eyebrow and his heart rate picked up. “Fifty.”
“You’re out of your mind,” he scoffed. “To get you to Simgan 2 without hitting any checkpoints will force us to go through the Ligerian Ice Field, Federation space and the Council’s largest waste dump. One hundred thousand is a steal.”
He straightened, relishing the barter. She was gutsy for a human. “One hundred.”
“Eighty or I’m hiring Sandoval.”
“Ninety and you have a deal.”
She laced her fingers on the tabletop. “Eighty-five.”
Alex laughed again. “Eighty-five and a half.”
“Done.” Briana smiled and for the first time in many decades he momentarily lost the ability to think.
Her seat as Interstellar Rep of the entire Delta Quadrant, the largest quadrant in Council territory, made any hint of softness a weakness she could ill afford and Alex understood that. She rarely smiled and never laughed, but he liked the challenge she presented. He would elicit the gamut of emotions from her during the flight to her homeworld and enjoy every moment of it.
She slid the comm link over. “Enter your info and I’ll pay you now.”
Once he’d done as she asked, he held out his hand to seal the agreement, an ancient practice he employed simply to touch her. She hesitated and then slipped her hand into his. Alex savored the moment. With a simple touch, he could sense the rapid beating of her heart and her quickened breathing. He felt the steadiness of her grip and the dryness of her palms.
The highly esteemed politician was aroused, but not surprised to be. In fact, he suspected she liked the feeling. Maybe she even liked him.
Without releasing her, he asked, “Can I ask why you prefer to sneak into your own quadrant rather than take the more efficient and comfortable diplomatic route?”
“You can ask. Doesn’t mean I’ll answer.”
“I’d like to know what I’m risking my neck for.”
She pulled her hand away, her fingertips drifting across his palm. Her eyelids lowered, shuttering her thoughts. “Maybe I’m just avoiding the press. Taking a break.”
“While the House is in session?” he asked dubiously.
Briana turned her head and said nothing.
Alex drummed his fingers atop the table to ease the tingling her touch had left behind. “I don’t like the media either, but it would take a hell of a lot more than a need for privacy to make me risk death.”
“Ah yes,” she purred dryly, shooting him an amused glance. “About eighty-five thousand credits.”
“And a beautiful woman,” he added.
“My PA warned me about you.” She breathed an exasperated sigh that did nothing to distract him from her blush. “He should be here in a moment, once he sends Sandoval and Chiles on their way. Then we can get out of here.”
“Wait a minute. No one mentioned two passengers.”
She arched that brow again and his cock twitched with interest. “I never travel anywhere without my assistant.”
He scowled. “I have a perfectly acceptable unit on the ship.”
“James has all of my preferences and contacts programmed,” she argued, as she snapped the comm link closed and bent over to tuck it in the thigh pocket of her bio-suit.
“I don’t care if—”
The sudden flare of blaster fire lit up their booth and left a gaping hole in the back of Briana’s seat. Exactly where she’d been sitting just a split-second before.
“What the hell?” Alex leapt from his seat and placed himself between Briana and the rest of the room. The music continued without pause, the majority of the lounge occupants paying no attention to the danger in their midst. He scanned the room quickly, using both his eyes and his instincts. He detected nothing at all, no touch of malice or wicked intent, which couldn’t be correct. If it was, they were in a hell of a lot more trouble than he’d like to admit.
Reaching a hand behind him, he was relieved to feel her returning grip. “Jump on,” he ordered. His free hand held the hilt of his laser sword, ready to deflect another shot. She crawled onto his back, her lithe thighs gripping his waist with easy strength, her full breasts pressed tightly against him. If he weren’t so concerned, he’d have a hard-on. “Hang tight.”
He leapt over the dancers, landing first on the bar before lunging out the swinging door to the darkened night outside.
Thieves’ Cove was a frightening city for most respectable citizens, but Alex had been working undercover here for most of the last decade. He knew the maze of back alleys as well as he knew the curves of a woman’s body, and that was saying something.
The cool night air flowed over them, ruffling his hair and hers. In the distance, various sounds fought for dominance—the sounds of music, laughter, shouting. Sounds of the city. But Alex was aware only of Briana and the lush weight of her body on his back. She remained silent throughout the journey even though he knew the speed with which he moved would disorient any human.
It was dark with only the stars to light their way. He could see perfectly, jumping over discarded crates and waste with ease, but a human wouldn’t be able to see his hand in front of his face. Despite this and the fact that he was a stranger to her, when he searched her mind, Alex found that Briana was unafraid. She was as tough as the media claimed and Alex didn’t find that intimidating in the slightest. In fact, the longer he knew her, the more he liked her.
It took only moments to reach the private docking bay where his early-model Starwing waited. He set her on her feet and rounded on her. “Are you alright?” His gaze raked her from head to toe.
“You mind explaining what just happened?”
Swallowing hard, Briana met his gaze without flinching. “What’s to explain?”
Probing her mind, Alex sensed minor evasiveness but no intent to deceive. “Someone just came damn close to killing you.” He grabbed her elbow and led her up the cargo ramp into the belly of his ship, wanting her inside where it was safe.
“I noticed that,” she said with only a tiny waver in her voice. “And I’m used to it. I’m not a very popular person, if you hadn’t noticed.”
They both turned, Alex with his sword at the ready. He gaped at the sight that greeted him. Striding toward them was a man about his height, though not nearly as large, with gleaming blond hair and bright blue eyes.
“That’s your PA?” Alex snapped. “It looks like a sex droid.”
“Well…” she hedged.
He turned his head to stare at her. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“What?” she grumbled defensively, a soft pink flush sweeping over her cheekbones. “Have you seen the latest personal assistants? They look like accountants. I have to work with him all day. Why make him hard on the eyes?”
“Is that all he’s hard on?”
Alex sank his fangs into his lower lip as self-punishment for letting that comment slip out, but he couldn’t have helped it if he tried. Sharing the lovely Representative with a sex droid/PA was not his idea of a good time. She deserved better.
“That’s none of your business!” she retorted, hands her hips.
He leaned over her, his nostrils flaring. “It is when it’s on my ship.”
“Then I’ll commission another ship.”
Her mouth fell open and then she snapped it shut. “I will!” She stormed back down the ramp.
“Your stubbornness is going to get you shot,” he called after her. Like he’d ever let that happen.
She ignored him, but drew her blaster from its holster, her grip steady and light. Briana Michaels knew how to defend herself, a fact Alex carefully filed away for future examination.
He waited until the heel of her boot hit the bay, and then he closed his eyes and released his Calling. He sent it out slowly, seductively, like the ripples on a lake. Soothing her first, he then turned up the heat, revealing a bit of his desire and attraction to lure her back to him.
He could hide what he was doing, make her think the urge to return to him originated with her, but instead, Alex caressed her with his essence, steeped her with it so there was no doubt in her mind that he wanted her back. He sensed the moment she became aware of him, felt the answering spark of lust and he smiled.
“That’s unfair,” she muttered as she spun about. She glared at him a moment and then stomped past him into the ship. By her will, not his. “There should be a law against vampires who look like you.”
Staring after her, Alex licked his fangs and admired the curve of her ass until she disappeared from sight.
“Thank you,” said James as it came to a halt next to him.
“For saving her life. She was frightened.”
One of the things he disliked about droids was the implant that allowed them to monitor the thoughts of their owners in real time. Sure, it increased their efficiency, but at what cost to privacy? Droids could be stolen and the information they carried could be accessed.
“I’ll take care of her,” Alex said sharply. “But I need to know what’s going on.” He stepped into the ship and hit the lock pad, waiting until the cargo door was secured before moving into the cockpit.
“Which room is mine?” Briana yelled from down the corridor.
“Whichever one you like best,” he yelled back, secretly hoping she picked his.
“It is my job to care for her,” James said. “Your job is simply to transport her to where she wishes to go.”
Snorting, Alex dropped into the captain’s chair. He ran a scan to check for any foreign devices and then started his preflight routine. “You sound mighty possessive for a droid.”
“She had me programmed that way.”
“What the hell did she do that for?”
But when Alex turned his head, the unit was gone.
Lust and decadence.
Those were the two descriptors that came to mind as Briana stared into the captain’s quarters and drooled. Decorated in rich jewel tones and voluptuous hanging materials, the room looked nothing like the rest of the ship. She felt as if she were standing on the threshold of an ancient harem—a purely masculine retreat with all the comforts a woman could desire. Add Alexei Night to the picture and a woman would have everything she needed to be sated.
Releasing a deep breath, Bree leaned against the doorjamb and pictured the infamous pirate reclining on the bed, spread out for her pleasure. Alex’s dark, dangerous presence would be showcased beautifully in such a bedroom. She closed her eyes and breathed in his scent, remembering the feel of him between her thighs, his powerful body flexing and bunching beneath her as they flew through the night. Never in her life had she experienced anything so thrilling, the world racing past her in blur, leaving only Alex as the one solid thing she could hold on to. Even now, the memory of him in her arms made her wet, made her breasts swell and grow heavy, the tips aching.
When she’d set out on this course of action, she’d told herself he was the obvious choice because he was considered the best and she tried to believe that was the only reason she’d hired him. But that wasn’t entirely true. From the moment James had opened the data file she’d been captivated by the rakishly handsome captain.
The seductive promise in his gaze and wicked grin had riveted her, causing her pulse to leap to attention just from the sight of his pilot’s photo. She should have known the reality would be so much better—after all, who looked good in their license picture? Alexei Night, that’s who. And the damned thing was, it had been a bad photo.
Briana had wanted him on sight and when his expertise had been proven, it had given her the excuse to have him. She’d dressed especially for their first meeting, choosing her attire and hairstyle to be more appealing. Her mission was vital and her primary focus would remain on its successful completion, but in the downtime she wanted to be seduced. Truly, completely awash-in-lust seduced by a master lover. She wanted, just once, to experience the sort of mind melting pleasure she’d read about in erotic romance e-books and Alex Night was more than enough vamp to give her what she wanted. The question was, would she be able to give him what he wanted?
She was damn well prepared to try. As many times as necessary.
He’d had centuries of experience while she, a mere human, had only a dozen or so liaisons in her lamentable sexual past. None of them had been extraordinary. Thankfully, the vampire was interested, but she wanted him more than interested. She wanted him panting and hungry for her. Desperate to fuck her. She wanted to unleash his animal side and leave a memory behind that he wouldn’t soon forget.
That would take more than a quick capitulation. Alex would have to earn the right to take her. He was going to have to work for it. Then he would appreciate it, which in turn would make her more appreciative.
The powerful engines rumbled to life and snapped Bree out of her reverie. She turned to find another room and ran headfirst into soft pseudo-skin covering solid titanium alloy.
“Damn it, James!” she complained. “You scared me half to death. How can you walk so silently when you weigh so much?”
He smiled with endless charm. The only way one could tell he wasn’t human was by the lack of matching warmth in his blue eyes. “Your thoughts are naughty, Mistress.”
Bree wrinkled her nose and muttered, “You don’t know the half of it.”
“Not true. I detect your rapid pulse and quickened breathing. Those physical reactions are not due simply to the recent danger.” He shook his head. “When will you learn that you cannot hide things from me?”
“It’s an archaic expression, James darling,” she explained with a sigh.
“Your father will be fine.”
Her throat tightened. It still disconcerted her to realize how deeply James could read into her thoughts.
“It’s all my fault he’s in danger,” she said bitterly. “I knew my position on vampirism would make me plenty of enemies.”
“But you never knew it would come to this.”
Bree arched a brow. “But you did. Anyone using logical reasoning would have known that if they couldn’t get to me personally, they’d go after my family. Being shot at, being hunted… Hell, I’m used to that. I even expect it. I accepted the inevitability of my early demise long ago. But my family…?” She shuddered.
“Your family is the reason you are doing this, Mistress. They knew the risks and they support you completely.”
“Because I swore they’d be safe. I told them I would protect them.”
Three years ago, when her younger sister Stella married a vamp, Bree had known something had to be done to further the rights of vampires. They were banned from certain sectors, denied jobs and provided the bare minimum of health care. Sure they had healing skills that were far beyond human capability, but the virus that infected them also prevented them from bearing children and some humans wanted to keep it that way, afraid vampires would take over and the human race would become extinct.
James circled her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “You did the only thing you could think of to help your sister have the children she wanted. As the Delta Quadrant Representative your power is almost limitless.”
Like any politician worth their carbon, she’d lied, cheated and deceived her way into the position. Basically, she’d played the dumb blonde role to perfection. She’d allowed the powerful lobbyists who could have kept her from winning to think she’d be easy to control and too stupid to make her own decisions. Then, once she’d won the election by a landslide, she did whatever she wanted. She did what was right.
So many of her peers started their careers with such high hopes, but eventually the need for reelection campaign funds drove them to sell their votes to the highest bidder. Briana was lucky that vampires, her largest contributors, had a tendency to be very wealthy. Based on firsthand historical knowledge, vamps were highly cognizant of monetary forecasts. They could almost predict changes in the market and adjusted their finances accordingly.
Kneading her tense shoulders, James murmured, “With the massive financial support behind you, Mistress, you are not susceptible to bribes. You are untouchable, unbeatable and determined as hell to get your way.”
“I’m determined all right, determined not to let my family suffer because of vamp haters. They want to hit me where it hurts? I’ll hit them right back. Twice as hard.”
“And you will succeed. I have no doubt.”
She sighed. “I wish I could be as sure.”
“You are tense,” he purred in her ear, “which makes it hard to think clearly. Would you like me to relieve you?”
Closing her eyes, she let her head fall forward to better enjoy the magic of his massaging fingers. “Ummm… That sounds divine.” She knew how good his hands felt all over her body.
Alex may not like the idea of turning a sex droid into a personal assistant, but there was no way a PA droid could offer such comforts. It just wasn’t in their rigid programming to learn ephemeral pleasures. Sex droids, however, were built to please and if that meant handling communications and data in addition to their other duties they did so with only a minor adjustment to their processors.
Bree stepped away from James and moved down the corridor to find another room.
“How about these quarters, Mistress?” he asked behind her. “They look comfortable and spacious.”
She paused, thinking she didn’t much care where she slept. If she had her way, she’d be sharing the captain’s quarters before too long and Alex Night could make her forget, if only for an hour or two, that the choices she’d made to help her family had now put them in danger.
As the ship lifted from the private landing bay and began its two-week journey to her homeworld of Tolan, Briana undressed and began to plan her lines of attack—one against the yummy Alex and the other against the forces that wanted his kind eliminated.