Authors: Tina Christopher
Book three in the Celestial Surrender series.
Reassigned to the nether-end of the
galaxy and facing her last night on the planet, Adira knows exactly how to
spend the evening—at an exclusive sex club, where she’s determined to confront
the Vampire who’s never far from her mind. She only has a few hours, but surely
she can entice the sexy bartender to share them.
Malachy is more than he appears.
Working undercover has him ready for anything…except Adira. The moment he laid
eyes on the Sentinel, he knew he’d found his lifemate. Unfortunately, the
prickly mortal has a wall as hard as a spaceship’s hull around her heart.
Only hours remain to convince her
she belongs in his arms, and his bed. As the heated night turns molten, duty
and desire collide. Following their hearts will only complicate matters.
gets the shock of her life when she discovers her voyeuristic nature—and the
fact that male-on-male action really gets her juices flowing.
futuristic/sci fi erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
I would like to thank my amazing editor Grace Bradley, for
her trust in my writing and her support every step of the way. And her
knife-like precision at finding what needs work.
A big thank-you to Victoria Davies for her critique.
Emotions vs. explosions and everything that goes with that. A ginormous
thank-you to Gina X. Grant and Bonnie Staring for their unconditional support.
I couldn’t do this without you guys.
And thank you to my readers, who once again go on a trip
with my characters. Have fun with Adira and Mal!
Adira Kapur parked
, her transport, and slumped
over the control panel, her eyes closed. Jade, what a freaking fuckup.
Her captain’s face—no, damn, her former captain’s
face—appeared before her inner eye. He’d looked so bloody happy when he’d told
her she’d been transferred to the Outer Planets, that she’d be based on
Hadamard, the arse of the galaxy. His grin had stretched to the moon and back
when he said, “I told you so.”
With a groan, Adira rose from the pilot chair and strode to
her cabin. Her career was in shambles and this was the last chance for her to
Her last chance to see Mal.
His laughing sea-green eyes, gorgeous face and mouthwatering
body flashed through her mind. That first night she’d met him she’d been
prepared to shoot him down as soon as he opened his mouth. In her experience
men were either married or jackasses, sometimes both, her former captain a
particularly stellar example. Then Mal offered her a drink on the house to make
up for the singularly bad pick-up line she’d had to endure only moments before.
Laughter had flickered in his eyes, but he was laughing with
her, not at her. Against all her plans she responded to him and at no point had
he been anything other than friendly. For once Adira had relaxed and enjoyed the
Their friendship had resulted in her visiting Indulgence far
She growled. But then Mal utterly confounded her. As they
grew closer sparks began to fly between them and sometimes she’d catch a
glimpse of burning heat in his eyes.
But he’d never asked her out.
And she never took the next step herself.
Should she have risked it? For once she’d actually liked a
man, enjoyed his company and his energy. What if sex would have ruined that?
Adira exhaled, dragged her thoughts back to the present and
pulled on her jacket. She’d changed out of her Sentinel uniform as soon as she
after the disaster at headquarters.
For a moment she’d been tempted to ball up the uniform,
throw it into a corner and resign, but that was exactly what
wanted. She’d asked too many questions and pushed for answers no one cared
about. She’d made them uncomfortable, showing up their shoddy police work.
And for that she was punished.
With a sigh she stroked her fingers across her uniform
lapels. Then she grabbed her bag and strode into the cargo area. Her baby
waited for her. Its glorious metal blue-and-black body gleamed under the
lights. Adira stroked across the deep black leather seat as if it were a
She snorted as she stowed her bag. As if she could remember
the feel of a man beneath her hands. She couldn’t recall a time when sex had
actually been a regular part of her life.
That was your decision.
Adira pushed the thought aside as she lowered the ramp and
swung onto the bike. As soon as her hands curled around the handlebars the
scanners read her DNA and the engine purred to life with a deep rumble. Adira
put on her frames and flicked open the lenses before she leaned over the
powerful body of her hovercycle and left her transport. As soon as she was
inside the hangar she flicked the switch to lock up
. The hangar
was huge, but with her baby it took her only a couple of minutes to reach the
entrance. She swiped her wrist across the scanner to pay for Kaali’s parking.
As soon as the transaction cleared the massive door before
her slid open. Parvati’s muggy air surrounded her like a wet blanket. Adira
pulled up her collar and initiated the sec-field. For a second it surrounded
her like a bubble before it became invisible again. She didn’t worry about her
driving, but the other idiots on the road. She pushed the accelerator and sped
toward the bar on the western side of town.
Parvati was a mainly human city on Dahir, a planet close
enough to the central core to make travel easy, but not so close to be within
easy reach of the core’s politics. The Naemas, a race some humans likened to
angels because of their wings, stayed away because they preferred to be close
to the political and business happenings of the core. Vampires, the third dominant
race in this galaxy, preferred somewhat run-down areas with a lot of history.
Parvati had been built and populated less than a century ago, meaning it lacked
the historic parts Vampires favored.
That didn’t mean Vampires weren’t around, but they were more
of an exception than the rule. Overall Parvati always reminded Adira of images
she’d seen of early twenty-first century Earth metropolises, a hodgepodge of
buildings, residences mixed together with businesses, and streets connecting
The speed of her ride had the air whizzing past her,
alleviating the earlier mugginess. She weaved in and out of traffic, having to
use her vertical boost a couple of times to avoid the boneheads cluttering the
lanes. Finally she left the annoying streets behind and turned off the main
road. Fifteen minutes later she reached the club’s parking lot, surrounded by
Adira parked her baby at the far end of the cycle lot. Not
everyone was as concerned about their bike’s welfare as she was. She snapped
her shades closed and opened her jacket. With a flick of a button the sec-field
jumped to theft prevention measures, a few of which were available on the open
market, a few which definitely weren’t.
Once certain her baby was secure, Adira grabbed her bag and
slung the strap across her chest. She walked to the big white double doors and
swiped her wrist across the scanner. She’d become a member of Indulgence as
soon as she’d been posted to Parvati. Being a Sentinel gave her the law
enforcement discount on the monthly membership and a great place to relax after
The scanner ID’d her and the doors swung open. Adira stepped
into the foyer. Cool air filled with the aroma of liquor surrounded her. The
doors swung shut and all outside sound disappeared. Only the low hum of
background music was left. She kept her jacket on and walked down the steps
into the wide-open bar area.
Indulgence looked like no other bar she’d ever been to and
she saw her fair share of watering holes in her job. Instead of dark wood,
alcohol ads or crooked stools, Indulgence was all white walls, comfortable
white leather chairs and low tables, and a bar that always reminded her of a
cloud floating in the sky. Continuously changing mood lighting in the colors of
the rainbow illuminated the white and gave it the character and depth it missed
on its own.
In one corner images of all the Indulgence clubs through
history filled the wall. Jackson Willer, owner of this incarnation, once told
her his family had always owned a club called Indulgence since one of his Earth
ancestors started with an airship named
. She always enjoyed
studying the results of different times and locations, but tonight she wasn’t
in the mood.
Adira slowed down and studied the room on the way to the
bar. Most of the tables were occupied and the bar had only a couple of empty
stools. The red door to the dance club opened and a short blond man exited. For
a moment the thumping bass of the dance music echoed through the room, but the
door sealed closed, shutting out the music. He leaned against the wall and
studied a group of single women at one of the larger tables. There was
something off about him, a maliciousness and a need to hurt that sent tension
curling through her body as if preparing her to be ready.
Adira’s senses tingled, but she had no reason to question
him. She couldn’t detain him for looking at women. She would keep an eye on—
A shiver ran down her spine. She didn’t have to look to know
who just stepped behind the bar.
As soon as Mal stepped out of the stockroom a buzz screamed
across his senses.
Adira is here.
Unerringly his gaze found hers. Her
amber eyes widened and her pupils dilated.
For a brief second their connection shone like a beacon
Then it was as if a shutter came down and severed their
link. Mal’s heartbeat settled back down. Too bad he couldn’t make his erection
go down quite so easily. He sighed.
Even after weeks of instances like this Mal still didn’t
know if she cut the connection on purpose or if it was an instinctive response.
Adira smiled and walked up to the bar, but the smile didn’t
reach her eyes. The blue light around the bar gave her gorgeous copper-toned
skin a soft shimmer. Her black hair with the dark-red streaks was in its usual
intricate braid, the end tucked under, probably around the spiked blade. She’d
shown him an image once. It looked like a cross between a knife and a hedgehog
and meant anyone trying to use her braid in a fight against her would end up
with a useless hand.
“Adira,” he said, glad the counter hid his erect dick. It
was nearly impossible to contain the energy crackling between the two of them,
but until he got a sign that she was ready to move their relationship to the
next stage he did his best to control it. He wouldn’t risk the inroads he’d
made, the trust he’d earned, by pushing her.
At least until he’d made his way over, around or through the
barrier Adira carried around her core.
“Mal.” She climbed onto the high-backed chair before the
bar. “Busy night?”
He nodded as he poured her a Classic over ice. The soda
fizzed and foam built on top. He handed her the glass and a few drops spilled
across their fingers. He lifted his and licked them clean, not releasing her
gaze. As if in a daze, she took a sip of her drink, but used too much force. Soda
spilled across her hand. With a curse she set the glass down on the counter and
licked off her fingers.
Mal clenched his teeth against the heat racing through him
at the sight of her tongue peeking out from between her dark-rose-colored lips.
She would kill him. No doubt about it. He’d just hoped it would be with
pleasure instead of pain.
The minute they met he’d known she could be his lifemate.
Never before had he felt such an immediate connection to another being.
Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure was to make love to her. And so
far she’d maintained the barricade between them.
“I’m such a klutz.” She shook her head as she grabbed a
napkin to clean up the last bit of moisture.
“Not at all.” Why did they always sound like distant
relations when they first met? “I shouldn’t have filled it so full.” Jade,
could he sound any more like a moron?
Adira smiled and for the first time tonight the darkness
lifted from her eyes. “How’s it been so far? Anything interesting happen?”
Mal chuckled and shook his head. “Not really, just the usual
crowd. How have you been? I haven’t seen you around for a week or so.” And it
had nearly killed him not knowing if she was all right or not. His duty kept
him at Indulgence. He couldn’t leave and risk losing the thin leads he had.
Risk more girls disappearing.
A customer waved him over before she could respond. The
black cloud returned to her eyes. He gave her a quick nod, strode over to the
couple and poured their drinks.
He needed to get back to Adira. Something was wrong. The
shadows in her eyes surrounded her like a dark mass. Their connection was only
active intermittently, but strong enough for him to know something had upset
her. But the orders kept coming. Having a Vampire bartender who mixed the
drinks by hand was one of the highlights in the bar.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye. She shot down
two guys with a look and another with a look and a sharp comment. The fourth,
however, didn’t seem to want to take no for an answer.
Mal narrowed his gaze. The man appeared familiar. Jim
something or other. Not quite a regular but in often enough to ping Mal’s
radar. And not in a good way, even if the standard background check had brought
up nothing. Maybe he’d have Sam take a deeper look.
Adira’s gut churned.
The blond man she’d noted earlier stood beside her. His
presence raised the hairs on the back of her neck. The malice she’d sensed was
still there but contained and pushed down.
“Your legs must be tired because you’ve been running through
my mind all night.” He leaned closer, a swarthy smile on his face. “I’m Jim.”
Her brows shot up. “Seriously? That is the best you can come
up with?” She stood and towered nearly a head over him. “My legs are just fine
and will kick your sorry ass to kingdom come if you don’t step out of my
He flushed and straightened. His muscles bulged under his
tight shirt. The malevolence bubbled closer to the surface. Adira flexed her
fingers, waking up her enhancements.
Jim took in her stance and must have realized she wasn’t kidding.
A vein flashed at his temple. “Whatever, bitch.” He stormed off.
“Back to charming the natives, Adira?”
Mal’s deep voice stroked across her senses and dispelled the
rage and frustration Jim had brought up. She sat back down and smiled into his
handsome face, his green eyes shining with laughter and heat.
Heat he never did anything about.
Her smile died. If there was one man she wouldn’t kick in
the balls for propositioning her it was Mal. But he hadn’t asked. The mixed
signals between the fire and the friendly manner threw her.
She shook herself. “Sorry. Yes, I should wear a sign saying,
‘Talk to me and die’. Maybe then I could enjoy my drink in peace.”
Mal held up a compad. “I can rig it so it stays on your
jacket. We can use fancy colors and all.”
Adira laughed. “Thanks. Hopefully they’ve caught the drift.”
He smiled and filled a couple of orders.
She slumped deeper into the chair, the reality of her
situation sinking back in. Desperate for distraction, she rested her chin in
her hand and studied Mal.