Interface

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Interface

Dreaming of dragons got Vikki into space and only the love of one can bring her back down to solid ground. Vikki has bee

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Dreaming of dragons got Vikki into space and only the love of one can bring her back down to solid ground. Vikki has been dreaming of dragons since she was a teen, but as she became an adult, those dreams got more and more graphic. Who needs to seek a relationship when the steamiest sex of a lifetime lies on the other side of your waking mind? Mercuros has been waiting for his mate to come to him for centuries upon centuries. Refusing to believe that she is finally on Geviil, he fights his senses until her touch convinces him of her identity. She is here and she is his.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Interface Copyright © 2011 Viola Grace ISBN: 978-1-77111-042-6 Cover art by Martine Jardin All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher. Published by eXtasy Books Look for us online at: www.eXtasybooks.com

Interface A Terran Times Tale

By

Viola Grace

Chapter One

S

wimming with the huge creature gave Vikki a feeling of serenity that had yet to be matched in the Alliance. After days of polite negotiations, Nother had come to a conclusion that added to Vikki’s sense of wellbeing. We wish to offer Balen strains of the neesha fish. They are hardy and are an excellent food source for most bipeds. Her companion swished his tail and she clung to his wide dorsal fin as he cruised along. She asked, How many fish? Fifty thousand. We will also confirm that the food stuffs available are suitable for the fish. It is exciting that Balen has renovated itself. Whatever we can give will be our pleasure. Thank you, Nother. I am sure that your offering will be well received. Thank you for the opportunity to communicate, Specialist Markham. I will return you to the platform 1

Viola Grace now. Hold on. There was no name for the beast she was on. It had been the avatar of the planet Nother for so many years that its species had ceased to exist. Twenty feet wide and ninety feet long, it cruised slowly through the seas of Nother and few, if any, folk bothered to realize that it was carrying the mind of the planet. The huge tail waved gently and Vikki could feel the acceleration with the current on her body. Her face was covered by her breather and her body by an aqua suit, but the speed at which the creature could move was breathtaking. She hung on tightly but closed her eyes to enjoy the feeling of being one with the large beast. You enjoy swimming. Yes, I just wish I could manage it as well as you can. It must be amazing to be able to move the way you do. It is nice to occasionally see it through the eyes of others. I forget how it is to be with the young. Would you ever accept colonists of the aquatic sort? Perhaps, if they could speak with the same calm that you do. A quiet mind is a blessing to me. Most of you air breathers shriek constantly. Vikki smiled. That is why I am a Specialist and they are not. Excellent point. I have enjoyed our few days together. Thank you for your patience with my method of doing things. It was my honour. Swimming with you has been a 2

Interface time that I will treasure. Ah. Would you ever be able to visit? She was a little surprised, but she answered as honestly as she could. I go where I am assigned. My requests are not usually taken into account. I understand. His voice was wistful. I can try. Perhaps when I am paired with my Drai, he will have a water affinity and I can visit. Ah, the bride of a Drai. That explains your ability to work with huge, old minds. To her surprise, Nother chuckled. I have not met him yet. As far as I know, he still sleeps. Then he is missing out on your amazing mind. I hope he wakes quickly, for your sake. Some other mind might snatch you up if he takes too long. How flattering. Are you courting me? I would if I could. Your mind is fascinating and you have patience with my slow methods of thought. You are ideal for an avatar, Specialist. Nother slowed as they approached the landing platform. You flatter me. No, I am honest with you, but I feel your fear. I will leave the subject, but know that the offer is sincere. Though there is much water here, there is land as well and you and I could commune on the islands above. Tempting, but I will give my dragon a try. Very well. I will wait for additional communication from the Alliance to confirm environmental suitability. 3

Viola Grace Be well, Specialist Markham. Nother glided up to the platform and a grateful Vikki swam for the ladder. The moment that she latched on to the metal, Nother lazily moved his tail and swam away. Clinging to the ladder with all her strength, she waited out the swirl of current caused by the huge creature’s movements. When all was still, she climbed up to the surface, flopped on her back and ripped off her mask. She gasped in the atmosphere, not caring that the metallic taste was in every breath. The scrape of a boot near her head made her look up, but the shadow was silhouetted by the suns and she could not make out his features. “It looks like it was a rough one.” She grimaced. “Shut up and haul me into the ship, Vinni.” Her partner cackled and grabbed her under her arms. “Gross, you are all wet.” “That is what happens when you swim.” She stayed limp, exhausted from her work under the surface of Nother. “Was it successful?” “Yup. Nother has offered an edible breed of fish. There has to be some back and forth with seaweed comparisons, but it should be good.” Her heels were dragging on the platform, but she didn’t care. Vikki yawned. 4

Interface Vinni was her partner, her pilot and occasionally an interior designer. One of the Dhemon pinks, he was born to never breed and had an active social life on every world and space station they landed on. He also had the sensibilities of her little sister despite his surprising strength. She let out an oof when he dropped her into the chair near the com. Propping her head on her fist, she typed in the code for Station 13. “Station 13, how may I direct your call?” “Funny, Lonar. Is Zenina on the station?” She yawned again and the com officer’s face showed his surprise. “She is off on assignment.” “Haunt then?” “Just a moment.” She stripped off her gloves while she waited. The closure of her suit fought her fingers, but she managed to peel it open to her sternum when Haunt’s face came on screen. “Specialist Markham, how nice. What can I do for you?” “Hello, Haunt. I have obtained agreement from Nother for some compatible fish. He has offered fifty thousand and they are supposed to be edible for most bipedal species. He requires some samples of seaweed to provide proof that the fish will have food. So, with a few of your folk and some more visits, you will have some fish for 5

Viola Grace Balen’s oceans.” “Thank you. We were beginning to wonder what was taking so long?” Haunt’s attempt at humour didn’t sit well with Vikki’s exhausted mind. “You try getting an agreement out of a planet who has not talked to anyone in eons, under cold water no less. The details of the agreement will be filed and Balen can make the decision later. Specialist Markham out.” She disconnected the call with the flip of a finger. “Get undressed, get dry and get to bed. I will fly us out of here to the next station. We are due on Brekari in three days. Time to get in some relaxation, Vikki.” Vinni lifted her with his hands on her arms and shooed her to the back of the shuttle. She stripped off her sodden suit and walked into the gel shower. She turned the heat up on the gel and got doused with the liquid, letting the heat warm her as she spread it over her from head to toe an instant before it hardened and shattered, taking surface bacteria with it. A light vacuuming later and she felt moderately better. She faced the mirror in the small lav and smiled slightly at her pink hair. It was one of Vinni’s best colour jobs. Even after the gel, it still had curl and wave in it. It made her blue eyes wide and bright, a startling contrast to how she felt. 6

Interface The weight of Nother’s mind was tremendous. Her relief at being disconnected from him was rippling through her thoughts. Sighing, she left the lav and crawled onto her bunk, strapping herself down for takeoff. Vinni took off smoothly, the shuttle barely shuddering under his control. The dexterity and strength that it took to control the old shuttle was what made him so popular on the stations. Under the uniform, he was ripped. He never lacked for male companionship, which was something Vikki could not say for herself. The stations held groomers and restaurants, so she focused on pleasing herself without looking for a companion. The few times she had tried, she had been unsuccessful once they heard she was on the waiting list for a Drai mate. It was on every document she signed, every cursory check of her credentials. Sighing, Vikki snuggled down into the sheets and blanket of her bunk and rested while Vinni did the flying. It was going to be a long day and they had a station to get to. She had to wait out an avatar hangover and sleep was the best medicine for it. It was time to dream of dragons.

7

Viola Grace

Chapter Two

I

n a baggy ship suit, Vikki relieved Vinni ten hours after they left Nother. He fell into his own bunk with a groan she could hear from the cockpit. She gave a delicate burp and swallowed the last of her breakfast for the second time. Her system was never quite right after a mental connection, but it would acclimate again. She was three hours into her flight shift when the com chirped. There was no scheduled communication, so she was unsure of what was going on. “This is the Dead Pigeon, connection acknowledged.” “Specialist Markham? Oh thank the twelve gods.” The voice was unfamiliar, but the mention of twelve gods narrowed down the possible races dramatically. “Yes, this is Specialist Markham. Who am I 8

Interface addressing?” “Oh, my apologies. I am Communications Liaison Heffer. I am calling from Geviil.” That got her attention. Her supposed mate was located on Geviil. “What can I do for you? This is a priority channel, so I assume that it is a matter of urgency.” Silence crackled in the cockpit and Vikki leaned forward, straining to hear the next message. “We need you here. Immediately. The Drai is in danger and he won’t wake up. He doesn’t believe you are near.” “That is impossible. I was told that our mating compatibility is confirmed.” Vikki scrubbed her hand through her tousled curls. “It is, was. From what I have been able to glean, he doesn’t think you are real. He thinks we have tricked him. I don’t understand why, but we need you here to talk to him.” Vikki groaned. “And because of my talent for speaking to large, sleeping minds, planets and the like…” “We believe that you can wake him.” She sighed. “Get the Alliance to change my orders and have them send it to me on the priority channel and I will redirect my shuttle to Geviil. At this distance, I should be there within a day.” “Thank you, Specialist Markham. I will. Immediately. Thank you.” Heffer’s voice was so 9

Viola Grace clear with relief that in Vikki’s mind’s eye, she could almost see a Geviilan bowing. Less than an hour later, the redirect came through with the Alliance seals and the approval of the Terran Rep. All was in order, so Vikki reprogrammed the nav computer with the new course. The Dead Pigeon huffed its way through space to a jump site and in three hours, her orders gained them a space on a warship with jump capability. By the time Vinni woke, had a gel shower, breakfast and brushed his long, lustrous locks, they were eight hours away from Geviil. “Hey, sleepy head. We got a redirect to Geviil. It looks like your playmates will have to wait a little bit longer, as will my nails.” She looked down at her chipped polish and mentally groused about the three days of swimming in salt water she had had to endure for her job. “Geviil? Damn. I was looking forward to some time on a station.” Vinni didn’t pout, but she knew if she was susceptible to that look, he would have used it. Every time he tried to go puppy dog on her, she snarled at him. It was not the effect he had come to expect, but it meant that they made excellent partners. None of his manipulative methods worked on her and he got to use her as a makeover experiment. She never looked the same way twice. 10

Interface “They said that my Drai was in danger, but it isn’t just that. There is something deeper going on and if waking him is what it takes to solve this, I will do it.” She gripped the controls tightly. Vinni looked at her from the nav station. “You want to wake him.” Vikki grimaced. “Yes. I have wanted to settle on a planet since I left earth. All this flitting from world to station and back again isn’t good for me.” Vinni looked carefully at her. “You are paler than normal.” “How can you tell? I always look pasty to you.” She snorted. He nodded. “Yes, but you normally don’t have eyes that look hollow no matter how much sleep you get.” “Nother wanted me for his avatar.” Vinni winced. “That makes the third world to proposition you.” Vikki nodded. “And one day, the planet won’t take I’ll get back to you for an answer.” “You are scared.” “Petrified. And I would far rather fling myself under a Drai than face another world who wants me for my mind.” “Oh, sweetie. You and me both.” Vinni’s comment hit home and the image of her Dhemon companion disappearing under huge bat-like wings was enough to break her composure. 11

Viola Grace She laughed a good tension-busting laugh and when she came out of it, Vinni gave her a hug and relieved her from the pilot station. Vikki went to the tiny galley and fixed herself a meal. In an effort to calm down, she picked up her library, but the moment that she opened a book, her attention span went right out the window. Sighing, she returned to the cockpit and stared out into space as they approached Geviil. “You are really nervous about this, aren’t you?” She looked at her friend out of the corner of her eye. “Of course I am. What if we don’t get along? What if he won’t wake up?” “I have never heard of that happening. The sleepers always come awake when their females are near.” “What if I am the exception?” She bit her lip and watched the celestial bodies shift at their approach. “You are wonderful, intelligent, graceful and have a wicked right hook. Any man who was inclined to would be lucky to drop at your feet.” “You say the nicest things.” She laughed and pulled her knees up under her chin, wrapping her arms around them to give herself a hug. It was something she had done since she was a child, but part of her still found it comforting. Her nocturnal psychic interactions with her Drai were still hot. She saw his body next to hers, over hers and felt it inside hers with every dream. In the 12

Interface psychic realm, he was generous and attentive. No part of her astral form was left unloved. So, why wasn’t he waking to claim her in the physical realm? She mulled it over during the remainder of the trip. When a proximity beacon went off, she checked the coordinates and opened the coms. “This is Specialist Markham approaching Geviil. Can you give us landing information?” The signal projected into the beacon and was relayed to the surface. When the signal came back, the speaker had an urgent tone in their voice. “Specialist Markham, we need you to go to this spot precisely. There is a matter that you can assist with and our representative will meet you there.” A stream of data came through her ship’s systems. She reset navigation and locked in the destination. “We are on our way. ETA, two hours.” “Thank you, thank you, Specialist. The people of Geviil owe you a great debt.” The connection ceased and she looked to Vinni who had a curious look on his face. “Don’t look at me that way, Vinni. I have no idea what is going on either.” She left her seat and returned to her small storage bin where she kept all of her supplies. On an impulse, she slipped a knife into her boot and strapped another to her outer thigh. She unfastened her suit and opened it to the waist, 13

Viola Grace putting on some body armour under her baggy uniform. Vikki had spent close to half a year’s salary for the armour, but it never let her down. She fluffed out her pink locks and returned to the nav station. The Dead Pigeon could take off with one handler, but to bring it down safely took two. Geviil was an attractive planet with four moons. The off-planet traffic was minimal. It was primarily a settled world of small cities and close-knit communities. Vikki had already researched her potential home. She knew what they were flying into. As they cleared the outer edge of the planet’s space and began to work through the layers surrounding it, their normally chipper banter was shelved. The Dead Pigeon lived up to her name on descent, she was hard to manoeuvre and harder to keep aloft. Vikki’s arms shook as she held the secondary controls. She was going to feel this in the morning. Layer after layer they navigated until they were finally inside the atmosphere and falling toward the location specified. The Pigeon did not have a lot of dignity on landing, but with both of them straining, they got her settled almost exactly where she was supposed to be. The systems confirmed a breathable 14

Interface environment and Vikki unbuckled. Slapping Vinni on the thigh, she got to her feet. “It’s time to meet my destiny or at least find out what the hell is going on.”

15

Viola Grace

Chapter Three

A

figure was running toward their shuttle. Vikki exited and began to walk calmly toward the female figure. She was no more than four and a half feet tall and wearing what seemed to be a climbing harness. “Specialist Markham?” The small woman was flushed a bright blue. “I am. And you are?” The Geviilan bowed low. “Communications Liaison Heffer, I am honoured to see you in the flesh. Your hair is…quite striking.” “My partner is talented with scissors and dye.” She twisted her lips at the Geviilan’s appalled expression. “Yes. It appears so.” Heffer shook her head. “We have an urgent matter to attend to and you are the only one who can help us.” “Then, let’s be on our way. You lead. I don’t 16

Interface know where I am going.” Heffer turned and jogged to the edge of the tarmac where a skimmer with a driver was waiting. Heffer whispered to the man and as soon as Vikki was in her seat, they were up and flying over the town and toward a large mountain. When the ground under them executed a peculiar wave, Vikki grabbed her small com unit off her belt and called Vinni. “Vin, the area is hot, get the Pigeon up in the air. There is a ground wave coming toward you now.” His voice came back immediately. “Understood, lifting off. Will meet you at the Mercuros City landing field. Keep me posted.” Vikki turned in her seat and she could see the silhouette of her ship as it left the surface and went west. “He will be safe there. It is on a separate plate.” Heffer nodded. “Great. Now, what do you need me to do?” “The dragon sleeps. I can speak to him, but he will not rise until his mate is here and for some reason, he does not believe that you are you.” That was not something that she had thought she would have to deal with. A strange amusement spilled through her. “So, what do I have to do?” “We are going to rappel down into his lair and 17

Viola Grace you are going to prove that you are you. He will then wake and stop the advance of the magma threatening to destroy nine towns.” Ah, so that was it. “I will do my best, but if he doesn’t want to wake, nothing I can do will wake him.” Heffer looked shocked. “But he is your mate. You would leave him sleeping when he has waited for you all these years?” “Forcing myself on a man who doesn’t want me will not do anything for my self-esteem. I will try, that is all I can promise.” Heffer looked far more nervous than she had earlier, but a slight nod of her head to their pilot and the skimmer took off at high speed. The climbing harness had been enlarged to fit her, but it was still snugger than she would have liked. The body armour took some of the digging and the rest of the discomfort was in the crotch area. Heffer linked to one of the ropes and waited until Vikki was on the other before she slowly started her descent. Vikki could feel the huge mind beneath her. Well, huge was the wrong word. Vast was far more accurate. Her Drai had seen many things before he had gone underground. She was nervous about the drop, but part of her 18

Interface was excited to see him for the first time. The surface disappeared until the crack that they were travelling through was a tiny sliver of light way above. “Heffer, how deep are we?” “Currently, a kilometre, but we have five hundred metres to go before we reach the plateau.” “Plateau?” This was the first that she had heard of it. Her mind had pictured them actually dropping onto the dragon’s back. “Yes, we land on the plateau and then walk down half a kilometre of caves before we reach the great doors. That is as far as I can go. The doors won’t open for me.” Vikki kept her hand on the descender and watched the rope slowly slip through it. Her other hand was under her ass, on the rope as well, in case the gears and pulleys gave way. The horribly vulnerable feeling didn’t leave as the cliff wall they were facing cut away, leaving Vikki in a slow, controlled fall toward the plateau. Her breath came more quickly and as the air thickened and warmed, she coughed. Heffer looked at her, concerned. “Are you sensitive to the minerals in the air?” “A little. I will put my breather on when we get to the plateau.” The tight feeling in her lungs was unmistakable. If she didn’t get her mask on, she 19

Viola Grace was going to have an asthma attack. She hadn’t had one in years. She released the tension and began sliding down at increased speed. When her feet hit the plateau, she winced as too much weight came down on her limbs. She fumbled with her kit belt and pulled her breather on. She hadn’t thought to need it but was glad that Vinni had restocked her kit while she was passed out. Getting the air mix without the mineral contamination was a blessing. She could breathe again. “Okay, Heffer. Which way?” She stood with her hands on her knees and breathed deeply for a moment before uncoupling her harness from the rope. “This way, Specialist.” Vikki stifled a laugh. If she had simply looked up, she would have seen the tunnel entrance with the script over it. “We named our main city after him.” Heffer’s voice was proud. There it was, in gold on black, Mercuros lies within. They walked quickly down the tunnel, Heffer with a light on her helmet and Vikki with the lights on her belt. None of the Geviil helmets had been a fit for her. She was too big. The doors were lit with the same gold from 20

Interface inside black granite. These designs were more abstract and as the women approached, they moved to form two dragons, one on either side. Heffer crossed her hands in front of her. “I can’t touch the doors. A communication will begin and he is a little…upset with me right now.” “Why, what did you do?” Heffer darkened. “I offered myself as his mate if he would only come out of hibernation. He…got very angry.” “Yeah, they are patient, but they do have tempers. Even the new Draikyn have the same characteristics, if a little more snobbery.” “I see. I have minimal contact with other races. I thought perhaps one female was as good as another.” “Drai don’t see it that way. They dream of their mates long before they meet.” Vikki’s palms were sweating. “So, I simply touch the door?” Heffer was backing away. “Do what you can. If you are successful, we will know immediately.” Vikki watched the Communications Liaison walk back the way they had come. With a mind-steadying breath, she turned back to the doors and approached them. There were flat panels on the door and she pressed her hands to them. Nothing happened. “Damn it.” 21

Viola Grace She thought about it and realized that everything that had been done with the dragon had been done mind to mind. Steeling her thoughts, she pushed through the stone and reached for the mind on the other side of the door. He was there and he was irritated the moment that her mind touched his. I told you, Heffer, no. Um, this isn’t Heffer. We haven’t met before, but my name is Vikki Markham. I am from Terra and I have dreamed of you. The doors swung open in a second and she walked through them, onto a platform even with one huge golden eye. She had heard of the size of the dragon forms, but Mercuros was so large that her body was the same height as his eye. She abandoned her mental communication and looked into the slit pupil with one thought. “Oh. My. God.”

22

Interface

Chapter Four

I

am not, nor have I ever been, a deity. If you are who you say you are, you know that. With our communications limited to our writhing against each other on the astral plane, you know better. The eye blinked. The black scales around it gleamed in the glow of her suit lights. You cannot be my mate. The voice was adamant. She sighed. He was really stubborn. Why not? You are the wrong colour. Shock ran through her before amusement won out. She laughed as the image in his mind was of her with her original hair colour. The neutral brown had been waist length until she paired with Vinni. It was her mental image of herself that still used her long hair and the blah colour. I fail to see the amusement. My hair is dyed. If you have good vision, check the roots. It is the same brown that it always has been, my partner dyes and cuts it for me. It gets in the way when I 23

Viola Grace have to go into alternate atmospheres or environments. A wave of comfort ran through her mind. You will no longer have to do such work. Then, as long as Vinni doesn’t feel his muse, my hair will grow back. Now, are there any other items that make you not believe I am me? Touch me. What? Put your hands on me. After our years of shared dreaming, I know your touch, would know it anywhere. She removed her gloves and dropped them. Clenching and relaxing her hands, she walked toward the huge span of his head and touched the scales and the skin in between. Vikki ran her hands over them again and again, smiling and relaxing as the psychic scent she was used to when he was aroused washed through her thoughts. His lid drooped and she heard a rumble in the distance. If she wasn’t mistaken, he was swishing his tail. Satisfied that she had made her point, she withdrew her hands and backed away from him. Do you believe me now? There was a rumble back in the cavern and his head started to rise. I believe you and more than that, I dreamed of you. If you are getting up, should I be running? I think that would be for the best. I will see you when I have ceased the volcanic activity. It was all the warning she needed. She turned and bolted back through the doors, sighing in 24

Interface relief when they closed behind her. She kept running until she reached the rope and noticed Heffer halfway to the surface, her headlamp glowing. She locked herself onto the rope and started to slide the ascenders as quickly as she could. It took some doing and she had to cling tightly to the rope as the walls of the crevice shook. A shadow passing over the opening confirmed that the dragon of Geviil was flying and in control. Her arms ached and the rest of her felt like it had been struck multiple times with something heavy, but when Vinni gripped her hands and hauled her to safety, she let him take her weight. It wasn’t time for false bravado. She was sore, exhausted and her head hurt. She could speak mind to mind, but it didn’t come naturally. Her first years with the Alliance as a Terran Volunteer had been spent at the Citadel. When she emerged, she was dubbed a Specialist and used her honed talent to negotiate treatise and bargains between the Alliance and huge beings who could not verbalize their intentions or requirements. Vikki had sat on them all and did what she could to bridge the communications gap. “Aw, hon. You look like hell.” Vinni was looking down at her. She grinned up at his upside down face. “You say the sweetest things. No wonder women will 25

Viola Grace have nothing to do with you.” “They want me, but I have standards.” His grin was incorrigible. “Tease.” She slapped his thigh and sat up. Heffer came scuttling up. “Thank you, Specialist Markham. I have been instructed to take you to your home.” “Call me Vikki. And I can’t go home. No Terran Volunteer can go home.” Heffer smiled. “Your home here.” Blinking, Vikki nodded. “Oh. I see. Sure. Take me there.” Vinni looked hopeful. “Can I come?” Heffer seemed unsure, but she smiled. “Of course. You are her partner. She will no doubt wish to have you as a guest.” They sat in the skimmer with the same pilot that she had had on the way out. Vinni was sitting next to him and flirting up a storm. Amused, she looked out over the edge and saw what evidently was the dragon’s handiwork. Melted metal, tumbled rock and barricades of ice meters thick dotted the landscape. She noted that there was a span where the lava could flow freely into the ocean creating a new edge to the landscape with no damage to property or lives. The skimmer flew over an expansive estate complete with a large, elegant manor house. Gardens, pools and walks were all well maintained 26

Interface with a charmingly subtle aspect. As the skimmer landed, there was something about the doors that struck her as perfect. They were all huge. On a planet where the average height of the population did not exceed five feet tall, the doors would give her a nice, normal feeling. She got out of the skimmer that had been far too tight for her and walked along the drive. The crunching of gravel under her boots was pleasantly familiar. Vinni was still flirting outrageously with the pilot and the pilot was blushing becomingly. It had always amazed her that for a slight Dhemon, Vinni was the alpha in all of his relationships. He pursued and his companions let him catch them. He didn’t always get his man, but he rarely tried hard. Communications Liaison Heffer came to her and gestured to the door of the manner. “You can go in. This is your house.” Raising her eyebrows, Vikki walked to the door and touched the handle. It swung in immediately. Huge, curving staircases arced up to the second floor. Marble lined the foyer and polished hardwood was visible to the left and right. Vikki drifted left and found a huge room with couches arranged near a fireplace, a study with a com unit set up in it and when she continued around the back of the house, she found the kitchen and a 27

Viola Grace dining room that looked out onto the back garden. All throughout the house, she found statues and a few of them shocked her. They didn’t shock her because of their depiction of naked women, but rather because she recognized the model. It was her. A psychic sculptor at the Citadel had asked her to pose and after a great deal of alcohol, she had. Nine limited-edition statues had been created in a variety of nude poses and she had forgotten all about them once the editions had sold out. Looking around her, she now knew where every single edition had ended up. Her dragon had bought the entire collection. Wait, strike that, he had had Heffer buy the entire collection. She put the statues from her mind and walked up one of the expansive staircases. Bedrooms, studies, lavs, all were in pristine condition and all were sized for someone not of Geviil birth. The heavy wing beats got her attention and she ran down the stairs to watch the giant dragon land in the front yard. His hind legs dropped to the ground with a thud, shaking everything around him. To her surprise, he shrunk in size until he was about the same size as two standard busses. From there, he walked toward the manor house until she was once again chest to snout with the dragon. 28

Interface

Chapter Five

“H

ello, Mercuros.” She reached out and stroked the long nose, ignoring the razor-sharp teeth. He shifted in that instant from dragon to Drai. The startling thing was that he maintained the same colouration. He had onyx black skin from head to toe with wings and molten gold eyes. “Hello, Vikki.” That he was nude was obvious as was his interest in her, baggy clothing covered in dirt and all. Vinni let out a low whistle and Mercuros whirled to snarl at him. “Mine.” The Dhemon with the small black horns almost hidden in his black hair wisely shut up. Communications Liaison Heffer rushed forward, trying to take his hand. Vikki grabbed her and held her back, whispering to the other female, “He’s mine.” She didn’t shove the woman, merely let her go. 29

Viola Grace Heffer got the hint and headed for the skimmer. Vinni and the pilot didn’t quibble. They simply got into the skimmer and lifted off. Apparently, messing with a Drai who was about to claim his mate wasn’t worth the cheap jokes. Alone with her mate, Vikki reached out to take his hands in hers. She smiled up at him, his seven-foot height making her almost six feet seem petite. She pulled him slowly backward, into the manor. Not a word fell between them until she got him in, got the door closed and opened the closure of her suit. Calmly, she disrobed in front of him until she was wearing nothing but a smile. His muscles were locked into a peculiar rigor of anticipation. She took his hands in hers once again and continued backing up until her heels hit the stairs. “I really like your house.” He moved like a striking snake. One moment she was holding his hands, the next she was in his arms and he had flown up to the second floor with a flick of his wings coupled with the powerful surge of his thighs. They flew down the hall and she understood the width of the passageway now. With a final flick, he stopped in front of the two closed doors at the far end of the hallway. The doors opened as he approached and she had to admire the blend of high tech and old world that the house combined. 30

Interface From her research, Vikki knew that they had gone through most of the steps of Drai courtship. Introduction, the shared dreams, her liking the home he had had built for them and, of course, basic physical attraction. Now, there was one thing left on that list and Vikki was trembling with eagerness. This close to him, she could feel the dark maelstrom of his emotions. His thoughts were on her and they were very interested on the textures of her skin. He lowered her to the huge four-poster bed and centred her just so. She squawked as he reached under her and flipped her to her stomach. She shivered as his lips caressed the base of her skull and feathered kisses down her spine. As she waited for the next kiss to fall, she listened to his inhalations. The focus of his thoughts was on the differing textures and scents of each inch of her and with the typical patience of the Draikyn, he was taking his time. With the patience of a Terran, she was getting desperate. She noted the hand in her line of sight and admired the claws on the end of his fingers and the bands of muscles of his forearm. He was propped over her, but the only part of him to touch her was his lips and the occasional slide of his hair. She was passively accepting until his lips trailed 31

Viola Grace along her lower back. A quick shimmy of her hips started every time he brushed against those vulnerable inches between ribs and hips. She could have sworn she heard a chuckle, but she ignored it as her blood started to warm and her hips shifted in time to his kisses. He moved down and kissed her butt, first the left cheek was outlined and then the right. As he moved down to the backs of her thighs, she kept her legs together, but when he shifted his weight to caress her lower back with one hand while he tongued the backs of her knees, a sharp contraction in her belly caused a moan to slip from her lips. She felt his pause and he repeated the light lap combined with the caress to her back on the other knee and she gave him a rough inhalation that definitely elicited a laugh. The backs of her calves were kissed and when he reached the base of her foot, she jerked out of his range. He stopped and she thought she had gotten away with it until he gripped her ankle and trailed his lips over the most ticklish part of her body. She squealed and twisted, anchored by that one hand. He was strong and continued until he was finished with the left foot before examining the right. Laughter overwhelmed her and she was still giggling when he flipped her to her back and met her bright blue gaze with his gold one. In reflex, she reached out to touch him, running her hands 32

Interface along the cords of his neck and cupping the balls of his shoulders. She frowned when he pulled her hands away from him and pinned them over her head. She tugged to free herself and scowled at him in accusation. His harsh expression softened, “No. I am very close and I want to learn you first.” He returned to her neck, licking softly, leaving trails of heat in his wake. Vikki could feel the moisture gathering inside her, a slick invitation that he was ignoring. He nibbled at her collarbone and worked his way between her breasts. She sighed, twisted and enjoyed the feel of his silky hair swinging past his pointed ears to tease her skin. He was thorough, teasing the underside of each breast before laving the nipple with his tongue. When he slipped the first taut bud between his teeth and suckled lightly, she arched against him, her body twisting upward seeking more contact. As he moved to her other breast and took a more aggressive approach, pressing his teeth into her skin as he suckled, licked and nibbled at her. A low mewl came from her as he learned her tastes and scents one by one. She sucked in her navel when his lips approached and he simply pursued her until she was giggling as her arousal built. She was ticklish. 33

Viola Grace She knew it. No one had ever bothered to explore the flesh between her navel and groin before, but when he flicked out his tongue and she noted that he was watching her response, she knew. “You are confirming all the dream sharing.” It wasn’t a question. It was exactly what he was doing. He propped his chin low on her belly and his voice reverberated along every nerve. “Yes. I wanted to be absolutely sure.” “And are you?” “I was sure when I touched the skin above your ass. Now, I am going after the rest of your zones for the thrill of discovery.” “Jerk.” He grinned, showing the deadly white teeth that mimicked his other form. “And yet your scent says you want me anyway.” She tried to look indifferent. “Maybe. I mean I got the alterations done. So you are sort of my only option unless I want to look into farm animals.” His lips twisted and a look of determination came into his gold eyes. “I see that I have my work cut out for me.” He moved and she realized that taunting him before getting to know him a little might have been a tactical error. He released her hands and settled on his belly low on the bed, but his torso spread her knees wide opening her to him completely. His kisses took a trip down her hip and between 34

Interface her thighs. To keep her from moving, his hands went under her thighs, curled around and went flat on her belly to hold her. Mercuros exhaled on her sex before he parted her with his tongue. The heat before the slick slide of his tongue against her had her shaking and when he lapped at her with a slow determination, she bit her lip and tried to stop the moans that seemed to want to crawl out of her throat. She was unsuccessful. In another embarrassing moment, the more she heard her own arousal, the more aroused she became until the undulating tongue within her felt the hard contractions of her muscles while she shrieked, gasped and quivered as she came. She felt his laughter rather than heard it. He waited until she had slowly stilled and her body was relaxed against the bedding once again. The moment she relaxed, a thumb started to rotate on her clit and his tongue began a thrusting once again. The second climb to the edge of release was much faster. Since she was being held flat, she couldn’t watch or distract herself to slow the ascent to a second orgasm. She was on the edge when he moved over her, darkness made physical and eyes that burned in the shadows. She felt him fit the pointed head of his cock to her and looked into his eyes as he slowly moved 35

Viola Grace into the sheath that had been retrofitted to fit him perfectly. The feeling of having him inside her, physically instead of simply on the psychic plane, was incredible. He was hot and the slick bar slowly venturing into her was warming her from the inside out, the stinging prickles of pain caused by her stretching to his girth for the first time. When he was in her to the hilt, he groaned and held still for a moment. Vikki’s body clasped him tightly as it adjusted to his intrusion. When the stinging subsided, she raised her hips to him. His arms were straight, straining as he started to move inside her. She could see the fine trembling as he fought for control. She could still sense the seething maelstrom inside him and she wanted it to come out and play. As his thrusts became steady, she wrapped her legs as far around him as she could manage, brushing his wings with her heels. Vikki reached up and started to caress the midnight skin that was taking on a fine coating of sweat and she stroked his nipples before running her hands down his abs before reversing and returning to his shoulders. His eyes grew heavy-lidded with her slow caresses and his hips started to pump harder, rocking her back against the pillows. Vikki smiled at her success and reached around 36

Interface his back to stroke the base of his wings where they joined his back. She heard a snarl and her arms were removed from him and pinned over her head. The control on his emotions released and he pounded into her, getting closer to his release with every stroke. The sharp slap of bodies rang through the room and Vikki fought against Mercuros’s grip while he continued until she recognized the high-pitched moans in the room as her own. He shifted suddenly and her clit was contacted with every harsh movement and in seconds, she screamed, her wide eyes going blind with the rush of pleasure and her body locked in place against his while the muscles of her channel milked him. Savagery broke through where lust had reigned and he used his grip on her wrists to keep her still as he sought his own release. When it struck him, his eyes went vague and he threw his head back, flaring his wings while keeping his cock inside her to the hilt. She felt the hard jerk of his hips and as he roared, she felt the jet of semen deep inside. Spurt after spurt splashed heat deep within and when he groaned and slumped over her, she sighed. As first-date sex went, she was pretty impressed with the results.

37

Viola Grace

Chapter Six

H

er breathing was still ragged, but as he shifted his weight from her, it became easier. Mercuros slid free of her and turned to his side, pulling her against his chest. He settled a hand just below her ribs. His satisfaction purred through her mind and she closed her eyes and let it wash over her. She was exhausted. Her body was sated and there was a charming throbbing hum between her thighs. If she could feel like this for the rest of her time with him, she would be very happy indeed. He turned her to her side facing him and she snuggled against his body heat. He rubbed her back and she slumped against him. “You are tired.” She smiled against his chest. “It has been a helluva week. What did you have to do that was so urgent?” 38

Interface He sighed. “In return for my upkeep and that of my property, the Geviil asked me to assist them with maintaining the safety of their settlements. Their mines have opened a magma pocket and it was flowing under their settlements. They needed me to divert it and so insisted on my waking.” “Why didn’t you believe that I was me?” The question had burned in her thoughts since she first heard about it. “I couldn’t allow myself to hope. I was woken ten years ago and you were not yet off your world. I had dreamed of you but knew that you were out of my grasp. I thought that they were telling me you were near to torture me or make me do their bidding.” “And my hair was a problem because…” “I knew what you looked like in my dreams and when I was younger, the image of pink hair brought to mind the Dartheen shapeshifters.” His hand kept smoothing down her spine and she listened to him speak. “They could be anything you wanted, but they had an unmistakable touch…” He kept talking in low tones and with him around her, she drifted off to sleep. Waking was an exercise in pain. She groaned as she tried to sit up and Mercuros was at her side. “What was it? Was I too rough?” 39

Viola Grace She looked at him for a moment before she laughed in his face. “This week, I have spent three days clinging to the back of a leviathan, have dropped on a rope into the depths of Geviil and then had to use a manual ascender to get myself to the surface before there was some kind of a cave in. My arms are sore and my legs ache. My neck is tense and my back is killing me. Frankly, the only part of me still in a daze and happy is my pussy, so thanks for that.” He blinked at her for a moment before he lifted her in his arms and carried her into the en suite bath chamber. He muttered a few words in Geviil and the tub began to fill. The roman-style step-down tub was suited for his size times two, so when he climbed into the tub with her in his arms, they fit quite nicely. There were slots grooved in the floor and when he sat, his wings tucked neatly into them. The water level rose rapidly, but all Vikki was concerned about was the warmth that was spreading through her aching limbs. “Oh, that feels good.” He chuckled and started to massage her arms, his clawed hands careful on her pale skin. His claws were not claws in the standard feline sense but more like thickened and elongated fingernails. When her arms were limp, he started on her shoulders. She grunted and moaned as his hands 40

Interface worked the knots in her muscles free. When the water level was just under her chin, she turned in his embrace and straddled his lap. She leaned up and kissed him. A light brushing of his lips that let his taste come through. Drai didn’t taste like any other species she had ever kissed. Merc’s flavour was minerals and spices in a mix that she would never mistake for any other male. She licked at his lower lip, taking it between her teeth and listening to his grunt and feeling the surge in the cock pressed against her belly. She flicked at his mouth until he opened and she forged inside. When his tongue wrapped around hers completely, a mystery from the previous day was solved. His tongue worked against hers, stroking it and she idly wondered if he would ever resent her for not having the same talent. A low sound that reminded her of a purr came from his torso and she slowly broke their peculiar melding of the mouths. Licking her lips, she looked into his eyes. “You purr?” “It isn’t common knowledge, but yes.” The twist of his lips was amused. “A purring dragon. I never thought to see the day.” He stroked a hand down her spine and gave her a leisurely kiss. “Dragons are mythological. I am Drai. I am very real.” She rocked her hips against him in a teasing 41

Viola Grace motion. “I can tell.” He gripped her hips and held her still. “No more coupling until you are physically fit. So, now, you will get a proper massage and then we will have a meal together. Our first of many.” He was true to his word. He removed them from the tub, wrapped her in a fluffy towel, wrapped his own around his hips and led her to a room adjacent to the bath chamber that contained a massage bed. He got her situated, turned up the heat in the room and removed her towel with only minor slapping of his hands on her part. He held her down with one hand on the base of her spine and poured warm oil across her skin with the other. When he was satisfied as to the amount on her flesh, he moved the holding hand and started a soothing massage. “Oh, you could do this for a living.” She groaned, grunted and arched in response to the pressure he put on the knots in her back. He was quite careful, never putting too much effort into relieving her tension. When his oiled hands slid across her ass, she groaned but didn’t fight the release of tension in her glutes. Her thighs felt abused before he got there and limp when he finished. Even her toes were oiled, massaged and tugged until they relaxed completely. 42

Interface The moment she was convinced that she was made of overcooked linguini, he flipped her over and poured more oil across her breasts and belly. At her rueful expression, he smiled. “Your back was to relieve your pain. This is simply a reward for my attention to detail.” She took a breath to give him a piece of her mind, but when he brought both his hands to massage her breasts and the sensitive tissues around them, she changed her mind and exhaled on a groan. He worked out all the tension in the muscles just over and under her breasts and she sighed happily. Pulling her own body weight did a number on the pectorals and hers were simply under a protective coating. His hands worked down her ribs, rubbed across her belly and then the tops of her thighs. When he removed his hands from her, she thought he was finished, but he placed a hand on her chest and lifted a smaller bottle of oil. “This one is for more intimate contact. Hold still, you are a little chafed.” He dribbled the oil across two fingers and parted her legs with an elbow while reaching to caress her slit with the oiled digits. The oil started off cooling and soothing, but a rapid warming took place and she was soon squirming as his ministrations became far more arousing than refreshing. 43

Viola Grace Her orgasm caught her by surprise, sweeping over her in a wave and stealing her breath. Merc kept his slow strokes up and down on the open folds of her flesh until every quiver had ceased. With a slow grin, he wiped his hands on a towel and helped her sit up. Instead of being coated in oil, her body was now silky soft and smelled lightly of citrus. “This is my favourite scent.” He smiled and bowed. “I know. Despite my misgivings, I had the house stocked with your favourite things.” She grimaced and hopped down from the bed. “I saw the statues.” “I look forward to seeing them in person. I only ever had them described to me. Why did you pose for them?” He took her hand and led her back into the bathroom and then the bedroom. “I had never seen psychic sculpture, already knew about you, so knew I would not be pursuing any relationships in the Alliance. It gave me a little voyeuristic freedom.” She admitted it. He could read her emotions, so there was no point in hiding her motivations. “Ah. Well, using your Alliance file, clothing has been provided for you to my specifications.” Smiling with anticipation, she opened the wardrobe he gestured to and was both intrigued and confused by the clothing in front of her. The boots were soft, knee high, delicate and in a variety 44

Interface of jewel tones. For some strange reason, she selected the black. The top rested at the far edge of her shoulders, almost falling free. The long sleeves were open between shoulder and wrist, so her arm was loose and not confined. The main part of the top was pleasantly opaque but only came to the edge of her ribcage. The skirt, or what she took to be a skirt, completely baffled her. “I give up. How do I do this?” Merc grinned and came toward her. “You are trying to tie it too high. If I may?” She handed him the band with the long streamers fluttering free and he took it with another smile. He folded the fabric in half, centered it behind her and then wrapped each long end around her hips three times. It wasn’t going anywhere but did show her navel and the upper curve of her hipbone. When she twirled in her new boots, the long streamers fluttered but did not lift. It was a fairly well-covering outfit that would allow her all the air conditioning she needed. As she finished preening in her new finery, Mercuros came forward with a chest. He extended his hand and when she took it, he placed a wide gold cuff the same colour as his eyes on it. The cuff covered half her forearm and she began to see the 45

Viola Grace reasoning for the slit sleeves. A matching cuff went on her other arm and a wide, flat necklace skimmed the base of her throat. “Are you done playing dress-up dolly?” He was terribly fetching in his own wide-legged, loose trousers wrapped at the low waist just like her skirt. He pursed his lips and nodded. “For today, yes. There is much more jewellery for you, but it will have to wait for more formal occasions.” She nodded. “Of course. Now, I believe you mentioned food?” “I shall endeavour to provide whatever my lady requires.” He grinned and took her hand and dressed as they were, they went in search of the kitchen. Vikki was hoping that while they ate she would not have one sexual thought, but as she took each step, the residue of the heating oil came to life and she knew that this would be one meal she would not taste. With a blunt practicality, she acknowledged that remembering food was over rated.

46

Interface

Chapter Seven

A

n elaborate buffet was laid out. A small Geviilan was working in the kitchen and putting platter after platter on the long table. The woman bowed and smiled pleasantly as they walked into her domain. “Welcome, Mercuros, Specialist Markham. I have prepared a selection of foods from your worlds.” “Thank you. What is your name?” Mercuros’s voice was polite. The woman blushed a purply blue. “Rhenic. Altiara Rhenic.” It suddenly clicked in Vikki’s mind who she was. “You are the cook and housekeeper.” “Yes, Specialist. I have been given your dietary specifications and requirements for a healthy digestive system. I am yours to command.” Mercuros nodded. “There is also a gardener, groundskeeper and of course our liaison. We have 47

Viola Grace a fairly complete staff.” Rhenic nodded and raised her head. “Oh, The premier is coming this afternoon to speak to you, Mercuros. He did not mention the topic.” Following his lead, Vikki piled a plate high with foods that were barely recognizable but smelled familiar. She took a seat across from him at the table and together, they ate their first meal with an attentive Rhenic standing nearby. Vikki tried everything on her plate, made mental notes as to what she did and didn’t like and noticed that Rhenic was making similar notes. “Why did you decide to leave your world for a life in the stars?” Mercuros looked at her and to her surprise, his two plates were completely clean. “It seemed like a good idea. My friends and I made a pact to apply and I was as surprised as anyone to get a notice from the Volunteer Recruitment centre telling me that I was accepted and that I could begin assembling the pack I was to take with me to the Alliance.” She smiled and poked at her dish. The omelette had an interesting fruit in the middle. He propped his chin on his folded hands and smiled. “How did your family react?” “They were in denial that I would be allowed to leave. They even tried to drug me so that I would miss launch day. I wanted to go. I had been dreaming of you since I was young and as I 48

Interface became an adult, the dreams definitely caught and held my attention.” “As did your thoughts meshing with mine in the dark of your nights.” He extended his hand across the table and she put her small pale pink hand in his without question. They sat and let their emotions run through the physical contact. Rhenic removed their plates and stored the remains of their meal. It wasn’t nearly as much as Vikki had thought. Apparently, Drai ate a lot. “Would you care to take a walk in the gardens?” She smiled and got to her feet, walking with him with the table between them until they reached the end. When they could, they gravitated to each other and walked out the huge glass doors to the back yard. The breeze felt good on her legs as it played with the long strips of her skirt. She sighed happily to be free of an obligation to get on a shuttle the following day. “What was that sigh for?” “I hate to travel. This is wonderful, knowing that tomorrow I don’t have to get back into that damned shuttle and pray that it won’t drop out of the sky on some unsuspecting world.” “You didn’t have faith in your equipment?” Their path was taking them past fanciful hedges 49

Viola Grace in swirling patterns. She laughed. “No. It stranded Vinni and me several times. Twice, it put our lives in danger. Takes two people to land it and more muscle than I usually have access to for liftoff.” A flicker of anger in her thoughts was foreign. “Don’t get mad. It got me here in one piece.” He lifted her hand to his lips. “I am aware of that, but it does not ease my irritation that you were put at risk when I offered my coffers to you via the Geviil. You should have had a private shuttle that was reliable.” She smiled at his concern. “I appreciate your thoughts, but since you were not sure that I was me, how could the Geviil be?” He made a noise similar to a grunt and they toured the gardens. When she admired a lovely bush of flowers, he made an imperceptible nod and a man appeared from behind one of the elaborate hedges. “The gardener,” Mercuros filled in. He paused. “We will have to return to the house. The premier has arrived.” Their pace was not any more rapid than their venture to the bottom of the garden. They stopped and enjoyed anything that caught Vikki’s gaze. As their slow mosey took them back to the house, the gardener passed them with a selection of flowers, most of which were the ones she had 50

Interface taken a liking to. Orange, red and pink faded into each other on those petals, each colour shading into the next with a quiet grace. “Flowers for the house?” “You should be surrounded by things you enjoy.” “As should you.” He lifted her hand again, inhaling before he pressed a kiss to her skin. “And with you here, I am.” When they walked through the garden doors, Rhenic was looking stressed. She had a tea tray in her hands and was walking into the front room. They followed her into the receiving room and two men were waiting for them. Vinni was sitting on one of the couches, but the Geviilan male was looking at the statuary and books with a critical eye. Rhenic put her tray on one of the tables and left as quickly as she could. “I don’t understand what he sees in her.” The male sniffed with disdain. Vinni winked at her. “Oh, she has her moments.” Mercuros tucked her hand under his elbow to rest on his forearm. “I certainly think so.” The premier jumped and whirled to face them. “Guardian, so nice to meet you face to face.” The male extended his hand in formal greeting 51

Viola Grace and Mercuros calmly placed his hand over Vikki’s before he extended the hand she was attached to for the greeting. He paused and then turned to greet her, “Specialist. Thank you for coming.” She extended her free hand and he took it gingerly. She thought it was distaste until she noticed the bruises on his hand. Merc had given him a bit of a squeeze. “It was expressed to me that it was urgent and so I came.” The premier took his hand back and she could see his fight not to wipe it on his smart tunic. “Well, I am sure that you will be only too happy to get back to your normal schedule.” Shock and rage came to Vikki’s mind through their link. Even Vinni looked surprised, but it was the reason that he was there. He was there to take her away. The Geviil wanted her gone. She inclined her head. “That would not be wise, Premier.” He gave her a sneer, seemingly unaware that Vikki’s hand on Merc’s arm was the only thing holding him back. “I do not see why not. You have carried out your assignment and now you can be on your way.” “It is not that simple. I engage in a very stressful occupation, Premier.” 52

Interface “I fail to see why I should care.” “Because Mercuros is my mate, his mind and mine are linked. Now that we have…met, our minds have woven tightly together. If you send me away, Merc’s composure will suffer and if I die on assignment, he will not survive long.” She felt Merc’s amusement at the appalled look on the premier’s face. “What?” Her dragon spoke, “What words did you not understand? When I agreed to sleep here and wake for the benefit of your folk, the agreement included the arrival of my mate and the home I required for her. She is now here. We will live together, have a family if we are so blessed and carry on as good citizens of Geviil, for that is what we are. The documents were signed and ratified into the Archives centuries ago. The agreement will not be altered now.” His voice raised to a shout on the final sentence and to Vikki’s astonished eyes, fire snorted from his nostrils. She sent him calm and the fire turned to trails of smoke. “I will have to discuss this with parliament.” There was a moment of silence and Vikki’s lips twitched as a familiar hum ran through the psychic plane. She knew that hum and wished she could have been there when it happened. “Discuss it with Geviil as well. The planet has taken an 53

Viola Grace avatar.” “What? That is impossible. Geviil is not sentient.” The premier’s colour had drained until he was powder blue. She smiled and it wasn’t a nice smile. “Yes, he is. He merely did not enjoy using your race as avatars.” “But, you two are the only off-worlders here. There is no one else.” Merc’s mind caught on and Vikki smiled. “Well, there is one other.” She pointed to Vinni who was still reclining against the couch and a swirl of black and silver came through his eyes. “Greetings, Premier. Do you like my new avatar?” The premier swayed and Vikki moved quickly to catch the small man before he hit the floor, or worse, the tea set. “It is impossible. In all the years my people have been here, there has never been a report of communication with an avatar.” Vikki sighed. “Based on my research, with the exception of the liaisons who were brought up to communicate with Merc, you have not encouraged mental expansion within your species. The true soul of Geviil has lived within plants, birds, mammals and anything that took its fancy. In my line of work, you learn quickly that not all avatars walk on two legs.” 54

Interface Vinni got to his feet. “Well said, Vikki. Vinni thinks highly of you, though he believes you need more of a sex life.” The planet looked at Mercuros through Vinni’s eyes. “I believe that the problem has been solved.” Vinni came around and took custody of the premier. “Come along, Rasso. We have much to discuss and I will need to go over it with your parliament.” They were exiting the room and she heard the premier say, “What?” “I am tired of being an insular planet. I want to see races, people, others. You and yours are going to change the policy or I will toxify the environment, get you off my surface and send out a general invitation to any species who wants to come and live here.” The conversation continued as they walked and when she went to the window, Vikki saw the skimmer rise and Vinni was still talking. Vikki looked back at her mate and he spread his wings in what passed for a shrug. He quirked an eyebrow at her. “Merc?” “Do you mind? Mercuros is a bit of a mouthful.” He sighed and approached her, looping his arms around her and resting his hands on her buttocks. Bending, he whispered, “You can call me anything you wish as long as it is always me you turn to in the dark of night.” 55

Viola Grace

Chapter Eight

W

hen you asked me if I wanted to take a ride, I thought you meant a skimmer. Vikki stifled her scream as he changed altitude and she hung on for dear life. Relax, dearest heart. You are safe with me. And where would the fun be in a skimmer? He banked and she clutched at the spiny scales that wrapped over her thighs. They were chasing the sunset and Merc was revelling in his ability to fly without having to attend to a natural emergency. This was fun for him. She could feel it in every flex of his wings, see it in the long serpentine twist of his neck. Her fear of falling could be controlled if he got to share this bubbling happiness with her on a daily basis. She breathed in and out, the wind making it a little awkward but not impossible. Why didn’t you say so? 56

Interface He shifted his angle and immediately his neck created a drafting system that allowed her access to a breathable bubble. I didn’t say so because I was concentrating on breathing. My body doesn’t come with slit nostrils. And I am thankful for it. Now, tell me, how surprised were you that your partner became the new avatar? Not very. I…uh…bumped into the main consciousness when I was trying to contact you. It didn’t speak, but I knew it was very eager for something. You didn’t mention it. I didn’t have time. I met you, ran to safety and then was dropped at your home. You showed up minutes later. You still could have said something. He angled his wings and she squeaked as they turned and headed back toward their home. Like what? Oh, honey, I felt the biggest mind…it made yours look tiny. He blasted two streams of fire from his throat. It took her a while, but she recognized it as a laugh. Fair enough. There was no good way for you to break it to me, but if he puts his mind near you… She laughed. He won’t come near me. Vinni prefers men and most planets keep to their avatar’s sexual preferences. Fine. But if Geviil decides to experiment, let me know. I have a detailed knowledge of all of the deep crevices of this world and can make it mighty uncomfortable. 57

Viola Grace Vinni wouldn’t let him. He is like a brother to me. A pink, horned brother. Their conversation drifted into silence as they grew closer and closer to their home. She hung on with white knuckles while he fluttered his wings to drop them to a light and precise stop. He shifted so quickly, she was on his shoulders and he was standing up. “What the hell?” He grabbed her legs and held her in place and she rode on his shoulders until they reached the house. “This is just stupid. How am I going to get down?” Out of reflex, she was grabbing his hair, but there was no way she was going to make it through the doorway. He grabbed her wrists. “Hold on.” “That is what I have been doing…yikes!” With a surge of his thighs, he jumped and beat his wings heavily to propel them to the balcony outside their rooms. The touch of his hand on the door caused it to swing open and he ducked low to allow her to pass under the frame while he wandered casually toward their bed. He turned his back to the bed and leaned far enough back to break her balance. She squealed as she fell back. She propped herself up on her elbows and glared at him. He leaped forward and covered her body with 58

Interface his own. “You make the most fascinating noises.” She blushed. “I am not your squeaky toy.” He started placing kisses along her temple and worked his way down to her mouth. “I beg to differ. You are indeed mine, as I am yours and I love the variety of noises that you make.” He took her mouth in a kiss that left her breathless. His hands fumbled at her clothing before the top was whipped off over her head. He trailed kisses across her jaw and down her neck. She tilted her head to one side to allow him full access and she whimpered when his pointed teeth grazed her shoulder. He held her, draped back over his arm, her breasts offered to him by her bent back. She hissed as he lapped at each nipple, wetting them before blowing a stream of cool air across them. It was more than cool, it was icy. “How are you…” “Control over the elements is my gift, which means I can use them to tease.” He blew hot air across the right and switched to ice for the left. She twisted at the contrast and whimpered. “Mean.” His tone went lower than she thought it was possible. “I know.” His face took on a lustful savagery and he showed his teeth. “Get used to it.” The next passage of time became a blur. Her skirt was untied and she spun until she was dizzy 59

Viola Grace as he unwrapped her. He pulled her up on her hands and knees, running his hands over all the sensitive zones he had found during his intense exploration. Vikki could feel how wet she was and when his tongue slicked into her with one smooth move, she bucked back against him, riding his tongue as he undulated it into her while his hands gripped her ass to keep her from getting away. She was approaching the edge of pleasure when he pulled away and she howled in frustration, digging her hands into the bedding. The heated pressure that replaced his tongue made her groan and she rocked back against him, taking him deeper. She did all the work, backing herself onto the heated pillar until her ass and thighs were pressed tightly against him. He remained still inside her and when she looked back, he was staring at her with glowing gold eyes. His words sent a spike of heat through her. “You want it? Take it.” Her confusion lasted seconds and then a dark anticipation rippled through her. She faced forward, slid almost completely off him and then rocked back quickly. She repeated it again and again, impaling herself on him before sliding away. When she felt his hands on her hips and lower back, she knew 60

Interface that she had won. His grip grew harsh as she picked up speed, the claws digging lightly but not drawing blood. Vikki circled her hips in a slow figure eight and his control broke, slamming his cock into her, scraping across her g-spot and making her buck with every thrust. Her voice repeated, “Harder…oh god, harder.” He gave it to her harder. She felt the tension winding tightly inside her and she screamed loud enough to rattle the windows when the tension snapped. The sharp bite of his teeth in her shoulder caused her to go into another round of vocalizations and aftershocks. He grunted as his own release gripped him. Merc held her tightly with his claws and teeth and this was the moment with her Drai that she had waited for. A mating Drai of Merc’s line contained venom in his bite that activated his mate’s ovulation cycle. It was the reason that the Drai were so fussy about the right woman. Only the right woman would respond to the bite, the wrong woman could end up dead. Lucky for Vikki, she was the right woman at the right time with the right Drai. When the shot rang out, it burned along her thigh and she collapsed, dropping to the bedding and cursing. 61

Viola Grace She looked up to see Communications Liaison Heffer standing in their bedroom doorway with a gun held between her hands. “That should have been my bite.” She took aim at Vikki again. With her body still attached to Merc’s, she was a sitting duck.

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Interface

Chapter Nine

M

erc snapped his wing over her to cover her while he slipped free of her body. “Stop it, Heffer. Why are you doing this?” Vikki couldn’t see what was going on, but the structure of the wing would probably take one hit but not two. She breathed in the scent of sex, pain and blood. It was not a good combo. “All my life I have been trained to communicate with you, knowing that I would do it until I died. Now, my life has been taken from me in my prime all because you found your precious Terran. I can link with you like she does. It could be me. Now, let me kill her and we can be together.” The tone was eerily singsongy. Heffer had snapped. A life devoted to serving the dragon by running his errands on the surface and she was no longer required. A second shot rang out and the wings tightened 63

Viola Grace around her. “No! Stop protecting her! She isn’t worth it. She is a baseline negotiator. She isn’t worthy of you.” Vikki felt the tension in his muscles and when he whirled away from her, she heard another shot, but the sprinkling of ceiling materials proved that it went wide. When Vikki was able to look up again from where she was cowering on the bed, she saw Heffer hanging in Merc’s grip. Her tiny wrists in his hands. He was furious. “So, you want to know my bite?” She was eager, she exposed her neck. “Yes. I know I am the one for you. This will prove it.” His anger was coming off him in waves and when he reared back his head to expose his fangs, Vikki shouted, “No! You can’t, Merc.” He looked to her. “She would have killed you.” “And biting her will kill her.” “It will injure her, but more than that, it will kill our connection. Her mind will no longer be able to sneak up on mine.” His determination flared in his thoughts and she had to let him take his actions. Whatever they would be. Heffer’s eyes were widening. “A broken connection? No. No! Don’t, please don’t?” She kept begging and he bit down on her 64

Interface shoulder, a flicker of pain on her face denoted the release of venom and as soon as he was finished, he dropped her and kept her gun. Vikki wrapped herself in the top sheet stained with her blood and hopped toward Heffer as the venom took hold. She was gasping on the ground as pain took hold. Vikki leaned down. “The Drai choose their mates for compatibility. You can’t force it. No Geviil could have been his mate and he knew it. He had to wait for me, but it was unkind of your people to tie you to him this way.” She looked to Merc. “Call the medics, maybe they can save her. And get Vinni to get the med kit off the Dead Pigeon. I need that one.” He was still breathing heavily, the barrel of his chest flexing in an impressive show of strength. He walked over Heffer, lifted Vikki into his arms, sheet and all, and carried her downstairs to the small office setup. He placed the call to the local emergency services and explained that Communications Liaison Heffer was suffering from a venomous predator bite. They promised to have a crew out immediately. Vinni was easier. Merc got him on the com and said, “Vikki’s been shot.” The call ended and Merc held her close while they waited. Rhenic came in wearing a nightgown and robe, 65

Viola Grace saw the blood on the sheet that Vikki was holding to her thigh and nodded. “Heffer is upstairs. Show the medics when they get here.” Merc’s voice was hard, flat. “The Specialist needs attention first. Wait and I will get my kit.” Rhenic nodded and disappeared for a moment. “Wow. I feel so popular.” Vikki’s head was tucked under Merc’s chin and she let him surround her. Even his wings were curled protectively around her. “Shh. You are losing a lot of blood.” His hand pressed on top of hers and kept the pressure in place. “We can’t even have a nice, fun afternoon without something going awry. Not an auspicious beginning.” She chuckled, but black spots were spinning in her vision. Rhenic was at her feet in moments, cutting the sheet away and exposing the gash in her leg. A low whistle came from the unflappable Rhenic. “Used a blaster on you. Not very sporting. It’s amazing you are still alive.” It took some doing, but Rhenic got the bleeding stopped. As she explained while she worked, Geviil blasters were designed to rupture cells and make it impossible for them to knit or clot. A residual energy was left in place that usually resulted in the injured bleeding to death within 66

Interface hours. Sprays, oils, unguents and gauze all came into play and before Rhenic finished, the medics were in to attend Heffer and she shouted directions to them. Heffer was pale and still but moaning. So she wasn’t dead. Merc murmured against her hair. “She will be just a normal Geviil woman now. No psychic talents, no bonds. She will have to start over, but she will probably live. I used most of my venom on you. She just got the aftershock.” Vinni came through the doors with a med kit in his hands. When he saw that she was being treated, he sighed in relief. What was that about? Merc, I hate to tell you, but the new avatar of your planet is afraid of the sight of wounds. “Thanks for coming, Vinni, but Rhenic wields a mean spray-flesh canister. I might scar blue, but it will be in one little spot.” Merc chipped in. “Eight inches long.” Vinni sat down on a chaise near them. “Geez. What happened, Vikki?” “There was a bit of unrequited love combined with a sudden job shortage. It seems that I will be the new liaison for Mercuros.” She leaned back against Merc, drawing his strength into her. Vinni grimaced. “Oh, the Geviil are going to 67

Viola Grace love that. They are so xenophobic that it isn’t funny. Geviil would like to thank you, Mercuros. If not for your early contract that none of the Geviil ever thought would be fulfilled, I would not be here with a planet sharing brain space.” She winced in sympathy and in pain as Rhenic finished up. “I am sorry.” Vinni shook his head, “No, I am sorry. I never realized how it felt to have a mind like that near you. I should have given you more respect and certainly more nap time.” She chuckled weakly. “It was hard to describe. So, how did Geviil seduce you?” Vinni blushed. “Well, I was leaving Tori’s home and I decided to walk in the park. A bug landed on my arm and it had a psychic signature that was beyond anything you have ever described. The bug started to talk to me and when it finished talking, I squashed it and the mind of Geviil dropped into me.” “The squashing freed the mind?” “Yeah, it was a bug with a one-day lifecycle so that Geviil could come to me.” Vinni examined his fingers and buffed the nails. “He made an excellent choice.” Yawning, she curled against Merc and let him take her weight completely. Sleep was calling her and while the men continued to speak over her head, she let herself answer it. 68

Interface With her partner and her mate in the same room with their housekeeper, she was in safe hands all around.

69

Viola Grace

Chapter Ten

W

aking up in pristine sheets with Vinni sitting next to the bed was a little surreal. “Are we back on the Pigeon?” Vinni grinned and Geviil came in through his eyes. “I am afraid not. We have been summoned to speak in parliament today and we will have to defend our residency.” “Wow. They work fast.” Vinni snickered, “Not really, you have been out for two days. Don’t worry. I have called your defence counsel. They are waiting in the receiving room. You had best get dressed. Oh, and have a shower, you are a little ripe.” “Funny. What kept me out?” She swung her legs to the edge of the bed and noted the bandage was off her thigh. There was still a vicious red streak where the blaster burn had landed, but the blue skin was bonding nicely to her pink leg. 70

Interface “You had a slight reaction to some of the treatments that Rhenic gave you. The pain killer she sprayed on is, apparently, a very good Terran sedative.” He grinned and helped her to her feet. She had been naked in front of him quite a few times, but she had never had to hold onto him like an infant before. “Where is Merc?” “Meeting with the Alliance reps that are on the main floor. You aren’t going into this battle alone, Vikki.” He helped her to the bathroom and stayed nearby while she showered and dried her hair. After the hot water, she was feeling much more awake and far more alert than when she woke. Wrapped in a towel, she limped back into the bedroom and opened her wardrobe. She selected a deep blue that matched her eye colour. A little bit of work and the top was in place and with three false starts, her skirt flowed around her ankles and was nice and low on her hips. It wasn’t quite the professional job that Merc had done, but Vinni looked impressed. “Vikki, I have to say, you look amazing.” She looked at him and smiled. “Was that painful? It seems like it should have been painful.” She sat and pulled on the matching dark blue boots. “It was agony. Even Geviil felt it. Mercuros says to come down with your jewellery or naked.” 71

Viola Grace Vinni absently walked over to the dressing table with its waiting contents. She walked over and started to slide on the bracelets. “When did he say that?” “As the avatar, I can contact him at any time.” Vinni handed her the necklace. “So, he knows I am awake?” She fiddled with the clasp and warm hands took the necklace from her. The necklace attached with a snick and those same hands cupped her shoulders. “I do. We have guests. Would you care to meet them?” He turned her and looked down at her with concern in his eyes. She went up on her toes and gave him a kiss that had him wrapping his arms around her waist to hold her tight. “Yes. I would enjoy meeting them.” “How is your leg?” “Sore, and a bit blue, but otherwise fine.” She used both hands to part the long strips of her skirt and she showed him the mark. He trailed over the healing skin with his fingertips. “You can walk on it?” “I can.” “Then, let’s introduce you to your defence team.” She took his arm and they walked slowly down the hall to the wide, curving staircase. Vikki held tightly to Merc’s forearm as they moved down to 72

Interface the main floor and entered the receiving room where the premier had met them the day before. Vikki mentally smacked herself. Three days ago. Mercuros made the introductions to the two men and two women in the room. “Specialist Vikki Markham, please meet Guardsmen Beast and Fury and the Terran Representative and First Champion, Kyra Dannick vi Rannith. Oh, and her husband, the Azon Ambassador to the Alliance, Tiergar.” Vikki smiled at the two women and inclined her head to the men. Beast was only the second Drai she had ever seen in the flesh. “Pleased to meet all of you, but fill me in. I have missed a few things.” Rhenic came in with a tea tray and smiled warmly at Vikki. “Good to see you up and about, Specialist.” “Good to be up and about, Rhenic. Thank you for the emergency first aid the other day.” “All part of my duties, Specialist.” The woman’s cheeks glowed with the acknowledgement of her service. She retreated back to the kitchen, but her head was held high. Vikki sat and started to pour tea, handing the cups to the ladies before the men. When everyone had been offered a beverage, she poured her own and sat back, “Now, what happened while I was out?” Merc sat next to her and when he nodded, Kyra 73

Viola Grace leaned forward to explain what the folk of Geviil were up to. The parliament had held a special session to create a sovereign state where none had existed before. That meant that all alien interference would not be tolerated. As they were not an Alliance world, they could do it, but Kyra was here to throw a wrench in their plans. “Kyra, what is your role in this?” Vikki sipped at her tea and watched the other woman carefully. “Before I ended up with my beloved husband here, I was an archivist who specialized in ancient histories. I found lost races and a planet that had been scrubbed from all star charts.” The woman sat in her elegant Azon robes and smiled brightly. “I can handle some smurfs.” Vikki sprayed her tea and reached quickly for a napkin. “Oh, you are definitely one of us nasty humans. I have been thinking that since I landed.” Tiergar raised his hand. “I have Alliance authorization to enforce the decision of the courts. This case was tried via relay and Beast and Fury are here to defend the rules of the sector. Their uniforms will record everything that we do and see today, including your spit take at the word smurfs.” Vikki dissolved into giggles again and Kyra was right behind her. Hooting with laughter while five other people in the room stared was a little 74

Interface uncomfortable, but Vikki couldn’t hold it in. Smurfs. As she wiped her eyes free of tears, she met Kyra’s gaze and said, “Three apples tall,” and off they went again. When they finally stopped their laughter, they were both leaning against their mates and Vikki looked up into Merc’s eyes with an exhausted sigh. “That was fun and I will explain it later. I think I have it on a data pad in the shuttle.” He wrapped an arm around her waist. “I think that we need to get going. Rhenic has prepared a picnic for you, so you can eat on the way.” She sighed. “Are we taking a teeny skimmer?” Beast grinned. He flexed his wings. “We will be travelling in the Sector Guard shuttle, the Talon. Designed by myself and crafted by Fixer. It will definitely make an impression.” Vikki stood and smiled. “Then grab my picnic and let’s go. I have some short blue butt to kick.” The occupants of the room rose en masse and as one, they headed out to the shuttle, Merc carrying the parcel that Rhenic brought him. The shuttle in the drive was so sleek and deadly seeming, Vikki wanted to keep it the moment she set eyes on it. As they got into the shuttle to make their way to the city of Mercuros, Fury kept glancing at Merc. Vikki sat at the small galley table and started to work her way through the food with Merc beside her. He finally asked the Guardsman, “Why are 75

Viola Grace you staring?” “You are Mercuros Weelich? Commander of the Wing Guard?” Fury was biting her lower lip. “Yes, though not for some time now.” Fury smiled, a bright smile that caused a cheerful swirl of air within the shuttle. “You are my great uncle nine times or so removed. Garo was my multiple great grandfather.” Merc was stunned, Vikki could feel it in her mind and she quickly finished her food and packed up the remains. “You are my niece? Cynthia’s offspring? They said she would never have a child of her own.” “She did. Her daughter Coral began a line of daughters that comes down to me.” Fury leaned forward and extended her hands. “I am glad that we met, granddaughter of Garo. My brother was a lucky man to catch the woman of his dreams and to have a daughter to continue the line of exceptional women.” Merc was welling with emotion at that moment and Vikki sent him her joy. Fury extended one hand to her and grinned. “Welcome to the family, aunty.” It broke the heavy emotional moment into a dozen glittering, laughing pieces. Beast snorted and started to land their shuttle. The parliament of small blue faces caused a 76

Interface problem for Vikki. She kept looking at Kyra, but the Terran Representative had a far better poker face than she did. The premier stood and addressed the assembly. “In the fine tradition of our people, having evolved here on Geviil…” Kyra stood and raised a data pad. “Objection! The Mirandeese that settled here were and are still similar in every way to those here on Geviil. No evolution has taken place.” The Premier attempted to puff up. “Who are you?” “Kyra Dannick vi Rannith, High Archivist of the Alliance Archives specializing in ancient worlds and races. The Geviil here today are no more natural to this world than anyone else.” “How do you know this?” “I have the Mirandeese emigration records. The ancestors that dealt with Mercuros are all listed in the original agreements. They are Mirandeese and simple blood draws will prove it.” Kyra waited for the next statement. The premier tried to regroup. “In our proud tradition, we have remained apart from other races and proved our self-sufficiency.” Kyra held up her hand. “Point of order. The Mirandeese settlers counted on the Drai who was already here.” Heads lifted in parliament as they began to pay 77

Viola Grace attention. Kyra cleared her throat. “As most of you are aware, Mercuros has been here since before your people arrived. With the agreement of the living mind of Geviil, he was allowed to make his home here.” The room erupted with shouts and denials. The speaker banged his gavel and the room ground to silence. “This is the first we have heard of a living mind for this world. There has never been an avatar called.” Kyra gestured to Vinni. “Vinnarolous Nehanic was called by Geviil. The planet has never found any of your species to be a suitable host. You don’t take well to psychic invasions. Those of Dhema, however, though they deny their psychic leanings, have a strong propensity for mind-to-mind communication.” “Why has Geviil never made itself known?” One of the men on the end of the benches asked. Vinni spoke. “He has. The sudden storm that stopped the fire of Rhaza. That was Geviil. The raising of the Makinar ridge to assist in mineral harvest. That was Geviil. You have thousands of moments in your history that you attributed to luck, never knowing that there was a mind behind it, because when your folk landed, there was no test you could administer to check.” 78

Interface The room burst into shouting again and the darkness blurred into Vinni’s eyes. He held up his hands and the room shook. Vikki was scooped up into Merc’s arms and he beat his wings to raise them aloft. Beast did the same with Fury and the calm Tiergar grabbed Kyra and sprang his claws, swiping at any Geviilan who got too close. When Vinni dropped his hands, the room stopped. “I have just shifted the occupied continent nine feet to the left. Check your monitors. I am Geviil and Mercuros and his wife are my honoured citizens. I wish them to live and remain here, have a family and enjoy all that I can offer them. Mercuros has offered himself to you in service for a pittance. A home of his own and the maintenance of the property. He would get that if he was a civil employee. I bequeath to him the proceeds of nine untapped mineral deposits and leave it to him as to the species he will hire to excavate it.” The premier was staring with his mouth open. “Where are these deposits?” Geviil looked at the small man and bowed down to where they were face to face. “I have created them for Mercuros in payment for his services. He and no other will get access to the deposits. Anyone else attempting to mine will be on the receiving end of a lightning strike. Now, I 79

Viola Grace want to know how your people are going to compensate me for the resources you have consumed.” As Merc and Beast landed, Vikki knew it was the beginning of a very long day. **** In the end, the premier was dismissed from office, a new one appointed and a negotiation for compensation for services rendered tendered to Mercuros. As the original occupant of the world, confirmed by Geviil, he was the true original citizen. Should he care to, he could expel the locals back to their overcrowded home world. Kyra brought out precedents, Tiergar helped negotiations and in four days, Vikki and Merc returned to a home that was theirs as long as their bloodline lived. Fury and Beast were called away, but they promised to visit soon. Several of the sleepers had entered the Guard and there were going to be a lot of calls in Merc’s future once the Drai chose to call him. With them all living on different worlds and under aliases, they had to make the contact with the anchored Drai in their own time. Kyra and Tiergar extended an open invitation for a visit to Azon and they left when the Guards did. 80

Interface Vinni was designing his home with Geviil architects and having a wonderful time in his new role as avatar. Only two assassination attempts so far, so he was doing well. “I thought we would never get home.” Vikki was exhausted. “I concur. It lasted a little longer than I had anticipated. Kyra is quite the negotiator, isn’t she?” He had his arm loosely around her waist, a habit he had developed during their time in the boardrooms. “Not like our final Champion. Amy Tyrell spent time in the actual armour. She is a force to be reckoned with and the Consort of the Emperor of the Haldis Imperium.” Merc laughed and hugged her. “You Terrans get around.” “Hey, it isn’t our fault that we have malleable genetics. Being out here, you know as well as I do, that we aren’t allowed to mate with our own kind. I don’t know when they are going to open our planet, but it isn’t going to be any time soon.” He lifted her off her feet and swung her around. “I am ever so glad that you made it out in the first wave. I think I would have gone insane if you had been left there.” She stroked her fingers through his hair as he lowered her to the floor, pressing her body to his during the slow descent. “I am here now and no 81

Viola Grace what if’s need to be considered.” When her mouth was even with his, she kissed him and used her grip on his hair to keep her pressed close to him. **** A relieved Rhenic came rushing into the receiving room and she stopped when she saw the Guardian and the Specialist in an embrace. Dinner would keep. The messages and well wishes would wait. Their time together had been intense and short. It was time for her to be smart and simply back out of the room. Back in the kitchen, she smiled, imagining what the little ones would look like from such a striking pair. With a low whistle, she packed away the meal and began working on a schedule for the gardeners and groundskeepers. The master and mistress of the house were in residence and there was work to do.

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Author’s Note Thank you for visiting a Terran Time’s Tale, Interface. Vikki’s story was one of a woman who left her home for one reason. Love. She didn’t know it at the time, but the man of her dreams was real and he was waiting for her. I also brought back a Dhemon as well as the first Champion from Arena Station, Kyra Dannick. In the next book, Interdict, we meet Cynthia, the Terran lost in time who dropped into the arms of Garo, Fury’s (of Hael’s Fury) great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents. Thank you for coming to play with my Terrans and Dragons, Viola Grace [email protected] www.violagrace.com www.extasybooks.com www.devinedestinies.com

About the Author Viola Grace was born in Manitoba, Canada where she still resides today. She really likes it there. She has no pets and can barely keep sea monkeys alive for a reasonable amount of time. Her line of day job tends to be analytical which leaves her mind hopping to weave stories. No co-worker is safe from her character analysis. In keeping with busy hands are happy hands, her hobbies have included cross-stitch, needlepoint, quilting, costuming, cake decorating, baking, cooking, metal work, beading, sculpting, painting, doll making, henna tattoos, chain mail, and a few others that have been forgotten. It is quite often that these hobbies make their way into her tales. Viola’s fetishes include boots and corsetry, and her greatest weakness is her uncontrollable blush. Her writing actively pursues the Happily Ever After that so rarely occurs in nature. It is an admirable thing and something that we should all strive for. To find one that we truly like, as well as love.