Phantoms (excerpt – chapter 3, part 2)

(continued from this post)

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phantomsp1-600p“After the threat of the empire to change your world, I suspect these governors are afraid it could return. Fear does crazy things to people, even turning them into that which they fought so hard against.”

Anita could think all she wanted about how humans reacted, but this wasn’t the Inari way. What was happening to them? What had Marin done in her twenty-six years to change them so much?

Could it be undone?

What about Daris’s rights or others like him who were Shirukan but left?

“And you’re all right with someone just poking around inside his head? He works for you, you know. Don’t you care?”

“Of course I care, but I don’t have any authority here.”

Ha! Small vindication to hear those words from Anita’s mouth, even if now would be a good time for her to actually exert some authority.

“I’ll be all right,” Daris said.

Nare blushed. They had been speaking as if he wasn’t really there, but this was his life in question.

“Of course, you will,” Anita said. “You have nothing to fear.”

His cheek muscles bulged and a hint of a grimace touched his lips. That couldn’t be good. What could he be hiding?

She had to do something. In the meantime, she could prove he was a good person.

“So…um…Daris. How about I show you around this place? I doubt anyone would stop a Crystal Keeper.”

The smile returned, hinting of relief. “I’d like that.”

“Perfect.”

“Two hours,” Anita said as he passed her.

“Two hours?” Nare asked.

“I’ll need you in the control room to work with your controllers. Saffir will be opening the portal then.”

“Fine. Two hours.” Plenty of time to spend with him. “Shall we?”

Crystal fire. His smile was cute.

She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and left Anita to her apartment. They walked through the corridor lit by the sun shining through the large windows along the outer wall.

She glanced aside at the short brown hair and the chiseled features, broad shoulders more like a human than an Inari male. He must have fit in well on Earth.

When she caught that charming smile directed at her, warmth shot up through her to her face and she looked ahead to the nearest skywalk. She needed a distraction.

["Except for this rule, it's nice to be home. Isn't it?"] At least with him, she could speak her own language.

In trying to make sense of that something she thought she saw in his eyes, again, she stumbled over her own foot. Strong hands caught her and pulled her up against his body to steady her.

["Are you all right?"]

That close, she paused to stare at the handsome face and her thoughts scrambled before the situation caught up to her head. Her breath stuck in her chest, his hands igniting a rush of warmth so intoxicating. She was so attracted to him, she didn’t want to step away.

["Yeah. I'm um...I'll be fine."] More than fine. There was something special about him, a connection she had never felt with anyone else. She liked it and she wasn’t going to lose him to some stupid, fatal rule. She was going to be sure he passed the mind scan. In fact, if she was the Keeper to perform it, that would solve everything.

Like in the infirmary when he had stepped close and stayed next to her, this time he held her and delayed releasing her. He must have felt it too, that incredible pull between them, to linger like that.

After a few seconds of studying her close, Daris straightened and released his hold. ["Be careful,"] he said with a hint of pleading in his voice.

["I...I will."] The absence of his body left her feeling more alone than ever. She didn’t want his contact to end so soon, yet she was glad to have the decision out of her hands. She wasn’t known for patience and she would likely step into another bad situation if she let her emotions get the best of her.

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Note: This is not a final version and may be subject to change before the book is released later this month, September 2013.

If you like what you’re reading, Soriel (Starfire Angels: Revelations Book 1) and Deception (Starfire Angels: Revelations 1.5) are currently available from online retailers.

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