G I V E A W A Y E N D E D
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Warrior. Doctor. Spy. I am Commander Helion, a heartless terror, relentless and unforgiving. Merciless.
My destiny is not to claim a female, to have a family, to be rendered helpless by love.
Despite this, I am matched. A beautiful human female is now mine. Despite my warnings, she is determined to leave her mark on me, body and soul.
Honor demands I resist. I tell her the truth. I will not place a mating collar around her neck. I cannot protect her—especially from me—my choices—the horrors I face every day.
Just one moment of weakness and she gets under my skin, makes me want things I cannot have. She is everything I am not—and the most dangerous creature I have ever faced.
Claiming her—keeping her—is not possible with my pivotal role in this never-ending war. There is no place in my duties for desire. For need. Too many innocents count on me for protection. Too many lives are at stake, including hers.
The enemy is always ready and waiting, but I never expected her to be among them.
For the first time in my hardened life, I question my sanity. My dark soul. I begin to understand exactly what my enemies have stolen from me—and realize there is no limit to what a heartless warrior will sacrifice for love.
Oh, heck yes. I was ready for lots of mind-blowing private time with two hot mates. Sooooo, ready. My body had been willing for a while. My mind had taken its sweet time catching up.
Now every part of me was fully on board. Heart. Mind. Body. Two mates? So very, very naughty. I squirmed, just a bit. I couldn’t keep the restless need from escaping. I hadn’t been touched by a man in so long. I tried to recall the last time—before the—before that. I couldn’t remember clearly, but I was pretty sure it had been years.
“The transport window is closing, my lady. If we wait much longer, I will need to delay your departure.” The Prillon warrior in control of the transport pad interrupted our long goodbye.
“Of course. So sorry.” I gave Makayla one final, super-tight hug, and walked up the few stairs to join my soon-to-be transported suitcase so we could be flung across the galaxy.
The officer nodded, his large hands moving competently over the controls.
Would my mates touch me with that level of intense concentration?
Were their hands that big? That skilled?
What was wrong with me? I was thinking like a horny teenager.
“Are you ready, my lady?” The transport officer had kind eyes. He knew where I was going. And why. I nodded. The hum of the transport pad rose up from the floor like an electricity bath. The extra energy building up for my jump through space made me squirm like a shelter puppy about to be released from its cage. Finally free.
Oh, yes. I was ready to meet my new mate.
Commander Zarren Helion.
Even his name sounded formidable.
I just knew he was going to be one hundred percent perfect.
Commander Zarren Helion, Intelligence Core, Black Fleet, Sector 438
The Prillon warrior sitting before me bled from multiple wounds, none fatal, each strategically placed to inflict maximum pain. Lieutenant Oberan Arcas of Prillon Prime.
I have to break him.
I sighed as I looked at the empty room all around me. “We can be friends, Zarren. On Earth, we would call this a marriage of convenience. Two people choosing a partner for the external benefits each will receive, rather than emotional dependence. But I must warn you, there will be furniture in this room when I am your mate. And a bigger bed.”
His quickly drawn breath revealed his unease. “I do not understand you, female.”
“You don’t have to make sense of it, you just need to believe what I say is true.”
He shuddered. “I am a monster, Willow. Nothing less.”
I smiled. “Then you are exactly what I need.” A monster so big, mean and scary that all the other monsters—and Nexus units—would run away and hide—and leave me the hell alone. With my commander, I would be safe, hidden away on his spaceship, surrounded by warriors—but no longer alone.
I’d never felt more sure, more calm, about a decision in my life.
His hand shifted, moved the end of the collar we held to meet its opposite at the back of his neck. The mating collar locked in place.
A hurricane of raw lust blasted my system. I gasped at the force of Zarren’s emotions, unable to hide my shock at the ferocity. So outwardly calm. Stoic. Controlled.
Inside? A storm. Battle. He hurt. He raged. He wanted.
Now that the collars were synched, his emotions roared around inside me like hurricane force winds. I took them all, savored his desire, raw need, and a deep, powerful rage I had never allowed myself to feel.
He shot to his feet, the back of the chair he had been sitting in knocked into me before teetering and falling on its side. “What have we done?”
I shuddered and pushed Danika, the Hive and the sanctuary out of my head. No more Hive experiments for me, thank you very much. But feeling what Zarren was feeling? Sharing his emotions? I needed that if I was going to keep him. Desperately.
Suddenly unsure, I tucked the third mating collar away inside my trunk before heading for the living room. I didn’t know if Zarren would be there when I opened the bedroom door. Didn’t have any idea whether he would have stuck around or left me here alone—probably so he could go to his comm station and send some kind of complaint or inquiry as to the Bride Program’s return policy.
Leaning my forehead against the cool door, I counted backward from ten. Slowly. I hid the mating collar, curling it up in the palm of one hand so I could wrap my fingers around it in a tight fist. The collar would bind us together, make our needs and emotions one.
I simply refused to believe Zarren was as cold-hearted and intractable as he seemed. If he were like that on the inside, the matching program would have sent him a robot, not a woman. Not me.
Before I could lose my nerve, I opened the door and took two steps into the barren living area. To my relief, Zarren was seated at the table, head bent over his task as he organized his super-secret, not-for-me papers.
He was gorgeous. The nearly constant state of arousal I’d been in since the processing simulation roared back to life.
He didn’t look at me as I stepped closer, but his nostrils flared. Could he smell my need for him? His hands curled into fists on top of the table. When he spoke, his words were nearly a growl. The tortured sound encouraged me to move even closer.
“What do you think you are doing, female?”
Grace Goodwin is a USA Today and international bestselling author of Sci-Fi and Paranormal romance with nearly one million books sold. Grace’s titles are available worldwide in multiple languages in ebook, print and audio formats. Two best friends, one left-brained, the other right-brained, make up the award-winning writing duo that is Grace Goodwin. They are both mothers, escape room enthusiasts, avid readers and intrepid defenders of their preferred beverages. (There may or may not be an ongoing tea vs. coffee war occurring during their daily communications.) Grace loves to hear from readers.