Heather wants to fight beside her people, not watch from a safe distance. So when her brother comes up with a way to disguise her she jumps at the chance. Now she can try out for an elite team to help defeat Reasta, who has a stronghold on their planet.
No one knows who she is, including her mate, who has also been disguised. They must find each other, qualify for the team and help rescue the elders without being found out.
A Phaze Books ReleaseContains sexual language and explicit sexual situations intended for the enjoyment of adult readers.
Barbara Donlon Bradley has always had a vivid imagination and an odd sense of humor. She tried being normal but when she found out her name meant strange, weird or different she decided not to fight it. It didn't work anyhow. Now she lives in Virginia Beach with the most wonderful man (he didn't fight his husband training) and the sweetest son on the planet (most days anyway) and her dragons.
Heather stood near the screen in their room on Bert’s command ship and glared at the injustice she saw happening to the Vespian people. They were being lied to. Those who realized it was all a lie and fought against Reasta’s guards were getting hurt in the process. “I hate this.”
“My heart, you say that every time you watch the feeds.”
“We should be out there leading these people, not hiding here on this ship.” She turned to face her mate, Storm. “They are dying for us.”
“I know, but you know the consequences of getting caught.”
“It still doesn’t stop me from wanting to be there on the front lines. That is what I was trained for, not sitting back while others die in my stead.”
Storm came up to her and wrapped his arms around her. “I feel the same way, but until we can find a way to be undetected, we can’t risk it.”
“I know.” She snuggled against him. “But it doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“I know how to make you feel better.”
“You do, don’t you?” She leaned back to look up at him.
He gave her that heart-stopping smile that turned her insides to jelly. His hand went to the seals of her gown. “And I know how to make you melt.”
His lips massaged her mark as she eased his uniform off him. The fact he wore it showed he felt the same way she did. He despised this as much as she did. The heat of his skin against her palm made her smile.
Storm wrapped his arms around her and carried her to their bed. “I can do this all day long if it will make you feel better.”
Heather laughed at that. “You know as much as I would love that, there are too many people demanding our attention. Since this war has started we have been interrupted a lot, and you growl every time.”
“Time with my mate is precious to me.” He nibbled on her throat. “Now, we have much better things to do than think about what is going on outside this room.”
She lay back on the bed as he joined her. “I agree.”
His tongue slid against her mark, filling her with need. Her hands caressed his chest, following the contours of his muscles. Thought of him filling her had her heart pounding in her chest.
“Your desire just spiked, my heart. I thought I was here to relax you.” He pressed a kiss against her collarbone before he worked his way down to her breast.
“And you will, right after you make me so boneless I can’t speak.” She quieted when his lips closed on her right nipple. The man knew how to make her body sing. Heat pooled in her core. Want had her legs wrapping around his hips, sending the silent signal of what she really wanted.
His hands worked their way down to her legs, stroking several of her sensitive spots before they slipped around her thighs and eased them away from his body. “Not yet my heart. You have been edgy and very frustrated, and I want to see that beautiful smile of yours. You need to relax completely, and in order to do that I need to build you up to a white hot flame.”
“You always do that. All you have to do is give me that sexy smile of yours and I’m a puddle.”
He rested his chin on her stomach as he looked at her. “Yet when I use that same smile in the security center I strike fear in my soldiers. They don’t melt at my feet the way you do.”
“Ha. It’s not the same smile. I’ve seen that evil one you give my team when you want to push us a little harder than normal.”
“Evil?” He climbed back up her body. “You like it when I challenge the group. All of you do.”
“Of course.” She smiled up at his face only inches from hers. Her hands continued to caress him, touching places she knew ignited his need. He shuddered when she gripped his buttocks. “You do, too. The pride you feel when we master some complicated technique you dreamed up is hard to miss.”
His fingers brushed along her jaw line. Storm’s voice was soft as he spoke. “You have done a good job of distracting me from my mission. This time you win.”
Her smile widened when she felt him drive into her. Her legs wrapped around his hips once more. She felt the heat of his mouth on her mark as he set a slow, but deep pace. Angling her body so he could get the best penetration, she met him thrust for thrust.
“Don’t let this go to your head, my heart. There is always round two.” Storm shifted his hold on her, which changed the pace.
That drew a moan out of her. Now he was hitting that sensitive spot he always aimed to stimulate. Soon she was shaking in his arms. Her voice was barely a whisper. “So close.”
Then she felt her release bubble up from inside her. It flowed through her, filling her with a beautiful euphoria that only Storm could get her to feel.
“That’s my girl.”
Kuarto called them to his lab. He had been cryptic, but excited when he contacted them. They found him waiting by the door. “I want you to see this.”
He brought them to a monitor, grinning broadly. They looked at the screen, studying the information. Heather wasn’t quite sure what she was looking at. It looked like a finished formula to altering her looks, but as far as she knew her brother hadn’t been able to complete it yet.
“I know you two want to be out there with your soldiers, and you know I have been doing some research.” He pulled up some more data. “The biggest problem we have is disguising Heather. Her DNA overrides some of the things we have tried in the past.”
“And you think you have something that can fix that?” asked Storm. He put an arm around Heather’s waist.
“I’ve tested it.” He pulled up a sample of her DNA and they watched as it altered on the screen. “It can be done.”
“You’re sure.” Heather wasn’t convinced this was the smartest thing to do. Nothing had worked before. Why would it now?
“Oh, yes.” He looked at her, grinning. “I’ve been studying the data on the device you had in your back. It was designed to disguise your true heritage and have you read as human, but not your looks. It’s one of the reasons nothing worked before. The device didn’t allow anything to alter what it was hiding. Now that I know how it functioned I can use some of the same technology with a few advancements to alter your identity.”
“And the first time I’m scanned everyone will know.” Heather shook her head, remembering how that device isolated her and had her tested time after time. “I can’t take that chance, Kuarto.”
“That last device was meant to be found. You told me that was what caught Anseri’s attention when she went through your files in the first place. The ones I will use will be much smaller and undetectable.”
“Ones?” Storm shifted so he stood behind Heather with his arms wrapped around her.
“For you, Storm, I’ll only need to use one to change your features to scans and the naked eye. Heather is a little more complicated than that. I believe three will do it, maybe four. One in the groin, one in the back of your hair line and one at the temple and if I need a forth one it will go in the second temple.”
“Altering my looks to the degree we need it done hasn’t worked in the past.” She knew he was trying to help, but even when they went to Micali’s planet he couldn’t disguise her completely.
“When you went to Aruka I was able to change your hair color and skin color, and I didn’t have access to the technology I can now use. Heather, you will look and read Vespian. No one will be able to tell who you are.”
“Really?” Hope filled her.
She hated doubting her brother, but remembered all too well what happened all the other times someone made a promise like this. “Is it permanent?”
“As long as you have the chip in and it’s activated, yes, but I will be able to turn it off and on as needed.” Kuarto looked at his sister, then her mate. “There are a few things we need to go over first.”
Heather knew there would be buts. “What is it?”
“The only thing I can’t hide is if your mind expands. I don’t know how it will affect the chips. It might do nothing and let them continue to work, or it could fry them. It could also leave them intact but not functional.”
“That is a big risk.”
“Which is why I want to put them in and wait for an expansion before I let you go out into the field. It shouldn’t take too long.” He waited for her agreement before he inserted one in her temple. “Once I know your mind won’t knock out the chips we should be able to insert you into the command center easily. Fridon is working on that now.”
“So we wouldn’t be part of the security teams?” Heather wasn’t sure being trapped in the command center was what she wanted.
“Well, no. Is that what you want?” Kuarto activated the chip. “I’m not altering your looks right now with of the exception of the tips of your hair. They are now violet. It will allow me to see what will happen to the color when your mind tests it.”
Heather wasn’t sure what she wanted, but the thought of watching from the command center didn’t feel any better than doing the same thing from Bert’s compound.
“Ready?” Kuarto patted a table.
“Yes.” Heather climbed up on it. “You sure this will work?”
“The last expansion didn’t do anything to the chip, so I feel comfortable letting you do this.” He gestured for her to lie down. “The first chip will change your skin tone.” He inserted the chip. She held out her arms and watched as her fair skin darkened, but not enough to allow her to blend in with Vespian society.
“Wait. There is one thing.” She sat up then gestured between her and Storm. “We want to be part of the new teams Fridon is putting together.”
“What?” Kuarto shook his head. “It’s too dangerous. What if Reasta found out?”
“How?” asked Heather. “We’ve taken every precaution. That’s why we’ve been cooped up on Bert’s compound, why we were snuck off his compound and brought here. I don’t want to be cooped up any more.”
Kuarto hesitated for just a moment. “Well, that is between Fridon and you two. You need to talk to him.”
“We already have,” said Storm. “He’s not happy either, but my mate can be very convincing.”
Kuarto shook his head as the doors to his meblab opened. He stepped away from Heather when Fridon came in.
“I still don’t like this.” Fridon frowned as he crossed his arms over his chest.
His intimidation tactic made Heather want to laugh. He was mimicking her mate right now.
“How did they convince you?” asked Kuarto.
“Heather is right. If we put them in with my team people are going to wonder why. It won’t be much of a disguise if everyone figures out who they are. The point is to give them a little more freedom.”
“So what are you proposing?”
“We start from scratch.” Heather smiled. “We join the people to are trying for the new elite teams. No special treatment, no extra protection.”
“Are you sure that’s wise? It’s going to be hard to explain a mated couple just showing up.”
“You’re right.” Heather looked up at her mate. “But what if no one knew our disguises but Kuarto?”
“What?” growled Storm.
“No. We can’t take that chance.” Fridon shook his head. “You two are the future of this planet. Reasta knows that and has kept to communicating with just you. What if she contacts us and demands to talk to you?”
“Kuarto will know who we are and can come and get us if that happens. It might destroy the cover we have at that time but we could try another.”
“Oh come on, Fridon. We want to be with our soldiers, not hide while they are fighting our battle. Why are you fighting this? Are you saying you aren’t going to protect the people who are trying out for these teams?”
“Of course not.”
“Then we’ll be fine.”
“You draw trouble to you.”
“I’m a security officer.” What he said might be true, but she wasn’t about to back down. “A very good one, according to you. Storm was head of security before you took over and went on missions all the time. How is this different?”
Fridon didn’t respond right away. He looked at Kuarto before he sighed. “If I could lock you two away to keep you safe, I would, but I know better. I spoke to Bert and he ran the timeline several times to see if this was a smart idea.”
“So Bert agreed?” Having Bert on their side gave them a stronger chance to win this.
“He pretty much said if we didn’t let you do this we would lose this war. You draw trouble to you no matter where you are. Might as well keep you happy or you’ll be annoying me too much.”
“Thanks, I think.” Heather looked at Storm. “So we won’t know what the other looks like.”
“Something I’m not happy about, but it will be a challenge figuring out who you are.” He gave her his heart stopping smile.
“And what if you make a mistake?” She teased him.
“I didn’t make a mistake when we met.” He stepped close and brushed her jaw line with the tips of his fingers.
“There are certain features I can leave,” Kuarto interjected. “Height, weight, and you’re personalities won’t be altered.”
“And we have our mental link.”
He was right. That link would lead him right to her and they wouldn’t fool anyone if that happened.
Kuarto looked at her mate. “Storm, if you’ll go with Micali, she’ll insert your chip, then I’ll be by to adjust it as soon as I’m done with Heather.”
Heather watched her mate move into the room he was directed to. She waited for the doors to close. “So how do you feel about us not knowing what the other looks like?”
“That’s up to you.” He made adjustments to the first insert. “I know how you like to prove yourself and if no one knew who you were you’d be able to do that.”
“I guess I’ve grumbled a little too loud about that.” She watched as her fair skin darkened to the Vespian tone. “Wow.”
“Told you this would work. No one is going to know who you are, Heather.” He inserted the next chip, the one that would turn her hair black, to the back of her neck. That took a little fine tuning too. “You will be like everyone else.”
“Hmm.” Heather held up the tips of her hair. “It even has the blue shine Vespian hair has.”
“I know.” He inserted one at her right temple. “So what color do you want your eye ring to be? And don’t ask for purple. That is a dead giveaway.”
“I guess the most prevalent color out there.”
“Believe it or not, that is green.” He worked the chip until she had the Vespian golden eyes with a green ring. The tone started to change, and turned violet. “Hmm. Let’s put in that fourth chip.” The color settled to the green he wanted. “Perfect. Now all I have to do is alter your features enough to hide your identity, alter your voice and we’re done.”
“And what if they fail?”
“You worry too much. About the only thing that would knock them out is an EM pulse, and we don’t use equipment that would cause that, but I know you. Storm told me how you kept expecting the one I installed when you went to Akura to stop working, even though I knew it wouldn’t. There is nothing to worry about.” He gestured for her to jump down from the table. “Would you like to see the new you?”
“Yeah. No one has ever been able to alter my looks before. Besides you,” she added. Her brother walked her to the large mirror he had brought in for this reason. She looked at the stranger staring back at her through the mirror. Jet black hair hung down her back, the honey brown skin all Vespians had. And her eyes. That surprised her the most. Golden with a green ring. “My eyes look a bit like Toki’s.”
“Yeah, when I changed your features I noticed that, but if I tweak it any more it doesn’t look real.” He ran the scanner over her. “Looking good.”
Heather touched the spot where her mark lay hidden. It was strange to not see it.
“You knew I couldn’t leave that, not if you’re supposed to be single.”
“I know, but I have gotten so used to it that it just seems weird that it’s gone.”
“Not gone, just invisible.”
She nodded as she plaited her hair so she had a long braid going down her back. Her brother handed her a uniform.
Being able to start with everyone else excited her. Being the mate of the future leader had its privileges, but it also had its limitations. This time she could prove her worth by her deeds, not who she was mated to. It also made her think about how no one knew who they were. Maybe she should shield her ability from everyone, including her mate. She bet Storm would still spot her in a crowded room.
If you do that I won’t be able to hear your thoughts, will I? She could feel Storm wasn’t happy about the idea. They had gotten so used to them sharing everything.
No, if I do this I’ll block my thoughts off from everyone, including you and the children. It will help keep me hidden from our friends. No one will get that familiar feeling when they’re near me and it will allow me to be myself.
I like that familiar feeling.
My heart. I’m not sure how to keep you and the children in while I block everyone else out. I need to start with a clean slate and let you in later.
So I really will not know when I met you again?
I won’t know either.
I am so tired of proving we belong together, my heart. Why must we do this separately?
Because it will keep people from questioning us if we meet and then become a couple. It won’t be difficult for us to find each other. Our personalities aren’t being changed. I’ll just look for a very domineering man.
And I will look for a woman who always gets into trouble?
We could use a code word to be sure we have the right person.
And sound crazy as we walk up to strangers and say something bizarre like the white room?
He was referring to the code word Skye had when they first met Reasta who had been altering the timeline to get Storm out of the way.
I trust my instincts to find you.
Then I’ll see you soon, my heart.