Tansy’s Titan - S.E. Smith - ebook
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Tansy Bell has a hidden talent that she uses to bring criminals to justice. She only goes after the worst of the worst, and this time might be her last. Mak’s oldest brother has found his bond mate among a newly discovered species called humans. They are surprisingly small and delicate, and Mak was always the wildest, most dangerous of his brothers, but the moment he sees an image of Tink’s sister Tansy, he is captivated. Mak's long search for a bond mate is over. All he has to do now is find her location and convince her she belongs to him. If all else fails, he will just take her. After all, it is rare that even a Prime male can match his ferocity, and she is such a little thing. It doesn’t take Mak long to discover that a huge amount of trouble can come in a small package, and there is one female in the universe with the strength and determination of twenty Prime warriors who is not afraid to stand up to him – even if she is afraid to love him. Internationally acclaimed S.E. Smith presents a new action-packed story full of adventure and romance. Brimming with her signature humor, vivid scenes, and beloved characters, this book is sure to be another fan favorite! Main Content: 194 (6x9) pages, 67,870 words

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Tansy’s Titan

Cosmos’ Gateway Book 3

S.E. Smith

Contents

Acknowledgments

Copyright

Synopsis

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Epilogue

Sample of Touch of Frost

Additional Books and Information

About the Author

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my husband Steve for believing in me and being proud enough of me to give me the courage to follow my dream. I would also like to give a special thank you to my sister and best friend Linda, who not only encouraged me to write but who also read the manuscript.

And a special thanks to Paul Heitsch, David Brenin, Samantha Cook, Suzanne Elise Freeman, and PJ Ochlan—the awesome voices behind my audiobooks!

—S.E. Smith

Montana Publishing

Science Fiction Romance

TANSY’S TITAN: COSMOS’ GATEWAY BOOK 3

Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Smith

First E-Book Published November 2012

Cover Design by Melody Simmons

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission from the author.

All characters, places, and events in this book are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations are strictly coincidental.

Summary: Tansy has a personal vendetta against some of the worst criminals in the world, and nothing will keep her from bringing them to justice, not even an alien determined to claim her.

ISBN: 978-1-942562-45-0 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-942562-09-2 (eBook)

Published in the United States by Montana Publishing.

{1. Science Fiction Romance – Fiction. 2. Science Fiction – Fiction. 3. Paranormal – Fiction. 4. Romance – Fiction.}

www.montanapublishinghouse.com

Synopsis

Tansy Bell has a hidden talent that she uses to bring criminals to justice. She only goes after the worst of the worst, and this time might be her last.

Mak’s oldest brother has found his bond mate among a newly discovered species called humans. They are surprisingly small and delicate, and Mak was always the wildest, most dangerous of his brothers, but the moment he sees an image of Tink’s sister Tansy, he is captivated. Mak's long search for a bond mate is over. All he has to do now is find her location and convince her she belongs to him. If all else fails, he will just take her. After all, it is rare that even a Prime male can match his ferocity, and she is such a little thing.

It doesn’t take Mak long to discover that a huge amount of trouble can come in a small package, and there is one female in the universe with the strength and determination of twenty Prime warriors who is not afraid to stand up to him – even if she is afraid to love him.

Chapter One

Tansy Bell let her head drop back against the wall she was sitting against and stretched her leg out in front of her. She grimaced as pain and fatigue tried to sink its nasty claws into her. Biting her lip to keep from crying out, she pulled the torn material she was using as a bandage back and looked at the wound on her leg.

Getting shot sucked, Tansy decided, getting shot twice sucked even more.

She ignored the wound on her side. It wasn’t as bad as the one on her leg. Her shirt was stuck to it anyway and she hoped the bleeding had stopped. She was lucky she wasn’t in worse shape than she was considering how many guns had been firing at her.

At least the one on my side is just a flesh wound, she thought tiredly, unlike the wound in her upper thigh.

She choked on the acid filling her throat as she probed the wound, trying to see how far the bullet was embedded. She was pretty sure it wasn't too deep. If it had been, she would never have been able to run at all. A shudder went through her as excruciating pain flared out, radiating through her body in wave after nauseating wave.

“This totally sucks,” Tansy whispered as she wiped a stray tear from her cold, clammy face.

She was deep under cover and no one would even acknowledge she existed, much less come to help her. Tansy closed her eyes, waiting for the nausea to pass. She had an emergency medical kit she’d put together, but she didn't relish having to operate on herself, especially in her present environment.

This was not where she wanted to die, but unless she could pull another miracle out of her pocket, it was highly unlikely she would make it out alive. The area was crawling with pissed off bad guys who wanted the information she stole back. They also wanted her as well. Preferably, still alive so they could have fun killing her slowly.

Tansy pulled the backpack she’d dropped earlier closer to her. No sense in putting off the inevitable. If she didn’t get the bullet out, she wouldn’t heal and it would only hurt worse later.

Not to mention, she thought ruefully, it is harder than hell trying to run with one moving around in your leg. She should know because that was exactly what she had been doing for the past couple of hours.

Rummaging around, she pulled the small kit out. It contained a topical and local anesthetic, sterilized kit with a scalpel, sutures, bandages, and antibiotics. Opening it, Tansy focused her mind on what she was doing and not on how much pain she was in. She used her knife to cut the hole in her black pants wider so she could see what she was doing.

Ripping the packaging for the needle open with her teeth, she quickly filled it from the small vial. She numbed the area around the wound before pulling the packaging containing the scalpel and tweezers toward her. Poking the area to see if it was numb enough, she was satisfied she could work on it.

She carefully enlarged the entrance wound, letting the soiled material she had wrapped around it before catch the blood pouring from the wound. Using the tweezers, she felt for the slug. Fortunately, it didn’t appear to be that deep or have hit anything major. She carefully pulled it out. Using her forearm, she wiped the sweat from her brow that formed despite the near freezing temperature in the abandoned building she was hiding in.

Blood flowed thick and rich from the wound and Tansy quickly wiped what she could up before picking up the suturing kit and began sewing up the hole in her thigh. Once she was done, she cleaned the area and wrapped a clean, sterile bandage over it before giving herself an antibiotic shot. When she was done, she peeled her shirt from her side and cleaned and bandaged that wound as well. Next, she pulled a regular sewing kit from her bag and sewed the hole in her pants and shirt so it wasn’t too noticeable.

Once she was patched up as best she could, she cleaned the area until she was satisfied there was no evidence she had ever been there. She would need to move again once it was dark. She needed to put as much distance as possible between her and the men looking for her.

Tansy grimaced as she put weight on her leg. It was numb now but would hurt like a son-of-a-bitch later. She would need to ration how much pain medication she used. She didn’t want anything that might slow her thinking process or to run out in case she might need it later.

If there is a later, she thought, watching through a dirty window as several more cars pulled up and half a dozen men poured out of them. Time to move, dark or not, if I want to remain alive, Tansy thought grimly.

Tansy slung the black backpack over her shoulder and tucked a long strand of dark red hair up under the black knit cap covering the rest of her hair. If any of the men saw it, it would be like sending up a flare.

At leastBoris liked my hair, Tansy thought cynically.

It was the ace up her sleeve that got her through his door. She didn’t think he liked much of anything about her right now, though, including her heavy mane of red hair. She couldn’t really blame him. She did steal from him and try to kill his psychopathic ass.

Tansy quietly moved out of the upper level of the condemned apartment building she was using to hide in. This is filthy, cold, and depressing, Tansy thought as she moved toward the dark, narrow stairwell, just like the world I live in. Tansy gave up believing in fairy tales a long time ago. She didn’t believe in any world other than the dark one she was now deeply embedded in. She knew the only way out of it was through death – namely hers. She had made too many enemies over the last five years, both in the States and around the world to ever be left alive.

She wasn’t like the rest of her family. She didn’t believe in life on other worlds, at least none that she would ever meet, like her dad wrote about, or in the wonder of creating new things like her mom. She didn’t have the rosy glasses and love for life that her little sister, Tink, did. If anyone understood her at all it was probably Hannah.

It was Hannah who had unknowingly set the path of Tansy’s life. Tansy was determined to cleanse the world of those who took advantage and preyed on the weak. It was Hannah’s kidnapping when Tansy was only fourteen that made Tansy realize there was very little good in the world around her. She remembered the haunted look in her older sister’s eyes that never seemed to fade after her captivity. Whatever happened to Hannah was enough to drive her to live in the remotest places in the world in order to avoid as much contact as she could with other people.

The men responsible for Hannah’s abduction were the first men Tansy went after when she turned eighteen and left home. She knew all the men who were a part of the actual abduction were killed when the local military swept through, but Tansy knew deep down they were just disposable puppets pulled by the strings of someone more powerful.

It took her a year to uncover who it was; a year that changed her life forever. She quickly learned there was an even darker side of life than she could have imagined. She also learned she was not necessarily a good person. She had learned what it meant to kill or be killed. Since then, Tansy had killed many times. She sought the strongest and deadliest teacher she could find and she learned. She also fell in love with him only to lose him to the deadly world she fought against. The man who killed Branson was the first man she killed.

The second man she killed was responsible for the countless deaths of men, women, and children. He used them to sell his drugs, as slave labor for his mines, as prostitutes for himself and his men or to gain even more wealth, and the children… it was the children that finally changed Tansy the most. Her hands shook as she remembered holding the dying little girl in her arms.

Sonya, Tansy thought as she let the rage burn through her, giving her the strength to keep on fighting.

She wrapped the name around her soul so she would never forget why she did what she did. Sonya was only eleven, but Roberto San Juan used her little body for his own sadistic pleasure. She lay beaten and bloody in his bed. He was the man in charge of all the drug cartels in the region where her sister had been taken. Even the military was afraid to touch him.

After the raid at the camp where Hannah was taken, many of the men involved in the raid or their family members were killed because of the attack. Sonya, Tansy later learned, was bought from a Russian white slave trader. Roberto liked young, innocent girls. He used them and discarded them like he did a used tissue. He didn’t care who he hurt or killed.

Tansy let her thoughts drift for a moment back to her time in Nicaragua, when she struck out in vengeance against the man who hurt her sister. She had always looked younger than she was, which aided in her infiltration of Roberto’s stronghold. At nineteen she could easily pass for being three or four years younger. She had the face of a sweet young girl and the body of a centerfold. It was an explosive combination for a man like Roberto.

Tansy often wondered where she got her different build and coloring from until she saw a picture of her father’s mother. She was an exact replica of her grandma Bell. That combination was how she was able to get close to Roberto.

He saw her in the local cantina and wanted her. She was pretending to be on a missionary mission with a small church group who was staying nearby. Within hours of arriving, she was being loaded into his car with two of his guards.

She just pretended to be a scared, confused child. She had to admit she was scared but she was far from confused or a child. She had enough weapons on her to kill the two guards with room to spare. She saved that pleasure for Roberto when he came for her. She let him play with her hair and tell her all the ways he thought she was beautiful and was going to enjoy discovering all her secrets. She let him talk, feeding his ego, and watched him as he poured himself a glass of gin. She did as he commanded at first, removing her dress until she was clad only in her tiny pink panties and matching bra, both very conservative, but alluring in their innocence.

She carefully kept the twin hair sticks holding the poison she would use on him in her thick mane of hair. She wasn’t sure how long that would last by the way he was staring at it. She waited until he was close before turning slightly with a tentative smile.

“What are you going to do to me?” Tansy asked in a small, hesitant voice.

Roberto reached out and ran the back of his hand along her smooth, silky cheek. “I might keep you,” he said with a thoughtful look. “There is something about you that is… different.”

Tansy smiled shyly up at him. He was a breathtakingly handsome man if you could ignore the coldness in his eyes and the cruel twist to his lips. She knew everything there was to know about him. She used the skills her mother taught her on computers to hack into his most private accounts and followed everything he did. At exactly midnight tonight he would be broke. Every penny of his ill-gotten gains would be distributed to charities around the world and to the families of his victims. He would never know it, though. He would already be dead, and Tansy would be far away from here.

“But… what about my family? The missionaries will be looking for me and tell them I am missing,” Tansy asked in a slightly husky voice as Roberto ran a kiss along her shoulder.

She shivered as he pushed one of her bra straps to the side. “Your family will be informed you are dead. You belong to me now. I like the taste of you, Julie. You taste wonderful. I wonder what those beautiful lips will feel like wrapped around me,” Roberto said moving to cup her breasts from behind in one of his large hands.

Tansy smiled softly before turning in his arms before he could touch her. She licked her lips making sure he was focused on them as she reached her arms up slowly and pulled the sticks from her hair, letting the thick, heavy mane fall down her back almost to her waist. She knew she had Roberto’s attention when his eyes flared with desire and his face flushed. Tansy took a step closer to him, letting her arms come down to rest on his shoulders.

“Roberto,” Tansy breathed against his lips.

“Yes, my beautiful Julie,” Roberto whispered against her lips passionately.

“My lips will never be wrapped around you,” Tansy whispered as she quickly jabbed the needle-like end into the side of Roberto’s neck and depressed the poison it contained. “And my name is not Julie. My name is Tansy and you have just been erased.”

Roberto’s eyes widened for a moment, the glass falling from his hand as he started to collapse. He tried to yell out but Tansy covered his mouth with a small tut-tut sound, shaking her head. She helped lower him to the floor where he gazed up at her with a combination of rage and fear.

“This is a much nicer death than you deserve. The poison will make it appear you suffered a heart attack,” Tansy said as she moved away from where Roberto lay paralyzed by the poison. “No one can save you. You have terrorized your last victim,” Tansy said as she finished dressing in the same clothes the servants wore that she had in the small bag with her.

Pulling out a black wig with gray highlights in it, she quickly and efficiently pinned her hair up tightly against her scalp before sliding it on. She just as quickly added makeup, making it appear she had wrinkles, and the thick, heavy sandals preferred by the older women.

She turned her bag inside out so it looked like a woven basket and deftly filled it with some fruit from a basket on the table. Next, she moved quickly and efficiently around the room wiping anything she had touched with a special cloth designed to remove fingerprints. She used a lint brush to make sure no hair fibers were left either. Moving over to where Roberto was struggling to breathe, she knelt down next to him and tapped his cheek once with a slight smile.

“This is for my sister,” Tansy whispered, looking down into his pale, sweaty face. “You should never have messed with my family.”

Tansy watched dispassionately as he struggled to say something before his face went slack and his eyes stared blankly up at the ceiling. She was moving out of the sitting room area through to his bedroom when she found Sonya. She knew he had left the girl there so she could watch her die slowly as a warning. She had heard he had done that before, but it was still hard to actually see something like that in real life. There was nothing that could be done for the girl. Tansy could hear the death rattle in her chest from where her lungs were filled with blood. All she could do was sit and hold her, singing one of the childhood songs her mom used to sing to them when they were sick.

Tansy rocked Sonya’s lifeless body in her arms for almost ten minutes before she forced herself to gently lay the girl back down on the bloody sheets before covering her. Coldness settled in her heart. It was far worse than even after Branson’s death.

At that moment, Tansy knew she would die young because she would not walk away from the Sonyas of the world. She would fight for them until her dying breath. That was how she found herself in the position she was in now. She was after the elusive Russian billionaire Boris Avilov who dealt in the black market. This market included the one who took Sonya from her home and sold her to Roberto four years before.

Tansy came back to the present abruptly when she heard the soft squeak of the stair below her. Moving to the side, she blended into the shadows. She listened carefully to the hushed whispers.

She let a small smile curve her lips as she moved silently down the stairs towards the basement area. There were several doors leading out of the building, but she was interested in the hidden one that would lead her under the streets.

She made sure before she made the hit to know the area like the back of her hand. This little hidden jewel had been buried in the archives of the building department. Branson always taught her to know her prey and to have numerous escape routes.

Always be ahead of them, Tansy. It is the only way you will stay alive, Branson’s soft words echoed in her mind.

I know. I miss you, Branson, Tansy thought sadly. I always will. Tansy paused as the footsteps moved.

“Есть ли какой-нибудь признак ее?” a raspy voice asked in heavily accented Russian if there was any sign of her.

“Нет, ничто,”No, nothing came the short response. “The doors were still boarded up. We had to break in to get inside. None of the windows were missing boards either,” the voice continued to answer him in Russian.

“Check it anyway. Mr. Avilov wants her found and brought to him – alive. He wishes to have the pleasure of killing her personally,” the man said harshly.

“Why?” the second man asked. “He usually doesn’t dirty his hands with killing… especially the females.”

Tansy listened as the man who asked the question received a physical response. “It is not your place to ask why. You will do what you are told,” the first man coldly responded.

The only answer was a muffled grunt. Seems like he didn’t like the first answer so he wasn’t about to ask a second. Tansy moved into one of the rooms off to the side. There was a hole in the floor leading down to the first floor.

She carefully grabbed the long board she had propped inside of it and slid down. She broke out into a sweat as she silently hit the concrete floor harder than she expected. Her leg gave out and she landed heavily on her knee.

Gripping her side and struggling to stand, she limped over to the door. The men were heading up the stairs. She waited until she could hear their footsteps above her before she moved through the bottom rooms.

She stayed in the shadows, not trusting there might not be additional support behind them. Moving on silent feet, she quickly made her way down the hallway and to another set of steps leading to the basement. Ignoring the pain, she slipped into the darkness.

Chapter Two

Mak strode into his parents’ living quarters looking for his father. He growled out bad-temperedly when he discovered neither of his parents was in residence. In frustration, he walked over to the large bank of windows overlooking the huge palace gardens his mother loved so much. He took deep breaths to try to calm down before he continued his search.

Mak pulled an image out of the front pocket of his vest and looked at it for the hundredth time. He felt the rage burning deep inside him. He wanted the female. He knew she was his. Ever since he saw her image she seemed to take over his every waking and sleeping moment. Not even beating the new warriors in training could tire him enough not to dream about her. He had petitioned the council and his father for permission to bring her here but it was denied. The council was still waiting for Borj to return with his brother’s bond mate’s mother. In addition, there was concern about the human male who was still at large.

Mak ran his finger over the female’s cheek, studying her eyes. There was something in them that called to him. He felt a need to wipe the secrets that haunted her away. The first time he saw her image his whole world seemed to narrow in on her until nothing else mattered but finding her, holding her, protecting her. Never had he felt such strong emotions from just looking at an image.

Tansy, Mak thought, rolling her name over his tongue.

It was an unusual name for an unusual woman. Mak smiled as he let his gaze run over the image he had burned into his memory. She was built with more curves than her sisters. Her hair was a mixture of their red sands and the giant trees surrounding them. Not a bright red, but a dark, rich red with tints of mahogany highlights.

She was looking out at the sea, a far-away look in her eyes like she was deep in thought. The white shirt with long sleeves she was wearing billowed out around her as the wind blew, pulling it back just enough to show hints of the small triangles covering her full breasts. She was wearing short, tan colored pants and thin leather sandals on her feet. But, most of all, it was her expression that haunted Mak. He could see the secrets in her. Secrets he wanted to discover, uncover, and share with her.

“Mak,” a soft, feminine voice said. “What is wrong?”

Mak looked up and his expression softened as the female approached him. “Nothing,” he said as a small smile curved his lips.

Terra chuckled and shook her head. “I do not believe you. You looked like you wanted to kill someone,” Terra said as she peeked at the image Mak was holding. “Who is the female?”

Mak glanced down at the image for a moment before he carefully slid it into the pocket of his vest. “No one,” Mak replied gruffly.

Terra just looked at Mak quietly without saying a word. Mak could feel himself groaning inside. He hated it when she did that! It was so much like their mother, Tresa. Whenever either one of the women in his family looked like that at any of them, including their father, the men knew they were doomed.

“It is J’kar’s bond mate’s sister, Tansy,” Mak said reluctantly.

Terra smiled serenely before asking quietly, “You think she could be your bond mate, don’t you?”

“I hate it when you do that, you know?” Mak grunted out. “Yes, I know she is my bond mate. It is the only explanation for my reaction to her image.”

“How can you know?” Terra asked curiously. “Borj felt the same way about the female he has gone to retrieve. How do you know without the mating rite ceremony?”

Mak shrugged his shoulder before glancing out the window again. “I cannot stop thinking of her. I see her in my dreams and there is an ache deep inside me to see her, touch her that is eating me alive,” Mak turned to look at his younger sister tenderly. “I need her and I plan to have her.”

Terra shivered as she heard the thread of cold determination in Mak’s voice. She wondered vaguely if a male would ever feel that same cold determination to need and want her. She had attended several mating rites ceremonies over the last few years hoping to meet her own bond mate without success. She often wondered if she was destined to remain alone.

It would not be a great sacrifice as long as I have my research, Terra thought.

It was just that since she met Tink, her brother’s bond mate, she was more curious. Tink was so different from any female Terra had met before and her physical responses to J’kar often made Terra blush when she was around them. Terra had even noticed a difference in her parents since J’kar brought Tink to their world.

Her mother seemed to have a glow about her and her father… Terra shook her head in frustration. She did not understand what was happening and as a healer and a scientist it was very frustrating to have so many questions and so few answers.

“Then, you must bring her here,” Terra finally said.

“Father and the council have denied my request. That is why I am here. I am going to tell father I am going to retrieve the female, with or without his permission,” Mak practically snarled out.

Terra laughed, shaking her head. “That is not the right way to approach father.”

“What do you suggest then?” Mak bit out in frustration.

“Ask for mother’s help,” Terra said with a gleam in her eye. “She is learning much from Tink. That is how Borj was able to go. Mother ‘persuaded’ father,” Terra said softly, laying an understanding hand on Mak’s arm. “Ask her. She will help you.”

Mak hated having to rely on anyone for help. He normally just did what he wanted, but in this case he knew he would need assistance. If he did not have his father and the council’s permission, then even if Tansy was his bond mate, they could deny his claim which would be a death sentence to both him and the female he wanted.

He ran his hand over the back of his neck and looked out the window again. His eyes widened as he saw his mother coming out from under one of the huge trees. She faltered a little, her hair was half up and half down and her dress was… ripped? He jerked up closer to the window thinking his mother had been violated by another when he saw his father hurrying out from under the same trees. He was fastening the front of his pants and his shirt looked like it was inside out.

Mak watched in wonder as his father came up behind his mother grabbing her and pressing passionate kisses to her neck. His wonder turned to outright astonishment when he saw one of his mother’s hands stroke the front of his father while the other brought his head down to hers.

“I told you,” Terra said with a curious smile on her face. “Ever since Tink came here they have been acting different.”

Mak realized he was hard as a rock suddenly. Embarrassed for the first time in his life, he didn’t want his sister to see that he was extremely turned on by watching his parents’ passionate embrace. Instead, he gritted his teeth and nodded to her before leaving quickly.

I need to go beat the shit out of some of the new warriors in a long training session, he thought as he ground his teeth together at the discomfort of his cock rubbing against the front of his pants, after I stop by my living quarters to relieve some of the pressure first.

Later that day, Mak learned Borj had returned with not only Tink’s sister, Hannah, but her parents as well. Borj was in a lengthy meeting with his father and the council. He thought of his sister’s words of advice. Terra was the smartest female he knew, besides his mother. Mak and Terra had always been very close. He was very protective of his sister and would do anything to make sure she was safe and happy.

His mother was the only one who knew about the attempt to steal Terra last year. Even Terra was unaware of it. Tresa had made Mak swear to not tell his father about the incident. She knew if he found out that Teriff would send Terra away to the Isle of the Chosen.

The Isle of the Chosen was a virtual prison for unmated females. The females were sent there to live until mates were found for them, either through the mating rites ceremony, or if none is found before the female reaches the age of thirty cycles, she would be given as a mate during a mating tournament.

Tresa knew Terra would slowly die in such a place. Mak understood his gentle sister and agreed with his mother. The two men who tried to kidnap Terra in the hopes of mating with her died a long and painful death. Their clan’s hope of forcing an agreement with the ‘Tag Krell Manok clan died with them. Mak felt no remorse at killing the men. They thought nothing of thinking to rape his sister into agreement. Mak had no sympathy or patience for anyone who preyed on those weaker than them. As one of the strongest warriors, he felt it was his duty to protect those who could not protect themselves.

Mak moved down the corridor to his parents’ living quarters, rounding the corner just as he saw his mother coming out. He stopped and waited as she approached him. Terra was right. His mother did have a glow about her he had never seen before. There was a spring in her step and her skin and eyes seemed to have an internal light shimmering from her that made him realize just how beautiful she was as a woman. Shaking his head at the strange thoughts he had since seeing the image of the female he wanted, he wondered if he was going soft.

“Why the frown, my son?” Tresa asked softly as she approached him.

Mak shook his head again. “You and Terra are very scary, do you know that?”

Tresa laughed. “Did she give you ‘the look’?”

“Yes,” Mak grunted out.

“Walk with me. What can I do to help you?” Tresa asked as she wound her arm through Mak’s huge forearm. “I am on my way to J’kar’s living quarters. I wish to meet Tink’s parents and her sister.”

“I wish to meet her sister, as well,” Mak grumbled out. “But, not the one Borj came back with.”

Tresa glanced up at Mak’s face. Out of all her children, he was the one she worried the most about and loved dearly. For all his fierceness, there was a gentleness he had for those who were smaller and weaker. He was huge even by Prime standard. Her heart broke as cycle after cycle she would watch during the mating rites ceremony as all the females he was introduced to would shrink back in fear from him. Even the warriors in the palace moved to the other side of the corridor when he walked down one. At almost seven feet of pure muscle, he towered over everyone.

“I believe Tink said her name was Tansy?” Tresa asked gently.

Mak gave a short nod. “Yes. I want her.”

Tresa stopped in surprise when she heard the slight desperation in Mak’s voice. She looked up into her son’s hard, chiseled face for a moment before she smiled. Mak had found his bond mate. There was no doubt in her mind. She just hoped the human female could see beyond his hard exterior and huge form and not be afraid of her son.

“Then, you shall have her,” Tresa said with quiet determination. “I will speak with your father.”

Chapter Three

Tansy shivered, tucking her hands under her armpits to try to keep them warm. Warmth, she thought as she leaned back against the dirty wall of the abandoned warehouse she was staying in. She didn’t think she would ever be warm again.

It had been almost a week since her escape from Boris Avilov’s mansion. Tansy was learning real fast the Russian mafia did not like you when you took things from them. They liked you even less when you tried to kill their boss. Her bosses in Washington told her she was on her own. They could not help her. She did, though, need to send them the information she stole as soon as possible. They hoped she understood the importance of the situation and their regret.

Regret my ass, Tansy thought in anger.

She was collateral damage as far as they were concerned. Tansy’s job with the government’s anti-terrorist division was beginning to piss her off. No wonder they offered such a great retirement plan! No one lived long enough to collect on it.

Boris’ goons were thickly spread throughout the region. She stopped trying to count the men following her as they appeared to grow daily. She had hoped he would give up and focus more on damage control between himself and the other bosses. She half suspected some of the men chasing her now were actually from some of those other bosses from the snippets of conversations she overheard.

Whatever was on the microchips must be pretty damn bad, Tansy thought as she listened to the distant sounds of cars moving around the riverside docks of Moscow. At least it isn’t winter, Tansy thought with cynical humor. If she thought she was cold now, she would really be freezing her ass off.

Her head jerked up when she heard some voices that sounded closer. Pulling herself up the wall, she hissed as her leg throbbed. The wound was beginning to heal, but very slowly thanks to her not being able to rest it. She had torn the stitches out twice since she first put them in.

She was running low on antibiotics, but that was the least of her worries. At the rate she was going, she would either die of exposure, hunger, or a bullet before she died of an infection. Peeking out of the window, she watched as several homeless drunks built a fire in a nearby trash can.

She had made sure when she arrived here late last night that she wasn’t seen. Unfortunately, her small stash of rations had been found – by the local rodents. There wasn’t much left by the time she retrieved them.

Tansy slid down the wall shaking with fatigue and pain. There was no way out. Every avenue she tried was blocked by Boris’ men. There was only one thing left to do. Tansy pulled out the one item she carried everywhere with her.

It was a special satellite phone that she had RITA design and program for her, only her voice could activate the information on it and only if she gave the order using a specific code. Tansy pressed the power on the phone and waited. A moment later she gave the command to activate.

“Uh oh, what’s the matter, sweetheart?” RITA asked immediately.

Tansy swallowed the lump in her throat and pushed out the words she dreaded. “RITA, I need you to download some information I am about to send you and upload it to the following computers,” Tansy said giving RITA the information in a soft, determined voice.

Tansy inserted the microchip into the base of her minicomputer and attached the cable to her satellite phone. In moments, the information was uploaded. Tansy felt a sense of peace come over her as she realized she had one more thing to do.

“RITA, I need you to set up an immediate conference call with my parents, Tink, and Hannah,” Tansy said. “I need you to do it now, no matter what time it is. They should all have their phones with them.”

There was a slight pause before RITA replied. “Well, unfortunately, your parents and sisters are out of communication range at this time. I would be more than happy to give your message to them.”

“What do you mean ‘out of communication range’?” Tansy asked in shock. “We agreed to always have our phones handy. Well, except for me. But, I check it several times a day. Even Hannah…” Tansy’s voice faltered for a moment. “RITA, I have to… I need to tell them something important. Please try to contact them. I’ll call back in exactly one hour.”

“Tansy…” RITA began before Tansy cut her off.

“RITA, I have to tell them goodbye,” Tansy said softly. “I have to tell them I love them one last time. Please… one hour.”

“I’ll do my best, dear,” RITA replied.

Tansy pressed the off button and leaned forward. RITA sounded so much like her mom it was more than Tansy could handle in her exhausted state. She laid her head on her knees and let the silent grief consume her. Her slender body shook from the force of her quiet sobs. Pulling her good leg up as close as she could to her body, she closed her eyes, ignoring the freezing wetness on her cheeks and waited to call back one last time. She couldn’t leave this world without at least saying goodbye.

Mak stood in the middle of Cosmos’ living quarters growling at Derik and Cosmos. Terra was upstairs taking a shower. Mak was doing his normal pacing. They had been there for almost a week. Derik was supposed to return tomorrow morning and he and Cosmos were playing a game of cards. Mak’s fists clenched into tight balls as he fought the urge to put one through the wall.

“Why can you not communicate with the one called Tansy? Why do you not tell me about her location?” Mak asked again.

Derik rolled his eyes at Cosmos before laying down a green card. “UNO,” he said.

Cosmos looked at the ten cards in his hand and the one in Derik’s with a frown. He hated card games. He just did not understand them. When Derik found Tink’s UNO cards and wanted to play, he almost decided to plead ignorance as to what they were but RITA had to butt in and tell him. Instead, he had spent the last four days entertaining one teenaged Prime male who wanted to be introduced to every available female under the age of fifty, one huge-ass Prime male who only wanted to know about Tansy, and one frustrating Prime female that drove him nuts!

“Like I told you before, no one can contact Tansy unless it is an absolute emergency,” Cosmos said, laying down a card and changing the color to yellow. “She is incommunicado, deep under cover somewhere scary probably. She’ll call in a few days when she gets back to the States. She’s never gone more than a couple of weeks and always calls at least once a week when she is gone. For all I know, she could have called Tink’s phone a hundred times by now.”

“She hasn’t,” RITA said cheerfully. “I always monitor all incoming calls on the phones I designed in case of an emergency.”

Cosmos ran his hand through his hair and tried not to look toward the stairwell leading up to Tink’s living quarters. He didn’t understand it, but the thought of Terra being up there was driving him nuts. He was having a hell of a time concentrating.

“I win!” Derik crowed out as he dropped his last card down on the pile. “You want to play again?”

“No!” Cosmos said grumpily as he threw his cards down. “I think I’ll head down to the lab for a little while to do some work.”

Mak moved to stand in front of Cosmos as he stood. “I want to know what you mean by incommunicado.”

“Listen, Mak. Tansy works for our government doing some kind of shit she doesn’t tell anyone about, even her parents. She is a great gal, but no one really knows what she does. She’ll call and when she does, I’ll see what I can do. I can’t make any promises though,” Cosmos said tiredly.

He was beginning to really, really regret building that damn portal! His life was so much simpler before. Cosmos felt his gaze move back toward the stairs leading up again and growled in frustration. He wanted his life back before aliens and unexpected visits and beautiful, aggravating alien females came into it!

“I want her!” Mak growled out in frustration.

“Yeah, you and every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a dick! Have you seen what she looks like in a bikini?” Cosmos asked impatiently. “She’s built like a centerfold! Her…”

Cosmos’ words were cut short by Mak’s hands wrapped around his throat, lifting him off the ground by at least three inches. Cosmos grabbed at the hands holding him and choked. His eyes were glued to the look of pure murder glaring him in the eye. Maybe taking his frustrations out on someone the size of King Kong wasn’t a very smart idea. Then again, he seemed to have lost all his ability to think since the female upstairs walked into his life.

“Mak, you cannot kill the human male! Tink would not be happy and neither would her mother who speaks so highly of him,” Derik said, putting a hand on Mak’s arm to calm him. “Besides, I think Terra would be upset as well.”

“Mak!” Terra’s soft cry filtered through his brain at last.

Mak’s eyes came back into focus as they swung over to where Terra was standing on the edge of the steps looking at him in horror. Mak let his eyes swing back to Cosmos who was beginning to see black spots in front of his eyes. He let his grip relax. Derik grabbed Cosmos around his waist and helped him over to the couch. Mak watched as Terra rushed over to Cosmos. The minute she touched his cheek, she gasped, pulling her hand away and holding it to her chest in confusion.