Series: Delroi Prophecy 4, Delroi Universe 8
Couple: Anna Leigh Gray & Xan Bana
Published: July 28, 2014
Anna Leigh Gray set out to save her daughter. While her former allies, the evil and malicious Tel Group has been dealt a major blow, they haven’t been destroyed and their sights are focused on one thing. Killing her daughter. To protect her Anna Leigh has to get to Delroi. The last thing she expects is being claimed by the dangerous, sexy Xan Bana. His telepathy is as strong as hers, his mind is fascinating, and he has moves in the bedroom she’d never been aware she missing. But he’s an enigmatic warrior and she’s not convinced his motives are pure.
Xan Bana never expected to find a mate or take over leadership of his clan. Both are a challenge he’s looking forward to. Dealing with a clan that is in disarray is easier than getting to know the woman who now stands at his side, however. But when they arrive on Delroi, they help Zola all they can but when a ghost from the past almost kills her, his primitive dominant instincts threaten the fragile bond he’s forging with his mate.
Now he’s in a race against time to keep his mate, protect her daughter, and save the son she’d thought lost long ago.
Anna Leigh stared at the screen, rereading the message from Britt Anderson. She wanted to know Anna Leigh’s price for the names. This was the risky part. She had no idea what her daughter had told Britt, but it couldn’t be good. Not that Britt had mentioned Zola. Anna Leigh wasn’t surprised. She hadn’t really expected any kind of acknowledgement and didn’t deserve it.
That didn’t mean she was giving up hope that someday, somehow she could make it up to her daughter. To do that she had to get to Delroi. She could demand asylum for the names. It was the kind of thing they’d expect. They might give it to her, but she couldn’t be sure. She could just give them the names as an offer of good faith and ask for asylum. And they could deny her. She’d have to find another way onto the planet then. She took a deep breath and replied to the message. Twelve names. Eight Tel agents. Four Delroi rebels.
An hour later she had an offer. Since she’d freely given over the names, they would grant her request, but it would require her to perform a favor for them in return. Leaning back in her chair, she considered it. It seemed simple enough on the surface. They were holding a warrior–a suspected rebel–and they thought her unique talents would be useful in questioning him. In other words, would she use her telepathy to search his mind? If she was interested she had twenty four hours to get to their base and perform the task. After that she was on her own. It wasn’t a choice at all. She sent her acceptance.
Several hours later she drove through the gates of a former Alliance military base that had been taken over by the invading Delroi. She followed the directions to the Southern clans’ headquarters. The streets and grassy areas were neatly tended, the feel of the place serene. She parked in front of the specified building and hesitated next to her car. They were waiting for her, several warriors, big and hulking and severe looking. They all had the facial tattoos of the southern clans.
She was an assassin and a spy. She made no excuses for what she was, but there was no way she could walk out of this alive if it was a trap. Might as well get it over with. Inhaling deeply, fortifying her resolve, she stepped forward and climbed the steps. One of them stepped forward to meet her and she let her senses expand, realized he had a natural shield. She’d bet they all did. She could get through it if she had to, her touch more skillful than most telepaths, but she’d only do so if it proved necessary for survival. A new personal rule, a promise to Zola that she wasn’t even aware Anna Leigh had made.
“Ms. Gray. I’m Galinn.”
She nodded. “Anna Leigh is fine.”
“Anna Leigh then,” he said. “I’ll need your weapons.”
Of course. She handed over two pistols and a blade. He gave her a steady look.
“We don’t have to do this the hard way.”
He’d obviously been warned about her occupation. Sighing, she gave him two more knives. Even without her weapons she was hardly unarmed. Finally he turned and walked inside where several more warriors waited. He handed her weapons to one of them without a word and continued through the spacious lobby to a door tucked in the back corner. They entered a conference room and a man turned from the window to greet them. Anna Leigh felt a jolt of recognition and saw her shock reflected in his eyes, which made no sense. She’d never seen him before in her life. Then why did she feel like she knew him? Like he knew her? The real woman.
If he was human she’d peg him as a soldier, probably a high ranking officer, and an extremely well taken care of fifty year old. Or thereabouts. He was a few inches over six feet, had cat green eyes, and short black hair that was beginning to silver. Tattoos stretched down the right side of his face and arm. He was sexy as hell and he was a telepath. His power stroked over her, almost seductively. He was also pissed off. He held her gaze as he spoke.
“Galinn, tell Barak I apologize but I will have to decline his offer.”
“He’ll banish you, Xan, and leave you stranded here.”
“I can always appeal to the Overchief.”
Galinn shook his head. “He won’t hear you out.”
The stranger switched to another language and without even thinking about it, she slipped into his mind for the translation. She was there to judge his trustworthiness after all.
“There are some things a der’lan should never know.”
Galinn’s eyes widened a fraction before he regained control. What the hell was that?
“That complicates things,” Galinn muttered in English.
“What’s a der’lan?”
The new guy, Xan, glared at her. “I didn’t give you permission to enter my mind.”
She shrugged. “I don’t care. I agreed to do a job for Britt Anderson. In exchange, I get off this planet. It would be much easier for both of us if you cooperated. It’s you right? The one she wants to make sure can be trusted?”
He didn’t respond, though his expression was easy enough to read. He wanted her gone.
“There is a problem,” Galinn interjected.
“No,” she snapped, not thinking before she spoke because she was unbelievably–unaccountably–angry at this Xan guy for standing in her way. “There isn’t. I need to get to Delroi. You want to be cleared. And I need to know if I need to kill you before I leave.”
Xan laughed. “You think you could kill me, love?”
She didn’t joke back, didn’t tease. She let her power rise.
“Britt wouldn’t use me unless she thought you might be a rebel. Am I right? Don’t bother answering, I can see that I am.” She took a step forward. “You have no idea the lengths I will go to, that I have gone to, to survive this long. I would slit your throat without any hesitation at all if that was the price for this trip.”
“The Delroi don’t use women as assassins,” he snarled, stalking closer though they were still separated by several feet. She was tempted to close the distance. To turn this altercation into something else entirely.
“I am not Delroi,” she said, resisting the urge. Galinn looked like he wanted to intervene but wasn’t sure how. “Can we get on with this? Britt hinted that I could leave tonight once this is finished.”
“I’m sorry, my lady, I can’t compel Xan in this. You will have to convince him yourself.”
She glared at them both but neither relented. “If I ever discover that my next words were repeated I will hunt you both down and make you pray for a slow death.”
She got no response. So be it. They’d been warned and she wasn’t above manipulating them to get what she wanted. It was no secret the Delroi were overprotective when it came to women.
“My daughter is being hunted by two different organizations. One is a group of human psychics. The other is your rebels. I am of no help to her here.”
Xan scowled at Galinn. “I imagine I won’t be briefed until I agree to this.”
“I can’t guarantee that you will be then.”
Xan’s expression turned hard. “Oh, I will be.”
He pulled a chair out from the table. “Come on, love. Let’s get this over with.”
“What changed your mind? Being suspected of being a rebel?”
He shook his head. “I am no rebel, but if I don’t allow this, I won’t be in a position to protect you or your daughter.”
“Why would you want to help me?” she asked.
She pretended to be suspicious at his sudden turn around. Maybe this was the test. She took the seat next to him and he held his hand out. She had no idea why she took it.
“It’s complicated and I don’t think you’d believe me. Get this over with, Anna Leigh. Once I am reinstated we can be on our way.”
“Why are you in such a hurry?”
His smile was grim and promised retribution. She was intrigued. “My cousin is my clan chief. Turns out he’s neck deep in the rebellion. I’m the only one who can take over the clan. Otherwise, it will be absorbed by another.”
“You were willing to do whatever was necessary before I walked in,” she said softly. “What changed?”
Many people were afraid of her, but he had no idea who she was and it definitely wasn’t fear she picked up from him. He stroked his thumb over her wrist and her pulse stuttered in response. He gave her a smile that was pure masculine confidence.
“Shouldn’t you be worried about clearing my name first?” he countered, avoiding the question and using her inexplicable attraction to him. She might regret not pursuing it later but at least she’d be on a spaceship when it happened.
“Fine. Lower your shields.”