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Published by: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: 8/17/20
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Rescuing compromised Universe agents is nothing new for Zared Hersh. A fast car, a little rain-and-fog manipulation to cover his tracks, and his job is done. But when Hannah Nickels dives into his front seat, something about her aquamarine eyes strikes him like lightning.
Thank God she’s not psychic, or she’d be reading his hormones like a book.
Hannah’s been groomed to join Universe practically from the moment her time-freezing talent emerged. But recently, her power’s been glitchy. She knows she’s in trouble, and the last thing she needs is her instant attraction to Zared’s solid body and dark good looks.
When their escape is almost derailed by someone with a strange new light-manipulating gift, only Hannah’s chrono talent gets them safely back to Universe HQ. In the relative safety of Richmond, their relationship grows. But Hannah has a second, more dangerous power that few know about. And as her control slips, someone with a hidden agenda sets her up to fall—straight into Whisper’s trap.
A twisted thing dropped to the ground in place of the sign, startling a shout from Zared. She studied the clump of what had been metal and wood moments before and was now one mass, a combination of leaves and steel that was an indistinguishable mass. She hadn’t heard the clang. The men were not where she remembered them being. They were all out of position. Something had happened after she’d attacked the sign. Damn it, she must have slipped into a fugue state again. Hannah prayed it had been for a handful of seconds and nobody had become aware of her lapse.
Zared and Ian focused on the thing at her feet and then Quillan turned to Hannah. If they detected her blankness they didn’t mention it. Hannah breathed out a sigh of relief. She’d deal with what this meant later.
“You . . .” Quillan began, shaking a finger at her.
She swayed on her feet and the time paralysis shattered. Oriel blinked and then focused on where they were now, not where they had been before she enacted the freeze. There was a shout behind them from the parking structure. A face showed above the concrete and then vanished. A moment later there was a squeal of tires and the fast revving of an engine as the other talent floored it out of the garage. Quillan’s attention flicked toward the parking structure before centering back on Hannah.
Oriel swallowed, and Hannah watched him through a mind gone fuzzy. She hadn’t expected to use her second gift—it had just emerged. The expressions on the faces around her told her all she needed. Whether they recognized her fugue state or not, they were freaked out by her second gift.
“I . . . commend you,” Oriel managed, his voice shaky. Whatever dazzling he was performing on them drained away, replaced by shudders that rippled through his body. “I had not expected something quite so dramatic.” He glanced at the item again and then at Hannah. Then, without warning, he ran, sprinting down the sidewalk. Ian went to give chase but Quillan called a sharp “No, Ian,” and the telekinetic subsided. They all turned to Hannah.
“Now I get why you’re so bloody interesting to Whisper,” Ian said.
“Does this . . . thing . . . have a name?”
Ian asked the question, but his tight-lipped expression showed that he wasn’t expecting an answer. They were back in Quillan’s office. Ian had called Maya but the sensitive had already been on her way.
Zared stood by the windows, peering at the night skyline. The lights of Virginia’s Tallest City and the capital of the Confederacy, shone around him but all he could do was remember that moment when the object that had once been metal and tree slammed to the sidewalk.
Quillan had taken it with them, of course. Using Ian’s telekinesis, they transported the damaged, twisted sign into the car and driven back to the office as fast as possible. There were no more disturbances by Whisper. Hannah had succeeded in ruffling that manyak’s Oriel’s composure and that was a win in Zared’s book. There had been a few moments where Hannah was as frozen as Oriel, her face unreadable, but then she had blinked and the strangeness cleared. Zared put it down to the drain of using her dual talents at the same time.
“Amalgamation,” Hannah supplied. “I can merge two or more objects into one thing. Kind of like a brundlefly. Any idea what I’m talking about?”
Zared just shook his head at the reference. He didn’t understand how she could be so calm. No words were big enough, so he stayed silent.
After not receiving an answer, Hannah went on. “In The Fly when Jeff Goldblum tries to merge with the fly he becomes a combination of them both. He’s Brundle and a fly. A brundlefly. Something like that. One of my brothers made the reference and it stuck. That’s what they call me at home.”
“I don’t understand,” he admitted, still not turning away from the window.
“Haven’t you read my file?”
It had taken every ounce of him not to do exactly that, but Zared hadn’t. He was too interested in the chrono woman as it was and to show additional interest by asking to read her Universe personnel file would raise eyebrows, starting with his boss. Chara. This was getting complicated.
He could still feel the touch of her hand against his. It reminded him of the first time he’d been with a female, at the age of fourteen, when he still lived in Tel-Aviv, before the Brits had gotten hold of him and hauled him to Scotland for training. He had as much control over his body now as he did that first time, all trembling eagerness, with a sixteen-year-old who had more experience than him, but that wasn’t much either.
He did not plan to have this happen to him. At all.
“No, I haven’t read your file. I saw no reason to.” He strove for a casual tone, and determined he’d achieved it when Hannah’s face shifted as though his words had hurt her before it was gone. That brief, wounded moment made him almost blurt out the truth. Instead he stayed silent.
“I suppose you’re right. You wouldn’t need to.”
“Stop it,” Quillan said with a harsh edge to his voice. “It’s been a difficult night for all of us, but petty squabbling earns us nothing.” He glared at Zared. “This one is not in her public file. Hannah, it was unwise of you to lose your temper like that.”
Hannah shot Quillan a fierce glare. He raised an eyebrow and met her gaze until it was Hannah who looked away.
“You’re not my boss.”
Zared snorted, unfolding his arms. “He is as long as you’re in Richmond,” he said at the same time Quillan was saying “Yes I am.”
Many emotions moved across her face until it became an impassive mask. He should have been glad but instead he longed to shake the neutrality out of her.
“I lost my temper. Sue me. And screw you, weather boy,” she said with a caustic edge.
“That is enough!” Quillan slammed his hand down on his desk and they all jumped.