Series: The Universe Chronicles #2
Buy the Book: Amazon
Published by: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: 9/4/19
Since the day Jiana Falco was forced to join the paranormal agency Night Stars, she’s been planning her escape. She uses her bodyguard’s split-second of distraction to vanish into the shadows, and burns the last bridge by saving Quillan Hardis.
But now, locked in Quillan’s muscular arms, pinned by his calculating amber gaze, his invisibility talent shielding them both, she’s in even deeper trouble. If that’s possible.
Quillan didn’t get to Universe Corps’ highest echelons by being a fool. The rare shadow manipulator in his grip is too easy a prize to be anything but a setup. A pretty lure he should send back to Night Stars. Instead, he holds on—and in changing her fate, he seals his own.
Under a secret order to unlock her untapped power—by any means necessary—Quillan takes Jiana on the run with only a precog’s vague direction, and a spark of desire that blooms into something warm and genuine. But her fear of being clawed back into Night Stars’ control could drive Jiana so deep into the shadows nothing will get her out. Not even the light of Quillan’s love.
If she was a trap, she was a good one. Had they examined his tastes in women and gotten his preferences just right? Had they gone through their list of agents and chosen one whose body beckoned his hands to trace her curves? His blood heated at the casual jeans and a sweatshirt that proclaimed the VCU Rams in a yellow and black stylized ram logo. The baggy sweatshirt didn’t hide her enticing curves. When the wind flattened the shirt against her he noted her hourglass figure. He mentally compared the Universe profile to the woman in front of her. That snapshot did nothing to capture her essence.
If Night Stars had put her in his path on purpose, it was despicable . . . and expected. Universe had to take advantage of every angle and if Jiana Falco’s unusual talent and tempting appearance were a benefit against his enemies he would have used them too.
Her attention was still focused on the world outside the windows. After what seemed an eternity she turned back to him. Every masculine instinct kicked in at the sight of her trembling mouth. He had to glower to stop from saying a meaningless reassuring word.
“She said . . . she said . . .” Jiana stopped again and trembled, her body shaking so badly he was concerned she would fall out of the chair. Quillan steeled himself not to respond. It was classic Night Stars training to use feminine wiles, and he could not be moved by it. No matter how hard his protective instincts flared. He remained where he was, his hands clenching on his desk top, and waited for her reply.
“Well?” He was aware that he was being an asshole, and was okay with that.
“Can anything get into this building?” She pointed to the skyline with a trembling finger. Her voice was raspy, and she cleared her throat with an audible sound.
He shook his head. “We’re shielded and reinforced. If shadows try to get in they should be turned away. I am not sure, though. Your talent is not a common one, and we may not have done all we should. I will have to investigate that possibility. The shields are good. We will be fine. You’re stalling.”
Jiana went to the bookshelf that held more of his prized figurines and studied them. Then she turned to face Quillan.
“Grandma called me a week ago and was insistent she see me right away. When I got there she was agitated and trembling. She was so scared. She said she’d seen danger in my future, and I had to get away from Night Stars or I could die. She wouldn’t tell me what she saw. She’s eighty and in good health but at that moment she seemed older than I’d ever seen her.” Jiana picked up a bronze replica of the Etruscan statue of the Mars of Todi and eyed it without seeing it.
“She always had a timeless air, until that day. She had no way of knowing that I already wanted out of Night Stars but that I had a bodyguard to stop that. Or maybe she did. Whatever the reason, she was terrified for me and it made me determined to go.”
He let out a breath. Jiana shot him a glance and something dark moved across her face. Cazzo. Quillan didn’t often wish he were a sensitive, but right now he did. It was such a tidy story he wanted to believe it but as the Director of Richmond’s Universe branch he could not afford to let down his guard. Lives were at stake.
“Let’s say I believe you, which I’m not saying I do. This is all too neat. If you wanted to leave Night Stars you simply had to go.”
She shook her head. “Not me. I tried that. They—my family—said that we did not leave Night Stars. They tried to guilt me into staying, and I told them I’d think about it. Then Tanner appeared as my ‘partner’ but he was really my bodyguard. My uncle made it clear I was not going to be allowed to leave Night Stars. He said I would understand in time but that I wasn’t going anywhere. Nana’s warning came after that.”
Quillan considered her words. Altogether too neat a package, but what happened on the street aligned with the truth. Despite himself, he wanted to believe her. “Then what happened?” The bronze wasn’t breakable so if she threw it at him all it would do was dent the wall. If she tried to hurl it out the window the windows were strengthened against such pitiful attempts.
She set it back down. “You were there for the rest. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my move but I’m always watched, always followed. Night Stars didn’t want to release me. It’s a point of pride for my uncle. Our shadow talents stay within Night Stars. I didn’t intend to act today but . . . well . . . you were in danger. Oh!” Her eyes widened and her hand went to her mouth.