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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Excerpt from CENTAURI DAWN

I recently made the first book in my Centauri Series perma-free and I'd like to share an excerpt from that book, CENTAURI DAWN


CHAPTER 1

  

 Always the same dream. He called to her. “Princess Dayanara.” His voice was like rich, silky caramel, floating down her mound of ice cream. It did strange things to her insides. She yearned to hear him say her name again and again.

It was so hot and he was so sexy. Hot. God, she was hot. She kicked the blanket off her leg. But he was just a dream. A fantasy.
Something…someone…touched her leg. This wasn’t a dream! The hand she felt hot against her skin was real. She jolted awake. The warmth she felt in her dream turned to a cold sweat.
A man stood beside her bed. Not just any man, but the man from her dreams. Tall, dark, with chiseled features. Handsome with broad shoulders and abs to die for. His face came into focus and his gaze captured hers. Color of the deepest ocean, so blue as to seem almost black in the faint light that surrounded him, she struggled to look away.
Sitting bolt upright, she screamed, then scrambled backward over and off the bed, landing with a thump. She hit her back and shoulder.
The man leaned over the bed, his large size looming down over her, blocking the light from the window.
She scrambled backward, struggling to get to her feet.
“Are you injured?” His voice washed over her. He sounded familiar, like she should know him, but she didn’t.
He came around the bed and she bounded over it to the other side. As he closed in on her, she glanced quickly around and looked for a weapon, any weapon. Her hand landed on a small pink lamp. It had sat next to her bed since she was five, keeping her safe from the boogeyman. She grabbed it, pulling the cord from the wall and held it in front of her like a sword.
“Who the hell are you? Get out of here before I call the police.” Her voice was rough from sleep, edgy from fear
He moved closer to her, reaching out a hand. Not with malice, but with something else. Concern? “Princess you’re going to hurt someone. May I assist you?” he asked, chivalrous.
Princess. He must be a nutcase.
She yanked at the straps of her gown, resettling them on her shoulders and pulling the bottom down as far as it would go, but it was too short to cover much.
“Stop.” Her voice shook, though she tried to steady it. “Don’t come any closer.”
“You must listen. You must come with me.”
She screamed at the top of her lungs, “Help! Help! Help!” What was wrong with the people in this building? Were they all deaf?
“Princess.”
His voice washed over her like warm chocolate, comforting her. That wasn’t right. Why wasn’t he attacking her? The soothing voice didn’t stop her. He was a stranger. In her bedroom. “Help! Help!” she screamed, keeping the pink lamp aimed at him.
She lunged across the bed, reaching for the telephone.
“Now, Princess, please calm down.” He reached for the phone and ripped it from the wall. “I mean you no harm, but we must talk and there is little time.” He fell to one knee, bowing in front of her.
Her eyes wide, she swung the pink lamp at him at him. He deflected the blow with his forearm as he stood, denting the lampshade in the process.
“Princess, someone is going to get hurt if you do not allow me to speak.” He wrestled the mangled lamp from her. “Hear what I have to say. Please,” he implored. “You must return home. Immediately.”
“Help! Somebody help me!” Screaming, she kicked out at him with her foot, tried to take his head off but her skills were no match for his. He blocked her kick with one arm, grabbed her leg with both his hands, flipped her completely around and back on the bed.
“No one can hear you. Stop screaming.” His voice never rose. He sounded…exasperated.
Somewhat reassured that he didn’t attack, Audra stopped to catch her breath. Breathing hard, she rolled to her back, the sheet cool beneath her, eyeing him from top to bottom. “You look like you just came from a Star Trek convention.” And just like the man in my dream.
Could it be?
“Yes, I have trekked across the stars in search of you, Princess.” His words were odd, clipped, very formal, as though learned from a book.
“What are you talking about?” This man, dream or not, was in her bedroom, and she couldn’t imagine how in the world he got in there.
He held out his hand to help her up, but she swatted it away.
“Who are you? Really? How did you get in here and...and who are you?” She lunged for the lamp in his hands.
Placing the lamp out of her reach, he said, “I am Coridian, brother of your betrothed. I am here to escort you home.”
“Betrothed? You’ve escaped from the asylum, haven’t you? You’re some kind of nut and...”
“My lady, I am not an escapee from an asylum, and I am not a pecan.”
“Then, why do you keep spouting nonsense? I’m not a princess!”
“May I rise? I’ll explain.”
She shook her head and backed up a step. “You
He held up his hand to stop her. “Then you can ask your questions.”
“You-you stay right where you are.”
In the next instant, she grabbed the hairspray can from her dressing table, threw it at his head and bolted for the door. He leapt forward and caught her before she’d taken two steps, slamming her up against his chest, trapping her there within his arms. The lamp crashed to the floor, shattered.
Kicking wildly, Audra connected with his groin. His knees buckled, but he was quick to recover and never loosened his hold on her. Her heart raced as she twisted, freed an arm, and slammed the heel of her hand into his face. If he hadn’t turned, she would have broken his nose. Her strike was solid enough though, she heard him groan in pain before he released her.
Triumphant, she spun around, connecting her right foot with his solar plexus, knocking the wind from him. Now on the attack, she switched feet, and with her left foot, launched him backward, sending him landing on his back. Regaining her balance before he did, she straddled his chest, her knees and feet trapping his arms.
“Now. Tell me what I want to know or I’ll make sure you don’t see another day.”
He smiled, actually smiled at her. “I have told you who I am. Only your aunt can tell you more. I have no wish to harm you, my lady.” He looked at her with heavy-lidded eyes. “I rather like you sitting on me like this.”
“Are you mad? I could kill you.”
Instead, he bucked sideways, sending her toppling to the floor. Before she could rise, he had her back on the floor, straddled her, his body pressing her down.
“Now. Are you ready to listen?”
Looking up at him, she finally nodded. He moved, rising swiftly to his feet. Her body tingled from where he’d straddled her. She didn’t like, actually, she liked too much, how it felt to have his weight upon her.
She ignored his outstretched hand, stood and stepped away from him, her gaze darting toward the door.
Smiling, he shook his finger at her. “Do not even think it. I would have you before you took two steps. Again.”
Raising her chin, she nodded. She wasn’t afraid of him...her dream man. That though made her pause. She should be afraid, but somehow she sensed he didn’t mean her harm
Another feeling rose in her-an electric connection.
The urgent need to touch his body, run her fingers through his hair. Somehow she felt, no she knew, that this man would never hurt her, would rather die than cause her pain. How did she know that?
“Fine. Tell me what you want and get out.”
Walking to the window, he gave her some space. “I am Coridian. Darius Coridian. My brother, Anton, is your betrothed. He sent me here to bring you home. To Centauri.”
“Anton? I don’t know any Anton, and I’ve never heard of Centauri.”
“Allow me to finish. You are Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Dayanara, and heir to the throne of the planet Centauri in the system you know as Alpha Centauri, approximately four light years from here.
“You have been living here on Earth for the last twenty-four years. This was done to protect you from your enemies. Now, however, both of your parents are dead and you must return with me to claim your throne and marry my brother.”
 “You’ve got the wrong girl.” She shoved off the bed, wrapping her arms about her.
“Princess.” He stood next to her, but did not touch her. “Audra. Look at me.”
She did and looked up into those dark, midnight blue eyes, framed with incredibly thick lashes...and felt an instant and unwelcome thrill of recognition. It was the same as in her dream. His proximity made her aware of nothing but him. The room seemed smaller, the air thinner. Her heart beat faster, her pulse raced.
“Let us go see your...mother. She will explain everything to your satisfaction.” His voice was gentle, coaxing, almost mesmerizing. “Then we must leave quickly. The trip home will be long, but not nearly long enough. You have many things to learn on the way.”
His words brought her back to reality. She walked over to her nightstand where her phone used to be. “Give me back my phone. I’m calling the police.”
“I will give you the device, if you agree to contact Princess Margareta.”
Taking a deep breath, she decided she would find out if her dreams were correct or if they were nothing more than the musings of a sexually repressed female mind. Rolling her eyes at her thoughts, she reached for the phone he handed her.
“Fine, I’ll call Mom.” As she groped for the plug, she never took her eyes off him.
 “Call her.”
“I can’t. You broke the damn thing.” Dropping the phone to the floor, she said, “I’ll have to use my cell. You wait outside. I’ll let you know what she says, and then you can leave.”
“No,” he said, as if he could read her mind. “I’ll wait right here. My mission is too important to play games. Call her. Now. I give you my oath as Coridian, Captain of the Dragonera and Lord Protector of the Throne of Centauri, I won’t move.”
“Fine.” She found her cell in her purse and dialed the number. “Mom’s going to think I’m crazy for letting you talk me into calling her.”
“We will see, Princess.” He smiled. “We will see.”
There was something about him, more than the fact that he was a stranger in her bedroom that left her feeling uneasy. Fear that he might be telling the truth.
“Hello. Mom?” Audra remained facing Coridian, never turning her back to him.
Her mother answered. “Audra? This is early for you to be up on a Saturday, sweetheart. I didn’t expect you to call today. Aren’t you coming for dinner tomorrow?”
“Mom, there’s a man here named Coridian who keeps calling me ‘Princess’ and says that you can explain.”
The sharp intake of breath heard through the receiver surprised Audra, telling her that indeed the man, Coridian, might be telling the truth. Her heart stalled.
“Mom? What’s wrong? Talk to me.”
Her mother’s reply sounded strained, a little shaky. “What did you say his name was?”
“Coridian. He said his name is Coridian.”
“Oh, Lord,” her mother gasped. “Audra, bring that man with you and come home right now. I’ll explain when you get here. I love you, dear.”
The phone receiver went dead. Her mother hung up on her!
She listened dumbly to the dial tone in her ear. Her mother never wanted anything done immediately. She always told her children to slow down and take it easy.

This was not good.

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