He knew.

He laughed softly and the sound skidded across her brain sending a new pack of shivers to dance across her skin.

Movement caught her peripheral vision and the fear that slid down her throat to land in her belly was cold. They were no longer alone.

Several large Serpentis appeared from the gathering dusk to form a loose circle. She was effectively surrounded and they seemed to be under the control of Gideon’s spawn.

The wind whistled in her ear, kicking up dirt and refuse, to whirl in a chaotic mess. Lily exhaled slowly as she gripped her weapon tight. An image of Kerr floated in front of her eyes and a pang of something ripped through her chest. It was like a physical punch. She’d only known the man for a few weeks and yet even amongst the chaos and danger of war, she’d found her thoughts turning to Kerr more than they should have.

She exhaled loudly and cleared her mind as the Serpentis closest to her hissed and shook its massive head. She had no time for weakness.

“How amusing.”

She raised her eyebrow as the bastard’s laughter floated on the wind.

“The Black Opals are known throughout the seven galaxies for their beauty, and here you are looking like nothing more than a dirty little boy.” His eyes narrowed and they shimmered weirdly. He licked his lips as his gaze swept over her. “We’ll have to work on that.”

“Excuse me?” She widened her stance and forced her tense muscles to relax.

“You will be mine, Lily Black, as is my right. And when I take you to my bed, when I plant my seed deep within your womb I’ll expect the legendary beauty I’ve heard so much about.”

What the hell was he talking about? “Fuck you,” Lily said softly.

His eyes narrowed and she could see the hatred that flared behind them.

“Don’t worry,” he said as he took a step toward her. “I intend to…fuck you.”

Lily cracked her neck and prepared to fight. Looks like her shit day had just taken a header directly into the toilet.

Chapter Two

Kerr Strome raised his hand and signaled for an all-stop. His men froze in their tracks and the silence that drifted upon the wind was near deafening.

Something wasn’t right. He could sense it. Slowly his eyes scanned the barren landscape that used to be a thriving city centre.

Overhead, a lone wingback cut through the breeze, its long body gliding easily as it circled closer to the ground. The animal was a scavenger and that told Kerr a fresh kill lay on the horizon.

He felt his gut clench and his lips thinned as he looked to Macon, his second in command. The soldier’s features were grim and he knew that none of his men had any hope the small, fierce fighter known simply as Blackie was alive.

They’d been ambushed while guarding the latest convoy to leave Drakkon. Their evacuation of the planet was almost complete and most of the ships had already left for the rendezvous point. Blackie had come up missing when it was all said and done. The aged air-rider had made it out safely, but the young soldier was nowhere to be found.

Normally, they’d have moved on, headed back to base but every single one of the men in his elite unit wanted to perform a grid search of the immediate area. Kerr shook his head tiredly. The small soldier had managed to worm himself into their tight-knit unit. No easy feat considering most of his men were cold, ruthless killers. It was hard to be anything but that amongst the darkness and despair that they faced every day.

Macon nodded to the left and Kerr signaled the men to move out. Quietly they slipped over the rough hewn ground, ten men searching for one. As Kerr came up along the crumbled remains of a large stone wall he paused as a voice drifted toward him.

Macon slid alongside of him and they looked at each other. The Serpentis didn’t speak. At least not in any language they could understand. The voice was too low to belong to Blackie.

Kerr nodded at Macon and the two men made their way down a narrow pathway between the rubble, and within seconds they had a view of an area that was somewhat clear of refuse.

He stared at the scene before him, teeth clenched, lips thinned. He could see a squad of Serpentis surrounding a large humanoid male, and in the center of them was Blackie.

His soldier stood with his feet wide and weapon at the ready. He was heavily outnumbered and Kerr shook his head as a sliver of pride rushed through him. Blackie might be small but he sure as hell would never surrender without a fight.

His men moved silently into position, setting up a perimeter of their own.

Kerr inched forward and strained his ears but was only able to pick up snatches of conversation.

Tags: Juliana Stone Black Opals Science Fiction