© 2023 by Jordan Summers

ATLANTEAN HEAT CHAPTERS 1-3

CHAPTER ONE

 

Cassandra stared out the small viewing hole, watching stars and distant galaxies go by. The blackness was comforting, like a favorite outfit or a baby’s laugh. She’d longed for this moment since the day her people had left Earth.

Unlike the majority of the Atlantean people, Cassandra had wanted to explore outside of their jungle borders, experience the rest of what Earth had to offer. After meeting Queen Rachel, she’d become positively fascinated by humans. If her Queen was indicative of a human female, what were the males like? Cassandra knew they couldn’t all be molded in the form of the professor or the smaller natives she’d seen in the jungle.

She would have left her people long ago if it hadn’t been for the fact that Atlantean warriors watched Atlantean women like hungry raptors protecting their kill, not allowing them to wander too far out of their sight. Cassandra understood the reasons, but knowing this hadn’t curbed her wanderlust.

The stars twinkled like the fireflies that used to swarm in the balmy jungle. She pressed her hand against the tiny window, remembering the simple joy she’d gotten from chasing the glowing bugs around, capturing them, only to release them once again.

Cassandra glanced at the amazing looking warrior beside her. Orion was one of the few she hadn’t dallied with. Out of sheer boredom, she’d chosen to share company with several of the warriors on Zaron. They’d served their purpose at the time. Perhaps if the trip was long enough and they got bored…

She eyed him again, then quickly dismissed the thought.

She’d heard rumors about the striking warrior, some of which had certainly piqued her curiosity, but not enough to act on it. He was, after all, an Atlantean warrior, first and foremost. Moreover, Orion was not her true-mate which, from the looks of his body, was a pity. Her gaze caressed his muscled form, focusing on the impressive bulge filling his pants.

As if sensing her gaze, Orion turned. The impact of his dual-colored eyes, one jade and one aqua, arrested her breath. His knowing assessment told Cassandra without words he’d read her thoughts. Don’t worry. He smiled. I’m not interested in you either, and I think I can contain my boredom until we reach Earth. Mirth simmered in his voice.

Cassandra laughed. His candor was refreshing. It was just a thought, not a proposition. I’m looking for something…different.

And you think you’ll find it in an Earthling?

Perhaps…

I fear you will only find disappointment. The species as a whole is somewhat lacking in size and honor.

We shall see.

Orion flicked switches, adjusting fuel in the reserve tanks. Where is it you wish me to take you once we reach the planet?

I’ve longed to see the ocean again. Cassandra sighed, picturing the blue-green water with its white foamy crests, gently lapping at a sandy shore. Queen Rachel has told me I might enjoy a place called California.

Orion frowned and punched another button, bringing up holographic maps of planet Earth. Where did she say this place is located?

The same piece of land you need to be on to find Brigit. Cassandra stared at the swirling map, her eyes widening as she saw how close the water was to this California place. If she reached out she could almost touch the wetness, feel the refreshing spray on her face. She resisted the urge to touch the spot on the map that held so many possibilities for her.

What do the glowing lights represent on the map?

Colonies. He pointed to a spot on the east coast of the North American continent. The brighter the light, the more populated the area.

Cassandra stared entranced as the colonies lit up like the stars, each one glowing brighter than the next. One stood out, far outshining the rest. I want you to take me there.

Orion glanced, then pressed a button to draw closer to the spot she’d pointed to. The place you wish to visit is called Los Angeles.

Cassandra smiled. “Los Angeles,” she murmured aloud, testing the name on her tongue. The words rolled off, easing past her lips like a gentle kiss. Her skin prickled, leaving gooseflesh behind. This was the place. The place she’d begin her search. Even the name left a shiver of excitement shimmying up her spine.

Queen Rachel has said you will need something called money. I have researched this item. It is what the humans use to barter with, in exchange for goods and food.

Do we have any of this…money?

Yes. The replicator has managed to reproduce a travel sack full of the stuff. You should have more than enough for what you need. I’ve also taken the liberty of placing a deciphering unit in your sack. You’ll be able to find any meaning or item by just thinking about it. It should help when it comes to talking to the humans.

Orion pressed a panel to his side, which had been all but hidden from view seconds ago. He pulled out a metal device Cassandra had never seen before. What is that?

A communication device. He flipped a switch on the side of the thin rectangular object and a tiny screen appeared. If you need assistance or are ready to come back home, just flip this switch and hold the device next to your head. It will pick up your thoughts, in the same way we’re having this conversation, and transport you to the ship. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of space, because the device is powerful enough to transport the objects around you. I don’t want to end up with any unnecessary baggage.

Cassandra nodded and reached for the device. Orion pulled it out of her reach.

Are you sure, you want to do this? ‘Tis not too late to change your mind. You can come with me to retrieve the Queen’s friend. His tone was serious and held more than a little concern.

Cassandra forced a smile. Inside she was terrified. She’d never been away from her people—ever. Nevertheless, she was absolutely sure this was what she wanted, so she swallowed her fear and faced Orion unflinchingly. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.

He stared for a few moments, his gaze assessing, deciding. Cassandra held her breath waiting, praying to the goddess that whatever he saw in her face would be enough to allow her this time of discovery.

Finally, he nodded. California it is.

They landed without incident two days later. Cassandra had never seen so many lights in all her life. It was as if the stars had fallen from the sky and lay like a blanket upon the hillsides, shining, twinkling, beckoning to her. She’d asked Orion to drop her near the water. In her black flight suit, with her blonde hair braided down her back, Cassandra watched as the first rays of light hit the ocean, illuminating its murky depths.

She took a deep breath, and inhaled the salty air into her lungs. Tears of joy burned behind her eyelids. It was as beautiful and awe inspiring as she’d remembered. The waves rolled in, lapping at the beach, their gentle roar like music to her Atlantean ears. She hugged her sides and just breathed. The peace that had eluded her so easily on Zaron engulfed her here. The muscles in her tense shoulders relaxed. She slipped her boots off and dug her toes into the sand. Warmth engulfed her feet. She flexed her toes, grabbing and releasing the powder soft grains.

Humans were beginning to awaken. A few had stumbled onto the beach, shattering the tranquility of the moment with their huffing and puffing. Cassandra had no idea why they were running. From what she could see, no predator chased them. Obviously one of the strange behaviors they naturally displayed. Dressed in baggy clothing, a few glanced her way, eyeing her flight suit. She glanced down. She didn’t think it looked that bad.

Feeling self-conscious, Cassandra reached into the sack and rummaged around until she’d located her deciphering unit. She needed to find a place to stay, since traffic on the beach made it not an option. She held the unit next to her head like Orion had shown her. It was similar to the communication device, yet this device only activated when she pictured the object she wanted to locate. Cassandra concentrated.

The device hummed, flashing the words, hotel and motel across the screen. Ah, shelter was in a hotel or motel. She hoped. Cassandra had no idea which direction to travel in, so she decided to follow the next human who ran past.

She gazed at the shoreline, waiting, but no one appeared. Where was a human when she needed one? Cassandra glanced at the water once more, the vast openness called to her, dared her to enter its depths.  She stood to ensure she was alone. A seagull squawked high above, riding the wind’s thermals. The water lapped at her bare feet. There was no sense resisting the inevitable. Stripping off her flight suit, Cassandra faced the ocean. Her naked flesh puckered under the cool morning air, relishing its cold-fingered touch. She allowed it to caress her once more, then raced into the surf with a reckless abandon that harkened back to her childhood.

She gasped as the first wave hit. The cool water momentarily took her breath away. The sea near Atlantis had been warm year around. Not so this ocean. It took Cassandra a couple of minutes to adjust to the change, but adjust she did, then dove headfirst into the frothy brine.

Brady ‘Buzz’ Rittner jogged harder on the wet sand. Anger surged through him as he recalled his commander’s orders. You will take your leave, effective immediately. That’s an order. He figured he had to be the only Ground Training Officer at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar ever forced to take a leave.

Well that wasn’t exactly true, he had been commanded. Unfortunately, the leave was permanent. At least that’s what the early retirement papers he’d received yesterday in the mail had said. He was too damn young to retire, even if it was with an honorable discharge. Brady had immediately phoned his sister Carrie for support. She was the only woman in his life that he trusted. He expected outrage on his behalf. Maybe even a letter writing campaign, but this time Carrie’s advice had mirrored the military’s.

He growled in frustration and ran harder, ignoring the pain and slight weakness that now accompanied his workouts. At thirty-eight, he considered himself in prime physical shape. Just not good enough to go back into space. The radiation exposure made sure of that.It could be worse, you could be dying from it,the little voice inside his head whispered. He might as well be dead because it had been the fucking kiss of death to his career.

Buzz knew his attitude of late hadn’t been the best. Frustration did that to a man. He knew he was a tough guy to train under, but he hadn’t thought he’d been that bad. Asking him to leave had probably tickled the commander pink. The bastards had finally gotten rid of their damaged goods.

Screw them all!

He pushed on, eating up miles on the sand. Malibu was gorgeous this time of the morning, no people, only sand, ocean—and the naked blonde who’d just broken through the surf in front of him.

Naked blonde? Where in the hell had she come from?

Buzz nearly tripped when she turned her head to stare at him with those striking blue eyes of hers. Still quite a few yards away, he knew there’d been no mistake. Her eyes were the brightest blue he’d ever seen, the color of the ocean when he’d viewed it from space.

He glanced over his shoulder to ensure there wasn’t another runner behind him. Nope. It was just the two of them, completely alone. Every muscle in his body tightened as he neared what he could now see was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on.

His gaze traveled down the length of her, taking in her slim waist and perfect navel, before zeroing in on her world-class breasts. Her rose-colored nipples alone were enough to give him erotic dreams for a month.

She didn’t have movie star looks like most of the women in Los Angeles. Hers was an earthy beauty, one that didn’t need makeup or surgery to create. She had a wide, full mouth that held a hint of color he knew instinctively had not come from a tube. Her height was impressive, damn near six feet, give or take an inch, if where the surf hit her was any indication. Buzz was suddenly glad he’d taken after his six foot four father.

The closer he got, the more lush she appeared. Her curves were round and firm, made for exploring. Like a Madonna from another century, she glowed with health. No starvation diet for her. His interest spiked. The woman was the walking embodiment of sex and she looked like she was just waiting to be devoured by the right man.

Buzz’s cock leapt to attention. Thank God for baggy sweats. He debated whether to stop as he neared, but the truth was, the last thing he needed was an entanglement. He had enough problems without adding a woman, albeit a beautiful naked woman, into the mix. But damn, he was tempted—oh, so tempted.

“Down, boy,” he muttered to himself as he passed the woman, giving her a quick nod and a flash of a smile. “Morning.”

Seemingly unbothered by her state of undress, the woman’s eyes lit up as she warmly returned his smile. “Morning,” she repeated.

Buzz’s heart did a little flip in his chest. He ignored it and pressed on. She probably recognized him from his cereal box cover. He frowned. Buzz hated the fact that he missed the attention being a minor celebrity brought. He must be more desperate than he thought, if one look from her had kicked his libido into high gear. Disgusted by his behavior, he was all the more determined not to wait around for her to get out of the water.

He prided himself on being a noble guy, but he was only human. One look at the rest of her and he knew that all bets would be off. There was only so much temptation a guy could take before his body ripped the decision out of his hands.

It was a few moments before Buzz realized the woman he’d seen in the water was following him. Her soft footfalls were near-silent against the crash of the surf. It had been the sensation of being watched that had tipped him off. He glanced over his shoulder. Sure enough, she trotted behind him. No longer naked, she was now dressed in a black skin-tight outfit with a sack thrown across her back.

The fact she was easily keeping pace with him gave him pause. Buzz’s muscles tightened, his heart rate doubled. What was she, super woman? She smiled again. The effect was instantaneous. He flushed with arousal. He had to get the hell away from her.

Buzz forced his gaze away and picked up speed. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe she was crazy, most of the truly beautiful ones were. He’d encountered numerous groupies throughout the years, but hadn’t bothered dallying with any of them. He didn’t want to be on anyone’s conquest checklist.

He jogged a mile farther, trying to pretend she wasn’t there. It was nearly impossible. She’d fallen slightly farther behind, but still managed to keep pace. Definitely an athlete. He glanced at her face. Her expression…well, her expression was open, like a child when they first discover a playground.

As much as he told himself to keep on running and not look back, Buzz couldn’t. He needed the attention as much as she longed to give it. Against his better judgment, he stopped, hands resting on his hips and he bent to catch his breath. She slowed as she neared him, moving with a natural sensuality that most women would kill for.

Something drew him to her, something beyond primal need. Her gaze ran over the length of him. Buzz’s jaw tightened. He hadn’t had a woman look at him like that since—well since he’d been NASA’s flavor of the month pinup boy. If she was a groupie, she wasn’t like any groupie he’d ever encountered. They always reeked of quiet desperation. Their need to brush against fame somehow believing it would change their life, their status, had always turned him off.

His cock twitched, beginning to grow under the woman’s heated stare. Despite her overt attention, she was in no way aggressive. Buzz liked that. He liked to be the one to choose a partner when it came to sex, and so far, it had worked out in his favor. He’d kept the sex casual and the women at a distance. It was safer that way…for everyone. Space was his mistress, always had been, and always would be, even if NASA never allowed him to visit her again.

Buzz’s heart damn near stopped when she smiled again. He’d been smiled at by beautiful women before and never had this reaction. Strange, very strange.

“Can I help you, darlin’? Would you like an autograph?” he asked, using his best Texas good ol’ boy drawl, the one that had worked so well on the women outside of Houston when he’d been training for a space mission at NASA.

He swallowed hard as bitterness welled inside of him. There’d be no more missions. The solar flare he’d experienced while manning the International Space Station had made sure of that. Too much radiation they’d said. No more space flights. No more hope of being on the first manned mission to Mars. He snorted, shaking his head.

She watched him, her soft blue eyes filled with compassion. Maybe it was her quiet countenance that brought his thoughts back from the dark place they so often traveled. He didn’t know. Didn’t care. He was just glad she had. Buzz had become so used to the despair, he now considered the dark place his second home. It occurred to him that she still hadn’t answered him. “I guess that’s a no.” Disappointment welled inside his voice, but he squelched it before it cut too deep. He stared at her. Maybe she didn’t speak English. “Are you lost?” he asked louder than he should have. Like it would somehow make a difference if she didn’t speak the language.

Her eyes widened and she nodded her head.

Buzz’s chest clenched. Every protective instinct he possessed, rose inside of him.

She cleared her throat. “I-I need to find a hotel or motel.”

Her words hit his gut like a sucker punch. Buzz blinked, that wasn’t exactly what he’d thought she’d say. Could you call the police, maybe? Or do you know where such and such street is located? Those would’ve been the logical questions to ask. It occurred to him that she might be propositioning him. Yeah, like she’d be interested in a washed up, unemployed astronaut.

Her smile warmed. Buzz’s mind raced through the possibilities, however remote. His gaze took in her clothing. At first he’d thought it was some kind of wet suit, but up close the material didn’t look right. Whatever it was it melded to her body like a second skin. Odd choice for being on the beach, but hell, this was L.A.

“There are several hotels right down the road in Santa Monica. I’m staying at a place called Shutters on the Beach. I could drop you off or you could walk.” He pointed farther down the beach. “It’s quite a ways from here, past Gladstone’s.”

“Gladstone’s?” she frowned, repeating his words like a child would mimic a parent.

Something wasn’t right with this whole picture. Maybe he’d been right. Maybe English wasn’t her first language. He could tell from the blank look on her face she had no idea where he was talking about. His gut told him she wasn’t stupid, only overwhelmed. Maybe she’d been injured and dumped on the beach. He’d heard of cases where people lost all memory during a traumatic event. The trouble was she didn’t look injured. An injured person wouldn’t have kept pace with his seven-minute miles.

At the height of his fame, he’d received mail from thirty countries. “You’re not from around here, are you?” he ventured.

“No, my home is many galaxies away, past the Pleiades.” Her voice was clipped and strangely accented, but her words were clear enough.

She might be foreign, but he’d called it right the first time. This chick was crazy. She didn’t need a ride. She needed professional help. Why had he offered to give her a ride? He’d never done anything so stupid in the past, especially with a crazy woman who’d probably turn out to be a groupie after all. Hell, after what she’d said, she probably thought Star Trekwas real.

Buzz chastised himself again, knowing if she accepted his offer he’d honor his word. The forced leave must have scrambled his brain. He knew she was trouble—six feet of leggy, womanly trouble that he should be trying to stay far away from, but damned if his body didn’t disagree. It wanted to get to know this woman a lot better. Crazy or not. He wouldn’t of course. He’d never take advantage of someone.

His gaze dropped to the front of her black skin-tight suit. Her nipples, which were clearly visible through her outfit, pebbled under his regard. Because of the glimpse he’d caught earlier, Buzz didn’t need to use much imagination. His mouth watered at the thought of sucking on them, laving her with his tongue, nibbling on her flesh. His nostrils flared and he felt himself harden again. Buzz bit back a curse. What in the hell was the matter with him? He was acting like he’d never been laid.

Her gaze locked on his face. Heat filled her aqua eyes and her lips quirked in a knowing smile. Somehow she knew exactly what he’d been thinking.  Buzz stared back unabashedly. He half hoped she did know what he was thinking. Maybe she’d be smart enough to stay clear of him. From the look on her face, avoidance wasn’t on her mind.

He imagined stripping that outfit off her body and laying her across the thick, billowy linens the beautiful hotel was known for.  He could already see those lush curves draped across the bed.

Buzz knew the exact moment he’d decided to break his unwritten no groupies rule and fuck her. Crazy or not, foreign or not, he just knewit was going to happen. He had no doubt. Something in him roared to reaffirm his position as a vital male and stake a claim on her luscious flesh—a purely primal reaction that he’d never experienced before, but ached to act upon.

He wanted to hear her soft moans as she came…repeatedly. Taste the salt of her skin after they’d made love for hours. He could almost imagine the rich smell of musk that would emanate from her weeping sex as she heated, waiting for his cock to fill her.

Damn, just thinking about it made him hot. He fisted his hands, resisting the urge to throw her down on the sand and take her now. He was acting like a bull in rut. His need thrummed, the beat steady and strong in her presence. He took a step closer and without thinking reached for her.

Only the sound of muffled voices prevented him from acting on instinct. He glanced down the beach and saw several joggers coming their way. If he were a true gentleman, he’d stop them and have them call for help. Leave her with them while he made good on his escape. His gaze dropped to her mouth as she licked her full lips. So much for good intentions. Her heated, hungry expression finally registered on his befuddled mind.

Hungry?God, he hoped like hell she was. He was ravenous.

Buzz cleared his throat, willing his voice to be calm as he spoke. “My car is back down the beach. It’ll take a while to get there. Do you want to come with me to get it or would you rather wait here?”

She glanced over her shoulder at the approaching people. “I want to come…with you.”

The film broke in Buzz’s mind as he imagined an emphasis on the word come that couldn’t have been there. He didn’t wait for her to repeat herself. He reached out and grabbed her slender wrist, striding briskly down the beach as he tugged her along behind him.

The warmth of her skin seared him, frying all reason. Even though groupies were game for almost anything, Buzz prayed his caveman act didn’t scare off this woman, because right now he teetered on the edge of feral and was quickly losing the battle for control.

CHAPTER TWO

 

Cassandra smiled as her skin heated to inferno at his touch, she couldn’t help herself. This human was exactly what she’d been searching for in her dreams, a man who could trigger her Atlantean’s heat. Oddly enough, she didn’t even know his name.

What she did know was he was aggressive and male. Like a true warrior, his finely developed muscles split in striated lines as he strode across the sand. She’d decided to follow him the second their eyes had met. She hadn’t missed the look of raw hunger. It was still there. Simmering just below the surface of his rigid self-control. She looked forward to shattering that control the first chance she got.

He had lean hips, a nice ass, and long legs. She wondered if his cock was as impressive as the rest of him. She hoped so, since she planned to be fondling that particular organ soon.

A day’s growth of stubble covered his firm, square jaw. Long, dark lashes shielded his gray-green eyes. His brown hair was short, holding hints of blond, and a smidge of gray. A welcome change from the longhaired Atlantean warriors she’d left back on Zaron.

This was no child.

This was a man.

The thoughts in his head ran from dark to aggressively sexual. For a moment, she’d seen space. He’d floated above this planet in some crude manner and despite his deep-seated anger, wished to return. Her smile widened as she considered his broad back. If things worked out as she planned, she’d grant him that wish and more.

Cassandra allowed him to pull her along, retracing the steps they’d taken only moments ago. He was going to give her a ride to his lodging. She needed to get her deciphering unit out to understand what his thoughts of foreign groupieand crazy meant, but couldn’t risk doing so in front of him. At least, not yet.

A half an hour later, they reached a transportation device he’d called his car. Crude, but effective, she noted several other humans seated inside the transports as they winged down the hard gray trail that had been carved from the land. Each transport seemed to come in different shapes and colors. The man walked to one side of the transport and opened a hatch.

“Step in,” he said.

She eyed the machine cautiously for a moment, before complying. This civilization was odd indeed.

The man shut the hatch behind her and then walked around the transport to the other side. He opened another hatch she hadn’t noticed before and sat down beside her. His smell filled the car, crisp like the ocean with a hint of musky salt from his sweat. Cassandra inhaled, as if the mere act of breathing in would draw the man into her body.

He took out a chain of dangly metal and fit one of the pieces into the side of a slim column in front of him. With a flick of his thick wrist, the transport roared to life. The vibration beneath her bottom caused her clit to twitch. Cassandra dug her fingertips into her thighs to keep from moaning aloud.

Obviously pleased with the transport, the man patted the round object in front of him with his long fingers, before reaching over his shoulder to secure a strap of some sort across his broad chest.

Cassandra glanced over her shoulder. She had a similar strap on her side. She repeated his actions and snapped her strap in place. The material caressed her aching breasts, teasing her nipples into tight crests. His gaze strayed to the front of her flight uniform before glancing into her face. He smiled at her, but the action appeared strained. Cassandra smiled back, pleased that he seemed affected by her body. He shifted a stick and the transport started to move. He eased the machine onto the gray trail and headed south.

“My name is Brady ‘Buzz’ Rittner, but I suppose you already knew that.” He smiled, glancing her way.

She didn’t, but he obviously expected her to, so she nodded. “I am called Cassandra.”

He watched the other transports in front of them and slowed when they’d gotten too close.  They stopped for a moment and he turned to her expectantly.

Cassandra had no idea what he wanted her to do.

“No last name, eh? Trying to be one of those one name kind of gals like Cher, huh?” Buzz laughed, and then winked at her. “Only in L.A.”

Cassandra smiled, nodding her head in agreement. She had no idea what he was talking about and she didn’t care. If he thought she was like a Cher, then so be it. She’d check on that item too, once they reached the hotel.

The transports began to move again. Cassandra settled back in her seat and enjoyed the ride. Buzz had opened something called a window and she’d been able to again experience the ocean air upon her skin. The wind blew tendrils of her hair free from its braid, allowing it to gently kiss her face. Cassandra loved this transport and from the look on the Brady’s face, so did he.

“We’re here,” he announced. “The valet will take care of the car.” He squeezed her hand and winked. Cassandra’s stomach did a little flop and her heart melted.

They pulled into the entry of the hotel. Buzz stopped under the awning and waited for the valet parking attendant to approach. The man opened the car door for Cassandra. She stepped out, her wide-eyed gaze immediately seeking his for reassurance. Buzz tried to ignore the pleasure he derived from that one little glance. He knew there was something different about this woman, something that made her stand out from all the others who’d come before, but he didn’t know what.

He reached for her sack, but she beat him to it. She clutched the item to her chest as he walked around the car to join her. The action was strange, but he quickly dismissed it as a cultural difference. Buzz slipped his hand around her arm and led her into the hotel. He bypassed the front desk and went straight for the elevators. A short ride later they’d arrived on his floor. He’d reserved a room with an unobstructed view of the ocean. For some reason the depths of the abyss reminded him of space.

Buzz shook his head, dismissing the fanciful thought. He had to stop comparing everything to his days as an astronaut. His sister Carrie had told him it wasn’t healthy and he knew she was right. Hell, her love and support was the only reason he had any sanity left at all. Although from his spontaneous action today, no one would believe that.

He led Cassandra down the hall until they reached his room. Buzz pulled his arm free and slipped his hand into his pocket for the room key. A slight click later and the door swung open, exposing the impressive view. He stepped inside and waited for her to join him, hardly believing he’d brought her here in the first place.

Cassandra gasped as her gaze swept the surroundings, yet she made no move to come in. What was she waiting for?Maybe she was nervous. God knows he was. He rubbed his moist palms along his pants and then captured her gaze.

“Are you going to come in?” What if she’d changed her mind? Something akin to panic gripped him. He shook it off.

She smiled. “Are you inviting me into your dwelling?”

“I sure am, darlin’.” Buzz ignored the warning bells going off in his head and his immediate gut reaction, telling him there was more to the question than met the eye. He was probably just imagining things, considering she had such an unusual way of phrasing things. Definitely foreign. It was the little things like that, which made him want to learn more about this woman.

Her smile widened and her eyes seemed to light from within. She entered the room. Hell, if all she was looking for was an invitation he would have issued one earlier.

“Honey, I’m going to jump into the shower and rinse this sweat off my body…unless you’d like to go first.”

“No, I am fine,” she said.

“Good. Well then, make yourself at home.”

Cassandra couldn’t believe it! Buzz welcomed her into his dwelling. All that was left for them to do was experience the energy bind. Unfortunately, it could not be rushed. She glanced around the light green colored room. The furs atop the bed matched the walls, reminding her of the different colors the ocean reflected throughout the day. Sunshine filtered through the shuttered windows, reflecting off the ocean beyond.

Her gaze followed the retreating male form as he walked down a short path and disappeared into another area. Alone, Cassandra took in her surroundings. The room was warm and welcoming with its soothing colors and soft materials. It would suit her needs perfectly. Here she would get to know her man intimately.

Cassandra heard splashing come from the room Buzz had entered. She reached into her sack and brought out the deciphering device. Within seconds, she understood what crazy, foreign groupie, and a showerwas. How dare he think she was insane and slept with a lot of men? Okay, so she may have been a little wild back on Zaron, experiencing her fair share of warrior company, but there was nothing wrong with that and there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with her thought processes. Cassandra’s eyes narrowed as she considered her next move.

She knew what Buzz was doing inside that room. Her body ached as she pictured him naked, his skin covered in suds. Moisture pooled between her thighs. She dropped the sack onto the floor and then stripped out of her clothes, before she lost her nerve.

Cassandra padded down the same path Buzz had taken, her bare feet silent upon the carpeted floor. She didn’t knock; she simply turned the handle and walked in. The small room was filled with steam. A glass pane concealed the man she sought from view. His deep baritone rumbled from the other side as he hummed a musical tune.

Her belly fluttered and her body tightened with anticipation. This was it. She reached out and grabbed the edge of the shower door. Spray from the warm water splashed over her fingertips. Before she had a chance to pull the door open, Buzz’s hand grasped hers. Cassandra gasped as heat spread through her fingers, along her arm, and over her body.

“I was wondering when you were going to join me.”

His statement surprised and delighted her. “You were expecting me.”

He shook his head. “Hoping,” he said. Buzz opened the shower door without releasing her hand. His hair, slicked back from the water, looked darker now. His tanned body glistened from a thousand tiny droplets. Moisture clung to his lashes, hooding his gray-green eyes.

Cassandra swallowed hard, allowing her gaze to lower. His chest was wide, tapering into a slim waist. The image was even more impressive now that he’d removed his shirt. A smattering of crisp hair clung to his rippling abdomen, leading down to the treasure trove of manliness below.

She followed the dark trail until it reached an impressive cock that jutted out from his body like a branch. He was thick and long, just like she’d imagined. His plum-sized head flushed deep with color from his arousal. Her mouth watered as a pearl of creamy liquid eased from his shaft. What would he taste like?

Her breath caught as all her dreams and fantasies merged into the man standing before her. She’d waited so long to encounter the one man who could ignite her body and fire her mind. Buzz was like a puzzle, the picture appeared perfect, but there was a piece missing. She was that piece. Cassandra knew she’d gladly spend the rest of her life trying to convince him.

“See anything you like, darlin’?” he drawled, a hint of strained humor hanging in his voice.

Cassandra tore her gaze away from his cock and glanced back at his face. “I like everything that I see.”

“That makes two of us.” His eyes lit up as his hungry gaze devoured her. “Come on in, the water’s just fine.”

Cassandra stepped into the shower and Buzz pulled the door closed behind her. Warm spray filtered over his shoulders, wetting her skin. She was surprised it didn’t sizzle considering she felt as if she were on fire. He pulled her into his arms, breast to chest, hips to cock, thigh to thigh. She moaned at the sudden sensate intrusion. Her nipples pebbled tighter. The ache in her body became excruciating. She needed to feel his hard cock inside of her now.

Buzz’s mouth came down upon hers. His tongue and teeth teased her bottom lip, sipping and nibbling until she opened for him. The second she did, he plunged inside, tasting and devouring like the warrior she knew him to be. A conflagration of heat and energy enveloped them, driving their need, pressing them closer. Cassandra’s nails dug into his flesh as she slipped one leg up and around his muscled thigh. Buzz groaned a second before reaching down and holding her in place.

Everything happened at laser speed. Her nipples became painful pinpricks as she rubbed her breasts over the rough hair covering his chest. With his free hand, Buzz grasped her nipple, rolling the marbled bud between his thumb and finger. Cassandra’s channel flooded, readying her for his entry.

Buzz, I need you.Her fingers dug deeper into his shoulders and back. Cassandra was so far gone she hadn’t realized until the statement had left her, that she’d uttered it in his mind. Her body tensed, waiting for his reaction.

Buzz pulled back from the kiss, his chest heaving to take in air. His face was a mask of raw hunger. “Slow down a minute.” He appeared to be as far gone as she was. “I don’t have any protection out.”

“Protection?”

“Condoms.” He pushed the shower door open and reached for a small bag sitting on the side of the basin. He pulled out a foil wrapper and ripped it open with his teeth.

Cassandra felt her eyes widen, but she said nothing as she watched him roll the thin material over his shaft until he was completely covered.

“Now, where were we?” He smiled.

CHAPTER THREE

 

Buzz couldn’t believe how close he’d come to fucking her without a condom. He’d never been so reckless. There was something about Cassandra that drove all logical thought from his mind—something about her that demanded a primal mating. Moreover, he’d been this close to forgetting she was a groupie and giving it to her.

Luckily, his common sense had kicked in, but he had to admit he was a tad disappointed. He longed to feel his cock slipping into her—skin on skin, the tight grip of her moist channel grasping him, the gentle undulations of her first release. He wanted it more than his next breath. Damn he was close to bursting just thinking about it.

He lifted Cassandra’s long leg, holding it against his hip, effectively opening her. He palmed her breasts and caressed her thigh, all the while rocking his cock against her swollen clit. She moaned, throwing her head back, exposing the long column of her throat for him to feast upon. Buzz grazed her neck, laving and nipping at the pulse beating erratically there. He blazed a trail over her collarbone, down to her breasts, until he was within a whisper of her ripe nipples.

He flicked first one and then the other with his tongue, teasing her rosy flesh, tasting her. She was as sweet as honeysuckle and as addictive as any designer drug. He couldn’t get enough, so he returned for seconds. Buzz sucked one nipple into his mouth and almost came as sensation shot through him straight to his shaft. Her skin held a hint of spice, coupled with her own exotic aroma. He had never experienced anything like it. Cassandra’s fingers clung to his flesh, digging deep. He couldn’t wait any longer.

“Darlin’, I’m sorry, but this time is going to have to be hard and fast.” His voice came out on a harsh growl.

Cassandra smiled, her aqua eyes glowing with an emotion he refused to recognize. “I like it hard.”

God give me strength. Buzz closed his eyes for a second as his resistance came crashing down. He released her breast and then positioned the head of his cock at her entrance. He shifted her leg a bit higher, until she wrapped around his waist. With a roar, Buzz plunged inside of her and lost himself. His breath hissed out of his lungs as her velvet channel gripped him tight.

 His hips began to pump, taking her deep, fucking her hard. He’d never felt anything like this. Anything like her. The last thought had him shaking his head and shackling his emotions. The last thing he needed was to confuse sex with a relationship, especially since he didn’t do relationships. Cassandra was just another woman, an astronaut groupie he’d share company with for a while, and then move on.

No matter how many times he told himself that, something inside of him wasn’t quite convinced. Their bodies melded, forming a perfect union. A union he’d never experienced before. He thrust again and Cassandra cried out.

Buzz felt the first of the tremors shudder through her body. He gripped her tighter and drove deeper, his cock nudging her womb with each thrust. He rocked his hips twice more and she shattered. Cassandra cried out, her nails taking out a strip of his flesh as she came hard. He answered her with a bellow of his own, then followed her into sated bliss.

Cassandra’s body thrummed as the last of the ripples from her orgasm fluttered through her. Never had she experienced anything like the joining she’d just had with Buzz. It was better than seeing the galaxies for the first time. Her heart thudded as she fought to catch her breath. She’d purposely monitored her breathing to keep the gold energy from escaping, especially after she’d glimpsed his thoughts on relationships. His expression hardened as his feelings wavered, causing him to draw away from her. For some reason, Buzz was as reluctant to face his emotions, as he was to discuss space.

The missing piece to her puzzle stood glaringly before her. Their connection had been far more than physical. She’d felt it and so had Buzz, whether he was ready to admit it or not was another question entirely.

Buzz released her leg and slipped from her body. The emptiness left behind caused Cassandra to tremble. He turned the water off and then opened the shower door. Slipping the condom off, he tossed it in a container and then reached for two towels. He set one down on the rack, the other he placed around her shoulders and began to rub gently. His face softened as he caressed her body.

Within a few minutes, Cassandra was dry and her heart felt as if it had swelled to two times its normal size. So this was what finding your true-mate felt like. So this was love. He released the towel, allowing her to secure it around her body before reaching for the other cloth.

He wrapped the material around his hips, grabbed more foil wrappers, and then led her into the bedroom. Buzz tossed back the covers before guiding her onto the bed. Cassandra fell, pulling him on top of her. The weight of his body felt exquisite against her skin.

Cassandra relaxed, sinking deeper into the bed. She wiggled until she had managed to release the towel from around her body. Buzz’s towel remained wrapped around his waist. His burgeoning erection pressed into her abdomen as his desire rose to match her own.

“I’m not sure what you’re doing to me, darlin’.” He smiled, rubbing his chin against the side of her cheek.

“Don’t you like it?” Cassandra hated the fact that her voice sounded tentative.

His gray-green eyes widened, before locking to hers. “I love it. That’s the problem.” He laughed, but it held no humor. “Sooner or later, we’ll have to part. I have to look for a job and you’ll have to get back home.”

Cassandra fought the sadness welling inside of her. He had already planned for their departure. She allowed herself a few moments to wallow, before determination took over. She had at least a day, perhaps two to change his mind.

She was an Atlantean woman, experiencing full Atlantean heat. No man—warrior or human, in his right mind, would be able to resist for long. The temptation was too great. Decision made, Cassandra grasped the back of his head, sinking her fingers into his short shaved hair, and then pulled Buzz’s lips down upon hers in a blistering kiss. She would not allow him to dismiss her—them—so easily. With her free hand, she reached between them to loosen the towel separating their bodies.

It took her fingers but a moment to locate his throbbing cock, which sprang to life instantly. “’Tis my turn, I think.” Cassandra parted the towel and stroked the length of him, relishing the feel of satin over steel in her palm.

Buzz broke the kiss, air rushing from his lungs. “Release me, I want to taste you.”

His words seared her skin. She released him instantly and watched as Buzz slid down the length of her body until he was seated between her thighs. His face was mere inches from her shaven mons.  He inhaled, taking her fragrance into his body.

“God, you smell good, rich and spicy like a woman should, yet sweet—succulent, good enough to feast upon. And I intend to.” With that, he lowered his face and began probing her nether lips with his tongue, drawing lazy figure eights over her swollen flesh, all the while avoiding her aching clit.

“I don’t know what it is about you,” he murmured against her flesh. “I can’t seem to get enough of you.”

Cassandra knew exactly what was occurring between them. They were true-mates, whether he’d heard of the concept or not. The bond would grow stronger with each joining. He flicked his tongue, rasping the hooded bundle of nerves once. Cassandra dug her fingers into the linens on the bed and gritted her teeth. She couldn’t seem to catch her breath. His stubbled jaw brushed the inside of her thighs, adding more sensation to an already overwhelming experience.

“Please, Buzz.” She groaned.

He stilled his movements. His gaze intent as he watched her reactions. Instead of continuing with his carnal actions, he blew warm air across her flesh and like kerosene to a flame, she ignited.

“Tell me what you want,” he croaked, his voice so passion filled that it was barely understandable.

“I want…I want you to fuck me.”

He laughed, a pain-filled sound that told her that his control had reached its end. “I’ll do just that in a moment, right after I finish my meal.”

He dove back into her needy flesh, sucking her clit between his lips, flicking her with his tongue. Cassandra’s body stiffened as her blood rioted. Every muscle in her tightened. She was so close. He sucked harder and nipped the hooded bundle of nerves. Her body clenched and unclenched as a pleasure-pain greater than any she’d felt before filled her and then Cassandra was tumbling over the edge. A keening cry ripped from her lungs and her body bowed on the bed. Buzz continued to devour her, lapping at her cream as she came hard.

Spots floated behind Cassandra’s eyes as the blood rushed from her head to her swollen sex. Spasms rippled through her, as her channel fluttered. She felt Buzz’s weight shift, heard the tearing of the foil wrapper, and within seconds, he was sliding home. The ache she’d felt only moments ago, now filled.

He fucked her slowly this time, gliding maddeningly, savoring her body. His hands bracketed the side of her head, keeping her focused on his face. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” he asked on an upward thrust that she felt all the way in her heart.

Cassandra fought the urge to close her eyes. She bit into her lower lip and shook her head.

“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.” He stared deep, drawing her into his gray-green depths.

Cassandra laughed. “You probably say that to all the women you lay with.”

His brow furrowed. “No, I don’t.” He snorted. “I actually say very little. We exchange pleasantries. We fuck once and then I’m gone. No fuss. No mess. No complications.”

“So is that what you’ve got planned for me? To fuck me and forget me?” she asked, bracing for his answer.

Buzz stared at her for several seconds, his face masked from emotions. Cassandra debated whether to intrude on his thoughts, but decided against it. She wanted to hear his answer. If he were lying, she’d know.

His jaw clenched a couple of times as if he couldn’t decide whether to tell the truth or not. Finally he spoke. “At first, yeah.”

She sighed. “And now?”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m not sure what I’m doing now. I sure as hell don’t have a plan, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Good. Cassandra thought. At least that was a start.

They made love on and off over the next three days, stopping only long enough to eat and shower. Cassandra couldn’t seem to break through the shell separating her from Buzz’s heart. She feared his emotional state was directly tied with his space journeys, but she’d been unable, as of yet, to get him to speak. She trembled in the cool night air. Maybe she never would, she thought as they stared out at the sea from the balcony of their suite.

Without a word, Buzz stood, grabbed a blanket from the bed and then wrapped it around her. Sated and replete they stared out at the night sky, like an old mated couple. The peace and comfort of the situation gave her the courage to broach the subject.

“Have you ever seen the Antares & Rho Ophiuchi?”

He nodded, a slight frown marring his features.

Cassandra watched him closely unsure whether to proceed.

Finally he sighed and ran a hand through his spiky short hair. “I’ve seen it. The colors are spectacular, like a rainbow that has burst. I’m surprised you’ve heard of it.”

She’d more than heard of it. She’d seen it. “I love the blues, pinks, and clouds of orange.”

His muscles seemed to relax a bit and he smiled. “My favorite is Eta Carina. It reminds me of a big set of testicles.” He laughed and she joined in.

“Trifid reminds me of a pink and blue dust storm, endless and powerful.”

Buzz turned to face her now. His gaze roved over her face. So many questions filled his expression, but he seemed to dismiss them one after the other. “How is it that you know so much about space? Are you an astronomer?”

“I do not study stars if that is what you ask. I simply like the colors, the power in those glowing beacons when seen through a porthole. Much as I’m sure you do. Would you like to see them again?” she asked the question tentatively.

His expression darkened and he shut down before her eyes. “That’s right, I forgot you’re from a galaxy beyond the Pleiades.” His voice smacked of contempt and more than a little hurt.

“I am,” she whispered, unable to stop pain from crowding her voice.

Buzz shot up off the deck chair. Anger vibrated from his body. “Knock it off! You know I can’t go back into space, and no amount of pointing at the sky is going to get me there. So stop asking stupid questions you already know the answers to. Your little act isn’t fooling anyone.”

“Act?” Cassandra frowned. She didn’t understand what he was talking about. His anger struck without reason.

His hands curled into fists at his sides. “I bet the other astronauts bought into your wide-eyed innocence hook, line, and sinker. But you made a mistake when you made a play for this washed up flyboy.”

Tears pooled in her eyes. “What other astronauts?”

He threw his arms up in the air in frustration. “Oh, come on, drop the act already, babe. I’m onto you. You’re a flyboy groupie.” He shrugged. “You may be foreign, but you’re like all the others.”

Anger surged through Cassandra. How dare he speak to her this way! She’d done nothing wrong. She stood as fury gathered around her. Her eyes stung. Cassandra forcefully brushed the teardrops away. “You listen to me, Brady Buzz Rittner. I know not of other astronauts. I did nothing to you, other than offer you my body, my heart. If you’re too ox-headed to understand that, well…then that’s your problem.” Cassandra gathered the blanket around her and swept into the room like a queen dismissing her subjects.

She’d had enough of his arrogance, his mean-spirited words, and his male stubbornness. If he would only listen to his heart, he’d know she was telling the truth. She plopped down on the bed and bundled under the covers. Cassandra purposely turned away from the shadowed figure standing on the balcony. Right now, she was too angry to look at him.

Buzz gripped the railing of the balcony like it was a life raft, his muscles tense from the surge of anger still simmering just below the surface. The salty sea air did little to calm him. In just a few short days, Cassandra had gotten under his skin.

It shouldn’t have happened. Never had before. He didn’t even know this woman. What in the hell had he been thinking when he brought her back to his hotel room? Buzz knew better than to hook up with a groupie. They’d fucked a dozen times, so what! The act didn’t exactly constitute a commitment.

Keep it together, buddy.His gut clenched, telling him it was too late for that.

He didn’t know why he’d snapped at Cassandra. Had he thought she was rubbing in the fact he’d never be able to experience space travel again? His radiation poisoning wasn’t exactly common knowledge outside of NASA. How did she find out? He glanced back in the room. She hadn’t left. She was huddled under the covers facing away from him.

He released the breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding. He refused to acknowledge the sense of relief. He’d taken out all the frustration and pain he’d been feeling over the past few years and directed it right at Cassandra, and she hadn’t done anything wrong. Hell, she’d bore it and still kept coming back. What did that say about her? What did that say about him?

A curse slipped from his lips as he leaned over the balcony and inhaled deeply. Buzz ran a shaky hand over his face and through his short hair. He was in trouble—big trouble. A few days of fabulous sex had managed to turn him inside out and upside down. He didn’t know whether he was coming or going and it was all Cassandra’s fault.

She’d opened herself up to him body and soul, wrapping those long legs of hers around his waist, taking his pounding repeatedly. All she’d asked in return was for him to follow suit. Buzz had wanted to, but he hadn’t been able to. Oh, he’d been tempted. And he’d certainly given her loads of pleasure—he was sure of it, but he knew in the end that wouldn’t be enough. Cassandra wouldn’t settle for having part of him. She wanted everything and it scared the shit out of him.

Somewhere in the midst of their tumbles, they’d gone from having sex to making love. During that time, she’d managed to wedge the door to his heart open and he had no idea how to get it closed.

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