Since the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federated Universes in their hands. There’s never been a better time than now to throw out the old and usher in a new order. Give voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life battling the system. A fighter, she’s always been too busy and driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she’s granted audience with Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons, who stands for everything she hates, her instant attraction catches Abbie off-guard…
It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around Ravena—and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant—if stunning—rabble-rouser. But, sometimes, headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private….
Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age old tradition and unleash a sexuality he’d never given rein to before.
Federation Chronicles: RELENTLESS by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2009, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
His mouth tightened a moment and then he relaxed. Was that jealousy?
“Ah yes. He did seem the sort to throw away a wonderful woman for momentary pleasure.”
She laughed. “Very nice answer Mr. Lyons. Now I see why they talk about you on the vids in those breathless voices. Wondering which woman will snap you up.”
He rolled his eyes and she realized how pleasant it was to have just a normal moment with him. It would have been more pleasant to be naked and alone with him in her bed of course, but normalcy was something she hadn’t expected from him. In the midst of his huge manor, it seemed a funny word to choose, but it was.
“I should go.” She looked up into his eyes and wanted to kiss him so bad her lips felt the phantom touch of his.
“I wish you wouldn’t. After all, Jaron wants you here. You’re quite welcome. We’re pleased to have you after all you’ve done for Marcus and his son. At some point, I’d like to speak with you on a business matter. Deimos tells me you’re addressing the AC, which I endorse. Perhaps we can discuss that at some point?” He cocked his head in a particularly charming way and she nearly sighed. Gods, she was losing three years of maturity every second she stood with him. Soon she’d start twirling her hair and thrusting out her chest at him.
She swallowed and licked her lips nervously. His pupils widened and she wanted to groan. The two of them were volatile, the chemistry between them was bigger than the room and she felt caught in it, like swaying sea grass.
“I can, yes.” She’d meant to tell him to comm her so she could set up an appointment or a vid conference.
“Can I give you a tour of the green house? We grow all our own fruit and vegetables here on the grounds. They’re the original from when we came through and set up the colony here.”
She loved the pride in his voice.
“I would be honored.”
They strolled together down a long hallway, side by side but not touching. The sounds of the room where the food and people dimmed as they drew away. He pointed out the art on the walls and she nodded, half listening. Her body grew heavy in his presence.
She wasn’t sure what she’d expected when he said greenhouse but it wasn’t what she stood looking at.
“I’m at a loss for words.” The greenhouse was gargantuan, which given the overall scale of the house and complex itself made sense. Huge stands of fruit trees lined a central walk and on either side and hanging from the rafters just beneath the glass ceiling, plants abounded. Vegetables, fruit, berries and flowers exploded in her vision. The scent overwhelmed, heady and fecund.
“When we first came through the portal and began to build a colony, House Lyons built this green house and planted the seedlings and seeds they brought through. We fed our people then from this ground.” He bent and sifted dark, rich soil through his fingertips.
She got it then as she stood there in his greenhouse. Leadership wasn’t just a job he held because he was born first. He took being the ruler of House Lyons seriously. He took conservatorship of the people of Ravena and the associated ‘Verses under Lyons control seriously.
He was House Lyons in a way she hadn’t understood until that very moment as he held the earth responsible for nourishing his people.
“I don’t think you’re a bad man,” she said quietly, bending down with him. “I believe you have done an excellent job. Ravena is prosperous. Our literacy rate is the highest of all the Federated ‘Verses. Quality of life is high. I’m not doing this because I think you’re mismanaging your people. I want to share the burden, not add to it.”
“There are things I’d like to talk with you about. Things you should know but I can’t just now.” His voice was the barest sound and it alarmed her.
“Can I come to you? Tonight?”
“Yes.” Was he kidding? She’d craved him every day since she’d seen him last and there was the look in his eyes just then. It worried her.
He straightened and brushed his hands off. The scent of the rich soil drifted to her as she stood.
“It’s beautiful here.”
“What I love about this place is how generations of Lyons children played here. How this soil has fed our people. How our ‘Verse grew from this spot. From bread basket to factories. It started here. In my home. I’m proud of that, Abbie.”
“You should be, Roman. It’s something to be very proud of. It would be a terrible invasion of your private life but people should know about this place. It should be part of the history of this ‘Verse. What do you do with all this food?”
“We feed the household with it. Set aside for the cold months. Mercy makes jams and sauces, she preserves things. We also donate to a program here in the fourth ring. A boarding school for children who’ve lost parents to lock-up or death.”
“Martinson School.” She knew it. It wasn’t too very far away from where they’d lived when they first came back to the capital. “That’s wonderful, Roman. It’s a good program. Nyna, my mother and several other restaurants in the capital send food there on a regular basis as well.”
He smiled. A genuine smile. She liked him unguarded. “That’s good to hear. It alarms me that the population there has grown in the last years. I’m working with some on the Council to enroll the older ones in different apprenticeship programs so they have a place to go when they do their time in the corps.”
“If you only knew how much all this do-gooder stuff made me feel.” She laughed and he joined her. They walked the path and turned to go back. He wasn’t just some isolated, out of touch despot. Roman Lyons was a man who cared about his people. It only made her want him more.
Today’s prize is winner’s choice of all my futuristics! Do you enjoy star crossed lover stories? Where the hero and heroine aren’t meant for each other but can’t help themselves anyway? Winner will be chosen from comments to this post and announced in Monday’s winners post!