The last of the trio in CAPTIVATED is Vincenz Cuomo – exiled son of the leader of the Imperialist Universes. He’s been trying to prove himself for years after he escaped with little more than his life and a goal of taking his father out. He’s put most of his life, most of his energy into serving the Federated ‘Verses in their war against his father’s rule, working to prove his loyalty and has recently finally been appointed to the Phantom Corps. His relationship with Julian has come as a surprise, though a welcome one. Julian gives him a place to call home, understands him. And then he finds Hannah in that cell and frees her and she’s just as unexpected as Julian ever was. They both understand and accept him in ways he was sure he’d never experience and though he’s got his own baggage, he’s utterly sure of his feelings for both his man and their woman. At first with Hannah it’s that he wants to help her.
Protect her. But the more she recovers, the more she reveals the Hannah underneath all the pain and trauma, the better she gets, the more difficult he and Julian find it to resist her…
Here’s a scene from the opening of the book, just after he’s freed Hannah and they’re on the way back to Mirage where his home is.
He managed to sit down while still carrying her. “Have you traveled via portal before?” He spoke to her softly but firmly, and she slowly opened her eyes.
“Can you speak?”
She paused, as if she didn’t know. “Yes.” Her voice was full of snags and burrs.
“I’m going to strap in so I need to touch you.”
Her fingers tightened in his shirt and then he saw her force herself to relax enough to let go. What had they done to her?
“You can stay in my lap. We’re just going to hit some disturbances in the energy flow. They’ve collapsed the portal on Parron so we need to move far more quickly.” He strapped them both in as he explained.
“What’s your name?” He’d seen it on the log back at the lab, but he didn’t want to lose her and she seemed so very far away in her mind right then. Fear lived in her gaze as she scanned the room.
“My name is Hannah Black.” She paused as if she wanted to say more, but then didn’t.
“Hannah, my name is Vincenz. I said it back there, but it was sort of hectic. You’re safe now. No one is going to hurt you.”
She looked doubtful but didn’t say much. Her color had risen to something close to normal, which he was encouraged by. Andrei held Piper and they shared a look. Piper had broken down utterly after seeing what happened to her brother and Andrei had given her a sedative. He rocked with her, slowly, rubbing a hand up and down her back.
His friend had found something entirely wonderful in Piper Roundtree. Vincenz hoped it would help Piper get through the grief.
“Would you like something to eat?” She was thin. He could feel her bones, so very close to her skin. Fragile, and yet he sensed she was a very strong woman despite that. Maybe because of that.
She nodded and after they were able to get some distance from the collapsed portal, the ride smoothed out. “We have a small bathing suite here. If you’d like to clean up a little.”
Wonder flashed over her face and then she bit her bottom lip. Worry and fear were back on her face.
“What is it, Hannah?”
“Would you . . . stay?”
His chest tightened at the entreaty in her voice.
“Of course.” He unstrapped and stood, placing her carefully on her feet. She took his hand and he had no desire to take it back. Leading her through the ship toward the sleeping berths, he took in the way she ate up every detail. And that’s when he noticed her limp.
“What’s wrong with your leg?” He paused to kneel and examine it closely. Shrapnel had torn through the skin. “I’m sorry I didn’t see this earlier. We need to clean it up. Sit while I get the triage kit.”
She held very still, her gaze taking in every move he made has he cleaned out the wounds. “I’m going to hold off on the numbing gel until after you bathe.”
She swallowed hard and shook her head. “I’m fine.”
He didn’t want to argue with her so he stood, taking her weight as they finished the walk. “Here we are.” He pointed toward the bathing suite. “I can’t vouch for the heat in the water, but there’s soap and it’s big enough to get clean. I’ll see if I can’t find you some clothes.”
She looked to the door and then back to him. Over and over. And then she slid to the floor, her shoulders shaking as she wept.
He went to his knees and hugged her, not knowing what else to do. “What is it?”
“I’m . . . I’m sorry.”
“How long did they have you in there?”
She reached up and touched her scalp. “Eleven.”
She shook her head. She paused, clearly thinking, and he wondered how hard it was for her just to simply speak to another person after her ordeal. “Months, I think.”
Almost from the start, Alexander Scarsgaard was Vincenz in my head as I worked…
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