With a little something from INSATIABLE – the 3rd Federation Chronicles book and the first in the Phantom Corps mini series. (by request from Mary!)
Desire is the most dangerous sensation of all
With tensions between the Federation and Imperial Verses rising, one woman may hold the key to victory. The dangerous mission to smuggle her out of Imperial Territory falls to Daniel Haws and his team, the ultra secret Phantom Corps. This elite squad of the Federation Military is the only one trusted and skilled enough to remove her from under the watchful eye of her father, the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Verses.
Carina is used to wearing a mask. Her father and his men think her little more than a pretty prize to be won by a man more ruthless than the rest. When he announces his intention to marry her to one of his henchmen, a man known for his cruelty, Carina knows she has to move as soon as possible to get out. But getting secret information to the Federation has served her well for years and she appeals to them for help.
She expected rescue from a man who’d been her enemy. But she wasn’t prepared for just how intense her attraction to Daniel Haws would be. Born as adversaries into different ranks, and on the run for their lives, they now need each other to survive by holding on to the only thing they have in common: a growing desire that is dangerous, irresistible, and insatiable…
INSATIABLE by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2010, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Carina looked up from the table where she chatted animatedly to Andrei when he entered the main room.
“We were wondering when you’d return.” She smiled, narrowing her eyes momentarily, but refrained from asking more. Though, if he knew her, she’d already tried getting her answer through Andrei and failed.
“Now sounds good.” He hung his coat and hat on a peg, left his boots in the entry.
“Hmpf. Come and sit then. I’ve baked some biscuits and made some sausages. Andrei brought eggs, too.” She smiled in Andrei’s direction, and he waved it away.
“You’re the one who made them. My part was easy.”
“I’ll be back shortly. I just need to clean up.” He slipped past them, nodding once at Andrei. He wanted to go to her, gather her up and kiss her, keep her against his body until he remembered all of himself again. Instead, he kept moving. He needed to wash up first, needed to cleanse the death from his skin before he touched her.
Bent over the basin, splashing water on his face, he wasn’t surprised to hear the door open and close. Her scent would have given her away even if he hadn’t felt her presence before he smelled her and that night-blooming floral scent she bore.
“You weren’t in bed when I woke up,” she said quietly, handing him a cloth to dry his face and neck when he straightened. “I thought you’d left me.”
Without meaning to, he pulled her to him, hugging her. “I had some business to attend to. I wouldn’t leave you. Andrei was here the whole time I was gone.”
“That’s not what I meant,” she said into his chest.
He held her away so he could see her face. “Do you think so little of me?”
She shook her head. “It’s me, I think.”
He shook her once because she was being ridiculous but ruined his hard edge by kissing her soundly. “You? What would your problem be then? Too beautiful? Too sexy? Please do inform me so that I may run in fear.”
Her mouth screwed into a smile. “You’re a cad.”
“That I am. But I’m not the man who’d fuck you and abandon you.”
She nodded. “Right. So . . . beautiful huh?”
He groaned. “Go get my breakfast ready, woman! I need to change my clothes.”
“So, when we settle in Ravena, will you return home like this a lot?”
He couldn’t control his flinch of surprise, not that she seemed shaken by it. “I don’t know what will happen when I get you back safely.”
“Daniel, if you think you can make me love you and then wander away to keep getting your clothes bloody and sleep alone, or worse, with women who don’t care about you, you’re quite mistaken.”
“Carina, you don’t love me. You don’t know me.”
“Don’t insult me. I do know you. I have seen you pushed to your very limit. I have seen you at your worst and your best. I may not have known you since we were children, but don’t try to deny that I know you.” She put her hand over his heart. “I know you better than you know yourself.”
“This situation is extraordinary. Most people, most couples don’t have this sort of meeting. You’re just caught up in the excitement and drama of it.”
She straightened and gave him an imperious glare. There was the Carina Fardelle he’d met first. So strong, regal, sexy and pissed-off, too. “Now you’re insulting me again. Once more, and I will kick your ball sac up into your throat. How dare you tell me what I feel, like I’m a youngling not out of tights? You have no right. I know what I feel. I may have been a virgin, but I’m not a simpleton. You think I don’t know my own emotions? Can you stand there and say that to my face? After what we’ve shared? Think again, Daniel. I’m here to stay. Get used to it.” She kissed his chin and left the room with a flounce.
He sighed, leaning back against the basin, scrubbing his hands over his face. Love? Gods, what a surprise she was. If someone had told him that he’d end up telling cargo his last name, sharing personal details and a bed with her, he’d have called them a liar.
But her scent clung to his skin; the feel of her flesh against him still lay on his memories. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept the full night with a woman he’d had sex with. He itched for her, cared about her, wanted her, but there was a long way between that and something permanent when they returned to the Center.
The Center and the reality of their different ranks. Though she wasn’t a citizen of the Federation, there was no doubt in Daniel’s mind they’d offer her that, and she’d be treated as Ranked. Though many Houses had begun to rethink their policies and rules about marriage to unranked people, the perception remained, the expectation remained that Ranked married Ranked. She’d have to deal with that on top of losing her family, and he had no right to expect such a thing from her.
He was quite sure he didn’t merit such a sacrifice when he turned to see she’d left him a clean sweater near the door.
As Daniel finished cleaning up, Carina wrinkled her nose as she scrubbed at the stain on Daniel’s shirt. “Andrei?”
“If this is about Daniel’s favorite color, I don’t know.”
“Is it a requirement of you spy types to have this sort of humor?”
He sighed, and the scent of his cigarette rose on the air, sharp and spicy.
“Who are we without laughter?” His voice was quiet and filled with an emotion she couldn’t name, and she knew he wouldn’t tell her.
“Does he have someone? Back in Ravena?” she burst out, frustrated.
“I have you, Carina. Which is more than enough for any man to manage even without half the Imperium on our tail.” Daniel came into the room, brushing past her, pausing when he saw what she was doing. “Your hands are going to be chapped. The soap is harsh.” He took the shirt and rinsed her hands, drying them and leaving her confused again. One minute he was pretending she was just another woman, and the next he did this sort of thing. Were all men this way? Was it standard issue along with a penis?
Did that mean she was his woman? For then? For the next while? Forever? Did it mean he didn’t have a woman, but he was sleeping with her? What did it mean?
He laughed. “I have no idea how you managed to keep from getting killed. I can see everything you feel on your face.”