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The Destiny Trilogy, Volume 3
Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.
Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret, and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red-haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.
Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?
“Wha-at?” Cat flung herself sideways. Her feet slid from under her as something long and black wrapped itself round her leg, writhing and tightening its coils. She hit the ground hard, rolling over to her shoulder, almost deafened by the sound of Kerry’s blaster. The water sprayed up from the river and her throat burned with the acrid smell of blaster emissions and burning flesh. Gravel and pebbles dug into her skin through the fabric of her clothing, as something dragged her toward the edge of the bank. She bit back a cry of horror as she glanced over her shoulder at the thing twining itself around her leg. An icy fear went through her. Snakes—the only creatures she really feared. She aimed her pistol and then realized it was not a serpent that dragged her toward the river, but a long, rubbery tentacle fastened around the tough material of her leggings and boot.
Before she could activate the weapon, Kerry let off another barrage of plasma bolts into the river. He leapt toward her and ripped the severed tentacle from her leg. It flapped around on the wet grass. She scrambled to her knees, still slightly winded, and fired at the hideous thing. The foliage around it flared briefly with an eerie green flame, and the tentacle shrivelled into a slimy black mass, emitting a pungent odour and causing her to gag.
“It seems I was mistaken about the creature being dead.” Kerry prodded the smouldering mass with his boot and looked across over the water. “It is now.” He leaned down and grasped her wrist to haul her to her feet. “Are you hurt?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Her shoulder was sore and probably bruised but she’d live.
She tried to control her shivering. The incident affected her more than she wanted to admit. Kerry’s proximity—naked to the waist, his lithe body shining from the water droplets that still clung to his skin, and his legs swathed in tight black leather—did nothing to help. The last thing she wanted was for him to realize how scared she’d been when she thought a snake attacked her.
“Thanks. That was close. It would have been a bit ironic if I’d been killed by the same creature I saved you from.”
She realized he still grasped her wrist. She tried to move away, but he pulled her back, obliging her to turn to him.
“No,” he said. “You’re not.” He pulled her closer and his eyes softened, his gaze holding her mesmerized. She opened her mouth to try to speak, but in the same instant, he put his hand under her chin and his lips closed over hers.
For a brief moment, she tried to resist but found herself drawn into his kiss as he deepened it, his hand brushing lightly through her hair. For a long moment, time seemed to stand still, and nothing mattered except his lips burning on hers. His tongue teased her own, demanding and insistent, his lips incredibly sensuous, firm, caressing. Through the thin material of her shirt, Cat felt the warmth of his bare chest pressed hard against her breasts. The cold metal of the capsule he obviously did not take off, even to bathe, dug into her skin, but the slight discomfort was nothing compared to the turmoil in her mind.
Without any conscious action on her part, her arms slipped around his neck. She traced the damp skin of his shoulders with her fingers and felt the ridges of old scars on his back. Her heart pounded uncomfortably in her chest, and her blood coursed like liquid fire through her veins.