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by Pauline Baird Jones

Genre: General Fantasy, Fantasy

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He turned, staring at the place she’d arrive, willing her to make it. The air silvered, and then formed into a human shape. If not for her eyes, he wouldn’t have recognized her. Water flowed off her in heavy rivulets, pooling around her military issue, very muddy boots. Her matted hair clung to her scalp. She was filthy, scratched and bruised. He stared a tree branch tied to one leg. He’d never seen a women look so bedraggled—or so beautiful.

He brought up the cloak and went sensor dark. He turned back, would have smiled at her, but she gripped a weapon with both hands and it was pointed at his chest. No sign of recognition flared in her eyes or softened her stance.


Her body shuddered with cold or shock, or both.

He kept still, his voice soft. “I thought you’d be glad to see me.”

She blinked once, and then again. Water ran down her face and off her jaw line.

“Hel?” Her stance softened some, one hand leaving the partially lowered weapon to rub her eyes.

He rose, taking it slow, not anxious to alarm her into shooting. He had no way of knowing what her weapon was set to.

He rubbed his scruffy chin. “I had to become Kalian to find you.”

The hand holding the weapon dropped to her side. She swayed, even as she tried to smile.

“Nice timing.”

“Your friends were getting close,” he admitted, stepping close. The smells of the storm clung to her, hiding her scent.  

“The tornado was closer.” She reached out, her hand touching his chest as if she still weren’t sure he was real. It slid up, a brief loss of sensation until she found his face. “You need a shave.”

His hand slid down her arm, his fingers closing around the weapon and easing it out of her grasp.

He tossed it onto the copilot’s chair and tugged her close. “I need you.”

“I’m a mess.”

“You’re perfect.”

Her laugh broke in the middle. Her arms slid up around his neck. His mouth found hers and passion flared, as out of control as the storm beneath them. He drove her mouth open. Couldn’t get close enough to her to satisfy. He pushed, with his mouth and his body until she slammed into the bulkhead. Water soaked into his clothes, and he could have sworn the air around them sizzled as if touched by fire. She whimpered, deep in her throat. He started to lift to his head, concerned he’d hurt her, but her hands at the back of his head, and her moan of protest, stopped that. One should never disappoint a lady.