Some days it sucks being a telepath, especially when your lover's nemesis is digging in your brain and picking apart your memories.
Raylin Fabian endured a lot growing up in a war-torn universe, but nothing has prepared her for the special kind of hell Commander Bartholomew Tristam has in store for her.
The commander has a score to settle with her captain and lover -- his brother -- and she's just a pawn for the sadistic man's revenge. Enduring the agony, she takes solace in the occasional thought or feeling she gleans from the man she loves as he too suffers unspeakably.
When an alien offers to help them escape, she's willing to do anything, including a telepathic three-way to save herself and her friends.
~~~Excerpt~~~Raylin slowly became aware of her surroundings. She knew she was alive, because her entire body felt like hell.
Moaning, she tried to sit up, but her head felt incredibly heavy. She reached up and felt the hard polycarb shell of the hurt dome. Memories flooded back. Sterling. Esta. Where were they now? Could they have survived?
Darkness surrounded her. She lay somewhere cold. Images of her friends being tortured made her feel the urge to run to them, save them, but right now she didn't even know where she was.
Now let's see what's in that pretty head of yours. The commander's final words before she'd passed out hadn't made her feel warm and fuzzy.
Ominous much? she thought and this time only a small twinge accompanied her mental words. Sighing with relief, she realized her body was dampening her telepathic abilities as a self defense mechanism.
As much as she'd learned to hate who she was because of the danger it brought upon her, the thought of losing her talent made her unbearably sad. Once she'd been proud of her heritage, but she'd learned to hide her abilities. Almost every life-sustaining world bowed to the superior forces of the Battalion, and they'd committed themselves to the genocide of her people.
Fear gripped her, making her heart pound. She'd always hated the dark, and the fear had only grown worse after living on a deep space cargo ship for the last decade. She loved the Raven, but every night before she closed her eyes she'd think of the stories about ghost ships and the mummified remains of the crewmembers who had died in their sleep when life support failed. Dark meant she might not wake up.
Gulping down a deep breath of air she reassured herself it smelled fresh. The scrubbers here, wherever the hell here was, were working just fine. She crawled forward, feeling her environment. One of the first rules of war Cap had taught her was to know and assess your situation fully.
Captain Sterling Tristam was an amazing man. She'd loved him since her teens, and a decade later she'd finally thought there was hope for them to be together, but now she doubted they'd live long enough to see each other again.
"You're awake. Excellent." Bartholomew's voice drifted toward her from overhead.
"Where am I?"
The villain had the nerve to chuckle. Raylin longed for a knife and ten minutes alone with the bastard. Then he'd see who was laughing.
"Inconsequential, my dear. Let's see what secrets are in that pretty young head of yours. I'm going to be taking a special interest in your interrogation."
The door opened and light flooded the room. Raylin saw her cell wasn't very large; there was no cot, no toilet, just four white padded walls. Her heart raced. This was a room for someone who wouldn't be staying long, and she highly doubted they had any plans to release her alive.
Two large men wearing medic uniforms rushed into the room. When they grabbed her, she let them drag her to the door, but the moment she was in the hall she began to fight. Battalion personnel walked past, giving her quick looks, some curious, some hostile, but she could see no one wanted to help her. Her earlier pain had left her body weak and the men kept a tight hold, even as she fought.
Sterling. Pain caused her to stumble. Her unconscious cry for the one man who'd always saved her left her body twitching with the residual effects of punishment as the device on her head reminded her that Bartholomew was in control of her mental abilities. The sense of entrapment was so crushing Raylin screamed, bearing down on her anger. The sound was low, guttural.
The two men shoved her into another room. There was a table and the lights hurt her eyes. She blinked into the white uncomfortable light. Her eyes burned. The men left and the sound of the door lock snicking into place gave her an empty feeling, beyond dread. Raylin knew she walked with death now -- it could come at any moment. Sterling. If only she could see him, touch him, one last time. She'd been so close to having him as her own. The unfairness of the situation made her crazy with frustration.
Her eyes burned from the intensity of the light in the room. When the door opened again she shielded her face with her hand, trying to see who was entering. Bartholomew. His scarred face and superior demeanor could belong to no one else. The bastard had come calling, but Raylin wasn't feeling friendly.