Raylin Fabian has loved Captain Sterling Tristam for ten long, lonely years. Unfortunately, he still sees her as the child he rescued so long ago, when her war-torn home world's barbarity caught up with her once elite family of telepaths.
When Raylin's injured, her captain makes a decision she can't accept. She finds herself left behind on a world Tristam thinks is safe. However, there's no place unreachable enough in the galaxy to escape the captain's nemesis.
Caught in the crossfire between Tristam and an angry battalion commander's ire, Raylin has but one avenue of escape -- seducing her captain. Can she convince the man she loves it's all right to love her back?
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Laser blasts hit the steel doors ahead of her. The reverberation made her head feel as if it might explode. Skidding to a halt, Raylin Fabian watched the metal bubble and melt where the coin-sized blasts hit. Each of the numerous deadly projectiles missed her by just inches. Thank God that traitorous bastard is such a bad shot!
She couldn't hear her captain beside her anymore. Together they'd turned down the corridor a moment ago. Raylin paused just long enough to look for Captain Sterling Tristam, the man she'd flown with for the last decade, the only person she truly trusted. Tristam wasn't behind her. Panic rose like bile in her throat, making it hard to breathe. Her heart pounded painfully. Raylin bit her lip, resisting the urge to scream his name. Cap wouldn't just leave her. He was -- he was the only noble man she'd ever met in Free Space.
She turned and climbed back down the spindly metal ladder, leaving the crew quarters. The only sound was her feet against the floor as she raced down the long unlit corridor, turning again, almost making it to her destination. The sound of running brought her up short and she paused to look for some place to hide on the enemy craft. Turning again, off course and further from escape, she rushed down another hallway.
Seeing the cargo crates, Raylin rushed towards them and managed to wedge her small body in the shadows between them, obscuring her slight form in the dark place between two large containers standing nestled next to the wall. She held her breath.
Three men in Galaxy Battalion uniforms ran past her.
Damn it, Cap! I told you this was a trap.
Fuck. A produce transport out of Battalion-controlled space was too good to be true. The second freedom war had been raging a full two years, and this time it was all or nothing. The rebels would die before they agreed to peace after what the Battalion army had done to them last time. They should have known. Food that good never made it to the refugee camps, even if the majority of those refugees were helpless children.
Sterling, why do you have to be the one to answer every time someone needs a hero? She should be glad he was, or she'd have been screwed, but right now, the endearing trait was pissing her off.
The long narrow corridor was quiet now. Two turns and she'd be back at the airlock. She'd press a button and Esta would send the shuttle for her. She'd have to endure running ten feet across the flimsy emergency connector, nothing but two inches of plastic between her delicate flesh and the vacuum of space, but she'd do it to get the hell off this ship.
But she couldn't leave without her Cap. She'd never leave him behind.
Tenuously, she worked herself out of the claustrophobia-inducing hiding nook and scanned the path in both directions. Her way was clear. Now to pick a direction, Raylin closed her eyes a moment and focused. Cap. Where are you?
Nothing. She had no sense of where he was -- no connection to him. Not a good sign. She should be able to feel him. He needed her, she was sure of that fact. The urgency she felt told her the powers she'd long suppressed were roaring to life.
Survival. The Galinian telepathy she'd pushed away for a decade hadn't left her as she'd hoped. She could feel the crew's panic on Raven. Cap wasn't back. He hadn't left her behind. Equal measures of relief and terror surged through Raylin. Cap! Her mind sent the call without her conscious thought.
Leave me. Get away...
She gasped. His returned thoughts were so weak. Sterling Tristam was a lot of things -- privateer, rebel, freedom fighter -- but never weak. Help me find you. What happened back there?
Damn it, Cap, I'm not leaving without you. You wouldn't leave me. I can't live -- live with myself if you die here. Cap, tell me or I'm just going to go looking.
Fuckin' telepathy! I'm not getting off this ship alive, Raylin. Bartholomew paid Crandel to set us up. I'm so sorry, Star Shine. Get off this bird!
Oh, it was bad. He hadn't called her Star Shine in years. Sorrow filled her. No! I'm on the cargo deck and I'm climbing to the crew quarters again now.
Go back. Press your emergency beacon. Esta will get you home.
There is no home for me without you, Cap.