Someone keeps altering the timeline and only Sam and Skye are aware of the change.
The culprit doesn't want Heather and Storm together, yet they keep finding each other, no matter how many times it is changed. Everything needs to be righted and the person messing with it needs to be stopped.
It's up to Sam and Skye to get things back the way it should be.
Heather sat between Storm’s legs as she watched her son climb the advanced rock wall Bert had created for him. Her heart stopped when he walked out on a thin wire ten feet above the ground. He acted like he was on the ground and it frightened Heather. He did a flip in the air then landed back on it. Heather ducked her head then looked through her fingers to be sure he was okay. He gave her a big grin.
“My heart, you must show him your belief of his ability. Hiding is sending the opposite message,” Storm said softly next to her ear.
“I know.” She tilted her head so she could look up at her mate. “But the thought of our son getting hurt scares me. I can’t help but worry.”
“I am fine, Mommy. Uncle Bert says I have the best agility he’s ever seen for someone my age.” Terrick leaped off the wire, landed on the ground, and ran to her side.
Heather wrapped her arms around her son. “That was breathtaking to watch.”
“It scared you a little, huh?” He gave her a quick kiss then sat in her lap.
“It did, but it’s okay. I’ll do better next time.” Heather ruffled his hair. “You were wonderful.”
“Thank you.” He rested his head against her collarbone.
“We need to head back to Vespia, son,” said Storm. “Your older sister and her mate will be coming a few hours after we leave to spend time with you two.”
“Oh, good. I like Skye.”
“We do too,” said Heather when Storm remained quiet. “And we’re taking Bert with us. He wishes to add some upgrades to our computer system.”
“When will you be back?” He lifted his face to look at her.
“In a few days.” She hugged him. “Why don’t you get your sister and walk us to our ship?”
Their ship landed in the cave they used as their tarmac. Fridon stepped up to them the moment they disembarked.
“Reasta has attacked another one of our posts.” He led them to the main computer room, where everything that had been going on was up and viewable. “We keep moving them and she keeps finding them.”
“How many people have we lost?” asked Heather as she studied the data.
“Five so far.”
Heather swore under her breath. She hated losing their soldiers. “And her people are still attacking?”
“Yes, we can’t stop them.”
Heather turned to Bert. “I’m sorry, but you’re sort of trapped here until we can stop her.”
“Then let me see what I can do to help you end this.”
“Thank you.” Heather turned to her mate. “Storm, each person we lose—”
“What the hell?” Skye ran his hands over the control panel, trying to get a response. Any response. All the power in the ship went out for a second before it powered back up. Now everything worked fine. He wondered what caused that.
“That was odd.” Sam ran a few tests. She looked at him. “Everything seems to be fine now.”
Skye slowed their ship down as they got close to Vespian space. Protocol needed to be followed and he knew who would be the one yelling at him if he didn’t follow it. He sent the proper message and waited for clearance. They’d figure out what happened to the ship once they landed. “I wish I knew what caused that. I’ve never had any trouble with this ship before.”
“We’ll check with Bert once we’re through.” Sam sat in the copilot seat. She pressed a few buttons and cupped her ear. “Skye, security is contacting us.”
“That’s odd.” He activated the communication system. “This is Skye Latimer.”
“What is the purpose for your visit?”
“Purpose?” He looked at Sam. Why were they asking that? “We’re returning home.”
“We have no record of your citizenship.” And they cut the line.
“What are they talking about? Sam leaned forward. “I’ll get them back.”
“Wait.” He reached out and took her hand in his. “I don’t want to end up in a jail while we try to figure out what happened. Let’s leave like we’re supposed to, and once we’re out of their radar, we’ll come back and use the ship’s cloaking device to go to Bert’s ship. He’ll have the answers for us.”
They floated in Vespian space, staring at their screen.
“Where is Bert’s ship?” asked Sam.
“I’m not sure. It should be right here.” Skye hit a few buttons. He sat back and stared at the empty space in front of them. Something crazy was going on and they needed to figure out what had happened. “We need to listen to the communiqués from Vespia and see if we can get any answers.”
“What are we looking for?” Sam glanced at him as she opened the communication system so they could listen in.
“I don’t know. Let’s focus on anything about your family.”
It didn’t take them long to figure out what part of the problem was. “My dad is mated to another woman? Who is Susan?”
“I think they’re talking about Susan Harris. She was involved with Heather’s kidnapping when she was pregnant with the twins.”
“While I was still with Ialog? The one who wanted to replace Mom? I remember her.” Sam sat back in her chair and clasped her hands together, trying to hide her fear. She turned to look at him again. “How did this happen? And where is Mom?”
“I don’t know. We need to find Bert and talk to him.”
“And how do you think you’re going to do that?” Her voice was sharp. Skye knew she was frightened.
“I’m going to go to the last place he was before he moved to Vespia.” Skye set the ship on autopilot out of Vespian space then he released his straps and went to her side. “It’s going to be okay, Sam. We will figure this out.”
“Do you think we’re in an alternate reality?”
“Or something changed the timeline to one we don’t recognize.” Skye climbed back into his seat and headed to the planet where he knew Bert had lived. Sam was very quiet during the trip. “You okay?”
“I don’t really exist, do I?”
“I wish I could answer that, but I don’t know.” Skye looked over at her to see how she was doing. He wanted to console her, but didnt know how to answer her. She wanted the truth and he would never lie to keep her happy. If he could, he’d take her in his arms, but they were in a busy part of space where using autopilot made him uneasy. He would do it if she needed him, but she sat there, staring out the screen so he stayed in his chair.
“Why weren’t we affected by this?” Sam’s voice was soft.
“This ship is shielded from temporal shifts. Bert told me he had used it to time travel. I think we were protected because of it.”
“What happens if we leave the ship?”
“Well, we could have one of two things happen. We’d be fine and our memories of the other timeline remain intact, since the change has already happened, or the moment we step out of the ship we are altered to fit in this timeline, forget everything and live out our lives without each other.”
“I don’t like that second one at all.”
“Me either.” He pointed to the planet. “We’re here.” Skye opened the communication system. “Bert, this is Skye Latimer. We need to talk.”
“You think he’s going to answer?” asked Sam after a few seconds. Bert normally responded immediately.
“May I help you?” Bert’s face filled the screen.
“Yes. Clearance green, four two six nine.”
“Okay. So you know my clearance codes. I must assume you know me?”
“This is not the time to play games, Bert. We’ve either been thrown into another dimension or the timeline has changed around us.” His comment didn’t seem to faze Bert.
“I see.” He studied them for a moment. “What do you remember?”
“For one, you had a ship that was in orbit around Vespia. Then there is my bondmate, Sam. Her parents are Storm and Heather, except we’ve learned that Storm is now mated to some woman named Susan and Sam’s mother has never been to Vespia.”
“So we’re not sure if I even exist right now,” added Sam.
“Have you two been out of that ship?” Bert didn’t comment, but Skye did see the slight brow movement that showed his interest.
“No. Not sure if that was a smart idea so we stayed put.”
“I’m going to send something over. You need to wear them before you leave your ship.”
Skye turned to the pad and watched as two necklaces appeared. He picked his up and slipped it around his neck then handed Sam hers.
“You have them on?”
“Make sure they are under your shirts so they can sink into your body. I’m sending the coordinates for you to land now and I’ll meet you there.”
Skye followed Bert’s direction, even though he knew these coordinates from the original timeline, and they landed next to his old complex. “We need to see where the shift happened so we can correct it.”
“It might not be that easy.” Bert escorted them inside. “I have been tracing little frizzons all day. Whoever did this was very sloppy. They’ve had to go back and continue to make corrections.”
“Then you remember, too.”
“Sadly, no. I must have been out of the compound when it happened. I only know because of that.” He pointed to one of many screens in the room. Red bars blinked on several. “Each one shows a major shift when the timeline changed.”
“Then we can fix it.”
“I need to know what the timeline should be like first. Bert studied Sam. “Like your girlfriend here. If her parents haven’t met then she probably doesn’t exist. At least not in this form.”
“What?” Sam rubbed her arms at the thought. Skye wrapped his arms around her to give her some moral support.
“The timeline will always try to adjust itself. That is one of the reasons technology hasn’t created something that can alter time permanently. It won’t work because of the way time flows. There are natural alterations to keep time flowing, but trying to change it never works.” He looked at Skye. “You said you had something that shows the original timeline?”
Skye nodded and held up his handheld.
“Perfect. This will let me figure out what changes were made so we can repair them to get the timeline back. You also need to go out there and find out just how far off it is.”
“Are you going to keep this?” He handed it over.
“No. You should have it with you so can compare your data to what you find. I just need a minute to get what I need from it.” Bert took Skye’s handheld and downloaded all the data from it. “This will give me a starting point to work from. I’ll keep in touch as needed, but you need to find this Heather and Storm and see what their life is like now. See what it will take to bring this timeline together again.”
“Where do we start?” asked Sam.
“Earth. That’s where Heather should be.” Skye looked at Bert. “Can you give me any data on what my life has been like? It would help me behave properly.”
“I can pull your file, but you should be able to access the memories of the Skye from this timeline as well. That way, when you’re faced with a situation you’re not sure about, or how you might have handled it in the past, the right memory should pop into your head and allow you to behave properly.”
“How is that possible?”
“There are two of you here right now. The device I gave you will keep you slightly out of sync so you won’t wreak havoc with the timeline, but still allow you to share your other self’s memories.”
“Great.” Skye didn’t want to deal with this craziness, but he’d do whatever he needed to get the proper timeline back. He turned Sam in his arms so he could look at her. “Let’s go find your mother.”
Heather Drexel stood in front of her commanding officer and took notes on what was needed for the upcoming function. She hated the tediousness of some the things her job required her to do, but she had worked too hard to get this position to complain. Dian, her aunt, had recommended she try for the position when it opened. It would look good on her record and allow her to learn about other races that she wouldn’t have been able to do as a security guard. Knowing some of the more boring things she would have to do, she had been hesitant, but Dian kept suggesting she try, so she did and landed the job. If it hadn’t been for her aunt she wouldn’t have met him and he made it all worthwhile.
She enjoyed being Admiral Barrington’s assistant, but couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from her life from time to time. At least she had something to look forward to at this function. The man that made her heart flutter every time she saw him would be there.
“You with me, Captain?” asked Bear.
“Yes, sir.” She straightened her shoulders and held her pad against her chest. “This function will run smoothly, sir. Just like all the other ones.”
Skye landed their ship in a secluded spot on Earth. Not an easy thing to do when most of the planet was populated now. The ancient cloaking technology on the ship was more advanced than anything Earth could detect, so all he needed to do was find a place to set it down. He ended up landing in the territory once known as Washington state. So much had been preserved hundreds of years ago it was about the only place he could land in seclusion.
“You realized this is very close to where Ialog had his compound.” Sam brushed a stray piece of hair from her eyes.
“This is where you grew up?” He looked around as if he could see her there as a child.
“You know you’ve never spoken about it.”
She shrugged. “What is there to say?”
“You were rapidly aged and given a computer insert to cope with it all.” He stopped her and turned her toward him. Her closed off look bothered him. How did she come to mean so much to him that he would want to wipe away the sadness he could see? Skye Latimer, the man who never got close to anyone, allowed this woman inside his armor and he was happy he did. He touched her face. “You never got a chance to be a child, grow up, get into trouble the way everyone else did. You’re younger than the twins, yet are now old enough to have your own. How does it make you feel?”
“Have you become a psychiatrist now?” She stepped around him and started walking.
“No, but I know you better than you know yourself. You have never showed any emotion when anyone spoke about it. In fact, it’s one of the times where you lock yourself away from everyone.”
“I don’t know how to talk about it. It was a year of my very short life. It seemed very normal when I was going through it. It’s everyone else telling me it wasn’t normal that bothers me.”
“Sam.” He caught up to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Look at me.”
“Please don’t patronize me.” She kept her gaze down.
“Have I ever done that?” Skye hooked a finger under her chin and lifted it until she was looking at him. “In fact, have I ever given you sad eyes when you talked about your rapid aging?”
“No. Mom is great at it though.”
“Sam, your mom didn’t have a normal childhood either.” He shifted his hold and got them walking again. “She was a ward of the government, had the weird contraption in her back. People shunned her because they didn’t know how to handle her. Then she met your father and learned she wasn’t human but part of a race that had disappeared, and had abilities she didn’t want. Then she was kidnapped by Ialog twice, and now has to battle Reasta. The one thing she wanted for all her children was to have what she didn’t, a normal life.”
“It still bothers me that she is upset over something that she couldn’t control.”
“And how would you feel if the roles were reversed?”
“When did you become such a fan of my family? I thought you didn’t trust my parents.”
Skye checked his handheld for directions then pointed. They made their way quickly through the wooded area near the ship. “I spent time with them when Heather changed the memories of everyone on Vespia. I got to see them in a way no one else did. You mom also gave me her file when we first met so I had her history.”
“They let you leave with it?”
“No, but you’ve learned how I can retain info. Between the two things I realized my mistrust was misplaced.”
“Wow. I never thought I’d hear you say that.” They found the road and headed to the closest platform for massive transit.
“I know, just like you never thought you’d hear me ask you to go through the mating ceremony. I never got an answer by the way.”
“Skye, you don’t have to do this.” She looked at him as they continued to walk. “I know you hated it when my dad sort of pushed you to do the bonding because I marked you. I don’t want you to feel obligated to do what is expected.”
“Sam, I want to do this. I admire what your parents have, the joy they share. We deserve the same.”
“Are you sure?”
“Then I would be happy to mate with you.” The smile she gave him made his heart skip a beat.
He drew her to him and captured her lips with his. His tongue begged for entrance then dived in when she gave it. Pulling her close, his hands roamed as he explored her body. Finally, he broke the kiss and rested his head against hers. “How adventurous are you?”
“Why?” She frowned as she pulled back to look at him.
“Because there is a clear cut path right there and I’d love to find us a place to celebrate.”
“Through there, really? You sure we’ll find something suitable?”
“I do. I have the schematics of this place in here.” He touched the side of his head. “There is a nice little cove just a few hundred feet ahead.”
Sam smiled. “Then let’s go.”
They made their way to the small cove he saw on his screen. Trees blocked their view until they were almost upon it.
“It’s beautiful.” Sam looked around the small cove. The grass was thick and soft and the trees covered the area so they shouldn’t be spotted easily. All of a sudden she slowed her steps and pressed her hand to her stomach.
“Nervous?” She didn’t have too many inhibitions because of her rapid aging. Why was she acting this way?
“A little.” She looked at him and gave him a smile. “I guess this means more to me than I realized.”
“But we’ve been bonded. It’s like being engaged on Earth.” He took her hand and pulled her close.
“I know.” She rested her hand on his chest. “I do know I love you.”
“And I love you. You’re all I want, Sam. I might have told you when we first met that I could walk away at any time but that’s not true anymore.”
Sam laughed. “My father gave you plenty of reasons to leave. I might have worried about that in the beginning, but not now.”
“Good, because you’re going to have a hard time getting rid of me.” He opened the seal of her blouse. They knew their Vespian uniforms would draw too much unwanted attention so they had replicated Earth clothing so they could blend in better.
Sam worked on his top as well. They helped each other undress, but before they could lie down Skye grabbed his handheld and scanned the area. “Are you looking for something?”
“Yeah, rocks, or manmade items to make us uncomfortable.” He smiled as he ran his spare hand up and down her back. “I don’t want you arching against me and later find out it was from pain instead of pleasure.”
She laughed as she took his hand and went to the center of the small glade. “Of all the things we have tried, we’ve never been intimate outside before.”
“There was that one time when you worked for Mason. Out on the balcony.” He knelt and urged her to join him.
“It was, but I meant like this.” She knelt in front of him. “With nature surrounding us. I see why my father likes his grotto so much.”
Skye wrapped his arms around her, cradling her close as he claimed her lips with his. He eased her to the ground, making sure she was comfortable on the grass. His hands glided over her skin, feeding her need. Sam wrapped her legs around his waist, silently signaling what she wanted.
Skye laughed as he entered her. “No foreplay?”
“Not this time.” She sighed as she felt him fill her. “With everything that is going on I want this, now. You have always been there for me and this mission will test us. I want to show you how much this means to me. How much you mean to me.” Tears filled her eyes as she looked up at him.
“Sam.” Skye brushed the tears away. “We will be successful.”
“Show me how much you love me, Skye. Right now, here.”
Skye started to move inside her, long, deep strokes. The kind that she loved. Her mind relaxed enough so she could enjoy their intimacy. He pressed soft kisses to her eyes, her cheeks, her throat. The last set of kisses brought more tears to her eyes. It made her think of her parents.
“I’m fine, Skye.” She touched his face as she gave him a smile. “Maybe we need to switch things up a little.” She rolled them over so she was on top.
“You do like it on top.”
She ignored him as she whipped her hair behind her and closed her eyes. She needed to block everything out. Time to only feel. Skye’s hands glided over her thighs then her hips as she started to move up and down. Her muscles tightened around him, causing a wonderful friction. Each time she slid down his length she felt the delicious sensations that made her lose control. She started moving faster, racing toward the free-fall sensation she was working for.
It was close. Sam could feel it. Each movement brought her closer to the release she craved, making her get lost in the euphoria blossoming inside her. Her body wanted more.
Skye reached up and wrapped his arms around her as he flipped them over, allowing her to give up control and get lost in her orgasm.
Sam felt it unfurl in her stomach, leaving her with the blissful moment only Skye could give her. It flowed through her, filling her body with joy and allowing the world and her fears to fall away for a moment.
As they approached the main security building Skye wondered what they would encounter. Bert had given him the files on Heather and Storm from this timeline so he would have an idea of what to expect when he interacted with them. He wasn’t really surprised to find out that Storm happened to be on Earth. In their timeline he made frequent journeys there with his mate. It seems things hadn’t changed with his marriage to Susan. According to the files, Skye was part of Heather’s staff. It should prove interesting.
Skye had located his apartment and changed into his uniform. Sam still wore her civilian clothing, but he could see she wasn’t quite as comfortable as she should be. Part of it was because they were going to meet her mother, but he wondered if part was because she was used to wearing uniforms as well and just felt a little out of sorts being the only one in casual clothes.
He took her hand and they headed into the building. Skye wanted to pull her into his arms as they rode the elevator to the floor where Heather’s office was, but knew he needed to be the man of this timeline. The only support he could give was a gentle squeeze of his hand. The smile she gave him showed she understood and appreciated what he could do.
Heather was shocked to see him. “Latimer? I thought you were sent on a mission.”
So Bert must have gotten him out of the way. “It was a quick one.”
“And who do you have with you?” Heather looked at Sam, who stood behind him. “Was she cleared?”
“I wouldn’t have brought her if she hadn’t been cleared.” Skye gestured for Sam to step up. “She’s interested in security.”
“When did you become a bleeding heart, helping strangers interested in joining security?” Heather went back to what she had been working on when they first stepped into the office.
“I know her parents.”
That seemed to mollify her. “You know we don’t have time to babysit people.”
“I won’t get underfoot.” Sam spoke quietly. He knew she did it because she sounded like her mother, but to Heather she came across shy.
Heather arched a brow at him. “Well, I’m glad you’re back. The ambassador from Vespia has arrived and we are to attend the function this evening. The President will be there as well as Admiral Barrington.”
Skye nodded. “Anything you need me to do?”
“No.” She looked at Sam for a moment before looking back at him. “I was able to take care of everything this time.”
“Who else is attending?” He watched as she picked up a tablet and handed it to him.
“The basics, dignitaries, those high on the social ladder. It’s all in there.” She sat back in her chair. “Since I thought you were going to be gone during this I assigned someone else as my second, but I’ll put you back on right now. I’m more comfortable with you at my side.”
He nodded. “Can you make sure Sam is on the list? This will give her the perfect chance to see some of the boring things we get to do.”
“Is that wise?”
“I’ll take any reprimand if she does something wrong.”
She hesitated like she wanted to argue with him, but then she shrugged. “Alright, but know I’m against it.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He wondered why she gave in. That wasn’t like Heather. If she thought something was wrong she showed her stubbornness when arguing against it. Of course this Heather hadn’t gone through the same things that made her the Heather he knew. This was going to be complicated.
Heather looked from Skye to this Sam, who looked familiar. Did she know the girl’s parents? If she did know her parents it seemed that neither wanted to use it as leverage to allow her to join them. Skye must believe in her a lot. And Latimer. Since when did he start protecting young women? She noticed how he stepped toward Sam when she questioned him. The color of the young woman’s eyes didn’t go unnoticed either. Very few had her eye color. Probably color augmentation, but why did she have to pick violet? Skye would know how much that irritated her.
All she knew was the girl better not get underfoot this evening or there would be hell to pay.
Now in his dress uniform, Skye stood in line with Heather and Sam. Heather had fabricated Sam a cadet uniform so people would know she was in training. They stood close to the wall, at attention, as the President passed them with his personal bodyguards. Once he passed by, they fell into step with those guards.
Heather was now a captain in security and Bear’s assistant. She was also in charge of assigning guards to the President, depending on the function. So in this timeline she wasn’t the woman to break the rules if she thought her way was better. She was the one to enforce them.
They slowly made their way through the line. Sam stayed at his side.
“This is very strange,” she whispered.
He grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze. She was used to being part of the party, not part of those who came to show their respect. Having her mother in the line instead of at her father’s side was the most unnerving thing for her.
They worked their way through the Vespian council. Sam remained quiet, showing proper respect, but not saying much. Susan was standing next to Storm, enjoying all the attention, but when she spotted Heather her whole demeanor changed. She stiffened and became standoffish. Her words became clipped. It was obvious she didn’t like Heather.
Heather faced Susan. “So, how’s married life?”
Heather didn’t seem to care for her either. She was trying to antagonize her.
“Why are you here, Heather?”
“Doing my job.” She looked at the President, making sure he was out of earshot before looking back at Susan. “How about you, got that treaty signed yet?”
“Captain, nice to see you again.” Storm clasped her hand and gently urged her to stand in front of him. Skye was happy he was trying to defuse the tension.
Skye also noticed Storm lingered a little longer with Heather than he should. Then Storm took his hand and smiled. “Lt. Latimer. Good to see you again. I had heard you wouldn’t be attending.”
“I was able to finish my mission early.” How did Storm know he wasn’t going to be there? As he thought about it he realized it was probably on the list of attendees, which would have been altered to add him and Sam.
“Good to hear.” He spotted Sam. “And who do we have here?” He turned his smile on Sam as he grasped her hand. If he wasn’t her father Skye would be very angry at the smile he gave her.
Skye sure didn’t want Sam to make a scene so he said the first thing that popped into his head. “She’s my fiancée.”
“Really?” Storm looked at him. Skye felt Sam turn to look at him too, but he had already said it. There was no way to take it back.
“Yes. Something our parents set up for us.” Skye knew Heather had turned toward him as well. It wasn’t something they had disgust so he knew what he said caught her off guard. “My last mission was to bring her here.”
Toki was next, she was polite to the President, Bear and Heather, but honed in on them. “Mr. Latimer, right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He offered her his hand which she ignored.
“Sorry, I don’t follow your earth custom.” She then turned to Sam. Skye found it interesting that she took one of Sam’s hands in hers. He knew she didn’t touch people because of her visions. They could overpower her at any time. “You’re new though. You don’t quite belong here, do you? And you have Vespian blood.”
Sam pulled her hand from Toki’s before she could pick up anything else from her. She touched Skye’s arm, not knowing how to answer.
“I wish to speak to you two later.” She gave them a smile then dismissed them.
Skye bowed his head before they moved on. Toki was the last person they had to pay respects to, so when they finished with her they headed to the bar. He wondered how much Heather heard. The comment about Vespian blood would raise questions.
“Fiancée? Really? You could have warned me,” grumbled Heather. She signaled the bartender.
“Sorry. I was on the spot and that was the first thing that popped into my head.” Skye fought the frown threatening to crease his brow. He knew he couldn’t react, but what was she doing? She was on duty.
“Well, you two better sell it because I’m sure it will come back up.” The bartender sat a tray with three drinks on it. Heather pulled out a scanner, and ran them over the drinks, then slipped a small chip under one of them. “And don’t ignore the Vespian religious leader. If she wants to talk to you she will make it happen.”
He nodded, happy Heather hadn’t said anything about Sam’s Vespian blood. Hopefully, she thought Toki was a little crazy and chose to ignore it. As far as their relationship, it was real so selling it wouldn’t be hard, but talking to Toki might not be a smart idea. She knew things she shouldn’t and that could get them in trouble.
Heather turned on her heel and headed back toward the President. She carried the tray above her head so she wouldn’t spill anything as she weaved her way through the crowd. Once she was at the side of the President she lowered the tray and held it out.
“Captain, you don’t have to play waitress for me.” He nodded at her as he picked up one of the drinks.
“Yes, sir. I know, sir, but I also know you feel more comfortable when I do this for you.” She turned the tray to Bear, who took the second drink then she offered the third one with the chip beneath it to Storm, who had been standing with the President, talking.
Heather then stepped back to a guard position and watched the crowd.
As the three men moved so did they. Skye stayed behind Heather and did what was expected. Sam did the same thing. No one could approach the three men without one of them blocking their way and making sure they were cleared.
“Admiral, every time we’re together at a function like this I always ask for Heather to be part of my security, yet you always say no.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. President, but she worked hard to become my second. I don’t think I can find a better person for that position.” Bear smiled. “If she were to want to leave I’d have to fight you for her.”
The President turned to Heather. “Remember, Captain, my door is always open.”
“Thank you, Mr. President.”
Skye watched the interplay and wondered why Heather had taken the position of Bear’s second. It was a lot of administration work and he knew she hated that. It didn’t quite make sense to him.
Storm had been quiet and sipped at the drink he held. While the President and Bear were verbally fighting over Heather, he discreetly pulled the chip from under the glass and slipped it inside his outfit.
The lighting changed, alerting them it was time for the meal. Storm went to the dais where Susan and his family waited.
They took their places against the wall while the rest of the dignitaries took their seats.
There was something wrong with Skye. Heather was sure of it. He had always had her back, but since he showed up with that young woman he wasn’t acting like himself. Could she still trust him?
Everything could be jeopardized if she couldn’t.
She tried to maintain her training as she kept an eye on the guests and waited for time to go by.
He was here. So close yet untouchable. Her heart pounded in her chest at the thought of being with him again.
She wasn’t one to get involved with married men. It just sort of happened because of her favorite comb. One night at one of these functions she lost it. Storm had found it and brought it to her apartment. One thing led to another and she found herself in bed with the man having the best orgasm of her life. Heather hadn’t planned on being with him again, but when he came back to Earth he sought her out. He’d said she was all he could think about and he wanted more.
Heather sighed. She wanted the night to end so they could be together. He was a wonderful lover, always making sure she was satisfied, something she hadn’t experienced with other men. She couldn’t give him up now even if she wanted to. Her need was like an addiction.
Storm looked up at her and gave her a bone melting smile and she felt it to her toes. It didn’t matter who he was married to, she wanted to be with him. She did pause. As much as she hated Susan, was she with Storm to get back at her? She rubbed her hands on her uniform. Heather knew better.
She was pretty sure she wouldn’t have gotten involved with the ambassador if he had married any other woman, but there was so much animosity there, and all from Susan. She wasn’t worried about hurting the woman’s feelings. It wasn’t a real wedding anyway. Susan was only married to Storm to get a treaty signed. The moment she completed her task she would be sent back to Earth.
Storm didn’t even really know the woman. She lived in a small apartment the Vespian Council had given her, while Storm lived in his own place when he was on Vespia. Even here at the embassy he had his own room. Heather had never been in it, but being in security gave her access to the floor plans.
The meal ended and the guests started moving around. Heather followed the President and Bear. Skye fell into step with her. Very soon she’d know if Skye was still going to help out.
Skye wanted to get his hands on the chip Heather had given Storm. It would give him more information to work with. He noticed the smoldering looks Storm gave her while they were guarding the dining area. He also saw the hateful looks Susan kept shooting her.
In their timeline Susan had been up for the position to be with Storm, but Heather won out because she fit all the criteria. So how did this happen? Did Ialog have a hand in putting Susan with Storm? If so, why didn’t he take Heather the way he wanted? Or did he already have what he needed from her? Then again, was all this Susan’s doing?
He needed to see this Heather’s file too.
Skye focused on their job when he realized the President was leaving. As Storm said his goodbyes he handed Skye the glass he held in his hand. The chip was on the bottom once again. He discretely pulled it off the bottom and palmed it. Now he needed to know if he was supposed to give this back to Heather or just destroy it. Not knowing what his other self did had him second guessing.
Once the President left, most of the guards were relieved, but as long as Bear stayed so did Heather and Skye. When he got a moment he slipped the chip into his handheld and viewed the data. It was directions to an apartment. An apartment? Then it dawned on him.
Bert said the timeline would try to repair itself.
Sam gave him a questioning look when he smiled.
“It looks like your parents are lovers,” he whispered next to her ear.
Sam smiled at that one. She noticed Toki coming at them. “Looks like it’s time to have the talk with my aunt.”
He looked up and saw her walking towards them. How bad could it be? “I’m ready.”
“You’ve never dealt with my aunt on a one on one, have you?”
“Be prepared. You’ll find she has insights most don’t.” Sam gave Toki the proper bow.
“You know our ways.” Toki gestured for them to follow her.
Skye looked at Heather, who gave him a slight nod, giving her permission to speak to Toki. He pressed his hand against the small of Sam’s back, urging her to move.
“We don’t teach our ways to outsiders.” She looked at Sam.
“I know.” Sam smiled.
“Then you are saying you are Vespian.” They had made their way outside to the gardens where they could have a little more privacy.
“As are my parents.”
“Yet as religious leader I know the families, but I don’t know you.”
“But you do.” Sam laid a hand on her arm. “Don’t you.”
She looked at Sam and nodded. “Let me have your hand, child.”
“Let’s sit.” Sam gestured for them to sit on a bench surrounded by bushes. It would keep them away from prying eyes. She turned to her aunt and offered her hand.
Taking her hand, Toki’s eyes rolled into the back of her head.
“On it.” He grabbed Toki before she could slump to the ground. “Does everyone in this family have visions?”
“The visions are part of the job for her. Mom has them naturally.” She smiled at her aunt as she came back around.
“You don’t belong here.”
“That’s not quite true, Toki. This,” and she gestured to their surroundings. “Is all wrong, but you know that.”
“I saw my brother when I touched you.”
“And the Captain is in there as well.” She looked at Sam. “In fact you have her eyes with the Vespian ring.”
Sam just brightened her smile.
“And you are here to fix what went wrong?”
“That is our goal, Aunt Toki.”
“Come, let us walk some more.” She headed deeper into the garden. “I am fortunate that the guards cannot record me. My visions and conversations fall under the protection of my position. Since we came to Earth I have had visions. Ones that show a different life for so many of us. I see a man with brown hair and gold eyes with a violet ring.”
“That would be Kuarto.” Sam hesitated.
“He means something to me, doesn’t he?”
“He is your mate.”
“My mate? But I am not allowed to mate.”
“Where we’re from you met your mate just before you became religious leader and changed the laws so some of the more archaic rules could be abolished.”
She knew he felt she shouldn’t be giving her this information. “We need the help, Skye. I want my parents back.”
“I know, but I don’t want to make whoever did this aware we know what has happened and are trying to fix it,” Skye said under his breath.
“You think someone that close to us did this?”
“I think it was done by the woman who is in the wrong place right now, but she couldn’t have done it by herself and that is what is causing me to be cautious,” said Skye. “You might not remember our enemies, but they are dangerous.”
“We also know who we can trust. If we have their help our chances of being successful goes up.” She touched Toki’s arm again. “What have you seen?”
“Shadows of things that do not always make sense. My brother carrying a small boy. He and the Captain dancing. A wedding portrait of her that is beautiful, and erotic. A man with blonde hair and a woman with snake eyes.” She paused for a moment. “And my father.”
“Toki, we need help. We need to know what has happened since the council decided to sign the treaty. How Susan ended up being the one making sure the treaty goes through.”
“I also need to see your brother’s files as well as the Captain’s,” added Skye.
Toki smiled. “Let me see what I can do.”
Heather wondered why Vespia’s religious leader had singled out Skye and Sam. Sam was new, but Toki knew Skye. The woman had spoken to him on numerous occasions. Did the woman really believe this Sam was Vespian?
“You seem deep in thought.”
The deep timbre of his voice filled her, making her wish they were alone instead of standing in the middle of the ballroom as the Admiral said his goodbyes to the Vespian council and the remaining dignitaries.
“Curious as to why your religious leader is interested in two of my people.” She looked up into his golden eyes and felt her heart start to flutter.
“We have learned not to question our religious leader.” He glanced outside where his sister had taken off with Skye and Sam. “There is always a purpose and it is always for the good of Vespia.”
She wished she could have such faith. “Did the President push about the treaty?”
“Of course, and his anger was directed at Susan as usual. He spoke to Anseri at length about it and tracked Susan down after that.”
“I’m surprised she isn’t clinging to your side. She doesn’t like me talking to you.”
“Anseri insisted she retire.” He became quiet when the Admiral stepped up to talk to Heather.
“Captain, you are to stay and make sure our remaining guests behave themselves.”
Heather nodded. She expected that. Vespians exuded a pheromone that affected humans. Most wore a chip to keep them calm, the rest had shots to allow them to enjoy the evening. It either stopped the people from throwing themselves at one of the Vespians or starting a fight, but the meds and devices were known to wear off or break down as the evening went on. That was when security worked the hardest.
She was the only one immune, although she wasn’t sure about that. All she wanted to do was find a quiet corner and throw herself at Storm. Instead she had to play babysitter to a bunch of dignitaries.
“So you will be staying?” asked Storm.
“Yes. Admiral’s orders.”
Storm gave her that smile that turned her insides to jelly.
Skye was grateful for Toki’s help. She was able to get him the files he needed within minutes, which gave him the chance to compare Heather and Storm’s files to the ones he had in his mind. He found where the change happened. He didn’t know why yet, but at least he had something to start with. The next thing he needed to do was confront Heather and he really wasn’t looking forward to that. How was he going to convince her of what had happened when she had no memory of the change?
A lot of the guests had left, including the Admiral. Thank goodness for Toki’s position or they’d be in the brig about now for abandoning their posts. Heather was watching, but this time Storm stood beside her. They spoke quietly as she kept an eye on the crowd. If someone stepped out of line she signaled one of the guards still on duty that was closest to take care of the problem.
She kept looking at him, but remained quiet. What was she expecting? Did she want him to go out amongst the crowd like the rest? It would give her time alone with Storm, which was something he was pretty sure she wanted because their need practically rolled off them in waves.
But it wouldn’t give them the privacy. Oh. How dumb could he be? His name was on that chip that Storm gave him. He helped secure the room they hoped to get to. Skye bet his counterpart helped them keep their relationship private. Time to find out. “Captain, you haven’t had a break yet. I can cover for you.”
A flash of shock filled her face before she schooled her features and smiled. Was that out of character for him, or had she started to suspect that he wasn’t acting like his old self?
A memory from this timeline popped into his head, showing Heather responding to this scenario the same way time after time. It shocked the hell out of him. Having a memory that wasn’t his own was little disconcerting, but now he had what he needed so he wasn’t going to complain.
“You say that every time. The Admiral has a standing order to make sure you take a break. You haven’t had anything to eat since we left the office earlier.” He repeated the same words he had in the past.
Heather played along a little longer before she gave in. She headed toward the gardens. Storm stood beside Skye for a few minutes longer then mumbled something about checking on security and took off. Sam slipped her hand in his.
“What have you figured out so far?”
“The timeline changed back when Heather first arrived. Dian was there to claim her. She raised Heather, sent her to the academy. That change might be what caused all of this.”
They had used the alcove before. Fear and excitement filled Heather as they came up on it. The chance of getting caught was high. This was a busy corridor and Susan suspected something was going on so they needed to be careful.
Storm opened the door, checked their surroundings once more before pulling her in behind him. He sealed the door and wrapped his arms around her. His lips claimed hers, his tongue brushing against the seam of her lips, begging for entrance. The moment she gave it, he deepened the kiss, his tongue searched for hers, drawing it into the dance that took their breath away. They worked on the seals of each other’s clothes, exposing the skin they needed to touch.
Once the barriers were removed Storm lifted her, centered himself and drove into her. He broke the kiss and watched as she reacted to him filling her. She cried out at the exquisite invasion. There was something about him that made her throw caution out the window. She was on duty, for God’s sake. Then he started to move inside her and her thoughts shattered. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was the way he made her feel. Each stroke brought her closer and closer to her release.
Heather clung to Storm as they raced toward their climaxes. Her muscles clamped down on him, meeting him thrust for thrust, causing him to groan in pleasure. He shifted his pace and drew a moan from her.
“So close,” she whispered. Then it happened. Her climaxed filled her, starting at her core and racing through her blood, sending her to a place where her euphoria controlled her.
“So beautiful.” Storm brushed his fingers along her jaw. “I wish we had more time.”
“We have the apartment.”
“And I can’t wait to take my time with you.” He gave her that wonderful bone melting smile.
“You keep smiling like that and we’ll never get out of here.”
“Is that a bad thing?” He started to nibble on her throat.
“I have to get back to work. You know that.” She practically sighed her words. Heather didn’t want to leave any more than he did, but they had to.
Storm helped her get dressed. “Once I make sure the corridor is clear I’ll let you out. I’ll follow as soon as I’m sure it is safe.”
Skye saw an angry looking Susan as she searched the room. This would be a good chance to see if she was the one who changed the timeline. She did gain the most and her anger might make her say something she shouldn’t.
“Looking for something, Susan?”
“My husband.” She jammed her hands on her hips. “He’s with that woman, isn’t he?”
“He said something about checking in with security.” Skye wasn’t about to have that anger directed at him.
“And your captain?”
“I sent her on a break. She headed out into the garden.”
“Right. She’s with my husband. I know it.”
“Susan, Heather would never jeopardize her position by doing what you’re insinuating. What do you have against her?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” She hesitated. “I can’t seem to keep them apart.”
“Why does it bother you, anyway? You are only married to the ambassador because of the treaty. Once you have that completed you will come back to Earth.”
“Who?” So Susan was aware of the original timeline. The only way she could possibly know that would be if she was the one who caused it. The question was how.
“You’re not making any sense, Susan. Who didn’t have to come back? You think the Vespians will want to keep you? They aren’t known for accepting strangers into their ranks. What have you done to make them want to allow you to stay after the treaty is done?”
She glared at him.
Storm came back into the ball room and spotted Susan talking to him. He stepped up to her side and grabbed her arm. “I thought the council told you to retire.”
“Well, I couldn’t sleep.” She glared up at him.
“You know Anseri doesn’t like it when you go against her requests. Hasn’t she already threatened to replace you?”
Susan’s color faded. Skye could tell she didn’t like the threat. Heather came in from the garden. The moment Susan saw her she started all over again. “You need to stay away from him.”
Heather sighed. “Susan, I’m just doing my job and right now that is make sure all of your guests leave the embassy. How about you? You got that treaty signed yet?”
“I hate you!” She stomped away from them and toward her room.
“Well, that was fun,” Sam commented.
“She’s always that way.” Heather brushed a hand down her uniform. “I still don’t understand how she hasn’t gotten that treaty signed yet. It’s been four years.”
Skye looked at Sam. Heather had the treaty signed in less than a year.
The rest of the evening went relatively smoothly. There were a few people they had to escort out because their chip or shot wore out, but overall it was a quiet night. Heather released the last of the guards when the last guest left.
“You’re relieved as well, Latimer.”
He nodded. “You coming?”
“Yes.” Heather looked at Storm. “Thank you, Ambassador.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
She headed out with Skye and Sam. Heather cast one last look over her shoulder before they stepped out into the warm night. “Good night, Latimer. We’ll go over the data from the function tomorrow instead of tonight.”
“See you tomorrow then.” Skye watched her head off. She was probably on her way to the apartment. He wondered how she would feel when they showed up later.