Chameleon

(Novella)

Excerpt - Chapter 2

Four hours lay between Xane and the thirteen-hour flight to his next destination. Time enough to make contact with the courier and hand over the package. More than enough time to drive himself crazy with worry over Kelly, his youngest sister.

 

Entering the designated meeting place, he reminded himself that Kelly was alive. Busted up, shot twice and suffering from a heavy bout of amnesia her prognosis for physical recovery was good. The other two females, Nikita and Thulisile, kidnapped with her, hadn’t been as lucky and had lost their lives in an abandoned hospital of horrors.

 

Squeezing himself into a booth, Xane dumped his duffel bag next to him and hit the call-back function on his phone. After a moment’s delay, the call connected and rolled out a series of long trills. Seven, eight, on the ninth a sleepy voice picked up.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Kelly?”

 

“No. It’s Cynthia.” After a bit of rustling around the Centauri healer came back on the line, some of the sleep cleared from her voice. “Alexander?”

 

“Yeah, it’s me.”

 

“Is something wrong?”

 

“You tell me,” he snapped.

 

Shit. He hadn’t meant to bite her head off. Cynthia had been nothing but helpful, texting him regular updates as well as sending photos of Kelly as proof of life.

 

Putting his boot on the throat of his cruddy mood, Xane tried again. “Apologies. It’s been a long day.”

 

A waiter glided over with a menu, scuttling away like a stabbed rat when Xane gave him fuck-off eyes.

 

“I’m sorry if I alarmed you.” The healer soothed in a quiet voice. “I wanted to let you know that we’re moving Kelly in the morning.”

 

Fuck alarm, that triggered a full-on internal riot, one that jacked him upright in his seating. “What’s happened?”

 

“Everything’s fine,” Cynthia quickly assured. “Strahnos is consolidating and moving all females and younglings to Eros’ compound in the Drakensberg. I assure you that Kelly is strong enough to make the trip. My aids and I will be with her every step of the way.”

 

Xane leant back in his chair, pulled his beanie off and dropped it on the table. Scrubbing his fingers through close-cropped hair, he palmed his face and exhaled a sigh of relief. “Thanks, doc. Should be wheels down around seventeen hundred hours. Have you told her I’m coming?”

 

The brief pause answered his question before Cynthia did. “We thought it best to wait until we have her settled at the compound.”

 

“No worries. See you tomorrow,” Xane said and hung up.

 

******

 

Across the way from the bistro, hidden by a display of stacked books, discomfort nibbled at Phoebe as she watched Xane end his call. He’d always come across as entirely in command of everything around him. An honest-to-gods pillar of strength coated in smooth-talking Aussie charm. Never shaken or stirred. Completely unruffled. Captain Teflon. It was what she liked most about him. No muss, no fuss.

 

The expression holding Xane's face hostage together with the inward bow of his shoulders painted a picture that was far too real. Real enough to rattle her guards, gossiping of a three-dimensional being with emotions, concerns and a life that it all tied into rather than the hot-as-Hades fuck-toy she preferred that he remain in her mind.

 

Anonymous sex. That’s what she intended this to be. No real names. The only talk, dirty. Bodies wet and aroused, straining and crashing into each other. Multiple orgasms and the heady scent and feel of him. Leaving on wobbly legs. No looking back. No regrets.

 

A bump to Phoebe’s shoulder as someone squeezed by into the alcoved shop knocked the book from her hands. Phoebe lurched forward to grab it, toppling the stack of reading material. Books hit an arrangement of vases holding pens, shoving those into decorative tins. The whole affair crashed to the wide ribbon of tiles. Shattering glass and bouncing metal assaulted her ears, drawing the attention of everyone within fifty metres - including Xane.

 

Phoebe froze as their eyes met across the walkway. Frosty blue lost their hard edge, warming with dry amusement. Her gaze dropped a fraction to Xane's mouth, and sure as bunnies hop, he was smiling at her in that deliciously, lopsided way of his.

© 2017 by Sharonlee Holder

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