WindVerse, Book Six. Amazeen warrioress Lieutenant Colonel Shanee Iphito has been awarded the coveted rank of Primary Riezell Guardian. She accordingly has been sent by the New Coalition of Planets to Theristes, one of the homeworlds of the infamous Reapers. She is in search of Ailyn Harmattan, the duke of Kentsington, the rightful heir to the Harmattan fortune, who has been missing since the War began. For almost twenty years Ailyn had been held captive on Riezell-Nine, a maximum-security medical facility where atrocious experiments were carried out upon the prisoners. Now a Reaper-a shape-shifting vampire who must consume blood in order to survive-Ailyn has hidden himself away on Theristes, unwilling to return to his home, unable to face his family and the obligations he knows are his. In the steamy jungles of Theristes, Shanee will find the love she has unknowingly sought all her life and Ailyn will find the true mate of his heart. Together they must combine their strengths and knowledge to help defeat an evil greater than the blossoming love that has grown between them. Come back to the world of the Reapers where nothing is ever what it seems.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Hunger's Harmattan by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
"Welcome, Captain Bartlett," Tariq said, coming toward them with his hand out. As he grasped the captain's forearm in a strong grip, his eyes slid playfully to Shanee. "And a most gracious welcome to you, Lieutenant Colonel Iphito."
As soon as his hand gripped her arm, Shanee could feel the strength of power that ran through this man. He was intensely sensual with his handsome features and all-seeing eyes, but it was the undercurrent of authority that passed from his body to hers. She knew this man would make a formidable opponent.
"There is no conflict here, Colonel," Tariq said. "You and I will become good friends."
Shanee blinked. "You believe so?" she asked, casting a quick look to the stunning woman at the Prime Reaper's side.
"I know so," he said. "Your fate lies here on Theristes." He looked down at his wife. "Doesn't it, beloved?"
Bahiya nodded. "It does." She stepped forward and stunned Shanee by embracing her as a sister or mother would. "Welcome, sister."
Shanee had never been hugged by anyone except in a moment of careless passion. Her own ken did not behave in such a fashion and it embarrassed her for a moment before she realized that the friendship offered by Bahiya and her mate was genuine and extended without expectation of anything but its return in kind.
"You have come to speak to Ailyn," Tariq said.
Once more Shanee was taken aback. She hadn't known word had been sent to Theristes in preparation for her arrival.
"Reapers know these things, Shanee," Tariq declared then lifted an eyebrow. "May I call you by your given name?"
"Aye," Shanee said, lost in the golden sparkles flashing in his kind eyes.
"I am Tariq and this is Bahiya, as you know, and these are our people."
Shanee nodded to the beautiful crowd who was gathered around them.
"So he is here?" she asked to hide her embarrassment for her recalcitrant glance had dipped to Tariq's very well-endowed package.
"He is and he knows you have come to see him. His abode is beyond Mount Korak and the way is perilous after nightfall. I suggest you stay here for the remainder of the day, meet our people and eat with us. Tomorrow I will have someone lead you to Ailyn."
She turned to the yeoman who had accompanied her from the ship. "Tell the captain to let General Strom know Lieutenant Harmattan is here and that I will be speaking to him tomorrow."
"Aye, aye, Ma'am," the yeoman said. He turned to head back to the ship.
"You will be spending time with us, Shanee?" Tariq asked. "A month of rest?"
"Aye," she said, staring into his eyes.
"You will call to that man and tell him to bid the captain return in one month's time. Tell him you will send a report on Ailyn then."
Shanee found herself nodding, agreeing with Tariq, intrigued by the golden glints in his amber eyes, and did as he said. His voice was soothing, mellow, sensual, and what he said made perfect sense. There was no disagreeing with his words. It would only be later as she lay upon the soft mattress in his and Bahiya's hut that she would realize he had been using subliminals on her as easily as taking a breath. By then it was too late for the LRC had left and she realized with shock that she was stranded on Theristes without a vid-com link.
"How did you do that?" she snapped at Tariq. "You made me forget about all contact with my superiors and..."
"All Reapers know how to do these things, Shanee," he told her that next morning.
Be careful when you meet Ailyn Harmattan then, she warned herself as she trekked through the jungle behind her guide, a very shy and gangly youth named Barat. Out of consideration for her, Tariq had bid the young man to clothe himself and it was evident with every step he took that Barat was chafing under the fabric he was unaccustomed to wearing. He was carrying her compact travel bag and for that she was very grateful.
The jungle was lush and green and smelled--not of fecund earth--but of exotic flowers and fresh spring waters. Extraordinary birds of every hue under the rainbow flitted through the overhanging branches of the tallest trees Shanee had ever seen. Unusual animals swung from vine to vine or leapt from branch to branch, keeping pace with the two humans walking through this striking domain. Strange sounds wafted through the air--some comical, some unsettling.
"How much farther?" she asked.
"Less than one hour," Barat replied.
They were skirting a meandering stream into which a fan-shaped waterfall cascaded. Large white flowers grew in lush abundance on the banks of the stream and lent a heavenly scent to the already sweet, intoxicating air. Thick grass covered the banks and with the rippling of the stream over sparkling boulders in the water, it was a serene place, an astonishing little piece of heaven set down in the midst of the jungle.
Shanee was not used to the intense heat and humidity. No wonder the people of Theristes preferred to go "sky clad" as Bahiya called it. Already perspiring heavily in this tropical climate, she armed the sweat from her forehead and stopped long enough to take out her bottle of water. Tipping it up, she drank deeply.
"I will take it from here, Barat."
It was not the softness of the voice speaking but the sultry quality of it that washed through Shanee as though the water she was consuming were iced and not tepid. She slowly lowered the bottle and turned her head to take in the speaker.
Rory Quinn had not been Shanee's first man nor had he been her last when their brief interlude ended. She had lain with enough males, enjoyed her romps with them, but not even Quinn had ever made her womb clench and her juices flow as did the man who had suddenly appeared there in the jungle.
Handsome did not adequately describe the tall, muscular male who wore only an abbreviated breechclout over his hips. His long legs--like the rest of his spectacular body--were deeply tanned and so perfectly formed his creation had to be at the hands of the goddess Herself. Gleaming black hair in the form of a thick braid lay over his shoulder but tendrils had escaped the careless plaiting to curl gently around his face. Eyes the color of topaz gems were framed behind long, sooty eyelashes and sexily arched thick brows. His lips were full, perfectly shaped, and his nose was in perfect proportion and size for his face. With high cheekbones, a deep cleft in his chin and--by the goddess!--dimples when he smiled, he was a living, breathing god himself come to earth.
Shanee became aware of Barat hurrying back the way they'd come, stripping off his offending clothing as he walked. "T-thank you, Barat," she managed to say, her gaze never leaving the man in front of her.
Reluctantly her attention went from his faultless form to the tall spear he carried as though it were a natural extension of his powerful physique. She was reminded of tales of ancient legendary warriors from such places as an �igipt and an Ghr�ig
"Ailyn Harmattan?" she asked, picking up her travel bag.
"Aye. Come, little Amazeen," he said, and held out his hand.
Almost as though in a trance, she dropped the water bottle and moved toward him. "You know who I am?" she asked as she slipped her hand in his. The moment her flesh touched his, she knew she was lost.
"I have been reading your thoughts since you crossed the stream near the Rain Tree," he replied. "Is your bag too heavy for you to carry? If so, I will carry it for you."
"No," she mumbled. "I'm good."
He glanced down at her. "Not always I would imagine."