Shalene Courers leads freedom fighters against the Demrons to retrieve a crystal that is the secret to Earth's defense. When she captures the mysterious Mecah--tall, blond and very sexy--desires flame and the interrogation soon melts under his scorching passion.
Mecah's possession of Shalene is more than lust--she's the kismet mate he's sought all his life, only she doesn't believe him. Shalene and Mecah join forces to turn the tide of war, but without winning the heart and soul of his fated mate, he stands to lose his greatest battle.
Publisher's Note: Previously released in the Fated Mates anthology.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Love Me Tomorrow by Sally Painter
"On my mark, wait...steady," Shalene Courers spoke into the mic and flipped the safety switch on her laser pistol from stun to kill. Her heart slammed against her chest, a surge of energy pumping to her head. She took short and fast gulps of air, trying to still the anxiety. Casting a quick glance back at her troops, she gave them a brief nod. They were few, but they were strong. They could do this. She felt their exhaustion, the same weariness settling in her arms and legs.
They'd been out on recon for three days with little sleep and too damn little food. The moon disappeared behind a bank of clouds. Now was the time to move. Confidence in her soldiers coursed through her, steeling her for the confrontation they faced with the enemy. Not just any enemy, but the evil ones that had invaded Earth and taken possession of all she had known.
Anger entwined with hatred and welded into a resolve so deep that sacrificing her own life was no longer a question. It was a given they would all die. It was simply a matter of choosing when and how. And they had made that choice three days ago when they'd decided ambush was their best tactic. Their ultimate final strike.
"Commander?" Abber, the scrappy teenager, spoke behind her. She trained her stare on him, noting the way his six-foot-five frame was hunched over, giving him the appearance of a man half his height. His eyes were hard and cold, like the rest of them.
They had all suffered the loss of their homes and loved ones. Tonight was more than just fighting an enemy, it was revenge in its most base form. Humankind had been reduced to little more than animals struggling to survive a hostile world with renegade bands like hers. They'd hidden in the tunnels carved out all over their planet. It was in the protective secret catacombs that they'd trained and waited for the right moment to extract a little payback.
Defeat of their enemy was a lost dream. The early conviction had been lost when they'd realized so few humans had survived the Rep War. It had been a long and horrendous battle encompassing nearly five years of struggling to defeat the enemy. Her troops had moved underground into ancient secret tunnels and after the last ten years of desperation to survive, had finally resurfaced a year ago to begin the battle anew. Fifteen years of war had changed them all forever. She'd only been twenty when the Demrons attacked Earth. It felt like a hundred years ago.
"Are you all right, Commander?" he asked.
She looked at him. They had survived! Babies had matured and become soldiers. She nodded at the youth. They had grown strong, training in every known artform of physical prowess and mental development. Latent powers had begun to emerge within the underground cities, powers that could very well defeat the enemy, if only the humans were greater in numbers.
She dropped her stare. But they weren't. There were no more than an estimated million people who had survived the Final Coup. Communications were broken. The series of underground tunnels that ran across the planet interconnected in places and in others, nature had sealed them off with earthquakes or floods. The original builders of the underground network were unknown, but it was clear to Shalene that their existence only proved this invasion was not the first time Earth had been ravaged by these putrid vile abominations. The human race had survived then and she was determined to do whatever she could to see it had a fighting chance to survive the current harvesting.
"The moon's behind the clouds, Commander," Abber whispered. "We need to move--now!"
His harsh rasp drew her from the reverie.
"Remember what we've learned these past years. Don't lose focus. Don't let their appearance or size distract you. They're nothing more than overgrown lizards. Don't forget that. They've stolen our world! They have robbed us of everything!"
The men and women who were hunched down in the storm drain all mumbled their convictions.
"We've never forgotten and tonight we're going to do something about it!" Shalene nodded.
"Yea!" echoed the restrained chorus.
"We're going to get even! And kick some lizard ass!"
With that she nodded to her team.
"One!" her voice rasped into the head mic she wore beneath her helmet. "Two!" With laser pistol aimed in front of her, both hands supporting the powerful weapon, she stretched it in front of her. "Three!" She stepped from the protection of the large drain and around the boulders, jutting out of the mountainside.
Braced and ready to blast the evil enemy off her planet, her troops rushed into the clearing behind her and quickly hunkered down, waiting and listening. The enemy was cunning and could camouflage itself to resemble anything--a tree, a boulder, even the very sand beneath their feet--but they had trained for this moment. They had honed their ESP and no longer required technological devices for heat sensory detection or, as in the case of their enemies, cold sensory. Their sense of smell had grown with these new powers and surprisingly the reptiles had a distinct scent that overpowered all others. Perhaps it was nature's way of balancing powers.
She squinted and powered up the energy inside herself as she reined it and channeled the electric pulses coursing through her into a clear focus. The brilliant pinpoint of light widened, momentarily blinding her, then popped free, leaving her with night vision. There, that was better.
The terrain was typical earth these days. Dusty and dry with charred stalks of what used to be leafy vibrant trees. Searing fury threatened to collapse her focus, but she pushed it back. Not now. Now was the time for seeing.
She scoped the hillside, quickly dropping her gaze to the valley below. There! A bright orange, almost red silhouette undulated.
"Human," she whispered.
"How?" Abber asked and squatted beside her.
"Wait," she said, noting the sudden emergence behind the figure. "Lizards. He must be a prisoner."
"I dunno, Commander, look closer," Abber whispered.
She did and quickly saw the laser jet slung over his shoulder.
"A damn traitor!" she spat the bitter word from her mouth. "Okay," she turned to her troops. "Listen up. There's a human traitor among them. I want him captured. Unharmed. Understand?"
"Aye, Commander," the troops mumbled.
"What you going to do with him?" came a low whisper.
"I have a few questions to ask him," she said, pushing a stray dark curl from her face.
"You shouldn't enjoy your job so much," Abber teased in a rasping voice.
"It's our lives, not just a job, Abber boy. We're fighting for our very existence and that bastard is doing everything he can to see we don't have a future."
"Aye, Commander, so let's go kill some reptiles, 'cause suddenly I feel like a real caveman."