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Authors: Kate Douglas

Dream Unchained

BOOK: Dream Unchained
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Paranormal Romance by Kate Douglas
Demonfire
“Crystal Dreams” in
Nocturnal
Hellfire
Starfire
Crystalfire
 
Erotic Romance by Kate Douglas
 
Wolf Tales
“Chanku Rising” in
Sexy Beast
Wolf Tales II
“Camille's Dawn” in
Wild Nights
Wolf Tales III
“Chanku Fallen” in
Sexy Beast II
Wolf Tales IV
“Chanku Journey” in
Sexy Beast III
Wolf Tales V
“Chanku Destiny” in
Sexy Beast IV
Wolf Tales VI
“Chanku Wild” in
Sexy Beast V
Wolf Tales VII
“Chanku Honor” in
Sexy Beast VI
Wolf Tales VIII
“Chanku Challenge” in
Sexy Beast VII
Wolf Tales 9
“Chanku Spirit” in
Sexy Beast VIII
Wolf Tales 10
Wolf Tales 11
Wolf Tales 12
“Dream Catcher” in
Nightshift
Dream Bound
 
 
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
DREAM UNCHAINED
Kate Douglas
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
www.kensingtonbooks.com
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
This book is dedicated with great appreciation to my agent, Jessica Faust, for her amazing ability not only to see the potential in my totally off-the-wall ideas, but then to convince an editor that I can make it work. Really. She does that!
 
And to my editor, Audrey LaFehr, who gives me the freedom to take those ideas into uncharted territory. I've never once been told, “No, you can't do that.” As a writer, knowing my editor and publisher are behind me no matter how far out I manage to go on that proverbial limb is beyond price.
Acknowledgments
My thanks and appreciation to Martin Biro, my editor's intrepid assistant, who magically makes things work. I really don't want to know the details, because then I'd be wallowing in guilt for all the trouble I cause the poor man, but, Martin, thank you. I remember when Audrey hired you—she said you were going to do a terrific job. She was right.
 
Kensington's production department and art department, the publicists and IT people, marketing and sales—everyone has a role to play from the time a proposal is accepted to the final moment where I'm holding the printed book in my hands. Thank you all. You've given me an opportunity unlike anything I ever imagined, and I'm thoroughly enjoying every minute.
 
As always, my sincere thanks to my talented beta readers. Camille Anthony, Nicole Passante, Rhonda Wilson, Jan Takane, Rose Toubbeh, and Lynne Thomas do their best to keep me from falling flat on my face. Any stumbles are entirely mine, but these ladies are terrific, a small but important part of the village that brings my stories to life.
1
I
t wasn't until a tangerine slice of sunlight flashed above the sharp edge of the plateau that Mac Dugan realized he'd spent almost the whole damned night on the deck outside his bedroom.
Sitting in a hard, wooden Adirondack chair, freezing his ass off while the woman he loved and his best friend were curled up together in the big bed in the room behind him.
He imagined the two of them—snuggled warm and cozy in a tangle of twisted bedding—and didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the visual. Dink, all long, well-formed male with a sexy mat of dark blond hair across his chest, washboard abs, and a strong, sharply masculine face darkened with morning stubble.
And Zianne? Fluffy little gray squirrel.
Last time he looked, she'd had her tail curled around the top of Dink's head and one tiny paw resting on his ear.
It wasn't supposed to end like this.
He took a deep breath, pushed back his fear and the sharp burn of frustrated tears, and focused on what they'd shared last night. Mac, Zianne, and Dink, together again as they'd been so long ago. Zianne had held on to her human shape long enough for them to make love—the three of them connecting in a way they'd not been able to do since her abrupt disappearance so many years ago.
Twenty fucking years. Twenty years wondering if she still lived. Worrying whether or not all of his creative energies, every spare penny he'd been able to raise, and the combined technological advances of the entire research and development team at Beyond Global Ventures would be enough to rescue Zianne and the few surviving members of her people from slavery.
Twenty years, sixty million dollars, and a lifetime of focusing on an impossible rescue would all come down to the next thirty-six hours or so. Fewer than two days for Zianne to live or die, for the few remnants of the Nyrian people to survive.
Or not.
They were so damned close to success, even as the entire project balanced on a razor's edge of failure.
Shit.
He hadn't allowed himself to consider failure. How could he, and still work toward such an impossible goal? What fool would even attempt the rescue of a small group of alien slaves imprisoned aboard a spaceship—held by another alien race preparing to plunder the earth of all its natural resources?
It sounded ridiculous no matter how he phrased it, so he did what he always tried to do when the fears surfaced. Mac pushed the negative thoughts out of his head. Refused to consider failure. Reminded himself failure was never an option.
Call it denial, call it what you will, but it was the only way he'd survived the past two decades. Focus on the desired outcome. Ignore the rest. Plan for everything that can possibly go wrong, and then put those plans aside and go with one that assured success.
Mac sucked in a deep breath, centered himself, and locked his fear away. He consciously refocused his energy, squinting at the growing brilliance of the sun as it slanted across the huge array of satellite dishes. He studied them with pride, taking comfort in the fact they worked perfectly, that they had allowed his small team of young men and women to make telepathic contact with Zianne's people.
People of pure energy, enslaved eons ago aboard the Gar vessel and forced to power the huge star cruiser now hiding in orbit behind the moon. Unwilling accomplices in the Gar's plans to plunder Earth of all her riches. To take her mineral resources, her air and water—all that kept the planet alive.
The scope of the threat was beyond even Mac's wildest imagination, and his imagination had no limits. The satellite array was proof of that—the fact it had worked so well, that it had allowed his people to contact the Nyrians from the very first day gave him hope that their plan, what there was of it, would succeed. Somehow, they would rescue the captives.
Somehow, he would save Zianne's life.
Mac shifted his attention to the square cinder-block building they'd labeled the dream shack. The small building was the center of operations for the entire project, the place where his telepathic team members would hook themselves up to the massive antennae and, via the satellite array, focus their sexual energy on the Nyrians.
And the Nyrians had already proved they knew how to work with such a powerful and compelling source of power. Mac had learned their secret from Zianne over two decades earlier, that the Nyrians, a people without a physical form of their own, could take on corporeal bodies through the power of sexual fantasy.
Could take those bodies and hold on to them, and, once they were able to retrieve their soulstones, they would be free of the Gar and able to make a new home here, on Earth.
If everything went according to plan. “Damn but that's a big
if
.” Sighing, Mac rubbed his hand over his burning eyes. He'd not slept all night and today he would need to be sharp—on top of his game—if he was going to be any help at all. He stared at the dream shack, watching as the sunlight brushed the glass dome on top of the building. That had been an act of whimsy—installing a skylight so that the team members could watch the sky as they projected their thoughts through space. They didn't need to see the stars to know they were there, but from what feedback he'd gotten, all of them appreciated the view skyward.
He glanced at his wristwatch as the top half of the sun wavered above the dark edge of the plateau. It was barely six, which meant Finnegan O'Toole had a couple more hours to his shift.
Now there was a guy who'd proved first impressions weren't always correct. Finn had come across as a class A jerk—brilliant, but still a jerk. Then he'd shown more character than Mac or any of the others had suspected when he'd volunteered to go aboard the Gar star cruiser to help with the rescue.
A brave and foolish offer by a man who was no one's fool.
What kind of man would willingly step into danger like that?
Me?
Yeah, Mac knew he'd do it in a heartbeat, except he was needed here. This was, after all, his quest, for want of a better word. The culmination of his twenty-year mission to find Zianne, to save her people, to destroy the Gar before they destroyed the world.
It sounded like a grade B movie when he spelled it out, except it was real. Terrifying, beyond belief, yet all too real.
Who in the hell, in their right mind, would think he had a prayer of success? Of course, no one had ever accused him of being in his right mind. Even Mac's strongest supporters figured he had more than a few screws loose.
In all fairness to himself, what genius didn't march to a different drummer? It was probably a very good thing that the world didn't know the truth—Mac Dugan didn't follow any drummer.
Hell no. He'd been following the directions of a beautiful alien who drew her physical form from his sexual fantasies. A woman who wouldn't even exist as other than pure energy without the drunken visual of a twenty-six-year-old postgrad student back in the early days of the computer age.
Only a handful of people knew the truth—that his whole career had been based on a four-month relationship with an inhuman creature he'd fallen in lust and then in love with. The same creature now trapped in the body of a little gray squirrel.
Shit. What a fucked-up mess. What chance in hell—
“Mac? I thought you came back to bed. How long have you been outside? Good lord, man, it's freezing out here.”
Mac leaned his head against the back of his chair and stared upside down at the man shivering behind him. “G'morning to you, too, Dink. Couldn't sleep. Didn't want to disturb you guys.” He straightened up and waved at the chair beside him. “Have a seat. You don't by any chance have coffee, do you?”
“You're kidding, right? Me? Make coffee?”
“One can only hope.” He chuckled. He might be a world-famous investigative reporter, but Nils Dinkemann had never been known for his culinary skills. “I was afraid of that, but, yeah, I know. I lost contact with my toes a few hours ago.” A thick down comforter settled over him, still warm from Dink's body heat.
“Okay. This works.” Mac drew his feet up under the blanket and tucked all that soft warmth around him. “Damn that feels good. I think it's even better than coffee.”
A moment later, Dink flopped down in the chair beside Mac's, wrapped head to foot in another blanket. “I heard some rattling and clanking downstairs,” he said. “Sounds like your cook's putting some fresh coffee on. I'll get us some in a few minutes.”
Mac grunted in assent. He turned and glanced toward the sliding glass door, but Dink had closed it. The glare of the growing sunlight reflected off the glass.
He couldn't see Zianne. “Is . . . ?”
“She's asleep. Still a squirrel. I left her wrapped in your jacket.”
“Thanks.” He sighed.
“You okay?”
Mac rolled his head to the right and stared at Dink. “You're kidding, right?”
Dink grunted.
Hell no, I'm not all right.
“We'll know in approximately two more days, I guess.”
Dink grunted again.
Two more days and Mac would know if all his efforts might actually pay off. And if they didn't?
He sucked in a deep breath. Exhaled. “Cameron was planning to meet the last two Nyrians during his shift last night, which means that by now all of them should have access to functioning human bodies. The first group will be coming to Earth tonight—once they have their soulstones—as soon as it turns dark.”
“So what happens today?”
Mac glanced at Dink. There was none of the investigative reporter about him this morning. No, he just sounded like a very concerned friend. Right now, Mac figured he needed the friend more than the reporter, though if all went according to plan, he'd need the reporter even more once the Nyrians were all safe. “Today a couple of the stronger Nyrians are going to show Finn and Morgan how to disincorporate and move through space.”
“Holy shit.” Whispered softly, more a prayer than a curse.
Mac shrugged. “That's the only way to get them on the ship. Breaking down to molecular particles and traveling with a host Nyrian through space. Sounds good in theory.”
“I can't believe you actually got volunteers.”
“Morgan Black and Finn O'Toole. Both good guys, physically strong, very sharp. The Gar shouldn't be expecting an attack, but they're always well armed. According to Nattoch, the Nyrian elder who's sort of their leader, the Gar carry weapons that can disrupt the Nyrians' energy field. Doesn't kill them, but can effectively immobilize them. It shouldn't affect humans, though. Once Finn and Morgan arrive on board the ship, they'll have to rematerialize and disarm the guards so the Nyrians can retrieve their soulstones.”
And, Nyria help them, Zianne's soulstone as well. She was dying. Would die within the next few hours without an infusion of power from one of her fellow Nyrians, but even their generous gifts of power couldn't hold her here forever.
Not without her soulstone.
Mac sighed. So much could go wrong. So damned much.
Dink reached across the narrow gap that separated them, took hold of Mac's hand, and squeezed it tightly. “This is the one thing I hate most about being a reporter. Learning the plans, knowing the danger, and realizing there's not a fucking thing I can do to alter the outcome.”
Mac squeezed back. “You're here, Dink. That matters more than you realize.” He gazed into his friend's silvery eyes, but there was too much emotion, too much to consider right now.
Mac glanced away as the sun finally broke free of the horizon in a blinding blaze of orange and pink against a cerulean sky. It was easier to blame the tears in his eyes on the brilliant flash of sunlight shimmering off row after row of white satellite dishes, marching west across the array with inexorable certainty.
The sun would continue to rise, the days would pass, the world would go on.
But life? Not such a sure thing. Not anymore. This might be the last day for Zianne, but if things went wrong with their plan for rescuing her people, it could also be the end of more than the few remaining Nyrians.
If they couldn't stop the Gar, if the Nyrians were somehow compelled to continue powering their huge star cruiser, it could very well mark the end of everything, at least as far as Earth was concerned.
Zianne and Mac's love wasn't even a blip on the radar, not compared to the ultimate risks they faced.
It wasn't like humans had been such great stewards of their world, but they hadn't totally fucked things up yet. If the Gar had their way, once they moved on to other worlds, they'd leave nothing but a smoldering chunk of rock where civilizations had once risen and fallen. Where humans had grown and evolved.
Where Mac had met an impossible, improbable woman; where he'd fallen in love and followed a dream.
BOOK: Dream Unchained
3.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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