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Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Erotic Romance, #Science Fiction Opera

Keeper

BOOK: Keeper
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Protective instincts lead to lost years in cold sleep and end with thawing out in a warrior’s arms.

 

 

Aggie was slotted for life as a Keeper, a woman who put herself between her charges and danger. A genuine crisis of conscience kicks in on her second assignment and ends with her charge in hiding and Aggie in cold sleep for a while.

Ikvaro was Aggie’s instructor on the moon base and his heart broke when she disappeared and was reported dead. Informed that she was alive and needed his help, he resigns his commission as instructor and heads out to the stars to find his woman now that duty no longer stands between them.

She thaws, he looks into her eyes and she is no longer alone in there. She has gone from Keeper to Avatar and there is no protocol for this manoeuvre.

 

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Keeper

Copyright © 2014 Viola Grace

ISBN: 978-1-77111-906-1

Cover art by Martine Jardin

 

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

 

Published by eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.eXtasybooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

Keeper

Terran Times Second Wave

 

 

By

 

 

Viola Grace

 

Chapter One

 

 

Agatha poked at the fire pit, sending sparks tumbling upward. Her sister thudded into the seat next to her.

Aggie looked at Martha with narrowed eyes. “Don’t spill that wine on my furniture…again.”

Martha chuckled and extended the wine glass over the edge of her chair. “What did they say?”

“They are making the final checks as to my aptitude. I just got home.”

“And started a fire. You are worried.”

“Definitely. I want this.” She leaned back and looked up at the stars. “I want them.”

Martha sighed. “I am going to miss you.”

Aggie chuckled. “I don’t know if I am accepted yet.”

Marty handed her her phone. “Take a look. There is an email from the Volunteer Centre. Find out.”

Aggie took her phone with trembling hands. She opened the email and swallowed hard. She picked up a new log and threw it onto the fire.

“Well? What did it say?”

She sat back and picked up her lemon water. “This is going to be my last fire with these stars over my head.”

Marty sat up. “You did it? You are in?”

Aggie lifted her glass in a toast and Marty met her halfway. “I am in.”

Aggie spent the night with her sister, talking until they were hoarse and staring up at the stars. Marty’s husband called, but once the situation was explained, he wished Aggie good luck and told Marty to stay the night.

For a pair of identical twins, they were very different women, but in this moment, they were one. Martha had focussed her life inward, with home and family. Aggie had gone out and lived with minimalism as far from her own kind as she could.

Her volunteer job at the zoo was her half-assed attempt to connect with people, but she used her time there to learn all she could about detailed habits of the animals. There were indicators of mental state and mood that most of their keepers missed. Aggie had learned how to read them through focus and study, but it wasn’t exactly a marketable skill.

She worked when she had to and volunteered as often as she could. Now, it seemed she was going to make her career as a Volunteer. It was going to be a sudden shift, but it would be welcome.

Aggie would feel the parting from Marty most keenly, but their link went far beyond location. She would carry her sister with her to the stars.

 

Aggie tugged at the neckline of the bodysuit. She was nervous about having something pressing on all available skin, but she was getting used to it. The artificial gravity enhancement that they had installed on the moon made it almost Earth-like, but there was something different.

Her speciality was survival. She was learning to find shelter, water and food in any environment. The simulations had been intense and she had only killed herself twice in the first week.

When she wasn’t crawling through simulated jungles, she was learning customs and languages. It was weird going back to school, but she was definitely getting information that Mr. Oglethorp had missed in biology class and Ms. Lahey had skipped over in chemistry.

The languages were given to her while she slept. The first round of Volunteers had let them know how the Terran brain worked, and they were ready with learning tabs that helped put the information where she needed it.

Every night before she went to sleep, she put on the tabs and the learning program ran until she woke. The morning was spent on being quizzed on what she had learned, and after two weeks, she was speaking nothing but Alliance Common.

The addition of Nyal Common was a bit perplexing, but then, she was told that she would be shepherding people from one area to the next. She would have the dubious honour of being both a bodyguard and a companion to whomever needed her help.

They were even talking about giving her something called a Wyoran framework, just for emergencies. She didn’t know what that meant, but she would do it if she had to.

Aggie looked around her quarters and made a quick call to her sister. Martha had one of the specialised com units, and it was set up to answer her code and nothing else.

When her twin’s perky face appeared in the com unit, Aggie smiled. “Hiya, Marty.”

Marty grinned. “English, Aggie.”

“Oops. Hello, Marty. Sorry, I was in language boot camp again today.”

“It is so weird, I am looking at the moon right now. I can’t believe you are up there.”

“Believe it. They put a protective dome over the flag and the footprints, but the rest of the facility is really coming along.” She grinned and started to unravel the braid in her hair.

“What are you doing this evening?”

“More studying. I am going to be dispatched soon, and from then on, our communication will be spotty at best.” Aggie wanted to make sure that whoever was listening in on their calls was aware that she was prepared for what happened next.

“I will miss you, but you seem to be taking to this like a duck to water.”

“I am. I am finally excited about something. Now I know how you feel all the time.” Aggie grinned. It was true. She knew how her twin felt most of the time, but the difference between them was Marty was the volcano and Aggie could just identify one when she saw it.

“I am glad that you have found enjoyment in life but a little weirded out at what it takes to get you excited, sis.” She wrinkled her nose.

“Well, you know that the one place in your mind I never go is your intimate moments. This is the most excited I have ever been about
anything
.”

Marty caught on and made an appropriate face. “Ew. Gross, and yet I am glad that you have found it.”

“There is just so much out here. So much to learn and so much to do.” She rubbed her hands together.

Relief covered her sister’s face. “Learn it. Revel in it and keep in touch.” When she said,
keep in touch
, she rubbed her nose.

Aggie scratched her temple. “I will.”

The com went black and Aggie sat back with relief. Across their genetic link, they exchanged comfort and encouragement as well as flickers of frustration.

Aggie switched to an exercise suit and kept the emotional exchange up while she headed to the gym. There were nine physical trainers from different species on the moon. Aggie wasn’t assigned to one yet; she had floated through on the most basic of physical endurance, but her body was already more fit than most of the females on the base.

She started to make rounds on the track and gradually increased her speed until she was thudding on the surface and letting her mind go blank.

She was joined on her rounds by one of the trainers who looked like he was made of black velvet. He kept pace with her around the track until she staggered off and grabbed her water pack. She sat on one of the benches and the trainer sat next to her.

“You are fast.”

She swallowed and hung her head while her arms rested on her knees. “Thanks. I have worked at it.”

“You are the new one.”

Aggie didn’t look at him but drank more water. “We are all new ones. The Terrans, I mean.”

“Your grasp of Alliance Common is impressive. Are you speaking it naturally?”

“Yes. No implants for me. Apparently they won’t stick.”

He chuckled. “Interesting. I am trainer Ikvaro.” He held his hand out, palm up.

She put her hand on his in the gesture she had been taught when she first arrived. “Candidate Aggie Keller.”

He clasped her hand in his for a moment and then released her. “What are you training for?”

She tried to ignore the tingle that ran up her body and along her nerve endings. “I believe they have said that I am to be a Keeper. Some kind of companion or escort.”

“It is a good option. For someone in your situation with your skill set, you are definitely suited to the role. I have been assigned to be your physical trainer.”

She turned her head and gave him a surprised look. Her instincts took apart his features and the minute expressions as he let her dissect him with her gaze.

His body was made of steel coated in black velvet. His skin had a nap on it that was thick and reminded her of some curtains her mother used to have. The matte effect of his black-on-black skin made it hard to make out the tiny details, but he had high cheekbones, a sharp chin and pointed ears ringed with piercings. A slightly glossy scar ran from his forehead to his jaw on the left side of his face. She found that it changed him from pretty to riveting.

His eyes were a dark silver and he had what she guessed was a perpetual smile. Women threw themselves at him and he was only too happy to catch them.

“Ikvaro, what are you going to be teaching me?”

“The science of movement. You have control over your body, but I am going to add some skills to your mix. A Keeper operates in armour, but you need to be able to defend yourself and your associate. Normally, a Keeper is used for social mores.”

“Like escorting women or children through space.”

“Precisely. Your armour will protect you, but you will protect them. We need to make you more than capable. When I am through with you, you will be exceptional.”

She smiled at him, throttling down any attraction that she felt. Getting a crush on her instructor would not be advisable as she was on her way out to the stars.

He got to his feet. “Shall we begin? In your role as defender, you will need to channel your inner instincts to protect. That means going on the attack. Come this way; we will outfit you and begin.”

Aggie looked around at the quiet gym. “Is it appropriate to be doing this in the evening?”

“If I am up, and you are up, there is nothing untoward in burning off some extra energy.”

They put on gloves and faced each other. He inclined his head. “They will not be coming for you; they will be coming for your charges. You have to stop them.”

He lunged forward, and she followed her instincts. She stepped to one side and drove her fist into his abdomen. He grunted and shifted his focus, putting a controlled strike into her side and sending her to the ground.

Aggie gasped and rolled to face him.

He crouched down. “Rule one. Once you have made them focus on you, they will. You have to be ready for it. Nice hit though.”

She grunted as she got to her feet and faced him. “Let’s try that again.”

Training was underway.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

First assignments were always awkward. Two weeks of training with Ikvaro had driven home one unassailable fact; Aggie had a will of iron.

Two weeks of having him pressed against her as they writhed for position had tested her self-control, and he had jerked away from her goodbye hug with shoulders so tight that his body suit creaked.

Aggie’s first assignment was ferrying a young Wyoran from her home to a Citadel. The Wyoran framework worked as it was intended to. Lianda linked to her for the trip, and they parted when she was brought to the Citadel Thoola Education Centre.

BOOK: Keeper
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