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Authors: Marilyn Campbell

Topaz Dreams

BOOK: Topaz Dreams
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LEISURE BOOKS
NEW YORK CITY
To my soul sister, Roni Lee Chadick Sullivan Russo
Buzzi for recognizing Falcon's capabilities even
before I did. May you always have romance in your life.
LOVE SPELL® February 1997 Published by
Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc. 276 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10001
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property.
It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher and neither
the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."
Copyright © 1992 by Marilyn Campbell
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic
or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
The name' 'Love Spell'' and its logo are trademarks of Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.
Printed in the United States of America.
Chapter One
Innerworld, Planet Terra (Earth)
It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.—Benjamin Franklin.
Clang!
Governor Romulus's heavy broadsword crashed against Falcon's shield for
the hundredth time. At least it felt like the hundredth as Romulus's
arms strained and the muscles in his legs burned from the energy
required to remain standing, but Falcon gave him no quarter, no chance
to catch his breath.
"Uncle!" Romulus shouted at his tireless opponent.
Falcon
lowered his weapon and angled his head slightly to signify his lack of
understanding. Romulus laughed when he realized he had automatically
used the Terran expression Aster had taught him. "I mean, I give up
before you kill me. Drek, Falcon, what did you have for breakfast this
morning?" Rom dropped his sword and shield and peeled off his
protective helmet and gloves.
Falcon pulled off his own headgear
and, with a quick shake of his head, his thick mane of gold-streaked
hair fell to his shoulders in waves. "You have become soft, my friend.
I remember a time when you beat me, and barely took a deep breath.
Perhaps being governor has made an old man of you," Falcon quipped in a
rare show of humor. "Then again, perhaps having Aster as a mate has
more to do with your loss of strength!"
Romulus laughed again, both
at the memory of his first meeting with Falcon and his reference to
Aster. Between her and his work, Romulus no longer felt the need to
purge the primitive beasts within his civilized mind. As he and Falcon
headed for the Arena's refreshing room for showers, he recalled that he
had not known during a joust eight months ago that the Black Knight he
faced was Falcon, a superb trainer of ancient sports in the Arena as
well as a highly skilled tracker.
A special law enforcer with highly
developed extrasensory powers, Falcon rarely used his unique abilities
for much more than finding lost items in the peaceful, law-abiding
Innerworld culture. But by the time Rom learned the identity of the
knight, Falcon had twice exercised his tracker talents for Rom's
benefit. The first time was to rescue Aster from another Terran, the
criminal, Victor Rodriguez, when he tried using her to force Romulus to
return him to his home on Outerworld, as the Noronians called the
Earth's surface. The second time, Falcon had journeyed to the United
States to find Romulus when he had been abducted by the billionaire
industrialist, Gordon Underwood.
Since his first game with Falcon in
which Rom had been the victor, he had achieved his life-long career
goal of becoming governor of Innerworld. More important, however, was
that he had found his shalla, his soul's mate, and had joined with
Aster, in spite of all the obstacles, including the law forbidding
mating between their races.
As he undressed and stepped into the
shower, Rom reflected on the circumstances which had brought his people
to Earth ten thousand years ago. Volterrin, a dustlike substance, was
discovered in abundance in the Earth's core, and the Noronians had
settled a mining colony there. The Noronians had considered the native
Terrans being humanoid like themselves as an advantage and to protect
the colony, it was decided that some Noronians would inhabit Earth's
surface and integrate with the primitive Outerworlders. But Terrans
were not allowed in Innerworld.
To travel by ship between the two
worlds, the Noronians bored tunnels through Earth's twelve magnetic
fields, but as Earth's population grew, accidents occurred.
Occasionally, an undetected Terran vessel moved into a tunnel doorway
just as it was opening for a Noronian ship, and the Terrans on board
were transported into Innerworld. The Noronians considered these
Terrans dangerous and inferior, but they could not risk revealing their
presence inside the Earth by sending the Terrans back to Outerworld.
Aster
Mackenzie had come to Innerworld that way. Despite her determination to
return to her world, the Noronian prejudice against her, and the near
certainty that mating with Aster could destroy his political career,
Rom had made her a part of him.
He smiled at that thought as he
turned off the water and dried himself off. After dressing, he exited
the refreshing room to join Falcon. He studied his friend's face as
they walked, and realized that his own poor performance in the game was
not entirely his fault.
"Would you care to talk about whatever is bothering you, Falcon?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Something
is obviously wrong. You normally have the strength of two men. Today
you fought like ten. Besides that, every time Aster and I have seen you
lately you've been as nervous as a cat in ... Sorry, no pun intended."
Rom was relieved to note Falcon had not been offended by his
unconscious reference to Falcon's leonine characteristics. "Aster's
worried."
Falcon smiled and nodded. "You are right, my friend, but
it is not a matter easily discussed. I am not sure you could relate to
the problem as a human any more than a felan from my home on Emiron
could."
"Is that what this is all about—your mixed blood? Come on,
Falcon, you've seen me at my worst. You've been inside my head and
Aster's as well. If there's something we can do for you now, we
certainly owe you."
Falcon considered the offer for a moment.
Knowing that Romulus's and Aster's minds had been permanently bonded
during the formal Joining Ceremony, and remembering how easily she was
embarrassed, he suggested, "Perhaps if you could assure me that Aster
is not listening, I would not find it so difficult to explain. I would
not wish to cause her discomfort."
"She's busy. She won't notice if I block my thoughts from her mind for a short time."
"It
does concern the fact that I am the offspring of a Noronian male and an
Emironian female." He did not elaborate since the circumstances of his
conception were still a well-guarded secret among the Emironian felans.
"After so many years I thought I had adjusted to being half human and
half felan. Now something quite unexpected has begun, and I am
struggling between fighting and accepting it." When Romulus simply
raised one eyebrow at him, Falcon decided to share his dilemma.
"I believe my body has entered the human stage of puberty."
"What?" Rom asked with a cough. "I figured you were about my age, not that fifty-four is so far from adolescence."
"To
be precise, I have attained forty human years, but for a felan that age
would signify the end of childhood. Since my physical body was formed
almost entirely from my father's genes, I had always assumed my life
span would be determined by my human half. Now I am of the belief that
if I have only now reached this physical stage, I may live far beyond
that."
"You shouldn't let the possibility of longevity bother you. Many of our people live well over two hundred years."
It
is not that. I will live each day to the fullest, regardless of how
many of those days are granted to me. What is happening to me now has
made me aware of the possibility that there may be more changes in
store for me. You see, as I matured on Emiron I never knew which half
would control my development. I inherited many of the mental powers
associated with the felans, including empathy, but my appearance is
much more human, with the exception of my eyes, of course."
Rom was
accustomed to Falcon's unusual catlike eyes, but he automatically
recalled how their luminous topaz color and black, marquis-shaped
pupils had fascinated Aster. He ignored the familiar twinge of
irrational jealousy, and thought back to his first encounter with the
Emironians.
Once during his academy years in Innerworld, Rom had
journeyed to Emiron to attend an astrophysical exposition. Although the
felans there walked upright, their spines were curved and their
extremely thin bodies were covered with a fine down in shades of brown
and blond. Their rounded faces, flat noses, and slanted eyes confirmed
their relationship, however distant, to the feline family. The males
could be easily distinguished from the females by the huge mane of wild
hair, which not only covered the male's head but continued down his
spine. Rom also remembered how the human women had been intrigued by
them.
Falcon, on the other hand, possessed a totally human,
masculine appearance. Besides Falcon's features being humanoid, he
stood erect, about six feet tall, and his lean body was solid muscle.
The other major difference between him and his felan parent was that,
with the exception of Falcon's full head of blond, light brown, and
golden hair, and straight brown eyebrows, the rest of his body was
almost void of hair.
Realizing his attention had rudely wandered, Rom gestured to Falcon to continue.
"I
never felt that I belonged on Emiron, but neither did I feel truly
comfortable on Norona. There was a restlessness within me that drove me
to find a place of compromise. After many years of travel, I settled in
Innerworld shortly before I met you. Here I am tolerated and
appreciated for my skills. I have been content with my life—until now."
Falcon took a deep breath and lowered his eyelids.
Romulus was confused by the blush that appeared on his friend's cheekbones.
"I
had always assumed I inherited the felan's inability to experience
personal emotions, including sexual desire. Suddenly I find myself
craving a female, regardless of the species. I walk around in a state
of discomfort a good portion of the day. Excuse me, Romulus, but the
incredulous expression on your face is making it rather difficult for
me to continue in a serious manner."
"I'm sorry, Falcon. As I
recall, the physical state you're describing is most certainly common
in adolescence. I don't see that it's such a problem, though. Drek,
man. Let me treat you to a night, no, make that a week, at the
Indulgence Center. You've got a lot of catching up to do, and I can
assure you none of it is painful. Put it on my account. Since I met
Aster, I've only been there for my monthly beard removal and hair trim."
When
Falcon continued to frown, Rom thought perhaps the man didn't
understand what could be purchased at the center. "Besides the personal
grooming services, restaurants, and entertainments, the Indulgence
Center here in Car-Tem has one of the most extensive menus of sexual
gratifications, not to mention some of the most beautiful and talented
pleasure females you'll ever find. And if it's lack of experience
that's putting you off, you could even select a responsive android to
teach you whatever you don't already know."
"I fear it is not that
simple. I am not ignorant of the physical activity involved in
satisfying this need. It is the desire itself that presents the
problem. If I give in to desire, a decidedly human emotion, what will
be next? Hate? Fear? Anger? How could I cope with such strong feelings
when I already absorb those of anyone who comes near me? Surely you
remember when Victor Rodriguez tortured Aster and you saw her mutilated
body. Your violent fury blocked my ability to perform my job until you
controlled yourself. If I open myself to human emotions, will that mean
the end of my felan mental powers, or will I be in constant turmoil
because of a struggle between the two? I do not wish to decide my fate
at all, yet my physical body is making demands I am not prepared to
satisfy at the risk of losing a part of myself."
Romulus could not
help but notice that Falcon's speech sounded strongly emotional for one
who denied having personal feelings. The man had just said more in the
last five minutes than he had spoken since they met. It occurred to Rom
that the final choice would not be up to Falcon. He was already
changing, prepared or not.
"Falcon, you are Aster's and my friend,
whether you are felan, Noronian, or a blend of the two. Remember, we
are always here if you need us." Rom reached out and grasped Falcon's
hand, then gave a small chuckle. "Seriously, you never, ever—"
"Never," Falcon replied with a narrowing of his brows. "I am, what you call, a virgin."
The
emergency message reached Romulus as he and Falcon were leaving the
Arena. In less than ten minutes Rom was back in his office
concentrating intently on the. details of the disaster that had just
occurred. One thousand people dead, a ship destroyed, the tunnel
collapsed, all in a split second, with no viable explanation of how or
why it had happened. Because the passengers and crew were instantly
disintegrated, there was no way Medical could restore any of their
lives, as they would be able to do if the victim's bodies were
relatively intact. Never since the first Noronian colonists' arrival
and the Great Flood's drowning a major portion of Outerworld's
civilization had Innerworld known such a tragedy.
The Innerworld
ship had departed through the tunnel on schedule, and the doorway in
the Atlantic Ocean opened smoothly. Suddenly outside interference
jammed the signal, causing the doorway to close just before the ship
soared through.
Romulus's instincts told him this catastrophe was
connected with other recent unexplained events. About a month ago,
Outerworld Monitor Control, Innerworld's agency responsible for keeping
tabs on everyone and everything on the planet's surface, had reported
dozens of odd messages which no one could decipher. They were able to
determine that the jumbled letters, numbers, and symbols were
originating somewhere in the northwestern quartersphere of the surface.
They also knew that only someone in possession of an Innerworld ring
would have direct access to their central computer system. The
elaborate opal and gold ring, easily recognized by most Innerworlders,
was worn only by a select few since it was more than a means of
identifying a fellow Noronian. The special ring was a micro-computer
that could give a properly trained user the key to vast power.
Every
Innerworld emissary wore one. As agents placed in strategic locations
throughout Outerworld, the emissaries assisted OMC by blending into the
various cultures, observing, but never interfering with, the normal
advancement of Outerworld civilization, unless the future of the planet
was threatened. Every emissary could be trusted implicitly, and it had
been verified that none of their rings were malfunctioning.
BOOK: Topaz Dreams
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