Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Eight: The Key

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Wow! The summer is winding down, but the story is heating up! Keep your ideas coming, we’ve got a few more weeks until the final showdown. Don’t forget, you can catch up on all the past installments by clicking the link above for Our Summer Adventure. A special thank you to Richard Snow for giving me the idea for this week’s story. I didn’t have the gun misfire, but that got me thinking of what else could happen. I hope you enjoy it! Read on…

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Eight: The Key

Roarke snuggled the revolver against Ethan’s temple, a devilish smirk on his face. Ethan’s calm stare moved from him to his sister, the intent clear in his mind.

“Roarke, don’t do this.” Hannah pleaded, but it was too late. Roarke was committed, his finger already pulling back on the trigger.

A soft click echoed through the room, then all hell broke loose.

Rori slammed her palm against Roarke’s face, breaking his nose at the same time Ethan reached for the gun. A shot rang out, followed by a curse from Hannah. Blood spread across her stomach, staining the blue gown she wore.

“You asshole, you shot me!”

Roarke’s reply was to drag Rori from the room and into the darkness beyond.

“Go, I’ll be fine. Get your sister, Ethan.” Hannah staggered against the wall before slumping to the floor.

“She can take care of herself. We need to get you to Lilliana.” He knelt in front of her, prodding where she’d been shot.

“That hurts, you bastard.”

“I would imagine so. This won’t feel so good either,” he pressed firmly into her flesh and she cried out. “We can’t wait for Lilliana, I need to get the bullet out.”

“Why?”

“The fae can’t stand metal to be under our skin. It affects us, makes us lose our fae qualities.”

Hannah’s fingertips fluttered around her unadorned earlobe. “Would it make you appear human?”

“Perhaps. I need you to lay flat, there’s a good girl. This might sting.” Hannah drew a deep breath and nodded.

Ethan ripped her gown a few inches and delicately inserted his finger into the wound. She writhed in pain and called him several choice names. Thankfully, the bullet wasn’t deep, but it took a few tense minutes to extricate it.

“The next time I get shot, just leave it.”

He wrapped the bit of metal in his handkerchief and tucked it into his pocket. “Let’s just make certain there isn’t a next time.” Hannah started to move, but he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Relax for a moment, there’s something I need to find.”

He shuffled to the ornate desk they’d been searching when Roarke entered and pulled open the bottom drawer. Files and papers filled the entire space with nothing beneath them. He shoved the files aside, running his fingers along the sides of the drawer and then across the bottom. When he found what he was looking for, he reached under the ledge where his fingers tripped a switch.

An audible click released the false bottom of the drawer. Inside lay an intricate carving of a single branch and three leaves. It was heavier than wood, possibly wrought iron, which made Ethan chuckle with the irony.

“What’s so funny?”

Ethan held up the piece.

“You found the device. But how?”

“One of Rori’s tricks. She used her connection to Roarke to suss out its hiding place. Just before he pulled the trigger, his thought focused on this.” He turned the device over in his hand. “Do you know how it works?”

“Somewhat. I think I could get it to open the door. Help me up, we should find Rori before Roarke does anything to harm her.”

Ethan pocketed the key and helped Hannah to sit. When she stood she wobbled against him. “We’re getting you to Lilliana. Rori knows what she’s doing.” His eyes met hers, cold steel in her pale, pale face. “Hannah, it was always the plan to get Rori captured. We didn’t tell you because we knew you’d object. Now, we need to stop this bleeding or you won’t make it to the hotel.”

He ripped the lining from his jacket and pressed it against her abdomen, then knelt in front of her to remove her shoes.

“What are you doing?” Her words were a bit slurred.

“We need to get out of here without anyone suspecting anything. Hopefully Roarke is busy with Rori and hasn’t alerted his guards to us, but we’ll have to take our chances. Frankly, I’m surprised no one’s been in here yet to finish what Roarke started.” He slipped off his jacket and put it on her, apologizing with each wince of pain. She leaned against the wall looking wan, but otherwise gorgeous.

“What the hell are you doing?” She jerked her head away from his hands as he mussed up her hair. “That style took all afternoon in a salon to get.”

“Yes, and it should’ve taken me fifteen minutes in bed to undo it.” He gave her a pointed look and she grinned with understanding. No one would question her sluggish walk if they thought her drunk and recently bedded. “There’s just one more thing to make it authentic.”

He pressed his lips to hers, expertly smearing her lipstick. It was a seductive shade of red that he wouldn’t mind wearing again, and again. Except this was a job and Hannah nothing more than a means to an end.

“Wait.” She said, her voice husky, “To really sell it.” She stretched up to his neck and ran her lips over his skin, nipping at his earlobe and then giving lush grazes across his chin to the collar of his shirt. She unfastened his bow tie and loosened several buttons, kissing his chest with each one. When she finished, she looked up at him with a wicked glint in her beautiful eyes. “Ready?”

“You’re evil.”

“I know.”

Is it hot in here, or is that just Ethan and Hannah? Whew.

What the heck is Rori thinking? Why would she offer herself up to Roarke? Is Hannah using Ethan like he’s using her? Or is he just using her?

What’s Roarke hiding behind the special door?

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Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Seven: The Gamble

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

This week’s installment gives us Rori’s point of view. Thank you to Kristy K James for the fabulous idea! Also, thanks for suggesting Ethan take both women to the party. I’m loving all of your suggestions, and even if I don’t use them the next week, I keep them percolating in my mind. Shapeshifter, anyone? Yeah, that was Gayle’s idea and I think it’s a good one. If you need to catch up on the past weeks, click on the page above under Our Summer Adventure. And be sure to leave a comment where you think the story should go next.

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Seven: The Gamble

Rori sauntered into the expansive foyer of Governor Roarke’s Bel Air home on the arm of her brother. He looked devastatingly handsome in his tuxedo and midnight bow tie. Of all the arguments they had the previous night, his clothing choice had lasted the longest.

Rori glanced over to Hannah, who looked equally stunning on Ethan’s right. Ethan had argued for her to remain at the hotel with Lilliana, but Hannah refused to let him and Rori go to the governor’s party without her.

“Ready?” Hannah asked, looking past Ethan to her.

Rori gave a quick nod. She was to be the bait that evening. While she distracted Roarke, Hannah and Ethan would search his office for something Hannah called ‘the device’. It was the key to Roarke’s operation and they needed it to bring him down.

Ethan flexed his arm, tightening his grip on her. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Yes, I do.” For more reasons than Ethan would ever understand.

“Be careful.” He stiffened suddenly and Rori glanced up to find a man and woman, both stunning in black, turning to regard them.

“Hannah?” The man said, ignoring Rori and Ethan. “I didn’t think you’d come.” He took Hannah’s hands into his and kissed her fingertips. “I’m glad to be proven wrong.”

“Governor Roarke, I’d like to introduce you to Ethan Donovan. He works for my father, and this is Rori, his companion.”

Roarke’s eyes skimmed past Ethan to Rori, “It’s my pleasure.” He took her hands and kissed them much as he did Hannah’s, but lingered long enough she felt his breath against her skin. He inhaled then rubbed her fingers against his cheek. “You smell divine.”

The smile Roarke gave her made her insides recoil, but she giggled, playing the part.

“I see you’ve found a new playmate.” Hannah said, indicating the woman behind Roarke.

He cut her a glance then snorted. “Not here, Hannah. Not tonight. Why don’t you and your friend go get a drink. I’d like to get to know Rori a bit better.”

Hannah shrugged and pulled Ethan away from them. They disappeared into the crowd, but Rori felt Ethan’s presence, could look up at any moment and find him. He would never truly be far from her, even if they were a continent apart, she could sense his feelings. Right then they were conflicted. Not just about her, but Hannah as well.

His original plan was to use Hannah to gain access to Maxim’s vaults, but something had happened. If she wasn’t mistaken, Ethan cared for the girl, which caused Rori no small amount of concern. He’d never let his feelings get in the way of his job. Ever.

“Rori?” Roarke was staring at her and she pulled her thoughts away from her brother.

He led her through the room, making introductions to people whose names she recognized. Some were in politics, others the film industry. The gorgeous woman in black followed them everywhere, but never spoke to Roarke. Only once did he acknowledge her, and only then to send her to fetch them drinks.

“Who is she?” Rori asked once the woman left.

“No one of consequence.” His gaze flicked around the room and then back to her. “Hannah seems to have disappeared.”

“Would you like me to find her?” Rori kept her tone neutral. Ethan and Hannah were, at that moment, in Roarke’s office.

“In a minute. Tell me, beautiful Rori, how did you become Donavan’s companion?”

It took Rori a second to realize he meant Ethan. “He won me in a game of cards.”

Roarke chuckled and the sound grated down her spine. In the hour she’d spent with him, she saw every possible contrivance of hospitality, but no genuine humanity. The tales Hannah had told them were taking on new meaning the longer she spent with Roarke. Silently she willed Ethan to find what they were looking for so they could leave. The less time she spent with Roarke, the better.

The woman in black returned without drinks and whispered in Roarke’s ear. He scratched at his chin before turning his dead grey eyes on her.

“Your companion is a gambler then? I think I’d like to wager a bet with him. Perhaps I can be as lucky. Come with me.” He grabbed her wrist and pulled her along behind him until they reached a closed door. Deep inscriptions etched across the surface shifted at Roarke’s touch.

Rori gasped despite herself. The door was carved from a living tree, one from a sacred grove found only in Wales.

“Have no fear, my darling. The door won’t bite. Unless you try to harm me.” His voice cut through her marrow, chilling her.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Roarke ignored her lie. “Stay close. I wouldn’t want you to wander off without me.” They moved through several darkened rooms with Roarke leading the way. The woman in black stayed behind and with each new room, Rori’s apprehension grew.

“Where are we going?”

“Shhh, not a sound. We’re nearly there.”

His grip tightened to the point of pain, but she kept quiet. A light in the next room lit up Roarke’s silhouette and she saw the grim set of his jaw. As they got nearer, Rori heard Ethan’s deep voice. She willed Ethan to feel her presence, to leave before she and Roarke got there. Cold metal pressed against her lips. “Shhh.” He raised the gun for Rori to see and she nodded.

Roarke pushed opened the door with cat-like grace. Neither Hannah nor Ethan noticed until it was too late.

Roarke’s tsk pulled their attention away from the search. “Hannah. I expected more from you, my kitten. You of all people should know I don’t keep anything important here.”

Hannah glared at him. “Let her go. She has nothing to do with this.”

Ethan stepped in front of Hannah, shielding her from the gun in Roarke’s hand. Rori heard a thundering sound in her ears, like the rush of blood, but it wasn’t her own. It was Ethan’s adrenaline. Cool, calm Ethan was frightened. For her. For Hannah. She swayed against the intensity of his feelings.

Roarke pulled her roughly up to stand in front of him. “I seriously doubt that. I think I’ll keep her, she can be your gift to me.”

“No, please. Take me and let her go.” Hannah stepped around Ethan’s bulk. A wild fear hid in the depths of Hannah’s eyes. Rori understood the sacrifice she was bartering on her behalf.

“Roarke,” Ethan said quietly, “let the women go. I’m worth ten times what you could get for them.”

“I hear you’re a gambling man, Donovan. All or nothing. What do you say?”

“What do you have in mind?” Ethan asked.

Roarke emptied the gun of all but one bullet. “If you live, I’ll let the three of you leave unscathed. If you die, I take Hannah and Rori for my own pleasures.”

“You’re mad! Ethan, don’t. You can’t risk your life for us. Please, Roarke, let them go. I’ll stay with you as long as you want. I promise not to leave. Just don’t hurt them.”

Roarke glared at Hannah. “Begging? I thought I raised you better than that. What do you care for this human trash?” He stepped beside Ethan and held the gun to the side of his head. “You disappoint me, Hannah.”

The room grew heavy as his finger pulled back on the trigger. Ethan stared calmly into her eyes, an unspoken command passed between them.

Just before the gun fired she closed her eyes.

Did Roarke kill Ethan?

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Six: The Plan

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

What an amazing week I had in Atlanta for RWA Nationals! There will be pictures and stories for you on Friday. We’ll also start the voting to name our lady teacup dragon.

But first… Hannah and Ethan are back! We left them in the director’s office, with Maxim wondering if Ethan had come there to kill him. To catch up on all the installments, you can click on the Our Summer Adventure page above, or click here for week five. Remember, this story is what you make of it, so leave a comment telling us where you think the story will go next.

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Six: The Plan

The thought that Ethan had come there to murder her father never occurred to Hannah. As she stood stick straight, her back to the window, her gaze fixed on Ethan, she waited for his response. Ready to act.

“Kill you?” Ethan’s full lips pulled up at the corners in a friendly smile, “Not today.” Then he pushed away from the desk, his gaze going to her. “Ms. James, I’d like to go to my hotel now, if you wouldn’t mind driving me.” It wasn’t a question, but a command.

“You won’t be staying offsite, we’ve prepared a room for you here.” Maxim said before Hannah had a chance to refuse.

The smile widened, creating a little divot in Ethan’s right cheek. The impulse to kiss the dimple rocked her. The man was dangerous, assassin or no. She needed to keep her distance from him.

“That would be best for you, but I’ll stay at the hotel. I’m sure you understand my need for autonomy.”

The director regarded Ethan for several moments before he swore under his breath. “Very well. Hannah will take you wherever you like.”

“Sir, perhaps you should have someone else take Mr. Carmichael. As you said, I’m well-known to the governor. I shouldn’t be seen with this man.” Her pitiful argument fell on stone ears.

“You’ll stay with Mr. Carmichael as long as necessary.” Her father looked at her then, a silent order in the blue depths. She couldn’t deny him. Wouldn’t go against his authority.

“Excellent. Now that that’s settled, Ms. James,” Ethan held his arm out to the side, indicating she should pass in front of him. She kept her focus straight ahead, ignoring the warm scent of him. “Max, it’s been a pleasure. When will I meet with the governor?”

Her father ignored the informal address, which Hannah knew was difficult for the director. “Tomorrow night. You’ll attend a function he has planned. Hannah will be your date.”

Hannah spun around, “You can’t be serious. Roarke knows me. If he sees me with Ethan, he’ll suspect something.”

“Which is precisely why you’re going. It will unbalance him.”

A thrum of dread coursed through her. She wasn’t ready to see him again. Not after what he did to her. After what she stopped him from doing to her. Ethan moved closer and she wanted to lean into his strength, to feel his arms around her and know in her marrow she’d be safe. What had gotten into her? She didn’t need a man to protect her. Didn’t want one, in fact.

“Hannah, I won’t jeopardize your safety. Surely there is someone else.” Ethan’s breath fluttered across her cheek with each word. He was too close and yet not close enough.

She stepped away from him, from her traitorous thoughts. “No. There is no one else. Father is right, it must be me.”

Maxim watched her with those eyes that gave nothing away, but that she’d learned years ago to decipher. He was using her as bait. Again. “Tomorrow night, then.” He dipped his head in the odd way he had of dismissal. Before she turned, she caught the smallest movement of his lips. A frown, perhaps? Did Maxim Drake have some humanity after all?

She almost laughed at the thought. Of course he didn’t. Any man who could offer his daughter to someone like Roarke . . .  she stopped herself. That was the past. Since returning from the governor, Maxim had been making an effort. It was a start.

They passed the two guards on their way out. Each stared ahead, but saw everything that happened around them. The briefest of nods passed between them. A silent acknowledgement between comrades.

“Hannah?” Ethan’s silken voice wrapped around her, “Are you well?” He took her elbow as they walked down the long corridor to the elevator.

“Fine, thanks.” She moved her arm out of his grip and jabbed at the button.

“You don’t seem fine. If tomorrow night is too difficult for you, we can get someone else. Rori, perhaps.”

The idea of Rori going anywhere near the monster ate at Hannah. He’d love her. She was perfect for him, which meant Rori might be better bait than herself. Except, she couldn’t do that to the girl. “You don’t know what you’re offering, Ethan. Keep your sister far from the governor, if you want her to stay alive.”

They were silent the rest of the way through the complex. When they reached the car, Ethan slid into the front passenger seat. His proximity unnerved her. “What are you doing?”

“What if I want you to stay alive? I know what the governor is doing, Hannah and I’ve a good suspicion why you didn’t turn up in any of the files on Maxim. I’m not really here to work out a truce, as I suspect you know. How can I protect you while accomplishing my task?”

“I’m fairly adept at protecting myself.”

A wicked smile crooked up his lips. “Yes, you are. But this is different. Let me take Rori tomorrow night. You can tell us about Roarke, things only you could know. I can’t risk sending you back there.”

Hannah’s stomach spasmed out of fear or desire, she wasn’t sure. “You don’t know what you’re asking, Ethan. He’ll want Rori and what Roarke wants, he gets. If you knew the horror of that man,” she pushed aside the images that swirled in her mind, “you wouldn’t be offering up your sister so casually.” The bitterness in her tone cut through her words to her anger at her father.

“Rori knows the risks. That’s why she’s here, Hannah.” His warm hand cupped her cheek and she stiffened lest she melt into it. His thumb stroked along her jaw. “We’ll talk at the hotel and you can decide after you’ve heard our plan.”

“What plan?” Perhaps he really was there to kill Roarke. Possibly her father as well.

“Not now. We have an audience.” His glance flicked to the doorway where one of Maxim’s guards stood watching them. Ethan settled back against the seat, leaving her skin cold where his hand had been.

She wasn’t sure what she wanted more, for him to tell her the plan, or to kiss her.

Now it’s your turn. Is Ethan there to kill Roarke? Maxim? Will Rori stand in for Hannah at the governor’s party? What happens next?

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Five: The Director

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Thank you to Kristy, Jansen, Lynn, and Sheri for your comments last week! We’re getting close to meeting the governor, but first ~ a showdown with the director! Keep those comments coming, I love reading your ideas and figuring out what our characters are going to do next. If you’ve missed any of the weeks, just click here, or you can always click on the above page under Our Summer Adventure to get caught up. Thanks for playing along!

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Five: The Director

This was bad. Ethan kept his calm even though his insides were taut bundles of nerves. In all his research on the director, he’d never uncovered a daughter. Adopted, perhaps? Or, as Rori suggested, a changeling?

“Mr. Carmichael, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“You as well.” He didn’t look at Hannah as she stood off to the director’s right. “I wasn’t aware you had a daughter.”

“It isn’t something I make public. Too many enemies in my line of work. I’m sure you understand.”

That Hannah had let Ethan know her relationship with the director could mean she trusted him, or wanted him to know his place. Given the situation he faced, he hoped for the former.

“Of course. As you’re aware, I am always discreet.” Ethan took his seat without being asked and the director followed suit. Hannah stayed standing, which did nothing to assuage his anxiety. With two armed men standing beside the door, he began to think the meeting wasn’t entirely about the governor. “Why have you brought me here, Director? It appears you have men and women perfectly capable of handling the situation.”

“Ah, yes. But you see, they are also known to the governor. Some more than others.” His tone hardened and Hannah’s jaw tightened. “We need someone with a very specific skill set who isn’t recognizable.”

“An assassin?”

The director leaned back and closed his eyes. “Death would be a comfort to this man. I need him living if he is to pay for his crimes.”

Ethan rose from the chair and leaned against the desk. “You need him? What exactly are your plans? I came here under the assumption I was to work out a truce with the governor.”

In the space of a heartbeat the director was standing, his face inches from Ethan’s. “A truce? You know what he’s doing, what he will do, and yet you think words will prevent him from any further atrocities?”

Madness spiraled beneath his cool blue of his eyes. A fervor for revenge, perhaps, or a sycophantic desire to please his sister. Or something else entirely.

Hannah hadn’t moved, but Ethan felt her hot gaze on him. He wondered how much about her father she knew.

“We are in agreement about the governor’s activities, but I take my orders from Queen Narissa. I am here as a consultant only, not as your soldier. You’re looking for an assassin who is disposable. I’m not your guy, Maxim Drake.”

Hannah swallowed hard, her eyes narrowed the slightest bit.

“What did you call me?” The director asked.

Ethan turned his gaze back to the man. “Your name. I know who you are, brother to Queen Darynda, ruler of the Unseelie Court.”

Maxim glared at him, but Ethan kept his body relaxed, ready.

“Have you come here to work out a truce with the governor, or to assassinate me?”

Now it’s your turn. Is Ethan there to kill the director? What atrocities is the governor committing? What happens next? I have no idea!

Our Summer Adventure: Week Four ~ The Company

Thank you to everyone who commented last week and for those of you who sent me private emails or messages on Facebook, thank you as well! Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments so everyone can get in on the fun. I had a few suggestions to have Rori kill Hannah, but I think we need to see a bit more of Hannah in the story. We don’t know yet if Hannah is good or bad, or if even Rori is good like she’s making us believe she is. I’ll be interested to find out what you make of our two badass ladies.

If you need to catch up, you can find all the previous installments here. Happy reading!

Our Summer Adventure: Week Four ~ The Company

Hannah’s fist stopped mid-punch. Ethan crushed her against the car, his lips burning against hers, igniting a feeling deep within. A feeling she’d not had for far too long, not since . . . well, that was ancient history and better forgotten.

She flexed her hand, releasing the tension before she pushed against Ethan’s chest. The solid mass of muscle didn’t move with the pressure. If she wanted to, she could be free from his grasp in three simple moves. Yet she hesitated.

Ethan’s kiss softened. A subtle invitation to which her traitorous body responded, opening to him. A small moan escaped her, or it could’ve been him. She wasn’t sure. Nor did she care. For several long moments she was lost to all sensation except his touch.

Ethan pulled away, taking her senses with him. A smiled played at the corners of his lips, taunting her. She thought of all the places she’d like to feel the sensually hardness of those lips on her body.

She forced the wicked thoughts from her mind and pressed against his chest to free herself from his embrace. He’d drugged her. That was the only reason she could think of for her reaction. “What the hell did you do to me?”

“You’re asking the wrong question.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She pushed harder against his chest and turned away from him. A pink rash bloomed on her forearm, then dissipated. “What the…?” Another rash, on the inside of her palm, blossomed and then disappeared. “Seriously, what did you do to me?”

“I freed you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He traced a finger down her arm to her fingertips. A thin line of shimmering sparkles followed in the wake of his touch. “Faerie glamour. Humans don’t have this.”

“You did that. It’s not from me.”

“We’ll see.” He ran his fingers along her jaw, his thumb pulling at her bottom lip. “We should go. They’re waiting for us.”

She hated the way he made her feel. All soft and mushy inside like some god damned spastic cupcake with marshmallow fluff. She was a warrior. Trained to ignore emotions. “You’re right. You get the princess and I’ll take the prisoner.”

She went around the other side of the car only to find an open door and no passengers. The bastard had used her to allow them time to flee. Anger simmered in her belly, “Where are they?”

“Who?” Ethan’s look and tone were perfect innocence.

“You intentionally distracted me so they could escape.”

“Guilty. But it was a lovely distraction. One I wouldn’t mind repeating.”

Hannah stomped around the car, her anger reaching a fast boil. “You have thirty seconds to explain why you’d do something so asinine. If I don’t like your answer, you’ll be attending the meeting on your knees, if you’re lucky.”

“Think about it Hannah. If we took Lilliana and Rori in there, what do you think their chances would be? I know you’re loyal to The Company, but I know things about them you don’t. Rori would’ve been tortured, if she was lucky, and Lilliana? The High Princess of the Seelie Court? Think woman!”

Hannah held firm, her anger lessening with each word, her face a mask of indifference. He was right. Damn him, but he was right. If the director had access to Lilliana and Rori, he wouldn’t hesitate to extract everything they knew. With or without their permission.

“Why did you bring her here? If you knew she would be a liability, why risk it?”

Ethan hesitated a moment before answering. When he did, his voice held a note of sadness that tugged at her. “The governor is not who everyone thinks he is. He’s a manipulative, egotistical braggart with a dark side to him that can destroy not only the fae world, but will endanger the human world as well. The Queen sent Lilliana to speak with him, to plead the fae’s case in the hope he’ll have some compassion left inside his corrupt soul. I doubt it will work, but it isn’t my job to question my Queen.”

There was more to it, she was certain, but Ethan didn’t fully trust her yet. She glanced at her watch, “We’re late. Your lame reason will have to suffice for now.” His smile lit the flame she’d felt earlier with his kiss. A surge of desire swept over her before she could tamp it out. Damn him.

She led him through hallways and past several security stations, each time stopping to verify her identity and that of her guest. When they reached the final station, she paused, gathering her wits and strength. Ethan gave her a sideways look, concern etched on his face. She ignored him.

Together they entered the director’s office and made their way to a huge walnut desk. Sitting behind the desk was a man who appeared to be in his early fifties, dark hair greying at the temples, a chic goatee covering his chin. His hands steepled in front of his face, his deep blue eyes regarded them as they entered the room

“Hello Daddy.” Hannah said before greeting her father with a kiss to each cheek.

What’s going to happen to Ethan now that he’s in the clutches of The Company’s director? Do you think the governor used Ethan to lure Lilliana to the States? What about Hannah? Was Ethan’s kiss enough to make her challenge her father? Shear your ideas!

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Three: The Unseen

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Last week Hannah kicked some assassin booty and left us wondering who the unseen passenger was. If you missed any of the previous weeks, you can catch up by clicking here. All of Our Summer Adventure excerpts will be on their own page from now on! Keep the ideas coming, I’m loving they way you all think!

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week Three: The Unseen

Ethan leaned his head against the soft leather while Hannah drove in silence, waiting for his answer. He thought of a dozen lies he could tell, but he suspected she would see through them all. Telling her the truth was dangerous. Trust was not something he gave freely and there was the motorcyclist to consider.

A slight scent of cloves mingled with Hannah’s honeysuckle essence. What the hell was Rori doing there? She was supposed to be in Ireland dealing with that mess. His sister sat slumped in the passenger seat, her red hair brushing against the window. The last time he saw her, she’d had black hair and was dressed as a teenage boy. Being able to alter her appearance and fit into any social group was what made her invaluable to the Queen.

The bundle beside him shifted and the garment bag slid to the floor. Lilliana slipped from the seatbelt and stood behind Hannah, her slight frame barely rising above Hannah’s shoulder. She was a mass of shifting glamour, unseen to the human eye.

A ghosting of irritation crossed Hannah’s face, leaving in its wake tight lips and pinched brows. “Aren’t you going to answer me?” She flicked a glance to the broken mirror. Ethan studied her features, noted the rise of her heartbeat, the catch of her breath when she saw Lilliana. “What in the world? Are you an alien or something? What is that?”

Rori moaned and shifted in her seat. She pulled at her bindings and swung around to glare at him. “You let her restrain me? I was trying to warn you. Freaking idiot.” It was then she caught sight of Lilliana. “Your Highness. Forgive me, but I have an urgent message for you from your mother.”

“Your Highness?” Hannah’s eyes widened, her mouth opened as if to say more, then snapped shut. Several emotions played across her face. The one Ethan sensed the most was apprehension.

Rori turned on Hannah. “Don’t play innocent, James. You knew exactly who you were transporting. What you don’t know is that The Company is using you.”

Hannah glared at Rori. “No one uses me. Least of all The Company. I thought I was picking up one passenger. Him. I didn’t know he was smuggling someone or something into the country.”

Ethan listened in silence as the women argued. If Hannah knew about Lilliana, she was a good actress. He sensed no deception from her.

Lilliana let her glamour fade, revealing herself. Dark brown curls cascaded down her back. A simple dress covered her ivory skin. To humans she looked like a child, but she was close to a century old. She placed a hand on each of their shoulders. “No one knew of my arrival here, Rori. We must keep my presence secret until the meeting with the governor. If The Company knows I’m here, everything will be put into jeopardy.” Her lilting voice filled the car. “Hannah James, I can’t command you to obey my wishes, but I will ask you as a Princess of the Seelie Court to please do me this favor and not speak of me to anyone.”

Ethan sat up, his curiosity piqued. Hannah thrummed the steering wheel with her fingertips, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. Finally she said, “Look, I’m just a human who works for The Company. I don’t get involved in your affairs or particularly care who’s in power this week or the next. I do what I’m told and keep my mouth shut. I’ll keep your secret for now, but if you do anything to harm those I care about, I’ll kill you. Unless you want the world to know you’re here, I suggest you make yourself invisible. We’re pulling into The Company’s parking structure.”

Lilliana’s smile lit up her small face. “Hannah James, you are anything but human.”

As Lilliana faded to nothingness, Hannah met Ethan’s look in the mirror. “What the hell does that mean?”

Rori glanced back at Ethan and laughed. “A Changeling? What are the odds?”

What were the odds indeed. The Company had to know of Hannah’s fae lineage, but had never told her. They pulled into the underground parking lot and his stomach tightened. If Hannah was lying and knew of his mission she could endanger everything.

Hannah pulled into a space in the corner, far from other cars. Before the engine stopped, he was out of the car, motioning to Rori and Lilliana to stay where they were. He reached Hannah’s door just as she was opening it to exit. Without warning he grabbed her wrist and heaved her out of the car, slamming her door with his foot.

She pushed against his chest, her free hand fisted for a punch. Before she could attack, Ethan crushed his mouth to hers.

Now we know who the mysterious passenger and assassin are! What’s going on with The Company? What’s the message Rori needs to tell Lilliana? Do you think Hannah knows she’s faerie, but is lying? Would she really kill Lilliana if need be? What happens next week? Share your thoughts!

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week One: The Arrival

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: outsiderzone / 123RF Stock Photo

Our Summer Adventure ~ Week One: The Arrival

The plane arrived twenty minutes early. Almost unheard of at LAX and Ethan braced himself for the inevitable wait for his driver. When he arrived at baggage claim, she was already there, sign in hand. ETHAN CARMICHAEL spelled out in neat block letters.

The young woman holding the sign smiled a greeting as he approached. “Mr. Carmichael? I’m Hannah James. Do you have any luggage?”

He shifted the garment bag onto his shoulder, “Just the one.”

“Please follow me.”

Before she turned Ethan caught the faintest glimpse of her eyes, deeper than denim with a hint of gold buried deep within. The impulse to touch her, to seek that feeling he’d not felt in far too long, overtook him and he shook his hand to keep from reaching out to her retreating form.

Clad all in black, from her boots to the button-down shirt she wore, she moved with a grace he admired. Long wavy blonde hair pulled into a ponytail swished across her back as she she led him to a black town car, it’s windows tinted a deep shade of obsidian that guaranteed the passenger complete privacy. He nodded his approval. At least the Company understood the need for caution.

Hannah held open the door for him, frowning when he paused before entering. She glanced at the interior of the car and then back to him. “Is something wrong?”

He slipped into the back seat, laying the garment bag carefully beside him. “Not at all. You have the address?”

“I do. If you’ll just click in, we’ll be on our way.” She closed the door to further conversation and took her seat behind the wheel. Before starting the engine, she sent a text message and Ethan wondered to whom it was addressed. After he heard the tell-tale ping of an incoming text, she started the car and drove out of the parking structure in silence.

From behind his sunglasses he studied her in the rearview mirror. Tiny diamond earrings, a gift from an admirer perhaps, glinted from her earlobes. A brush of mascara was the only make up she wore on her clear skin. The severity of her look was softened by the natural blush in her cheeks. Ethan smiled to himself. He was affecting her whether she wanted to admit it or not. At least he hadn’t lost his touch.

Hannah maneuvered the car as if she’d been born to long lines of traffic and delays. Ethan studied her as she surveyed the surrounding cars. “Do your friends call you Han?”

A slight flick of blue in the review mirror, brows pinched with irritation. “Only Luke and Leia. Why do you ask, Chewbacca?”

Despite himself he laughed. A full-belled chortle that startled the silent passenger beside him. Ethan placed a comforting hand on his garment bag. “What do you do for fun, Hannah James?”

“I drive inquisitive passengers around town.” The slightest lift to the corner of her lips encouraged him.

“That’s all? Surely you must go out. Can you recommend any clubs? I’ve never been to Los Angeles, I’d like to see some of the city while I’m here.”

She squinted at him in the mirror, her lips a tight line across her face. “I don’t go out much. Sorry. If you’d like, I can give you a list of ‘must sees’”.

Ethan stretched his legs in the tight space. “I was hoping you could be my driver for the week. Is that possible?”

Her stare in the rearview mirror intensified, her brows pinched ever closer together. “I’m sure we can arrange something.” A flick of blue to each of the side mirrors, then back to the rearview mirror.

The car filled with heat, subtle, but there nonetheless. The scent of honeysuckle infused the small space.

Ethan turned to look out the back window, catching sight of a speeding motorcyclist as he whizzed past the driver’s side of the car. Hannah gripped the wheel, her knuckles turning white. A rapid pulse beat against the delicate skin of her neck and the smell of perspiration mingled with the honeysuckle. Without drawing attention to himself, Ethan pulled his garment bag closer to his side, placing the seat belt over the bundle. If Hannah thought his actions strange, he would laugh it off, but it was better to be safe than humiliated.

The motorcyclist swerved in front of the car, forcing Hannah to slam on the brake. “Sorry about that, Mr. Carmichael.”

Ethan’s attention was attached firmly to the motorcyclist, who was slowing down despite the other cars moving at normal speed. “Please, call me Ethan.” He kept his voice affable.

The black-clad cyclist turned then and pointed a gun at the window of the car. Hannah yelled for him to get down as a pulse of hazy green light shot from the muzzle of the gun, enveloping the car with an ionized power Ethan felt to his core. The bundle beside him whimpered in pain.

“What the hell was that?” Hannah shouted at the cyclist as the car engine began to stutter and fail.

Now it’s your turn! What happens next? Does the car completely fail? Does the motorcyclist kill Hannah? Who do you think Ethan is, and why is a murderous cyclist after him? Leave your ideas in the comments and come back next week to find out if they stall out on the 405.