Sight Beyond the Sun
Love Beyond Book 2
by Melody Johnson
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies…especially the lies you tell yourself.
A prison break.
Adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist Kinsley “Switch” Morales had a chip on her shoulder long before being caught in what she suspects is some sort of intergalactic human-trafficking ring. Aliens not only exist, their reptilian bodies are stronger, their honed reflexes faster, and their shiny scales nearly impenetrable. But nothing will curb Kinsley’s resolve to commandeer their spaceship and return home to Earth—even if that means crawling behind enemy lines and cozying up to their uncompromising captain.
An undercover mission.
When Raveno Hoviir catches Kinsley outside her cell, wreaking havoc in his control room, he sees more than just her strength, resolve, and courage. He sees a golden opportunity to finally root out the traitor under his command and prove his brother’s loyalty before the coming revolution. After so many years undercover, Raveno is finally one mission away from saving his planet from its tyrannical ruler. He’s sacrificed everything to protect his people—his love life, his anonymity, his left leg—but in his efforts to right his father’s wrongs, has he inadvertently become the very monster he plans to overthrow?
An unlikely alliance.
As Kinsley and Raveno each attempt to exploit the other, they find more than just leverage for their separate missions. Inexplicably, they find common ground in their mutual devotion to family and service. Kinsley knows all too well the grief and guilt of making the wrong decision in the field, but will Raveno keep his word to send her home if she flips loyalties? Is Raveno’s softening heart compromising his judgment, or is Kinsley’s intelligence accurate? Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies. Seeing beyond their surface differences and trusting in love again may be the only way to save both their people—and each other
Kinsley kept a wary eye on Raveno and his sudden smugness as she turned toward the control panel, but he merely crossed his arms again, a spectator to her mission.
Just what she’d always wanted: an audience.
Even under Raveno’s scrutiny, the orange button called to her. Press me, it taunted with each glowing pulse, and now that she knew it would begin a countdown, her body sang with longing. She might be in space over four months from Earth with the captain of an alien criminal enterprise watching her, but she could still press a button and watch the sparks fly.
Kinsley resisted her natural impulse to blow everything up and instead reached to press the blue buttons on the bottom quadrant of the control panel. She’d already successfully steered the ship left and right utilizing those directional blue buttons. Might as well experiment with driving this bad boy in reverse.
Raveno choked back what sounded like a protest.
Kinsley peered over her shoulder, hand hovering. “Is there a problem?”
“No,” he said quickly. Too quickly.
She raised her eyebrows. “Then what was that noise?”
“Sounded like something.”
He shook his head, but the spines around his neck separated from his collar, rubbed together like sandpaper, tsh tsh, then slapped flat against his neck.
Definitely something. Kinsley refocused on the control panel—the only way to learn was to do—and moved to press the buttons anyway.
Raveno lunged forward and grabbed her wrist, her fingertips inches from the blue buttons. “You cannot engage the forward thrusters. The stern thrusters are still on.”
Kinsley grinned. “So, there was a problem.”
Raveno glared down at her.
“What happens if I don’t disable the stern thrusters before engaging the forward thrusters?”
“The redundancy alarm will sound, warning the pilot, you, that fuel and energy are being wasted. Some of my crew might come to help, so we should avoid that kind of attention.”
“Okay, fine, I’ll disable the stern thrusters first.”
Raveno released her wrist.
Kinsley reached up to press the blue buttons on the top quadrant of the control panel.
“Ah!” He snatched at her wrist again. “Not at random.”
She rolled her eyes up at him. “I’ve done it before without an alarm sounding.”
“Correct, but you need to disengage the thrusters with parallel equality to maintain our trajectory. Otherwise, we will veer off course.”
That’s the point. Chaos, remember? Kinsley thought, but when she opened her mouth to say as much, she found herself saying, “Show me,” instead.
He released her arm and pointed to the blue buttons in the top quadrant in pairs. “Starboard and port forward thrusters, mid-forward thrusters, mid-stern thrusters and stern thrusters. Press them in pairs, forward to stern.”
She did. “And to fly in reverse, I do the same, but opposite, to the bottom quadrant of blue buttons? Stern to forward in pairs?”
“You are quick to learn,” he murmured.
She pressed the bottom quadrant’s blue buttons in pairs, as directed. Then, while Raveno was still nodding his encouragement, she entered the combination to cancel autopilot and flipped the switch for manual override.
Raveno tensed. “Wait, what are you—”
Using the joystick, she set the medial movement of the ship into a counterclockwise tail spin. “Just having a little fun.” She jerked her head at the wide-open space of, well, space featured in the backup camera. “We’ve got room for it.”
“Careful. The blue buttons. You see how that one turned yellow? You need to—”
“I have it.” She pressed the yellow button, turning it blue again, but the one next to it flashed yellow. “I just need to—”
An alarm sounded. Shit.
She peeked back at Raveno guiltily, but he didn’t seem angry. He’d covered his mouth with his palm, and his shoulders were bouncing.
He was laughing!
“Well, how do I fix it?” she asked.
“Do you not, as you say, ‘have it’?”
Kinsley released the joystick and pressed all the yellow buttons, five now, but the more buttons she pressed, the more turned yellow.
One of them flashed red.
“Eventually, someone is gonna care about these damn alarms and come investigate,” she warned. “What happened to avoiding this kind of attention?”
“I am finding your panic more enjoyable than anticipated.”
Men—whether they had skin or scales, they were all the same. Impossible!
She’d maneuvered all the yellow buttons back to blue, but another three bypassed yellow, flashing red.
Raveno eyed the instrument panel. “Cease fiddling with the thrusters. Take the yoke in both hands and reestablish control of your rotation.”
The joystick, yoke, whatever, was what had gotten her in this jam to begin with! She ignored him and flipped three of the silver switches instead.
Raveno lunged forward and flipped the switches off. “What are you doing?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Kinsley snapped. “I don’t know!”
“Releasing three of our solo cruisers will not help you regain control of the ship,” he said dryly.
All the buttons suddenly flashed red.
“Fuck. There’s no time.” She shot a look at the doorway and then up at the incineration shaft. “I’d better beat it now while I still can.”
She tensed to run.
“The door is locked. There is time.” He snatched both her hands in his and slapped them to sandwich the joystick. “Like this. Now, ease up and out of the spin. Slowly.” He encouraged softly, guiding her pressure on the controls. One of the buttons flashed back to blue. “There. Now increase the backward throttle, so we’re not just spinning in place. That’s why those two are still red. They’re working against each other. Good.”
He loosened his grip, so she was the one in control. Although his hands still hovered, ready to swoop in again if necessary.
“Keep it up. A little looser now. Let the ship steer itself. There.” The last button turned blue, and the alarm cut to silence.
Kinsley grinned, feeling the rush of success and adrenaline ignite her blood. “We did it!”
“You did it.”
“Yes, I did. Ha! That was awesome!” She glanced back at him, and suddenly, his face was inches from hers. His arms were still wrapped around her, had been ever since he’d forced her to grip the yoke in both hands, but she hadn’t noticed until now. His hard front flush against her back. His muscular arms surrounding her arms. The glowing dot in his right wrist illuminating his steady hands over her hands.
His nostrils flared wide.
Yes, something did smell rather good. Fresh and clean, nearly like eucalyptus, but bright. It made her mouth water.
Without thought, her eyes dropped to his lips.
Raveno’s bifurcated tongue slipped out and flicked between them.
She could pull away if she wanted to. His grip was loose as he stroked a knuckle across the inside of her wrist. The way his finger was bent, he was being very careful of his claws in such close proximity to her veins. His touch was light. It should have been barely imperceptible, except the texture of his scales was foreign and unfamiliar. They looked cold, but felt warm. How could something so warm raise goose bumps across her skin? A shiver shot up her arm, across her collarbone, and her unmentionables clenched.
His eyes closed for a moment on a shuddering inhale.
Citrus. That was the smell. Somehow, his scales smelled like eucalyptus and citrus. Oranges, specifically.
To match his blood-orange irises, she thought as they opened to meet her gaze.
He swayed toward her.
Was that longing in the strain of his expression?
Worse, was she swaying toward him?
Oh, this was not happening.
Beyond the Next Star
Love Beyond Book 1
An intolerable order. A desperate charade. A deadly secret…
Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he’s ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn’t help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn’t die first in his incompetent care, she’ll be the death of him.
After witnessing the murder of her domestication specialist, Delaney McCormick allows her new owner to treat her like the pet he believes her to be. If anyone suspects she’s more intelligent than a golden retriever, her murder would be next. She endures the humiliation of being washed, the tediousness of being trained to “sit” and “come”, and the intrigue of hearing private conversations. But in Torek’s care, she finds something unexpected on this Antarctic planet, something she never had in all her years on Earth while house-hopping between foster families: a home.
As companionship grows to love, must Delaney continue the charade, acting like an animal and hiding from the murderer waiting for her misstep? Or can she trust Torek with her secrets, even if the truth threatens everything he holds dear—and both their lives?
When the lorienok abducted Delaney—after she’d finally accepted that she wasn’t dreaming, in a coma, having a mental breakdown, or in hell—she’d given them a fake name: Jane Smith. Not an exceptionally creative or unique pseudonym by any stretch of the imagination, but having come to grips with the fact that she’d been literally abducted by aliens, her imagination was stretched dangerously thin. Intergalactic kidnapping wasn’t a chronic illness, but for a time—a longer time than she was comfortable admitting to now—wasting away had seemed a preferable fate.
She didn’t accomplish much by hiding her identity. She didn’t have any blood relatives to protect, a criminal record to hide, or a trust fund to safeguard. Delaney Rose McCormick had about as much value associated with her name as did the fictional Jane Smith and left nearly as small a void on Earth. But all Delaney had in those early days directly following her abduction was her name and the hope that everything—the abduction, the tests, the training—was just a big mistake. Which, as it turned out, it was. Her abduction had been the biggest technological mistake in lorienok history, but that didn’t change her circumstances. Days turned to weeks turned to months turned to the abandonment of tracking time. Hope died. She had nothing to her name, but her name, at least, was her own, and she would keep it for herself.
By the time her domestication specialist, Keil Kore’Weidnar, discovered Delaney’s capacity to learn and taught her Lori, his native language, the issue of her name had become moot. He’d already renamed her Reshna, a spiral-shaped handheld tool used to drill into ice. He’d shown her a hologram of it, pointing to the spiral and then to the wild frizz of her unconditioned curls. They had a similar-looking tool on Earth, but they used it to open wine bottles. He’d named her “corkscrew” for her crazy hair.
She’d been called worse names in high school.
She couldn’t say she’d lived in worse places, though. Most of her foster families, with the exception of the Todd household, had been decent people who’d given her clothes, a bed under a roof, and regular meals. Besides clothes, those basic necessities were still being met, so a little gratitude was probably in order. But only just a little, because she also had a cage. And a collar. And if she’d just translated the words and growls of the pet store manager correctly, she had a new owner.
Like most lor, her owner had thick, curved ram horns jutting from his head, and like all lorienok regardless of gender, he was covered head to toe in brown fur. Sasquatch did exist after all; he just wasn’t native to Earth. He was roughly the same size and shape as a human bodybuilder, and in addition to the horns, his nose and mouth protruded slightly into a blunt muzzle, two rows of sharp predator teeth filled his overly large mouth, and pointy bearlike claws tipped each finger and likely each toe on his boot-shod feet.
Unlike most, this male wore his hair long. His locks were tied back from his face in a messy bun with a forest-green elastic band. His beard was also long and came to a point at the end, hanging a few inches below his chin. But his eyes were his most striking feature, assuming that one had already become accustomed to the ram horns, claws, abundance of muscle, and close-cropped body fur. His left eye was the same doe brown common to all lorienok—a smidge rounder and larger than human eyes, like calf eyes with those thick lashes and soul-deep stare—but his other eye was ice blue. A thick scar bisected his right brow, eyelid, and upper cheek, slicing directly over that unique, penetrating gaze.
His bearing was regal and confident, the sharp cut of his jawline proud, but his eyes betrayed him. He was sad—horribly sad—and he glowered at Delaney through the wire door of her cage like he was the Greek king Sisyphus and she his boulder, resigning himself to an eternity of labor over an impossible, futile undertaking.
Or maybe Delaney was just projecting because she couldn’t imagine anything more impossible and futile than her current existence. I am not a pet! she wanted to yell. But after witnessing Keil’s cold-blooded murder, she knew to keep her mouth firmly shut. If anyone suspected her more intelligent than a golden retriever, her death would be next.
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Melody Johnson is the award-winning author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology.
Earning the 2021 Maggie Award of Excellence, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, book 1) is an exciting branch from Melody’s paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Her first published novel, The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1), was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests.
When she isn’t writing, Melody enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia. Stay in touch with Melody on social media or her website: authormelodyjohnson.com
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