ACACIA I
Abducting Aeron

ACACIA I: Abducting Aeron
By L. Shannon
Erotic m/f Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-59596-953-8
Released April 18, 2008
Changeling Press
http://changelingpress.com
Editor: Margaret Riley
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

Formats Available: HTML, Adobe PDF,
MobiPocket, Microsoft Reader
Buy it at Changeling


BLURB

Aeron, a vampire spy, has been assigned to one of Rahla’s blood donation centers to seek intelligence about the disappearance of Acacian agents from the resistance. When his cover is blown and he finds himself facing certain death at the hands of the Rahla Peace Officers -- known as the Reapers. His only salvation may be his human, planet side contact, Helia.

Despite her sister’s dire warnings, Helia is drawn to Aeron. She offers him her support, her blood and her body. She finds Aeron addictive, but if she follows him back to Acacian moon colony, she fears she’ll become no more than his human blood slave. How much will she willingly sacrifice to stay by his side?


EXCERPT

Aeron waited until he was alone before diving back into the complicated computer archives. There was some secret here, some clue that would explain what happened to the missing doctor. It was his job, his duty, his mission to uncover the informants who were endangering the Acacian operatives.

Cracking the security encryption hadn’t been hard. He’d done that numerous times in the week he’d been on assignment here, but once inside the archives there didn’t seem to be anything to find. All the usual lists of patients and blood donors and the usual inventory of medicines and blood units and shipment dates were there, but nothing looked suspicious. Each time he dug a little bit deeper.

There had to be something.

“Aeron?” Helia, second in charge of the Southern City Health Center, interrupted from the doorway.

He flicked the screen back to the regular patient input page. Not that it mattered so much with Helia. The pretty blond knew he was more than a human doctor here to supervise the collections. She knew he was a vampire, as well as a spy for the Acacian moon colony. “Yes? Is the next patient here?”

“Yes, last one for the day, I think.” She held out a disk chart. “I’ve set him up in room number two.”

Aeron logged off the computer and followed her to the new donor. Perhaps not so new. The man already had his arm in position. Still, Rahla policy required a doctor to be on hand for every blood donation, even if the machinery did nearly all the work.

“Good afternoon. I see you’ve given blood before.” Aeron pressed the disk chart to the reader and noted the man’s name. “We’ll be starting in a moment, Gregory.”

The man nodded, leaning back and closing his eyes.

Aeron examined the man’s arm and found the usual multitude of healed needle marks. Another glance at the chart confirmed that Gregory had been a regular donor for years, as was required by the Rahla government. “You missed your donation last month. Was there a problem?”

“I was ill. No other problem.”

The moment he closed the armband it began scanning Gregory’s bio-readout and comparing it to his standard history. “You’ve recovered now, I see.” Once that was done, he pressed the button to proceed. The machine issued a small hiss while administering a pain blocker and inserting the needle.

The soft, seductive scent of blood flowed over Aeron’s senses. Damn. His thirst rushed to the surface, swelling his fangs. He gritted his teeth to the point of pain, pushing back the need and forcing himself, against his instincts, to ignore the temptation.

A soft hand touched his shoulder. Helia. “I can take it from here.”

The woman always knew. He wasn’t sure how, but she always knew when he’d pushed too far. He bit down harder and offered a short nod.

Her worry faded some. “I left your usual dinner waiting in your office.”

“Thank you,” he whispered, with only the barest lisp. He tried to pass her without breathing in the delicate scent she’d been teasing him with for days, but that was futile. The subtle vanilla captured him, tangling his feet for a moment so that he tilted dangerously toward her long slender neck.

Her sigh jerked him back upright. He’d been about to feed from her, right in front of a donor.

“Go eat.” Her hand brushed his arm, gently pushing him toward the door.

He went, but his mind dwelled on the temptation that was Helia.

In his office, he found a small thermal mug filled with warm blood from some anonymous donor. As he brought the cup to his lips he knew it would do nothing to curb his appetite. The hunger came from a need deeper than thirst. What his body craved was Helia’s willing flesh and freely given blood.

He’d have her before this assignment was over. He’d claim her in every sense of the word. A low, possessive growl welled up. To fight back the unfamiliar ache, he swallowed down the blood, letting it ease him as best it could.

He’d held off so far. She might be willing, but he should not take advantage. Helia was his contact here on Rahla. He shouldn’t misuse her trust. She and Bridget were the only ones who knew what he was and could expose him to the Reapers. To betray their trust would be to forfeit his own safety as well as any future agents who needed access to the blood centers.

Still… he needed her, desired her, and every day it grew harder to resist.

“Are you well?” Helia asked from the door.

Hell no, he wasn’t well. He was losing his sanity. He drew in her scent from across the room and instantly his fangs ached in ways that the cup of blood hadn’t come close to inspiring.

“I had Bridget take over with room two. You were so pale, we were both concerned.”

“I’m fine, but thank you.” He sank down at the computer terminal again. His only hope of not preying on her innocence would be to keep busy, find his answers and get the hell off Rahla. “If there is no one else donating at the moment, I’ll continue here.”

“Have you found anything yet?”

“No.” Even if he had, he’d have answered no. It was never wise to reveal too much to the contacts. If it didn’t get them killed it could get him betrayed. Helia and Bridget didn’t know anything other than he was here to find out what happened to the missing doctor. They were mostly in the dark and it was best to keep them there.

“I can help if you’ll let me.” Helia closed the door and crossed to stand beside him. “You don’t need to flip the screen. I won’t even tell Bridget if that’s what you want.”

If she helped he might get done sooner, but then there’d be no way to keep her in the dark, to keep her safe.

“I have a right to help find him. You know I do.” She reached out, her fingers stilling a breath from his cheek, as if she’d planned to caress him but lost her courage at the last second. Then her hand fell away, but her blue gaze locked with his. “He was my father.”

“You knew?” Dr. Kaven had reported that no one knew of his past identity here in the donation center. He’d sworn that even his family would not recognize him after so long and so many changes, including his turning vampire. “How?”

“Information is the only true power. Just after he disappeared, I searched his things. Among them I found a picture of our mother as well as some private letters. It didn’t take much guessing to put together who he really was and why he was here with us. That was the reason I offered to be a contact for the Resistance. I just wish I had figured it out in time to help him.” She pushed back a wavy blond strand, tucking it behind her ear. “I need to know more about him and how it happened, how he was turned, and why he left.”

She did deserve to know the truth. “Your father was active in the Resistance. He was killed by the Reapers during the first wave of exiles to Acacia. He died saving… someone very important to our people. Our queen granted the conversion, and once he’d been turned he accepted his new life.”

“Why didn’t he tell us?”

“I’m sure he felt it was best, safest for your family. Even then it was illegal to marry or be married to a vampire. Your mother would have been exiled and you left orphaned. Can you understand?”

She didn’t answer.

“Let the past go, Helia. Your father is a hero to both our people. If he can be rescued, he will be.”

The bright tears shining in her eyes cracked something in him. He didn’t even remember his own parents. To Helia this chance to know her father would be something precious. He caught her trembling hands and tugged her forward until she stood between his thighs.

“I would welcome your help finding Dr. Kaven, but I know he will not thank me for putting you in danger.” He brushed the pad of his thumb across her cheek, wiping away the tear that had escaped.

“Do you think he really is still alive?”

He wanted to lie, to tell her Kaven was fine and all they had to do was find him. But that wouldn’t be fair to her either. So instead he tempered the grim truth with a taste of hope. “I don’t know. It is possible, but not very likely.”

She blinked at him. “You think there is a chance then?” Helia crumpled slowly against him. Her body trembled with emotion. Her arms snaked around his neck in her need for comfort.

And all he could do was revel in the contact. He hadn’t meant to give her false hope. Her father was almost certainly dead. His primary mission was to retrieve any intelligence the doctor had collected. The last communication had hinted at some problem with the blood supply which had as yet not been discovered. Tracking the doctor’s whereabouts was his secondary mission, but only if it did not interfere with getting the information.

But with Helia in his arms and her hopes pinned on finding her father, how could he turn away? Hell, with her pressed so tightly against his body, and his senses clamoring to feed and fuck, how could he even think straight?

END EXCERPT

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