Ari is looking to live a normal life. But after she hits her head, normal is no longer an option. A mysterious, rugged man appears, whom only she can see… each night he fulfills her fantasies and leaves her begging for more. She’s sure he’s a figment of her imagination—until she finds out the hard way that he’s all too real. Now, to truly be with him, Ari will have to embrace the parts of herself she’s been desperately keeping at bay.
Dalir’s been burned by love before, yet he can’t resist Ari’s beauty and charm. And all it takes is one kiss to spark nights of passion. But there’s danger on the horizon that only Dalir and his friends in the band Thane’s Redemption can deal with. And the longer he stays with Ari, the greater the peril to them both. Will the two of them be strong enough to fight for their newfound love—and their lives?
“Super spicy sex scenes…will leave you begging for more!” --Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Song series
By Nina Crespo
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Nina Crespo
All rights reserved.
Dalir rested on his heels as he sat on the cool white tiles. Flattening his hands to his thighs, eyes closed, he sank into a meditative trance. He mind-traveled through time in the Earthly dimension. Thoughts of joy, hope, fear, and anger, he heard them all. Memories of Alandia overshadowed them. A dull ache gripped Dalir's chest. His recollections had grown more persistent since he'd found out Kell had escaped.
At first, he hadn't understood what caused the anomaly that fragmented a section of time. Then Kell had appeared. His brother's violence in the Earthly realm had caused problems to erupt. And brought chaos back into his life. Eighty years ago, Kell's sentence to float formless for eternity had made his own reprimand more palatable. At least Kell could no longer threaten their father's rule. Just like Kell, the whereabouts of Alandia was stripped from his memory. The supreme council had exiled him to The Drift.
Twenty years into his sentence, he'd discovered he could travel to the Earthly dimension, but only as an incorporeal presence. When he'd done it, warriors from Alandia hadn't crashed down on him so he'd traveled between The Drift and Earthly dimensions at will. For decades, he'd gone from place to place, carrying the burden of failure. He'd let down his father, disgraced himself as a warrior, and lost Taliana. Then, five years ago, he'd spotted a helicopter crashing in the desert. He'd sensed the honor and bravery of the men destined to die inside of it. In that moment, he'd found a way to give his, and their lives meaning again.
Violence, natural disasters and worse loomed in the future. Finding his brother, that's what needed his attention. Not wasting energy on remembering a place where he could no longer return. Through the gift of time travel that he'd given Thane and the team, they could do what he couldn't. Intervene and prevent danger. Stop the threats. Instead, the former Special Operatives now hunted for his brother.
Where was Kell hiding? They had to find him. Dalir's heart rate spiked. Heat coursed through him. He rolled his shoulders and forced a deep breath. He concentrated on the time stream. The intertwined ribbons of seconds, hours, and months flowed smoothly in front of him. Farther up, part of the stream splintered into pieces as thin as threads. His heart sank. Not all of the fractures had healed.
A hammer banging on a wall, and what sounded like furniture legs dragging across the floor downstairs, broke his concentration. Women's voices penetrated the closed bedroom door.
A month ago, allowing Thane and Reid's fiancées to stay at his home in The Drift had made sense. In the Earthly dimension, once the guys traveled time, Celine and Lauren would forget them. The Drift was the only place the women's memories would remain intact. Damn it. What were Lauren and Celine up to now?
Sunlight filtered through pale, sheer curtains that lifted with the breeze, revealing the blue sky and snowcapped mountains.
What he'd give to have the same peacefulness in his home again. Dalir sprang to his feet. He combed his fingers back through his long hair, and it fell along his shoulders. As he tightened the strings on the waist of his gray sweats, cool air drifted over his bare torso. Dalir snagged a dark tank shirt from a drawer in the pinewood dresser and put it on. He stomped past the thick-columned footboard of the poster bed and went out the room.
Wood floors gleamed in the hallway. The doors to the three guest bedrooms, occupied by Mace, Colby, and West, remained shut. It was only a matter of time before the women's renovation project steamrolled upstairs and obliterated the clean, perfectly good, white walls.
In the beginning, Celine and Lauren had treated their time at his home like a resort vacation. They'd slept late, lounged in the gardens, trekked in the mountains, and sunned by the lake. Then boredom from isolation had set in. The team began including the women in some of their training at the shooting range and on the obstacle course to help breakup the monotony.
Somewhere along the line, Lauren and Celine's interests had turned to his home. They'd claimed it needed a woman's touch. Painting walls, adding a few frilly pillows, moving things around. That's what he'd expected. What could it hurt if it kept them occupied? He'd mainly consented to keep the guys on task with the mission of finding Kell. Then all of the sudden, the women went rogue. He should have never given them access to power tools.
Colby jogged up the stairs wearing tennis shoes, shorts, and a sweat-stained T-shirt. His damp blond hair clung to his forehead. "Wouldn't go down there if I were you. They're moving furniture out of the sunroom."
"They're changing the back wall into a built-in bookcase."
Why couldn't they just read the damn books instead of turning everything fucking upside down? "Where's Thane and Reid?"
"They made themselves scarce early this morning along with Mace and West."
Of course they had. Thane and Reid had led the team to stop rebellions, disasters, even a super virus from destroying humankind, but they couldn't control their fiancées. The flush spreading over him and supernatural energy expanded in equal proportions.
A buzz emitted from the light switch.
"Whoa. Chill." Colby raised his hands. "You'll fry the circuits again. No electricity will only prolong the agony. Just do like the rest of us and leave."
"You're still here."
"Not for long. I'm on recon duty."
At least someone was getting some real work done. "Do you have a lead on Kell?"
"Possibly. The police in New Jersey are looking for a slasher. The victims' wounds may have been caused by a sword."
Knots tightened in Dalir's gut. Since his escape, Kell had killed a woman scientist, kidnapped Lauren, and tortured Reid. Those were the incidents they knew about. Was he responsible for these murders, too? Recollections of the pain his brother had caused seared into him. Four weeks ago, he'd fought Kell and nicked his brother's throat, but Kell had leaped time and escaped before he could finish him. He would have pursued him, but Reid's injuries couldn't wait. Time in nothingness had weakened Kell's phasing and fighting skills. His brother wouldn't make the same mistake twice. Kell wouldn't show his face until his powers and fighting skills reached full potential.
Colby's green eyes grew cold with a hard expression. "Don't worry we'll find him."
"When are you reporting back?"
"Later tonight. After New Jersey, I'm tracking down Ari." Colby answered Dalir's questioning look with a chuckle. "You know who she is, Celine and Lauren's friend."
Right. Celine and Lauren had agonized over leaving her behind in Florida. His decision not to bring Ari to The Drift hadn't gone over well. Lauren and Celine had a reason to occupy his home. Ari, a grown woman capable of taking care of herself, didn't. First they'd want one friend to live with them in The Drift. Then another. He wasn't a damn innkeeper. Just like their little redecorating project, the list of people they would have wanted at The Drift would have gone on forever. "What about Ari?"
"We're taking turns checking in on her so the girls won't worry so much."
An electric saw buzzed to life downstairs.
Dalir's jaw ached from his gritted teeth. He could camp in the mountains or go to his place near the lake. Or he could let Colby do the job the recon expert did best. Hunt for leads.
"I'll check on Ari."
Colby rubbed the stubble on his jawline. "I was just going to pop in where she works, make visual confirmation that she's okay, and move out. I can handle it."
"Focus on finding my brother. I'll take care of this side errand." Dalir stalked back to his room to change clothes. "It's time to bring this shit to an end."CHAPTER 2
The Earthly Dimension
The young woman tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her ear and sighed. "I'm not sure what I'm looking for."
"Don't worry. Something will catch your eye." Ari Frasier led her customer further into Diva Unique. Soothing light-colored walls, artfully draped displays, and hints of jasmine and lavender scenting the air invited customers to linger. Of all the stores in the mall, Diva Unique contained the best selection of women's specialty gifts.
"It has to be perfect. My mother-in-law is extremely picky." The woman's gaze roamed over scented candles, bath soaps and moisturizers. "Finding a gift for her is so difficult."
"This moisturizer is nice, and it's one of our bestselling products. May I?" Ari pumped a small dollop into her customer's hand. Infused with sweet orange, it would help calm the woman's rising anxiety.
The woman massaged it in. "I like it, but for my mother-in-law, who knows if it's right?"
Ari's palm itched. A brief touch or the lightest brush over the woman's arm could reveal the answer. Or lead to trouble. Ari curled her hands into fists. Just like it had at the car dealership, the real estate office, the catering company, and everywhere else she'd worked in the past. Her bosses had reprimanded her for not obeying the prime rule of sales. The customer is always right. She'd steered buyers toward what she sensed was best for them which didn't always equal a profit or a happy customer. Of course, she couldn't tell her bosses or anyone else that her special insight led the way. Instead, she'd endured the label of failure and accepted termination after termination. But she wouldn't bring crystal-ball antics into Diva Unique. The store was her best friend's baby. Celine had entrusted it to her while she trekked through Bali and Tibet. She couldn't let her girl down.
Ari and the woman moved to the jewelry display. They sorted through gold filigree rings and fashionable bangles.
"These are nice." The woman sighed. "But I found out from one of my mother-in-law's friends that she absolutely hated the designer jewelry I bought her for Christmas. This is a disaster. I don't know what to choose. I can't mess up her birthday gift, too."
The woman's stress engulfed Ari. Before she changed her mind, Ari clasped the woman's arm. Fiery tingles spread into her hand. Jessica. That was the customer's name. As a newlywed, Jessica not only agonized over pleasing her mom-in-law but feared disappointing her husband as well.
Mere seconds ticked by, but for Ari it extended into moments, allowing her a glimpse into the young woman's emotions and fragments of thoughts. More of the fiery sensation spread up Ari's arm. Her heart rate kicked up. She ignored a warning to let go before she passed out. So close. Just a bit longer. Something useful would surely pop up.
Blue. The rest of the clues flashed like a neon sign.
Ari let go. A held breath whooshed out of her. It wasn't surprising to find the answer buried underneath a mountain of worry. Most people stood in the way of their own good instincts. Spots floated before her eyes. Ari coughed as she waved away Jessica's concerned expression. "I'm fine. I swallowed down the wrong pipe. I just lost my breath for second." Her vision cleared. She led Jessica down one of the aisles. The narrow skirt of Ari's purple dress limited her stride. "I think I have something that will work." She rose on the toes of her beige high-heeled pumps and sorted through a stack of folded, colorful fabrics on the shelf. She'd stocked it last night after closing. "What do you think?"
Jessica snatched the cream and blue, paisley scarf from Ari's hand. "Oh my gosh! My mother-in-law just read a fashion article a few weeks ago about tying scarves. She loved the idea of using them to spice up her wardrobe. She just hasn't been able to find what she likes, but she'll love this. The blue matches her eyes." Jessica stared in amazement. "How did you know?"
Ari feigned a shrug of innocence. "Lucky guess."
"Seriously? Lucky guess? This is perfect. You're nothing short of amazing."
Joy infused Ari. "Just doing my job." Sometimes her ability did bring some good. That's all she'd ever wanted, but she'd sworn not to use her special insight after losing her last job two months ago. Well, maybe just one more time. "Now, what about you? After all you've been through, you deserve something pretty." Ari steered Jessica toward a charm bracelet she knew the young woman would love.
The rest of the morning sped by with Saturday shoppers wandering in from the mall corridor. As the lone sales attendant, Ari did double duty helping customers and ringing up purchases. Two hours later, the store emptied. She kicked off her shoes behind the sales counter and wiggled her toes. Function trumped comfort. That's why she wore heels no less than three inches. Without the addition to her height, she'd spend the day with a crick in her neck from constantly looking up.
She snagged a pen and pad from the counter and made a list of items to replenish. Candles, stationary, and lemon-lavender bath salts. Lauren absolutely loved bath salts as well as the other high-end bath products. After a month in the jungle, she was probably suffering from withdrawals. She'd set some aside for her. Ari added another case of bath salts to the list.
Funny. She hadn't sensed Lauren's decision to volunteer at a remote health clinic in South America or Celine leaving with a new boyfriend no one had met. Truthfully, she shouldn't have had to sense it. A pang hit Ari squarely in the chest. The three of them were tight, like sisters. They should have mentioned their plans instead of blindsiding her with them. Don't be so pathetic. Stop whining. Ari listed more items. It wasn't like they were ditching her forever. They'd be back in a month. And right now, she had a job to do. She needed to restock before Brooke and the others showed up. They wouldn't have time in the midst of catering to the Memorial Day weekend crowd.
Ari slipped on her shoes and hurried into the storeroom behind the counter. She dragged the stepladder in place. Of course, what she needed was on the highest shelf. Note to staff: stock the more popular spa items within reach.
She tugged up the slim skirt of her dress and stepped on the ladder. On the way up, her leg bumped the large, stuffed teddy bears they included in the new baby gift baskets. Ari stretched. Her fingertips grazed the flat carton. Shit. She climbed to the top of the ladder and rose to her toes. Another reason she needed high heels.
As she edged the box off the metal shelf, the weight shifted. The carton knocked her in the chest.
Ari fell back.
Arms flailing, she made a grab for something, anything to break her fall. The teddy bears tumbled down with her. Pain exploded in her head. Moments later a deep, male voice penetrated through the pain-filled fog.
A nice-looking guy with dark hair, and silvery eyes so brilliant they glowed, stared down at her with concern. His lips moved.
What was he saying? She couldn't hear him. Ari's vision blurred and she sank into darkness.
* * *
"You're extremely lucky." The young, blond doctor in the emergency room wrapped a stethoscope around the collar of his white lab coat. He smiled. "The EMTs said a bunch of teddy bears saved you. Apparently, they cushioned most of the fall."
Not that she remembered. She'd passed out and awakened with emergency personnel kneeling over her. "Guess the teddy bears are my new best friends along with the customer that found me." Ari laughed. A sharp ache stabbed into her skull. She smoothed back her dark bangs. Luckily, her short hair would still cover the bump on her head.
A brown-haired nurse dressed in pink scrubs helped Ari up to a sitting position on the bed. As the doctor checked her over, his ID badge dangled near Ari's face.
Brad Foster. Nice name, nice bod, nice everything. But even with the dimple in his cheek, he wasn't as cute as the guy who'd come to her rescue. Just her luck to meet two hot-looking guys when she was a mess.
"A customer, that's interesting." Dr. Foster washed his hands in a sink against the wall. "I heard one of your staff found you."
"Really? But I know I saw someone I didn't recognize."
"Maybe he went to get help." The nurse smiled and handed Dr. Foster a computer tablet.
Excerpted from Dalir's Salvation by Nina Crespo. Copyright © 2016 Nina Crespo. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.