Exclusive Content: Dark Desires Series #6 by Nina Croft
Flying Through Fire by Nina Croft
Dark Desires #6
Tagline: Saving the universe sucks.
About Flying Through Fire:
For ten thousand years he’s done his duty. Now he wants something for himself…
Winged monsters have been seen in the skies, and a pestilence follows in their wake, threatening the very survival of mankind. Only the crew of the Blood Hunter knows where they come from, and only one man has the power to send them back—Thorne, a human/dragon hybrid in possession of mental powers beyond comprehension.
Candace Decker doesn’t need anyone to look after her—she’s a badass werewolf more than capable of protecting herself and those she loves. All the same, she’s always been drawn to Thorne’s strength. In an uncertain world, he’s the one man who makes her feel safe. And what Candy wants, she usually gets.
But while Candy is tenacious, Thorne’s willpower has been honed over ten thousand years. He might want her, but the last thing he needs is an infatuation with a young, impetuous werewolf. Candy makes him lose control, and that could have disastrous consequences.
As the threat escalates and they become separated by time and space, Candy must find a way back to him, because while Thorne alone has the power to defeat the dragons, only together can they finally bring peace to the universe.
For some people falling in love really is for ever.
Only together can they bring the world back from the brink of destruction.
“You owe me a kiss,” she said, and the lust was gone in a flash, replaced by…panic?
-A pressure was building in her brain, a darkness. She could no longer see. Was this how dying felt?
“I think I’ve loved you all my life. I didn’t recognize it at first, then I resented you, but I always loved you.”
Reaching out, he slid his hands around her waist, turned her so she faced him, then lowered his head and kissed her as the water washed his fears away. Whatever happened, she was here now, and there was something he needed to tell her. Because maybe time was running out for everyone. He cupped her face in his hands. “I love you.”
“You weren’t even going to come and say good-bye?”
Thorne’s gaze flicked to her and then away. “We’ve said good-bye a hundred times. I have to go and prepare my people.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You don’t think it’s going to be that easy, do you?”
Some emotion flashed across his face and was gone. He turned away and headed into the main chamber. This was a big shuttle; big enough to cover the long distance between here and Espera. The room was circular, about nine feet by nine feet, with seating for six plus a separate room with bunk beds attached to the walls. Thorne headed for the main console and started to flick the switches to set the take-off procedure into motion. From beneath her, the vibrations rippled through her body as the engines kicked in.
Candy gritted her teeth. “You promised to tell me how you feel. Did you lie to me?”
He swung around, and his eyes glowed purple. “You know how I feel.”
Did she? Sometimes she felt like she knew absolutely nothing. “You feel responsible for me.”
She hated that. No one was responsible for her but herself. She didn’t want to be a fucking responsibility. “I don’t need looking after.”
A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. He smiled so rarely, it changed his whole demeanor. He raised an eyebrow.
“Okay,” she grudgingly conceded. “Maybe sometimes I need looking after.” She bit her lip. “I never thanked you for saving my life.”
She took a deep breath. “Thank you. But that doesn’t get you out of your promises. Tell me.”
He leaned back against the console, folded his arms across his chest. But at least he wasn’t throwing her off the ship. “You really want to know?”
She gave an abrupt nod; all she could manage.
“I want you.”
Shock held her still for a moment. She’d never expected him to admit it, though she’d sensed it subconsciously, felt it in his gaze. It was what had driven her on in the face of a hundred rejections.
“For ten thousand years I’ve done what was needed, what I had to do…my duty. Now for the first time in all those years, I want something for myself.”
She licked her dry lips. “Have me then.”
In Flying Through Fire, book 6 in my Dark Desires series, we have the whole cast of the series appearing at some point or other. I thought it would be nice to get inside a few of their heads, see how they were doing, what they were thinking…
However, my editor believed that these scenes detracted from the two main characters and were a little jarring, and so the scenes were removed. This one was from Saffira’s (the heroine of book 4, Temporal Shift) point of view.
The door slid shut behind her. Saffira leaned against the wall of the corridor and tried to slow her breathing. Sweat pricked her forehead, heat from the vision.
Thorne had burned because of her. She’d been powerless to help him, to save him.
It’s not real.
Not all her visions came true. Maybe this was a warning of what might be.
And she’d already lost Thorne. He’d closed himself off. He’d given ten thousand years to his people. Now they were dead. Perhaps he was right, and that meant he was free. They were both free.
She pushed herself up, hating the weakness that made her stumble. The visions drained her strength, but she had to sort herself out before she saw Devlin or he would want to know what was up, and what could she say?
In the back of her mind, deep down, she’d always known it would come to this.
She shook the thought aside, not wanting to think about what was to come. She’d always been afraid of burning; had the flames already consumed her in some forgotten vision?
Thorne had been right; she hadn’t thought of anyone but herself and Devlin in the past year. She’d been totally immersed in their love. It had been a magical time, and she’d believed she deserved it. She’d saved the goddamn human race. Sort of. And besides, she would have visited later; she was supposed to have had fucking eternity.
Time enough for everything.
Now time was running out.
The strength was coming back to her limbs. Good, because she was going to need all that strength. She headed to the nearest transporter bubble.
“Bridge,” she murmured. The ships mind control systems were still offline. Wouldn’t be brought back up until Thorne was away.
He’d been like a father to her, but that was over. She’d broken the first ties when she had lied to him, betrayed him. He’d said he understood, but she’d known that underneath he’d harbored resentment. The remaining ties had snapped when she had abandoned Espera and her people.
How hard would it have been to visit?
Guilt gnawed at her insides.
She’d always had a selfish streak.
The transporter bubble opened onto the bridge. It was empty but for Fergal sitting at the console.
“Hi,” she said.
He glanced up. “Hey, there. I’m just tweaking the program and keeping an eye on our incoming.”
“Are they still heading this way.”
“Yeah. On a direct course. There’s also a third, seems to be following but farther behind. It’s these two you’re going to have to avoid.”
She leaned closer. “Can I see?”
“Sure.” Fergal flicked on the monitor and the screen filled up with an image of the two dragons flying through space. In a way, they were beautiful, fierce and powerful, and they called to something deep inside her. But then she was part dragon. It had been in her blood from birth, and she had strengthened the connection when she had made the change. Probably more so than anyone alive.
She took a mental note of the coordinates flashing on the screen. They were still four hours out. Plenty of time. Or no time at all when compared to eternity.
“Thanks,” she said. “I’ll go check if Devlin has Thorne’s shuttle ready.”
This time she didn’t take the transporter bubble but walked to the docking bay. She needed time to think this through. Sort out what she needed in her head, and the best way to achieve it.
And put off seeing Devlin for the last time.
She didn’t know if she was strong enough, but she had to be.
Her steps slowed as she drew close, and she cleared her mind. She needed to keep the truth locked down in that lower level where they only went in the most intimate moments when their minds became as one.
As she entered the docking bay, he was coming down the ramp from the shuttle he was readying. Her heart still gave a little jump each time she saw him. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, with his tall, lean figure and his black and gold hair. The scar running down his cheek adding to the attraction. When he caught sight of her, his lips curved up in a smile, and as she came to a halt in front of him, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard.
For a second she relaxed against him, gave herself over to the kiss, emptied herself of everything but the taste and feel of him. Finally, she pulled away.
“How did it go with Thorne?” Devlin asked.
She screwed up her face. “Not good. He’s determined to go, and won’t let me in. Said I should leave, that I’m endangering everyone by hanging around.”
He leaned across and kissed her forehead. “We’ll be out of here as soon as he’s on his way.”
She licked her lips. “I think I might have one more go. I’ll call him, tell him the shuttle’s ready, and try and convince him one more time.”
“Well, you know him better than anyone else. Go for it. Rico seems to think he’s our one hope. You want me to stick around?”
“No, I think I’ll have a better chance alone.”
“Okay. I’m going to get some food. Is there anything I can get you?”
He grinned. “Of course,” he said and strode away.
At the last moment, she had to touch him one more time. She raced down the ramp and he turned at the bottom. She ran into his arms, hugged him tight.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“No. Not really.” She forced a smile. “It will take time, but I will be.”
He kissed the top of her head. “Go call Thorne. I’ll feel better once we’re away from here and on the move.”
“I will.” This time she held her feet in place as he disappeared into the transporter bubble.
She worked quickly, tapping into the systems manually. She knew the Blood Hunter better than anyone. Better even than Devlin. After all, she had five hundred years on Earth to study the plans.
When she was sure she had done everything she could to buy herself enough time, she wiped the ship’s memory and headed to the shuttle Devlin had prepared for Thorne.
She purposefully didn’t think as she sat in the pilot’s seat and switched on the engines. The shuttle lifted, hovered, then the docking bay doors opened and she was heading out into open space. Tears pricked at her eyes as she left the Blood Hunter behind. She watched the rear screens, saw the docking bay doors close and then the explosion that would seal the doors and give her enough time to do what she needed to do.
Two minutes out, she sensed him in her mind.
“I have to. I love you, but I have to do this.”
“Why?” The question was tortured.
“I’m the only one who can end this. I started it, and I need to finish it. I should have died a year ago. We’ve had that year and it’s been the best time ever.”
“You promised me eternity. How am I expected to go on without you?”
“You’ll find a way.”
“I’m coming after you.”
“You can’t. I’ve seen to that.”
She raised the wall in her mind and shut him out forever.
About Nina Croft:
Growing up in the cold, wet, north of England, Nina Croft spent a lot of time dreaming of faraway sunnier places and ponies. When she discovered both, along with a whole load of other things, could be found between the covers of a book, her life changed forever.
Later, she headed south, picked up the perfect husband along the way, and together they volunteered to work in Africa. There they discovered a love of exotic places and a dislike of 9-5 work. Afterward they spent a number of years travelling (whenever possible) intermingled with working (whenever necessary.) Eventually they stumbled upon a remote area in the mountains of southern Spain and the small almond farm they now call home.
Nina spends her days reading, writing and riding her mare, Gencianna, under the blue Spanish skies—sunshine and ponies. She reckons this is proof that dreams really can come true if you want them enough.
Connect with Nina:
Author Website: www.ninacroft.com
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nina_Croft
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NinaCroft.Writer/
Author Pinterest: https://es.pinterest.com/nicolacleasby/
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NinaCroft.Writer/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3378320.Nina_Croft
Glossary of Terms
The Chosen Ones
One thousand years ago, when it became clear that the Earth was going to be destroyed, twenty-four ships were built, the Trakis One to Twenty-Four, to ensure the continuation of humanity and to take a selected few to a new life. Each ship carried ten thousand people, sleeping in cryo tubes, to be woken when they reached a planet able to sustain life. They were selected by a—some claim very dodgy—lottery system and were known as the Chosen Ones.
The Trakis System
Five hundred years after leaving Earth, the fleet eventually came upon a system capable of supporting life. They christened it the Trakis system after the ships that carried them to safety. Each individual planet was named after the ship which first landed there.
Trakis One was the first planet reached, an inhospitable place on the outer reaches of the system, and guarded by a black hole. The ship, the Trakis One, carrying the President of the Federation of Nations, the government in charge of the Earth at the time of the exodus, was promptly sucked into this black hole on arrival and never seen again. (At least, not for a very long time…)
Trakis One was later used as the high-security prison planet for the Collective, due to the fact that it was almost impossible to escape without being dragged into the black hole.
Trakis Two doesn’t rotate, hence it has a dark side and a light side, and is also known as The Planet That Never Sleeps. It’s a den of iniquity, with every known vice available, and also the home of many “beings” who made it from Earth but were never officially part of the Chosen Ones.
When the Chosen ones were selected, certain groups were kept out of the lottery, mainly because most people didn’t know they existed. They included vampires, werewolves, demons, among others. Considering the system unfair, a few of them, led by the vampire Ricardo Sanchez, took it on themselves to bribe the captain of the Trakis Two with the promise of eternal life in exchange for dumping a few of his Chosen Ones and taking them onboard.
The original Church headquarters was based here before moving to Trakis Five.
Trakis Five is the most pleasant and Earthlike of the planets, and where the Collective made their home. The Church took over the planet after they had defeated the Collective.
Meridian, the source of immortality, was first discovered on this extremely unpleasant planet. At the time, no one was aware that Meridian was produced by an alien dragon-like organism trapped on the planet. Or that the dragon also produced a substance poisonous to humans, and only counteracted by dragon DNA from the Meridian. Anyone who visits Trakis Seven, and doesn’t “join” with Meridian dies, sometimes quickly, but usually slowly and extremely painfully. Prisoners were used on the planet to “mine” the Meridian. It was a prolonged death sentence due to Meridian poisoning. The Church blew up Trakis Seven to destroy the source of Meridian.
Trakis Twelve is a pretty depressing place with not much happening.
This mysterious substance was discovered when the Trakis Seven crash landed on its planetary namesake. The material was named after the captain of the Trakis Seven—Callum Meridian. At first it was thought to be a mineral, but was later found to be animal in nature. It combines with human DNA to form a hybrid creature, and it bestows certain characteristics, not all of which are completely understood, including: violet eyes, immortality, telepathy, super-strength, improved healing, and, about five hundred years after the change—wings.
The Collective is made up of all the people who had taken the Meridian treatment before the sole source of Meridian in this universe was destroyed. Led by Callum Meridian, the Collective are telepathic, super-strong, and immortal. They form a sort of gestalt intelligence and were the ruling class for many centuries.
The Church of Everlasting Life
This religion came with the Chosen Ones from Earth. Religion had become a little out of favor, but with the discovery of Meridian it regained its popularity. Everyone wants to live forever, but very few can afford the exorbitant cost of Meridian and the Church offers a cheaper, if less reliable, road to eternity.
It quickly became the second most powerful organization in the universe. When the Collective was weakened by the disappearance of their leader, Callum Meridian, the leaders of the Church grabbed the opportunity and took over in a very bloody coup.
DNA from all species was carried on board the Trakis ships. When the planets were colonized, many scientists believed that the best way to survive in the harsh and sometimes alien conditions was to combine the DNA of humans with that of any species which might give them an advantage.
The Rebel Coalition
The Church of Everlasting Life does not like genetically modified beings and refers to them as abominations. The Church came to an agreement with the Collective that GMs should be downgraded to non-human status, allowing them to be hunted down and destroyed. Many of the GMs were understandably not too happy with this decision and formed the Rebel Coalition with the purpose of returning the favor and destroying the Church. They were led by Devlin Starke, the most-wanted man in the universe, and a late addition to the crew of the Blood Hunter.
A female with dragon DNA, capable of creating and controlling wormholes and therefore able to travel vast distances of time and space.
The crew of the original Blood Hunter (El Cazador de la Sangre) at the beginning of Break Out:
Tannis – Captain, part snake, part human, all bitch
Ricardo Sanchez – Owner, pilot, and vampire
Daisy – Copilot and plant GM
Janey – Tech expert and human
Tristan Starke, aka The Trog – Engineer and jaguar GM
Al – Cabin…boy?
The crew of the Blood Hunter 2 at the beginning of Flying Through Fire:
Tannis – Captain, Snake GM, and Collective
Callum Meridian – Captain’s consort and Collective
Rico – Pilot and vampire
Skylar – Security officer and Collective
Daisy – Copilot, plant GM, and vampire
Fergal - Tech expert and cyborg
Devlin Starke – Engineer, jaguar GM, and Collective.
Saffira – Time-mancer
Jon and Alex – Werewolves, on hiatus