SoughtBy: Evangeline Anderson
Kat O’Conner was either dying or flying—she couldn’t tell which.
All she knew was that she was hovering above her own body, looking down, and what she saw didn’t look good—not good at all.
My God, I’m a mess!
Her long, auburn hair was a tangled snarl around her head and there were deep purple shadows under her eyes, which were closed at the moment. There was a troubled look on her face even in sleep—if it was sleep. Kat looked closer, trying to see if her chest was rising and falling, but it was difficult to tell because someone had covered her with blankets. She tried to check her own pulse, but when she reached for herself, she found that she had no hands, arms, or fingers to reach with.
Just like when I joined with Lock and Deep, when we were hunting for Sophie. It had been an exhilarating sensation—the feeling of being a swift, invisible bird able to flit from place to place in space instantly. But she wasn’t joined with them now—she could tell. Because, for once in the past several weeks, she wasn’t full to overflowing with their overwhelming emotions. And overwhelming was the right word.
Anybody who says men don’t have feelings is full of crap, Kat thought ruefully as she studied the scene below her. Locks Tight and Stabs Deep, the Twin Kindred warriors who had gotten her into this mess in the first place, had plenty of feelings—enough to make her feel like she was drowning in a sea of emotion whenever they got too close to her. And lately, anywhere was too close, at least as far as Kat was concerned.
She’d been trying to avoid them ever since their last joining—the one she’d agreed to in order to find her friend Sophie Waterhouse, who had been kidnapped by the Scourge. The evil race of red-eyed, gray-skinned bastards had attacked Earth a few years ago. Only the intervention of the Kindred warriors—a race of genetic traders from beyond the stars—had saved Kat’s home planet.
The Scourge had some kind of prophesy involving an Earth girl that they would stop at nothing to fulfill. At first they’d believed that Sophie’s sister, Olivia was their intended target. Then they centered on Sophie. Kat didn’t know who was going to be taken next, she was just glad that her friends were safe.
And speaking of Sophie and Liv, where were they? So far Kat had been focusing on her own still body, but now she looked around—if you could look without a head to turn or eyes to see with, that was. God, this was so freaking weird. She wondered again if she was dead. If so, wherever she was didn’t look much like her idea of Heaven.
The full-figured form which she recognized as her own was lying on one of the floating stretchers the Kindred kept for transporting the sick or wounded. The stretcher itself had been crammed into the back of a space shuttle and there was someone sitting beside her, holding her limp white hand. But it wasn’t Sophie or Liv.
Lock, she thought with dismay, watching the large male who was carefully cupping her hand in his. And sitting in the front of the shuttle, at the controls, was his brother, Deep.
Though they were twins, it was easy to tell the brothers apart. Twin Kindred always came in diametrically opposing pairs of light and dark.
The light twin, Lock, had sandy blond hair and eyes the color of melted chocolate. He also had a more optimistic view of life in general than his brother. Of the two of them, Kat found him much easier to tolerate. He was nicer than Deep, for one thing, and she could actually have a conversation with him that didn’t turn into an argument. His feelings were easier to deal with, too. Though Lock’s desire for her was loud inside her head, it was nothing like the deafening blast of lust she felt from his brother whenever he got too close.
Deep, the dark twin, had hair so black it almost had blue highlights and eyes the color of a night without stars. They seemed to burn when they looked at her, making Kat feel naked and vulnerable—feelings she didn’t care for a bit. She had enough body issues from having been plus-sized her entire life without an irritating alien male adding to them, thank-you-very-much. The big warrior had rubbed her the wrong way from the moment she’d met him—both literally and figuratively, since he couldn’t seem to keep his hands to himself when the three of them did a joining.
Of the brothers, Lock was shorter by about an inch. But since both of them were over six foot six and extremely muscular, it didn’t make much difference. They were both huge as far as Kat was concerned—physically, and emotionally.
She should know—she’d had the two of them tramping around inside her head for the better part of a month.
The constant tension of two other people’s powerful emotions churning inside her was incredibly tiring and the headache she’d gotten from their joining was beyond painful. Lately she’d been feeling like she couldn’t take it anymore. Not that she would ever commit suicide—Kat was a fighter and her grandma hadn’t raised her to quit. But the thought of hijacking one of the Kindred shuttles and folding space to put a couple of galaxies between herself and the annoying pair had begun to seem more and more attractive.
The only problem was, she didn’t know how to fly a shuttle and she couldn’t fold space without the help of the special Kindred technology. Besides, where would she go? Sophie had recently visited Tranq Prime, one of the other worlds the Kindred had initiated a genetic trade with, and she hadn’t liked it a bit. She’d come back with stories of roach pudding and clothes that were alive and inclined to play practical jokes that weren’t funny. Not to mention extremely snooty natives—at least the ones Sophie had met. No, Kat had no wish to visit Tranq Prime.
She didn’t want to go to Rageron either—a savage world filled with blue jungles and vicious predators—which was another Kindred trade planet. And as for Twin Moons—the home planet of Deep and Lock—she definitely didn’t want to go there. Because that was exactly where the twin warriors wanted to take her. Earlier, on the Kindred Mother ship, she’d caught a few snatches of thought from them that indicated they were homeward bound—and they wanted her to come with them.
Not on your life! Kat thought, watching from above as Lock held her hand and Deep steered the shuttle through the blackness of space. Once they got me there, I’d never get away from them. Talk about having the home field advantage!
But where exactly were they taking her now? As if in answer to her question, Lock spoke at last.