The Innerworld Affairs Series, Book 5
Innerworld Emissary Tarla Yan's covert assignment as a hot zone Army nurse is finally over. She is heading back to America with other nurses, wounded soldiers and convicted criminals, the worst of which is Logan McKay. There is no place on Earth where Tarla and Logan would end up together. But their fate is changed when a freak lightning storm transports their aircraft to an alternate dimension where the sky is green, the grass is blue and women are in complete control.
The female rulers of Heart, a mirror planet to Earth, have no intention of freeing the barbarians into their peaceful society. Crossovers must be incarcerated in a controlled environment. However, an alien threat forces them to make a deal with the experienced warriors.
For everyone's survival and their return to Earth, Tarla and Logan must work for their captors and reside together as mistress and servant. It is soon impossible to ignore their primal desires, but before progressing from roommates to lovers, truths must be revealed, including Logan's criminal past and the fact that Tarla is as much an alien as the approaching enemy of Heart.
The moment Tarla and Logan were alone in the apartment, she knew she'd made a serious mistake. He was absolutely fuming! Her stomach squeezed into a knot of anxiety. How could she have forgotten how dangerous he was? He wasn't a kitten to tease with a piece of yarn. He was a full-grown panther.
And he was stalking her.
"Now, Logan," she said, trying to conceal her fear as she backed away from him, "it's your own fault. I mean, I probably went too far—"
"Probably?" His voice was eerily soft. "Too far? You paraded us halfway back to Earth."
She kept walking backward around the room, occasionally bumping into furniture, but he continued to track her. She had only wanted to push him into a compromise, but now she could see she'd pushed him way beyond that.
"If you would just be reasonable about this servant business when we're alone, I'd be reasonable about acting the mistress when we're in public. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to have you waiting on me. I understand the need for caution, but we also have to find a way to live together in this apartment without driving each other crazy."
"That is definitely not possible since you've already driven me way past crazy. You think you're uncomfortable? Look at me! This is uncomfortable!"
She obeyed his order to look at him without thinking of the consequences. A giggle escaped before she clamped her hand over her mouth.
"Go ahead, mistress, let it out. You've been strangling on it all day."
She sucked in her cheeks to hold back the smile. "I am sorry, Logan, really, really—"
"Way too late for sorry, angel. I want to hear you laugh. I want you to get every last giggle out of your system, before you wreck this whole operation by cracking up in public…or before I go completely nuts and turn you over my knee!"
She thought the predatory gleam in his eye seemed to glow a little brighter with the thought of spanking her. "Logan please, you're scaring me. I said I'm sorry—"
"And I said I want you to laugh. If you can't do it yourself, maybe I need to help you." He took a large step toward her but she escaped his grasp.
"Stop it!"" Tarla ordered and sped up her retreat.
"I'll stop it when I hear you laughing," he countered, then picked up his own pace.
She evaded him for almost a whole minute as she circled the room and dodged between pieces of furniture. Suddenly his hands latched onto her caftan, bringing her to an abrupt halt and pulling her close. As she tried to get free again, his fingers wiggled in her sides. "Laugh, Tarla," he said, tickling her without mercy.
She squealed from the unexpected tickle and saw a victorious grin spread across his face instantly erasing all traces of aggression. It was such a relief to realize he had intended to tickle rather than humiliate her, she almost gave him the laughter he'd demanded. But her own stubborn streak kept her from giving in that easily. "You can't make me!" she declared.
He found an extremely vulnerable spot below her ribs that caused her to squeal again, yet she still managed to hold back a real laugh.
The more she squirmed in an attempt to escape, the more effort he put into tickling her. The struggle tilted them both off balance and they tumbled over a row of foam cubes and onto the floor in a tangle of legs and arms and yards of pink and aqua fabric.
That did it for Tarla. She burst out laughing and Logan joined her the next second.
"You broke the couch," she teased between chuckles and gasps for air.
"I can fix the couch. What are you going to do about my broken back?" He returned, managing to reduce his laughter to a crooked smile.
"No problem," she said as seriously as possible. "I'm a nurse. I can fix your back." With him sprawled half on top of her, she scraped her fingernails down his spine to give him a taste of his own medicine. His reflexive jerk gave her such satisfaction, she tried to extract a bit more revenge by tickling his sides as he had done with her. But that only caused him to pay her back again. As each tried to get the better of the other, they rolled across the floor, laughing too hard to really administer a good tickle.
"I give up! You win," Tarla finally said, fighting more for a deep breath of air than for her freedom. His body had hers pinned to the floor and, though he looked much too pleased with himself, she didn't have the strength to continue the mock battle.
"If I win, that means you lose, and you know what happens to losers?"
She cocked one eyebrow suspiciously.
"They have to pay off the winner," Logan informed her. "Now what payment should I demand?"
Logan looked as though he was giving a great deal of thought to choosing her payoff.
"I won't make you go on any more walks in public," she offered quickly, before he could think of anything more difficult for her to forfeit.
He shook his head. "Not nearly enough."
"Umm, I won't talk to you like you're a complete imbecile in front of guests."
Now that she was no longer laughing or engaged in a tickling match, she began noticing other things—like how right his hard body felt covering hers and how she could feel the coarseness of the hair on his legs because their caftans were twisted above their knees. How he shifted to find a more comfortable position. How his lower body was changing shape where it was pressed to hers…
"Still not enough," he murmured as the expression on his face turned serious and his eyes darkened with desire.
There was something else she noticed—she was suddenly getting very warm…and incredibly, abnormally horny…and her nerves felt like they were on the outside of her body…almost as if—
No! That was completely impossible. Not here. Not after all this time. Not with a Terran.
Not with Logan!
She forced her gaze from his seductive eyes only to have his mouth capture her rising interest. If she was right about what was happening to her, there was nothing she could do to stop the inevitable burning desire, the mindless need.
But maybe she was wrong. Maybe the business of touching his mind had her imagination running amok. It might be nothing but stress…
Though Tarla couldn't verbalize her third concession to the winner, her eyes closed and her lips parted in preparation of giving him the prize she assumed he wanted.
His groan sounded more like one of resigned defeat than glorious victory, but before she could question it, his mouth came down hard on hers…exactly as she needed.