Storming Time The Universe Chronicles Book 3 by Claire Davon Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rescuing compromised Universe agents is nothing new for Zared Hersh. A fast car, a little rain-and-fog manipulation to cover his tracks, and his job is done. But when Hannah Nickels dives into his front seat, something about her aquamarine eyes strikes him like lightning.
Thank God she’s not psychic, or she’d be reading his hormones like a book.
Hannah’s been groomed to join Universe practically from the moment her time-freezing talent emerged. But recently, her power’s been glitchy. She knows she’s in trouble, and the last thing she needs is her instant attraction to Zared’s solid body and dark good looks.
When their escape is almost derailed by someone with a strange new light-manipulating gift, only Hannah’s chrono talent gets them safely back to Universe HQ. In the relative safety of Richmond, their relationship grows. But Hannah has a second, more dangerous power that few know about. And as her control slips, someone with a hidden agenda sets her up to fall—straight into Whisper’s trap.
A twisted thing dropped to the ground in place of the sign, startling a shout from Zared. She studied the clump of what had been metal and wood moments before and was now one mass, a combination of leaves and steel that was an indistinguishable mass. She hadn’t heard the clang. The men were not where she remembered them being. They were all out of position. Something had happened after she’d attacked the sign. Damn it, she must have slipped into a fugue state again. Hannah prayed it had been for a handful of seconds and nobody had become aware of her lapse.
Zared and Ian focused on the thing at her feet and then Quillan turned to Hannah. If they detected her blankness they didn’t mention it. Hannah breathed out a sigh of relief. She’d deal with what this meant later.
“You . . .” Quillan began, shaking a finger at her.
She swayed on her feet and the time paralysis shattered. Oriel blinked and then focused on where they were now, not where they had been before she enacted the freeze. There was a shout behind them from the parking structure. A face showed above the concrete and then vanished. A moment later there was a squeal of tires and the fast revving of an engine as the other talent floored it out of the garage. Quillan’s attention flicked toward the parking structure before centering back on Hannah.
Oriel swallowed, and Hannah watched him through a mind gone fuzzy. She hadn’t expected to use her second gift—it had just emerged. The expressions on the faces around her told her all she needed. Whether they recognized her fugue state or not, they were freaked out by her second gift.
“I . . . commend you,” Oriel managed, his voice shaky. Whatever dazzling he was performing on them drained away, replaced by shudders that rippled through his body. “I had not expected something quite so dramatic.” He glanced at the item again and then at Hannah. Then, without warning, he ran, sprinting down the sidewalk. Ian went to give chase but Quillan called a sharp “No, Ian,” and the telekinetic subsided. They all turned to Hannah.
“Now I get why you’re so bloody interesting to Whisper,” Ian said.
“Does this . . . thing . . . have a name?”
Ian asked the question, but his tight-lipped expression showed that he wasn’t expecting an answer. They were back in Quillan’s office. Ian had called Maya but the sensitive had already been on her way.
Zared stood by the windows, peering at the night skyline. The lights of Virginia’s Tallest City and the capital of the Confederacy, shone around him but all he could do was remember that moment when the object that had once been metal and tree slammed to the sidewalk.
Quillan had taken it with them, of course. Using Ian’s telekinesis, they transported the damaged, twisted sign into the car and driven back to the office as fast as possible. There were no more disturbances by Whisper. Hannah had succeeded in ruffling that manyak’s Oriel’s composure and that was a win in Zared’s book. There had been a few moments where Hannah was as frozen as Oriel, her face unreadable, but then she had blinked and the strangeness cleared. Zared put it down to the drain of using her dual talents at the same time.
“Amalgamation,” Hannah supplied. “I can merge two or more objects into one thing. Kind of like a brundlefly. Any idea what I’m talking about?”
Zared just shook his head at the reference. He didn’t understand how she could be so calm. No words were big enough, so he stayed silent.
After not receiving an answer, Hannah went on. “In The Fly when Jeff Goldblum tries to merge with the fly he becomes a combination of them both. He’s Brundle and a fly. A brundlefly. Something like that. One of my brothers made the reference and it stuck. That’s what they call me at home.”
“I don’t understand,” he admitted, still not turning away from the window.
“Haven’t you read my file?”
It had taken every ounce of him not to do exactly that, but Zared hadn’t. He was too interested in the chrono woman as it was and to show additional interest by asking to read her Universe personnel file would raise eyebrows, starting with his boss. Chara. This was getting complicated.
He could still feel the touch of her hand against his. It reminded him of the first time he’d been with a female, at the age of fourteen, when he still lived in Tel-Aviv, before the Brits had gotten hold of him and hauled him to Scotland for training. He had as much control over his body now as he did that first time, all trembling eagerness, with a sixteen-year-old who had more experience than him, but that wasn’t much either.
He did not plan to have this happen to him. At all.
“No, I haven’t read your file. I saw no reason to.” He strove for a casual tone, and determined he’d achieved it when Hannah’s face shifted as though his words had hurt her before it was gone. That brief, wounded moment made him almost blurt out the truth. Instead he stayed silent.
“I suppose you’re right. You wouldn’t need to.”
“Stop it,” Quillan said with a harsh edge to his voice. “It’s been a difficult night for all of us, but petty squabbling earns us nothing.” He glared at Zared. “This one is not in her public file. Hannah, it was unwise of you to lose your temper like that.”
Hannah shot Quillan a fierce glare. He raised an eyebrow and met her gaze until it was Hannah who looked away.
“You’re not my boss.”
Zared snorted, unfolding his arms. “He is as long as you’re in Richmond,” he said at the same time Quillan was saying “Yes I am.”
Many emotions moved across her face until it became an impassive mask. He should have been glad but instead he longed to shake the neutrality out of her.
“I lost my temper. Sue me. And screw you, weather boy,” she said with a caustic edge.
“That is enough!” Quillan slammed his hand down on his desk and they all jumped.
Tracking Shadows The Universe Chronicles Book 2
Since the day Jiana Falco was forced to join the paranormal agency Night Stars, she’s been planning her escape. She uses her bodyguard’s split-second of distraction to vanish into the shadows, and burns the last bridge by saving Quillan Hardis.
But now, locked in Quillan’s muscular arms, pinned by his calculating amber gaze, his invisibility talent shielding them both, she’s in even deeper trouble. If that’s possible.
Quillan didn’t get to Universe Corps’ highest echelons by being a fool. The rare shadow manipulator in his grip is too easy a prize to be anything but a setup. A pretty lure he should send back to Night Stars. Instead, he holds on—and in changing her fate, he seals his own.
Under a secret order to unlock her untapped power—by any means necessary—Quillan takes Jiana on the run with only a precog’s vague direction, and a spark of desire that blooms into something warm and genuine. But her fear of being clawed back into Night Stars’ control could drive Jiana so deep into the shadows nothing will get her out. Not even the light of Quillan’s love.
But her fear of Night Stars could drives Jiana so deep into the shadows nothing can lead her out. Not even the light of Quillan’s love.
The shadows were thicker now as the day progressed. It had been a nice walk, but not a long one. She wished it had been longer. There was something erotic about walking with Quillan in the woods, with the hushed promise of soft leaves and moss under your feet . . . and body if you chose to lay down. There were people here but she could imagine a copse of trees on one of the private islands, where she could indulge her fantasy that stirred to life as they walked. They would make love on the forest floor, Quillan’s wild dark looks part of the landscape, his nude body part of the tableau. She would also be naked, wanting nothing more than this man, and this time.
She focused on the alligator, wondering how silly it would be to take their own selfie with the monster in the background, as a memorial of this crazy adventure. He was half in and half out of the water, about twenty feet from the people. There was nothing between them and him except distance and the wary respect humans gave to large predators who could take them down in single combat. She noticed something and stepped closer.
The shadow moved.
Spots danced in front of her and Jiana blinked, then considered the space again. No question that the tree shadows shimmered and changed. The halos were thick around everything, much the same as she imagined that Maya saw auras. Quillan must have noticed her preoccupation and tugged on her hand but she resisted. Her head throbbed and burned like a flame lit inside her skull. Yet she focused, adrenaline rushing through her veins and sharpening her sight, despite the halos and the pain.
“Jiana?” he persisted. The tourists continued to snap selfies, unaware of anything going on.
The spots continued and she kept blinking, trying to get her vision to clear. She could still see but everything was hazy and a bit out of focus. Her head ached like a band was drawn across her forehead, but she didn’t feel like a headache was coming on.
It was when Quillan was regarding the water and she was seeing their shadow through her blurred vision, that it happened.
The alligator, who until that moment had seemed to be happy to take selfies, lurched forward onto the dry ground, his long body emerging. The closest people shrieked and scattered. His big head swung around from side to side. Then he focused on them and charged.
The volunteers shouted at the people to get out of the way. The tourists fled, screams audible around them. The alligator headed straight toward Jiana and Quillan as though he had been prodded to do so, his jaws snapping.
She still was hand in hand with Quillan. The alligator was closing way too fast. Something broke inside her and her vision cleared without warning, the spots and halos vanishing. Jiana picked out the nearest shadow, one from a tall oak, its dappled leaves casting intermittent shadows on the ground. Its trunk was large and solid, showing an old growth tree despite the shallow waters of this region. She tightened her grip on Quillan, who was turning away, shifting and bracing his body to fight the monster. Without even a tug to signal her intentions, Jiana took two steps, and into shadow, Quillan next to her. The tableau shone and the halos once again blazed around everything. The moment she stepped into the shadow it transformed, becoming a sort of sideslip spirit world where she could move in the dark as easily as she moved in the light. Instead of the shadows against the light there was light against the shadows, the brightness of the outer world reflecting against the water. The confused alligator looked around, trying to figure out where his meal had gone. She took in all of that in the split second it took for Quillan to follow her and then she was moving again, using one of the other shadows to move across to another tree, further this time. There was no sound in this shadow world and although it seemed that Quillan was trying to speak, she detected nothing. No birds chirped. No leaves crunched underneath. She couldn’t even hear them breathing. Just like a negative, it all seemed flat and unreal. There was no resistance as Quillan followed her, seeming to understand that she would lead them to safety. Not taking any chances, she moved them through one more tree, until they were in the forest some distance away from the threat. Then she released her hold on the shadows.
They stumbled out of the darkness halfway across the Blue Hole, hundreds of feet from the alligator. The beast and the volunteers who had stayed behind to wrangle him back into the water were inspecting the area where Jiana and Quillan had been.
“Merde,” he exclaimed, blowing out a breath. “What was that?”
Her heart was pounding so hard Jiana didn’t know if she’d be able to speak. While she was lightheaded, she didn’t feel like she was going to pass out. She felt . . . liberated by the power that must have been lurking inside her. She’d known you could hide in the shadows, and move in the shadows, but use them to teleport from one spot to another? She’d never heard of such a thing.
“I don’t know,” she said, letting out her own shaky breath. “We were in danger and I acted on instinct. The trees intersect and I, well, I moved in their shadows from one place to another.”
The shouts increased from beyond them as people gawped in confusion. She could imagine what they were feeling. Jiana and Quillan had vanished in front of them. The alligator seemed to be focusing on where they now lurked.
Quillan pursed his lips. “Is it still in you? Can you get us to the car without being seen? I think I know why you are so interesting to Night Stars and Whisper now.”
She used the shadows to get them to the edge of the dirt parking lot. Once there, they sprinted for the car and made their way back onto the road heading for the motel.
“We have to keep going. While it’s unlikely this will be reported as anything more than an alligator attack, in case someone mentions the couple who vanished we’ve got to get out of here. I have agents that check for anomalies all the time and Night Stars will be no different. If this wasn’t arranged by them,” he said.
“What . . . what did I just do?” Jiana asked. It had been good, and natural, to move through the shadows like that. Once she had done it she couldn’t imagine how she didn’t always know how to do it. Something hidden had broken loose inside her. It may have been born out of fear and desperation, but whatever the reason, it was now unleashed.
“That’s what I’m going to find out,” Quillan said, his voice grim. He was dialing as he drove, putting the phone on speakerphone.
“Quillan.” Thomas’s voice was calm but there was a taut edge to it. “You called my private number. What news?”
“Jiana just teleported through shadows,” Quillan said, glancing at Jiana as he relayed the events of the past hour. “What was that?”
“Ah,” Thomas said. Even though she had never met the man Jiana could almost picture him pacing. “I wondered if that was the reason you called.”
The Universe Chronicles Book 1
Maya Wingfield was raised to trust no one—least of all the dueling U.S. and Russian paranormal agencies, Universe and Night Stars, who’d love to harness her mind-reading gift.
She thought Richmond a safe place to escape their influence and hide from a rising psychic malevolence that drove her out of San Diego. But when she gets yet another call to retrieve her drunken roommate, her mind shows her an amber-eyed Universe operative with an impenetrable net around his deepest secret—and a voice that sends shock waves of awareness down her nerve endings.
Maya’s curves and aquamarine eyes aren’t the only things that jolt Ian Sanderson’s mental shields, bringing sexual tension thrumming back to life. It’s a power his Universe-trained mind knows he shouldn’t trust. And a vulnerability that makes his telekinetic power burn in his palms to protect her.
But to Universe, she is just one of too many unanswered questions. A target for Whisper, a shadowy new group of paranormals with powers beyond anything Universe has ever seen. Once before, Ian failed to protect a sensitive from a brain-scrambling attack. He will not fail again . . . even if it means using his talent—or his body—to stop a bullet.
The press of hundreds of minds beat against her skull. She could hear the mass of humanity and their petty grievances and lives flowing over her. Maya started humming a song she’d learned that kept the noise at bay. “The Keeper did a hunting go, and under his cloak he carried a bow,” she hummed. There were boulders in the water and a few people hopping across them to get to the island. Life continued, even if it felt like her insides had been ripped out.
“So many people,” she said, her voice hoarse.
“You wanted this,” Ian said. His words were mild, but his aura flared into jagged spikes for a moment. Maya flushed at the non-verbal evidence of a taut anger he was trying to suppress.
“You don’t have to babysit me.”
“Yes, I do.” She shook her head, her hair flying around it. “No, you don’t. If you don’t want to do it, tell that big guy Zared to pitch in. But Quillan said you’re supposed to watch me and take me around. If you don’t want to do that say so. I can figure it out on my own.” He raked a hand through his hair, sending it standing on end.
“Bollocks. You’re right, Maya. I’m being a bounder.” Her scrutiny took in the suspension bridge and the small island. A sign read ‘Belle Isle.’ She had seen the island in the tourist brochures and had mentioned to Bobbie that it would be fun to go. Her friend had agreed half-heartedly. At the time Maya figured Bobbie would be too hung over for rock climbing. But as it turned out Bobbie didn’t expect to be in her company for long.
“Accepted. I guess we’re both on edge. I didn’t expect so many people. I thought it would be quieter.” All around them were tourists in shorts and T-shirts, taking selfies and video on their phones.
“You can see many of Richmond’s attractions from here,” Ian said, his tone taking on the cadence of a tour guide. “The Hollywood Cemetery, the Tredagar Iron Works, and of course the Richmond skyline. Fascinating, eh?” His voice was taut, matching the tightness of his body. Water rushed down rapids created by the large rocks. Herons as well as ducks paddled in the river. The trill of songbirds in the trees would have lifted her spirits on a normal day. Beyond were green bluffs and dots of tombstones.Hollywood Cemetery, she read. Appropriate. There were people bobbing in the water and more athletic types on the nearby dirt trails. Maya hadn’t studied the trail system all that closely. Bobbie was not much of a hiker. Unlike Ian. This fit, healthy man might be up for some . . . exercise. Near the spray of the river were people with picnic baskets and blankets secured down by heavy rocks. She pointed a finger to one of the families.
“That looks like fun,” she said, and applauded herself that her voice sounded normal.
“We can go across on the footbridge,” he said, holding out his hand. “It’s a lovely spot in the middle of the city.” It would have been nice if Ian were one of those huge rocks—an anchor to ground to. But she couldn’t trust herself, or him.
“Okay,” she said. The sun continued to rise. Tourists as well as locals snaked across the bridge to the nearby island. Water poured through and around the rocks, drowning out casual conversation.
“You should see your face, Maya. You’ve got nothing but frown lines and black pupils.” Ian hesitated and then put an arm around her. She sank into him, making a low sound between a sob and a howl. There was Ian, this strange, impossible British guy she had no idea existed until night before last. She wanted—and didn’t want—to know more. When she moved back, Ian was watching her, his amber eyes clouded. His aura was streaked with dark red, his face stamped with desire, and his mind projecting the need to lick her all over and then start again. He touched her cheeks, gently holding her face. The muscles of his back moved as he ran his hands down her forehead and over her jaw. His eyes held banked fire. She wanted to arch into his warm palms and give her lips to him. She tilted her head up. He settled on a closed mouth kiss, moving from one side of her lips to the other, slow and gentle, as if she were fine china. The touch of his hands on her body sent an electric pulse shooting from the spot he touched straight to her core. Heat flooded her.
Claire can’t remember a time when writing wasn’t part of her life. Growing up, she used to write stories with her friends. As a teenager she started out reading fantasy and science fiction, but her diet quickly changed to romance and happily-ever-after’s. A native of Massachusetts and cold weather, she left all that behind to move to the sun and fun of California, but has always lived no more than twenty miles from the ocean.
In college she studied acting with a minor in creative writing. In hindsight she should have flipped course studies. Before she was published, she sold books on eBay and discovered some of her favorite authors by sampling the goods, which was the perfect solution. Claire has many book-irons in the fire, most notably her urban fantasy series, The Elementals’ Challenge series, but writes contemporary and shifter romances as well as.
While she’s not a movie mogul or actor, she does work in the film industry with her office firmly situated in the 90210 district of Hollywood. Prone to break out into song, she is quick on feet and just as quick with snappy dialogue. In addition to writing she does animal rescue, reads, and goes to movies. She loves to hear from fans, so feel free to drop her a line.