Starlight And Splendor, страница 1
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Other Books By
DESIRE AND DECEPTION
As he cuddled her against him, Galen murmured, “I love you Renah Dhobi. You’re mine, all mine. Don’t try to escape me, because I’ll never release you. I’d chase you from one end of this galaxy to the other to recapture you. If you can love me as I love you, our future will be brighter than a supernova.”
We have no future, Galen Saar. Your parents saw to that long ago with their treachery. Now I must help punish them. Renah knew it was wrong and rash to get emotionally involved with this man. Even so, Galen Saar had stolen her traitorous wits tonight and was threatening to confiscate her troubled heart! It would be a cruel joke on her to find love with her enemy.
If only you weren’t a Saar … If only …
PUT SOME FANTASY IN YOUR LIFE- FANTASTIC ROMANCES FROM PINNACLE
TIME STORM (728, $4.99)
by Rosalyn Alsobrook
Modern-day Pennsylvanian physician JoAnn Griffin only believed what she could feel with her five senses. But when, during a freak storm, a blinding flash of lightning sent her back in time to 1889, JoAnn realized she had somehow crossed the threshold into another century and was now gazing into the smoldering eyes of a startlingly handsome stranger. JoAnn had stumbled through a rip in time … and into a love affair so intense, it carried her to a point of no return!
SEA TREASURE (790, $4.50)
by Johanna Hailey
When Michael, a dashing sea captain, is rescued from drowning by a beautiful sea siren—he does not know yet that she’s actually a mermaid. But her breathtaking beauty stirred irresistible yearnings in Michael. And soon fate would drive them across the treacherous Caribbean, tossing them on surging tides of passion that transcended two worlds!
ONCE UPON FOREVER (883, $4.99)
by Becky Lee Weyrich
A moonstone necklace and a mysterious diary written over a century ago were Clair Summerland’s only clues to her true identity. Two men loved her—one, a dashing civil war hero… the other, a daring jet pilot. Now Clair must risk her past and future for a passion that spans two worlds—and a love that is stronger than time itself.
SHADOWS IN TIME (892, $4.50)
by Cherlyn Jac
Driving through the sultry New Orleans night, one moment Tori’s car spins out of control; the next she is in a horse-drawn carriage with the handsomest man she has ever seen—who calls her wife— but whose eyes blaze with fury. Sent back in time one hundred years, Tori is falling in love with the man she is apparently trying to kill. Now she must race against time to change the tragic past and claim her future with the man she will love through all eternity!
Available wherever paperbacks are sold, or order direct from the Publisher. Send cover price plus 50¢ per copy for mailing and handling to Penguin USA, P.O. Box 999, c/o Dept. 17109, Bergenfield, NJ 07621. Residents of New York and Tennessee must include sales tax. DO NOT SEND CASH.
Starlight and Splendor
my good friends Dave and Rosalee McFadden of Polk City, Florida.
Rick Griner of Wallisville, Texas And, Wally and Noralee Askew of Willis, Texas who helped with researching my Texas settings; thanks!
Jana and Varian Saar looked at Amaya in surprise as she revealed the reason she had come to see them this evening. The intergalactic voyage their best friends, the Sangers, were about to take had been planned for a long time; but their daughter had not mentioned joining them until tonight.
Amaya repeated the unexpected statement. “I want to visit Earth with Avi and her parents. I haven’t had a stimulating mission in a yig, and working Security at Star Base offers no challenge or excitement. All the other times the Sangers invited me to join them, I was too young, ill, or on assignment. I want to see your world, Mother. I’ll be free to go if Father will give me a leave of absence.”
“If I give you one? I don’t understand, Amaya. You’re an adult and a Star Fleet officer so why are you seeking our permission?”
“Not your permission, Father, your assistance with changing my schedule and orders. I don’t have enough time accrued since my last leave.” Amaya Saar looked at Varian and urged, “Please, do this for me.”
“You’ve never asked me to intercede or do special favors in the past.”
“Because I haven’t needed any until now. I’ll take leave without pay; I’ll work double shifts for months. I’ll do anything necessary to get this time off. You’re the Supreme Commander of the Alliance Force, Elite Squad, and Star Fleet; as my highest superior, the final decision is yours.”
“I’m not your direct superior, Amaya. Have you asked him for leave?”
“Yes,” Amaya sighed. Her eyes—a fusion of green, blue, and violet like her mother’s—showed her annoyance.
“What was his reply?”
Amaya looked up at her father. “He said I don’t have enough time accrued for the voyage. You both know I’ve never taken advantage of my family’s status to get special favors, and I’ve always taken only scheduled leaves. I deserve this time off. I have no defiance or failures on my record but plenty of commendations. To be frank, Commander Mohr has personal reasons for refusing my request; he wants to keep me close to him as long as possible. He knows I could receive an Elite Squad assignment at any time and be gone.”
“Are you saying Commander Mohr is romantically interested in you and is basing his decision on personal feelings?” Jana asked.
“Yes, Mother, and I’ve done all I can in polite ways to discourage him. He’s one of the reasons I must get away for a time, why I’ve used all of my accrued leave. He refuses to believe he cannot win me if he’s persistent. I have tried to remain calm and pleasant, but I cannot do so for much longer. If it weren’t for Mohr’s rank and family, I would not hesitate to be cold and harsh to him. This voyage is important to me, Father, for that and other reasons.” Amaya began to pace restlessly, her long blond hair with platinien streaks bouncing against her shoulders with each step. “I feel as if I’m floating in space. I’m so bored. I need new challenges, experiences, and settings. I want to go; I need to go. You can overrule Mohr’s refusal; please, do this for me.”
“Let me think about your request; hasty decisions cause problems.” Varian walked to the nearby transascreen and gazed outside as he considered the situation.
Amaya knew he was a fair, honest, and intelligent leader. He didn’t like to overturn another officer’s directive without good cause. He would not want it to appear as if he was showing favoritism for his child. She saw him run his fingers through sable hair and stroke a shaven jawline as he considered every angle of her plea. As he did so, she asked, “Why have you never returned to your world, Mother?”
“I don’t have any family there and my best friend is here. Long ago, I made a complete break with Earth and embraced this galaxy as my own. My family, friends, and work are here. I’m a Maffeian citizen.”
“But don’t you want to know what’s ha
“Andrea gives me a full and colorful report following her visits every three or four years. The only reason she and Nigel are returning more frequently now is because her parents are advanced in age and becoming infirm. She doesn’t know how much longer they’ll be alive.”
“That’s why I want to take this particular voyage with the Sangers. If her parents are in Kahala by next year, there will be no reason to go again. I want to see and study Earthlings, and I want to do it with friends. Avi could be wearing a bonding bracelet soon; Sebok is making no attempt to elude her chase. We’ve been best friends since birth, and this might be our last chance to share a special time before she mates. All of my closest friends are mated and most have children. I’m making new ones, but it’s difficult when I’m not in the same place for long.” Amaya frowned and added, “With this current assignment at Base, time moves slower than a yema crawls.”
“You should be happy about a peaceful reprieve from violence and danger. I worry every time they send you on a perilous, secretive mission.”
“I’m always careful, Mother, and I love daring adventures.”
“So does your brother. You’re too much alike that way.”
“We’re twins, so that’s normal,” Amaya said with a merry laugh.
“Perhaps you should think about finding a mate as your friends have.”
“Thinking is easier than finding, Mother. I’ve met no one who stands above other males, who steals my heartbeat as Father does yours. I can’t settle for just anyone so can I wear a bonding bracelet and produce heirs.”
“I agree love is too important in a good union not to wait for your perfect match. But you’ll never find him if you wear a blinding visor all the time. The same applies to your brother. However, Galen is getting a reputation for his countless conquests throughout the galaxy.”
“Galen is only looking for the right mate. None of the females he’s met is a perfect match for him.”
“But if he keeps up his current course as a reacher, when the right woman comes along, she isn’t going to trust him or give him a chance to win her. On Earth, we called reachers ‘playboys,’ and smart females avoided them like scarfelli and keelers. “Jana almost shuddered as she remembered encounters with the huge spiderlike and snakish creatures.
Amaya glanced at Varian. “I hear Father was quite the elusive male until you came along and put an end to his reacher days,” she teased. “You’re famous, Mother, the woman who changed the history of our galaxy. Even after so many years, people have not forgotten your name and deeds.”
Jana smiled. “I’m happy the charl practice was abolished before you were born and had to witness it, perhaps even be assigned to help capture alien females. I wouldn’t want you and Galen to be the children of a slave-mate, or you to be afflicted by the virus that made most Maffeian women sterile long ago. It was time for that procreation method to be terminated.”
“Yet you accepted the man and civilization that abducted and enslaved you.”
“That was long ago and conditions were different in Maffei. They were a people faced with extinction. By the time I was abducted, however, there were few instances where the mating didn’t work out for those involved from either world. I simply helped the Maffeians realize they no longer needed alien females to keep their species alive. And once they were freed less than ten alien females chose to leave their Maffeian mates. Of course, I wanted to remain with your father because I love him.”
Varian and Jana exchanged smiles as he murmured, “And I love you.”
As Varian and Jana teased and chatted for a few moments, Amaya observed their great love and easy rapport. They were more than mates; they were best friends and passionate lovers: that was the same type of relationship she desired for herself and for her brother. She watched her mother gaze adoringly at her father as they talked and joked. Dr. Jana Greyson’s life had changed drastically since her departure from Earth. She was the wife of Supreme Commander Varian Saar, one of the richest and most powerful men in this galaxy. He even owned a private planetoid, Altair. His deceased grandfather was the past Kadim, the highest authority of the thirteen-planet alliance, a ruler whose word was law. Amaya wished she had known her grandparents, but all four had died before her birth. As for her mother, Jana was known and revered by friends, acquaintances, and strangers across three galaxies for what she had done for the charls, Maffei, and research science. Her mother, with her father’s help, was responsible for obtaining intergalactic peace with the Androasian Empire of eleven planets and the Pyropean Federation of nine planets.
When her parents’ banter ceased, Amaya asked, “Well, Father, will you give me permission to go to Earth with the Sangers? I don’t have an assignment in sight for the Squad and I can’t sit still much longer at Base.”
“You and Galen have always been wiggly as Zandian mudworms. Let me check the schedule and confer with Mohr tomorrow before I give you an answer.”
“Time is short and I must let the Sangers know as soon as possible. They leave in three days.” I’m going even if I must resign my rank to do so.
“Are you certain we should allow her go to, Varian? I have a terrible feeling this voyage is unwise and dangerous.”
“She’ll be safe with Nigel and Andrea; they’re our best friends. They’ve made this trip many times over the years and had no trouble. Remember, moonbeam, Amaya didn’t make the Elite Squad, earn her Spacer license, and get assigned to Star Base Security without being smart and cautious like her mother.”
“I know, but …”
Varian caressed Jana’s cheek. “Don’t worry, moonbeam; she’ll be fine. She and Avi won’t get into any mischief; Andrea won’t allow it and neither will Nigel. I think this adventure will be good for our daughter; she’s been too restless lately. Perhaps when she returns, she’ll be ready to look for a proper mate. Her choices are many; so are Galen’s.”
“So were yours, my love, but you were still mateless at thirty-one.”
“I was waiting for perfection to enter my life, and it did … unexpectedly.”
“The same is true about our twins; they’re highly selective. But their marital status doesn’t concern me; Amaya’s safety does. She doesn’t know about things and people on Earth and there isn’t time to teach her.”
“Andrea will be there to help her. I doubt she’ll come into contact with very many Earthlings at the McKays’ home.”
“But the McKays live in Houston now; it’s a much larger and busier city than West Columbia. She won’t understand my people.”
“But Amaya has the usual audio-translaters embedded in her ear canals; the devices will interpret any language she hears, unless it’s an uncommon word or something that doesn’t exist in both worlds.”
“Or slang, and there’s plenty of that on Earth. There are so many possible problems and dangers for her to confront there.”
“Amaya is more than capable of taking care of herself. She’s carried out some of the hardest, most dangerous cases we’ve had in the past. I also believe she was right about Mohr’s feelings for her; he was quite disappointed I intervened.”
“Was he angry?”
“Perhaps she should be transferred when she returns to avoid a bad situation for either or both of them.”
“I agree. This timing is perfect in another area, moonbeam; with our current planetary positions, her voyage will be fast and easy. If she doesn’t like Earth, she can help with the ship’s data-gathering mission while the Sangers complete their visit. It will be an interesting education for Amaya to see how other people live.”
“I just hope her discoveries aren’t disappointing and depressing. From what Andrea’s told me, Earth hasn’t improved over the years; in fact, things seemed to have gotten worse since she and I left. I pray these aren’t the dark days preceding the eve of destruction. If only Earthlings could learn to live in peace and to pour their energies into worthwhile things
“Don’t worry, moonbeam; we won’t allow them to destroy themselves and their world. We saved them once before without their knowledge and, if necessary, we’ll do so again. But we must not and cannot interfere in person until there’s no hope of them saving themselves. Our cloaking device will prevent them from discovering our presence.”
Jana nestled into her husband’s arms. “You’re a good man, Varian Saar; I’m lucky you were the commander of the Wanderlust that fateful day it came to Earth.”
“I’m the one who’s luckiest, moonbeam. If not for you, my world would still be using the outdated captive-mate practice, or we would be at intergalactic war with one of our past enemies. I wouldn’t have experienced these last twenty-six years of happiness, and I wouldn’t be the proud father of twins who do me great honor and give me great joy.”
“We are perfectly matched, aren’t we?” she murmured, then kissed him. As they embraced afterward, Jana added, “I pray our children can find this same kind of love.”
“So do I, moonbeam, so do I.”
When it was time for the Sangers and Amaya to transport to the starship, Varian and Nigel shook hands and shared a bearhug. “Take care of my daughter, old friend; she’s irreplaceable.”
Nigel’s dimples showed and his brown eyes softened as he smiled. “I’ll guard her with my life, Varian.”
Jana and Andrea exchanged final words as Avi and Sebok stood apart from the others to say a private farewell.
“Watch her closely, Andrea,” Jana whispered. “For some reason, this trip makes me nervous.”
“I told you yesterday to stop fretting. I’ll keep both girls under my eagle eyes. I’m so glad you’re letting her come. My daughter’s so in love that she wouldn’t have gone if not for Amaya.”