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       Knight of a Trillion Stars, p.1
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           Dara Joy
Knight of a Trillion Stars


  Knight of a Trillion Stars

  Dara Joy

  LOVE SPELL NEW YORK CITY

  Lady’s Knight

  Deana arched up, clutching his bare shoulders. “Please, Lorgin, don’t.” Her pleas came out a wispy rasp as the feel of his mouth through the material combined with the feel of smooth, rippling male flesh under her hands. She gasped for breath, overwhelmed by the potent force that was this man.

  He paused to look down at her, eyes now bright with iridescent pink sparks. He rested his lower body fully against her as his hands cupped the back of her head, his bent elbows raising her face to him.

  “Give me your mouth.” His tone was implacable and raw, all earlier traces of humor gone.

  Deana gazed upon his beautiful countenance, so masculine and alive with passion. She knew in that moment, no matter what she said or did, he would not stop. He meant to have her.

  “Give me your mouth,” he repeated, his glance falling to her full, soft lips. When she did not respond to his words, he pressed his lower body tight against hers, his hips rocking seductively in the cradle of her. She shivered at the intimate feel of him. Raising his eyes from her lips, he captured her with his brilliant, heated stare. His ragged breath caressed her face.

  “Kiss me,” he whispered hoarsely. “Kiss me, my Adeeann.”

  For Percy Charles, who could talk a circle and

  make it meet. I remember, my friend.

  “The beginnings of all things are small.”

  —Cicero

  Table of Contents

  Cover Page

  Title Page

  Lady’s Knight

  Dedication

  Epigraph

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  RAVE REVIEWS FOR NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR DARA JOY!

  Other books by Dara Joy:

  Copyright

  Prologue

  Planet Aviara, Star System Tau Hydra, 5186 m.u.

  Lorgin ta’al Krue gazed sadly at his old friend and mentor, Yaniff. No one really knew Yaniff’s age, but the elder mystic had always seemed timeless. For the first time in Lorgin’s memory, Yaniff, the ancient one, showed signs of his vast years. His shoulders were stooped; his face was etched in lines of worry that had not been there the previous day. Bojo, Yaniff’s winged companion, perched silently on his right shoulder.

  In a comforting gesture, Lorgin placed a hand on the old man’s arm. “So, there can be no doubt? You’ve rechecked the alignments?”

  Yaniff sighed deeply. “Yes, it is certain. This is most disturbing…most disturbing.” He shook his head, his long silver locks flowing about him.

  “Can nothing be done, then?” Lorgin asked.

  “Not by me. My knowledge cannot extend to this area.”

  “Then it is hopeless. If you, the wisest among us, are powerless…” Lorgin’s words trailed off.

  Yaniff’s eyes, darker than the darkest night, pierced Lorgin. “I did not say that.”

  Lorgin’s head snapped up. He knew his old teacher well; Yaniff in his convoluted way was getting to something. Lorgin crossed his arms over his massive chest and leaned against the balustrade. “What exactly did you say?”

  Yaniff closed his eyes. He was pleased with this Lorgin ta’al Krue, his favorite of all his students, if truth be told. “I said I could do nothing. I did not say that you could do nothing.”

  Now it comes, Lorgin thought, smiling to himself. Yaniff unfolds as slowly as the tazmin flower in the sun. “What may I do, Master?”

  The ancient words of service were spoken.

  Lorgin had given his life and measure to Yaniff to command as he saw fit. Again. Many a campaign had he waged on behalf of Aviara and the Astral Alliance. He awaited Yaniff’s words.

  “You must go on a quest, Lorgin. Find out what is causing these rifts in space and time. You know the disturbances on the rim must be stopped.”

  “You wish me to go to the far sector?” This surprised him. It was a difficult journey. Few survived it. The risk of death did not concern him so much as the enormity of the task. It was an impossible mission.

  The ancient mystic read his thoughts. “Perhaps for most, Lorgin. Maybe not for you.”

  Lorgin wished he had Yaniff’s certainty; he himself had doubts.

  “It is good to have some doubts, Lorgin. They will serve you well when you need them. Thus I have trained you.”

  “Yes, it is so.”

  “Come, my young friend, we will go to the Hall of Tunnels. Your journey is to begin.” He took Lorgin by the arm and together they traveled through the city.

  Lorgin faced the first tunnel. It spiraled away from him in a myriad of brilliant lights, pulsing in time. Before he entered, he turned to bid his mentor and friend good-bye, then stepped through the portal.

  “Safe journey, my friend,” Yaniff softly said as Lorgin dissolved into the swirling mists.

  How long Lorgin had been traveling he knew not. What he did know was that his journey was far from over when he was suddenly and powerfully yanked out of the space/time continuum…

  Chapter One

  It had been a horrible day.

  Horrible.

  First, she had been fired from her job. Excuse me, laid off. Amounted to the same thing. Strange how being overqualified hurts you when you’re applying for work, but doesn’t help you when you’re given the sack.

  It was just the beginning of a day that would live in infamy.

  On the train, leaving the city, she thought herself lucky to spot a seat, an occurrence that came around with the frequency of Halley’s Comet. Naturally she dived right for it—into a seat of something wet. It was not pleasant and it smelled.

  She stood quickly enough, but the damage had been done. At least she had been wearing her raincoat, not that it had had the decency to rain, yet. Thankfully, her person was relatively dry, though the coat wasn’t—it stunk. People were giving her strange looks, putting as much space as possible between her and themselves.

  In Deana’s present mood, this suited her just fine.

  When she got off the train, the last stop, of course, she removed the offensive coat and impulsively threw it in a trash receptacle. She was just in that frame of mind.

  Her troubles were only beginning.

  Just as she reached her car, she had the good fortune to see two cars back into each other in the parking lot. Their bumpers crunched and unbelievably locked together. Both drivers, being courteous and polite Boston commuters, exited their cars like wild bulls at a rodeo, snorting and stamping while circling their automobiles.

  Deana didn’t have to guess whose car they were blocking in the lot.

  When the police finally came, she was informed she would have to wait for the tow trucks to clear the space. At rush hour, they estimated a good 45 minutes.

  As she looked around for a place, any place, to escape to, her eyes lit on a small, decrepit-looking resale shop across the street.

  She headed for it like a person who has just discovered she had hit the lottery, and that was where she had to collect.

  As she entered the store, a bell tinkled over the door. Observing the seed
y interior, Deana revised her original evaluation and demoted it from resale to junk shop. Cartons were piled haphazardly everywhere. Books, old furniture, glassware, broken toys—they haunted the room like the ghosts of consumers past. At least it was blessedly quiet in here.

  As she was viewing this white-elephant graveyard, a curtain in a doorway parted and an old geezer wearing a Red Sox baseball cap sauntered out.

  “Got caught in the commuter blitz, did you?” His eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled. He seemed like a nice old guy.

  “How did you guess?”

  “Happens all the time. Keeps me in business. Do you want to look around?” This was said in a hopeful voice.

  “Sure, why not?” Deana turned and, walking toward the rear of the long, narrow store, started looking through what could only be called trash.

  She thought of her now defunct job. Here I am, Deana Jones, twenty-six-year-old soon-to-be bag lady. Better get used to this, she lamented.

  After about a half hour, she did find an interesting necklace, sort of. It was under about five cartons of junk, but Deana had had a feeling there might be something good under there.

  She held the necklace up to the dim light.

  It was tarnished and dirty. Made of metal, it was a collar type necklace which reminded her of a torque from the days of King Arthur. In the center of the band was a dark, rough-shaped stone which seemed to be black, although it was hard to tell in the poor lighting.

  She scrutinized it more carefully.

  Yes, it might polish up quite nicely, although she doubted it was silver and couldn’t find any stamping on it.

  She brought it to the front of the store and placed it on the scruffy countertop.

  “How much for this?” she asked the proprietor.

  The old man picked up the necklace and eyed it with distaste. “You want to buy this?” As if no one in their right mind would.

  Deana immediately defended it. “It’s not that bad.” He looked at her incredulously. “Okay, so it is that bad. How much?”

  He shook his head, the enormity of the task of trying to put a price on it overwhelming him. Finally he said tentatively, “Fifty cents?”

  “Sold.” Deana slapped two quarters down.

  While the old man was putting the necklace in a bag for her, she looked out the front windows, noticing that the tow trucks had arrived and were clearing the cars out. Thanking the man, Deana grabbed the bag and left the shop, already tasting the strong, hot cup of coffee she was going to make as soon as she got home.

  She was exhausted. Thank God she had already packed for her trip tomorrow—the trip she had paid for well in advance, could not cancel, and therefore didn’t have to feel too guilty about taking in her present economic circumstances. Nice of them to fire her the day before her vacation was to start.

  Deana peered warily at the low black clouds coalescing above her. Perhaps if I hurry, I just might make it.

  Thunder sounded briefly before the sky opened and rain pelted the ground in torrents. She ran pell-mell across the tarmac of the lot. Without her raincoat, by the time she made it to her car, she was soaked to the skin.

  What did I do to deserve this day?

  Due to the rain, the traffic was horrendous on the way home. What should have been a twenty-minute drive turned into an hour. When she finally pulled into the private drive that led to the cottage, Deana almost sobbed in gratitude.

  Until she got out of the car to check the mailbox at the end of the drive. Three rejections from two editors.

  She stood in the driveway letting the rain pelt down on her. Resignedly, she got back in her car and drove the quarter mile up to the cottage.

  Gazing tiredly up at the little three-room house, Deana blessed her grandfather, her last remaining relative, for leaving it to her in his will. At least she would always have a roof over her head. As long as I pay the taxes, she amended.

  Once inside, she closed the door and quickly threw the deadbolt, locking the rest of the world out of her private domain. Groaning in relief to be back in her nice, warm home, she headed straight for a hot shower, removing her soggy clothes on the way to the bathroom.

  Never had a shower felt so wonderful. Feeling almost human, she braided her waist-length hair and stepped into a comfortable pair of well-worn jeans. Even though it was the beginning of September, the damp air was chilly, so she donned a sweatshirt before padding into the kitchen to make that long-awaited and well-deserved cup of java.

  While she was waiting for Mr. Coffee to do his number, Deana retrieved the necklace from the bag and stared at it. What had possessed her? It looked even worse, removed from the other junk that had surrounded it. Perhaps if I clean it up…

  She headed to the utility closet, returning with a polishing cloth and some jewelry cleaner. As soon as she started to remove the tarnish from the band, Deana felt a lot better about her purchase.

  The necklace gleamed silver under the kitchen light, although Deana doubted it was sterling. It almost looked like platinum, but that would mean this piece was very valuable, and even though the old geezer in the store seemed eccentric, he didn’t seem to be anybody’s fool. Besides, she didn’t think platinum tarnished. It must be some alloy.

  Whatever it was, it attracted the light like crazy.

  Examining the stone under the bright kitchen light, she noted it wasn’t black, as she had originally thought, but a deep, dark green. Well! This had turned out very nice. The only ray in a bleak day, she mourned. Deciding to take it with her on her trip, she went back to the bedroom to toss it in her suitcase.

  It was time to forget this awful day and remember that she was taking her long-awaited trip tomorrow to San Francisco. She was going to the Worldcon! Once a year, science fiction aficionados from all over the world met in some predetermined location for the worldwide science fiction convention. This year it was the City by the Bay.

  Deana could hardly wait to see all her old friends from around the globe, thoroughly enjoy herself, and forget all of her troubles for one week. The prospect of the trip lessened the rejection of her science fiction stories immeasurably. Besides, she’d probably see The Editors there, and perhaps could chase them around until she got some input on her writing.

  She chuckled as she envisioned herself clutching a stack of dog-eared pages to her breast as she bore relentlessly down on some hapless editor who was screaming and running through a hotel corridor, The Twilight Zone theme music playing in the background.

  Returning to the kitchen, Deana poured herself a mug of coffee and turned to go into the family room.

  A man was sitting on her couch, staring at her intently.

  Deana blinked twice, but the strange vision didn’t disappear.

  The mug slipped out of her hands and crashed on the tile floor of the kitchen. Thoughts raced across her brain in rapid succession.

  Oh, God, how did he get in here?

  Some sane part of her mind distinctly recalled deadbolting the door when she came in. An even more disturbing thought followed: that he had already been in the house when she had come home. But it was not possible; she had been in every room. Her forehead briefly furrowed in confusion. What did he want?

  Don’t be an idiot, Deana, what do you think he wants, a cup of coffee?

  A sweat broke out across her forehead. She had never been so terrified in her life. Somehow, she found her voice.

  “Pl-please, d-don’t hurt me. I’ll do whatever you want. Do you want money? Take whatever you want, just please don’t hurt me.”

  He said nothing, but continued looking at her with a puzzled expression. His eyes seemed strange somehow, but she was too far away from him to see their color, and was not about to get any closer to him. A tiny crystal point dangled from a small gold hoop in his left ear, catching the light and refracting it.

  Could she get to the phone next to the Lazy-Boy? No, he was sitting too close to it. Besides, she would never have the time to dial. Her gaze flew to the fron
t door. It was bolted. So how had he gotten in? More important, how long would it take her to unbolt the door and get out? She glanced over at him speculatively.

  He was a big man, even seated; she could see that. She assessed his height at around six four. The cottage was isolated. A man that size could probably overtake her before she even reached the porch.

  It didn’t seem wise to try it. At present he seemed to be studying her with a peculiar thoroughness. Deana stood stock still; she didn’t want to give him any reason to move.

  Thinking quickly, she decided that her best option at the moment was to use this opportunity to study him as carefully as he was studying her. If she made it out of this, at least she would be able to identify him. Not that she would forget anyone who looked like him. She examined his face carefully, noting the strong forehead, beautifully shaped eyes, straight nose, perfectly chiseled lips, and strong chin with a slight cleft.

  He was devastatingly handsome for a maniac.

  The man seemed to be in his early thirties. His hair was straight, thick, and long; it hung to the middle of his back; a true golden color, it had no yellow in it. The golden hair complemented his skin tone which was a warm golden tan.

  Next, she noted the strange outfit he was wearing.

  His black pants appeared to be made of a soft leather, hugging his muscular thighs like a second skin. He wore high black pirate boots that cuffed above his knee. His shirt, a white silky material, laced up the front ending in a low vee neck. A great velvety cape, black as night with strange golden symbols, was draped across his broad shoulders. He was quite a sight to behold, that was for sure.

  They continued to stare at each other in silence.

  Something isn’t right here, Deana thought. His clothes were too attention-getting for an intruder.

  But not for a science fiction fan.

  The thought hit her like a bolt of lightning. It was all clear now. She smiled suddenly at him, causing him to narrow his eyes.

  “All right, who put you up to this? Was it Loraine? She always did love a practical joke.” He looked blankly at her.

 
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Comments 1

Ladyz 13 January 2019 10:45
0
Too short. I was waiting for more. But I loved it, as K expected. I can't wait to re read "Rejar" and/or read some of the other books.
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