Authors: Madison Stevens
Tags: #paranormal romance
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents depicted in this work are of the author’s imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locations, or events is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Madison Stevens
No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author.
Apollo and Val (Luna Lodge #5.5)
Val hasn’t had a relaxing month. First, she tracked down her long-lost brother. Then, she was attacked. There was also the small matter of finding the love of her life. Everything seems to be happening too fast for her to catch up.
Apollo has everything he’s ever wanted. Now the hybrid super-soldier just needs to make sure Val sticks around to see their relationship through, but when he tries to surprise her with a special dinner, the night doesn’t go the way he planned.
Val and Apollo’s romantic concerns are put on hold when a team is needed to investigate another possible Horatius Group facility. With a chance of revenge against the Group, the Luna hybrids set out to take on the enemy, and Val is happy to be of some use, even if it means she won’t be able to run from her personal issues with Apollo.
Val tapped her short nails nervously against the dark leather of the chair. She had always hated doctors’ offices. They were all the same. Sterile and impersonal. Even knowing the doctor treating her wasn’t helping much with her anxiety.
She took in a deep breath until her lungs were filled as far as they could go, and she could feel a slight ache. Val slowly let out the air and closed her eyes.
When she opened them again, the nervousness slightly lessened. The calming trick seemed to help. It had been a while since she’d had to resort to such measures, but it’d been something that had become increasingly common since coming to Luna Lodge.
Of course, her stress wasn’t without reason. After the Horatius Group burst through the gate to snatch Rem, things had been a mad house. Not only did they have to put their wall back together, but they needed to fix the hearts of the people.
A child had been murdered right in front of them, and there’d been nothing they could do. No way to stop the horror that unfolded.
Dean was such a happy child. He symbolized the childhood that the older hybrids never had. The chance for more. Something normal. A life without fear. When he died, their hopes died with him, and a blanket of melancholy fell over them.
It was something she struggled with daily, both the death and the aftermath.
Val glanced at the clock on the wall, trying to distract herself from the feelings she had been trying to tuck deep inside.
She jumped a little when the door to the office banged open. She turned to find a very angry Rachel glaring into the hall.
“One more of you tries to bite me today, I’m getting out the pepper spray,” she said loudly and slammed the door.
A wave of annoyance hit Val. The doctor’s projected feelings were always slightly different than what she portrayed on the outside.
Val had found her empathic abilities, though mostly annoying, were helpful with people like Rachel. Through her abilities, Val was able to see the true depth of emotion the doctor felt. Somehow, it made her seem more human and less the control-freak bitch she sometimes came off as.
The young doctor’s long, rich brown hair whooshed off her shoulders from the force of the air created from slamming the door.
Absently, Val reached up to run her fingers through her short, pale blond hair. She’d always admired Rachel’s pretty locks and that the color was so rich and fit her perfectly. Val had inherited the same pale hair as her brother, and although it had been what led her to recognize him, she also wondered what she’d look like with a more normal color.
Still scowling, Rachel stomped through the room and threw herself into the large leather chair on the other side of the desk.
Val raised a brow.
“I thought things were better for you here,” she said cautiously. The doctor, despite her amazing skills, had been known to use somewhat unorthodox methods at times. Granted, everything about Luna Lodge was unorthodox, so it was really hard to say how far out there her methods were.
Rachel smiled widely, and for a moment, Val wondered if she’d missed the joke. A wave of warm happiness passed through her with just a twinge of annoyance.
“Oh, they have,” she said, vaguely waving to the door. “But they still hate white coats, and sometimes I just have to remind them who’s in charge.”
With a wry smile, Val shook her head. “Remind me to never get on your bad side.”
Rachel laughed loudly. “Funny. You aren’t the first to say that.”
Val didn’t really think she’d be the last to say that but decided against voicing that opinion.
“So why don’t you tell me what’s going on,” Rachel said and laced her fingers together on the desk.
One thing Val liked about the doctor was that never once did Val feel something from her when she talked medical stuff. Rachel was all business, and for someone with Val’s ability, knowing what she was feeling was key to feeling more comfortable.
Val twisted a little in her seat and looked down at the jeans she was wearing. They were faded some and had holes in the knees. A black stain ran across her leg, and she assumed that it was from some wires she had been messing with. At least she could say her gray shirt didn’t have holes, but that was about all she could say. It wasn’t really the sort of thing someone wore to see the doctor. And yet there she was.
She looked up into the penetrating green eyes across from her and knew that Rachel likely hadn’t even noticed what she was wearing at all. The doctor might have a keen mind, but her choice of focus was a different matter. Rachel saw only what was important, and clothes just weren’t all that important.
“It started a few weeks ago,” Val said and shifted in her seat. It was hard to verbalize something she hadn’t told anyone. “At first it was just strange dreams. Things that didn’t add up. People I’d never seen and things that had never happened.”
Rachel nodded and took a few notes on a pad of paper. Val took it as a sign she should continue.
“Then, this last week I’ve been sensing things when I shouldn’t have been,” she said and dug her fingers into the arm of the chair to keep from picking at her nails, an old stress habit.
Rachel stopped writing and looked up at her. “What do you mean by that?”
Val nibbled her lip a little as she thought how to put her thoughts into words. “Like I’m alone just working on something, and it comes out of nowhere.”
Rachel nodded and went back to her pad. “And what sort of feelings are these?”
Val hesitated. It was almost too much to even name what she was experiencing. It made her feel crazy just thinking it.
Rachel looked up expectantly.
“I don’t know.” She sighed and looked down. “Happy. Maybe you might call it giddy.”
She could feel Rachel’s stare and looked up from her hands. The doctor looked about as surprised as she’d ever seen her.
“You? Giddy?” Rachel asked and set her pen down.
Val narrowed her eyes. “What? I’m giddy sometimes.”
Rachel snorted loudly. “Yeah, and I’m passive and easy-going.” She laughed. “Any other delusions you’d like to cop to while we’re here?”
Val pressed her lips together and started to stand.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” she mumbled.
She stopped when Rachel came around to her side of the desk.
“Let’s not be hasty here,” she said and leaned back against the desk. “I believe what you’re saying.” She stared directly at Val. “You aren’t someone to just say things.”
Val nodded. It was nice to know that she had the doctor on her side, even if she could be a pain in the ass.
“Still,” Rachel continued. “You’re unusual. Aside from Sol and Erica’s daughter, Cassia, you are the only one with this…” Her brow furrowed. “Ability.”
Ability. That was one way to phrase it. Empathy, the ability to sense the feelings of others. Not quite telepathy, but still very disconcerting at times.
Val frowned. “Yeah, but we’re related, so that makes sense.”
Rachel shook her head. “You are, but you aren’t. You and Sol might be siblings, but you’re still different. Cassia is half-human and half-hybrid. You’re an altered human. These are two very different things.”
Val nodded. She knew she was different. Every day reminded her of that.
“I don’t want to pry,” Rachel said and leaned forward. “But have you talked to Apollo?”
Val shook her head. “He just doesn’t understand this stuff, and it would make him worry more. He’s already keeping a pretty close eye on me.”
Rachel shook her head. “Not about this, but what we talked about last time?”
Pain lanced through Val. It was the one thing she’d been avoiding.
She paled at the thought of having to tell him about her last conversation with the doctor. It had taken time for her to digest. Hell, even now it was hard for her to think about. But it was even more difficult to think about telling Apollo. She worried that it would change everything. How could it not?
Rachel patted her knee. “Maybe you should. It might be what’s at the root of all this.”
Val stared at her for a moment. It made sense. The more she worried, the more her emotions would be off. It might even explain the strange dreams.
She nodded. “Maybe you’re right.” She sighed. “I’ll tell him tonight on our date.”
Rachel stood. “It’ll be fine. Have a little faith in him.”
Val’s stomach flipped. It wasn’t his faith she questioned. Apollo would stand by her no matter what. That was the problem. Maybe it would be better if he just walked away. Or maybe she would have to find the strength to walk away.
Val stood and rubbed her hands down her pants. The pattern on her jeans heated her sweaty palms.
“I would like to do a blood draw before you leave,” Rachel said and opened the door to the hall. “Just as a precaution.”
Val swallowed. Of course she wouldn’t get out of there without getting poked. Wouldn’t be a doctor’s appointment without it.
She sighed loudly. “Let’s get this over with.”
Apollo straightened the black tie he was wearing for about the millionth time.
Everything had to be perfect.
He surveyed his handiwork. The picnic blanket had been a bitch to lay out. The damn thing kept flipping over every time a nice breeze came through. Finally he’d decided to strategically place the items from the basket. Champagne in one corner, fruit in another, meats and cheeses in the other and the last one holding the basket. It wasn’t quite like he pictured, but he hoped that Val was too busy with other things to really notice.
He’d searched for a week to pick the perfect spot. It wasn’t far into the woods but just enough so that they would be alone. A stream of water flowed near where he’d laid the blanket. With trees all over, it offered shade until the sun went down.
Apollo looked at the setting sun overhead. Another gust of wind blew his sandy brown hair off his damp forehead. Maybe going for the suit and tie hadn’t been the best idea in this heat. He was sweating his ass off in the monkey suit, and he could only hope that when Val got there, he wouldn’t be wearing it for much longer.
He couldn’t hide the grin that came to his face as he thought about what they would do tonight.
It would be memorable. Not that every night with her wasn’t. Each time he felt more and more like the man he wanted to be, the kind of man that deserved this life. He was finally able to move on from all the shit that had happened, not just the past few months, but all his life. She was like a healing balm, and the more he got, the better he felt.
His hand absently reached into his pocket and rubbed the black velvet box. Its weight was more than just the metal and stone inside. It was the weight of his hopes and dreams.
Apollo leaned his head back and stared at the sky. The clouds were just turning a pinkish hue as the final bits of light painted a beautiful palette in the sky.
This was what he wanted, what he had pictured in his head.
He looked away from the sky at the sound of footsteps.