Read Calm Online

Authors: Viola Grace

Tags: #Erotic romance, Sci Fi


BOOK: Calm
5.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Table of Contents

Title Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Keeping calm was Meri’s life, making others feel it was her job. Loving a Negotiator was her destiny.

Meribeth has been the assistant to a few Alliance personnel, but Negotiator Kao is her latest boss. At his insistence, she had gills installed to enable her to accompany him on wet assignments, but his ulterior motive was not clear until he is out of the armour and his own body is finally exposed.

Vehn Kao has spent years encased in armour as a Negotiator, but the moment he comes out and sees Meribeth with his own eyes he knows that she is everything that he has ever wanted in a woman. She is intelligent, witty, attractive and has a tremendous passion just below the surface that he wants to bring out in an explosive release.

Meri wants to be good at her job and Vehn want to take her calm and shake her up.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 2012 Viola Grace

ISBN: 978-1-77111-376-2

Cover art by Martine Jardin

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

Published by eXtasy Books

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A Terran Times Tale


Viola Grace

To everyone who pursues calm and falls short. The pursuit of calm is the thing. Damn it! Where did my calm go?!

Chapter One

“Please rise for Negotiator Kao.” Meribeth Arkany stepped into the conference room ahead of her employer and moved aside once she had determined that no one other than the representatives of Zkin and Uast were present.

“Thank you, Meri.”

She nodded and took her place at the table, opposite her employer. She placed her hands on the table, palms down and sat alert while she listened to the proceedings.

Kao’s voice was low and calm as it emitted through the speakers on his armour. When Meri felt a change in the pitch of the two parties in for the negotiation, she did what she was paid to do, she spread calm.

Zkin and Uast were planets at war. Their worlds were side by side, which made attack easy and negotiation difficult. Neither side wanted to give in, but there was too much bad blood between them.

Negotiator Kao was a master at this sort of issue, and he worked tirelessly to get them to an agreement.

Meri used meditation and concentration to keep herself alert and ready to sooth the situation. If no one got too excited the talks would go faster.

When they agreed to break for dinner, Meri wanted to stretch, but she let them leave before she tried to stand.

The Negotiator sat and waited for her to move before he got to his feet. “Do you need help?”

She smiled and shook her head. Her body was reeling from the alterations she had undergone for their last assignment. Having gills in an oxygen-rich environment was awkward to say the least. “I will be fine. I haven’t had a chance to reverse the changes for Monareth.”

He came to her side and lifted her to her feet. “You wish to eradicate the gills?”

“Well, I have no use for them now, and you are about to retire, so it is doubtful that my next assignment will attach me to a Negotiator.” She swayed and breathed in through her mouth as spots swam in her vision.

“You skipped breakfast again, did you not?” He shook his head in dismay.

“I was in a hurry and took a shower instead. I will eat now.” She smiled brightly, but his hand was still on her arm.

“I will come with you.”

“You do not need to eat, Kao.” She tried to extricate herself, but he didn’t let go.

He turned and shifted her arm so that it appeared she was using him as her escort. He led her out of the council chamber, past the lining of Alliance guards and to the mess hall of the Alliance Warship Calluth.

Once she had gotten a tray and made her choices, she sat across from her boss and started to eat. She was halfway through and tired of staring at herself in the golden reflection of his armour. “You know, this penchant you have for watching me eat borders on creepy.”

He inclined his head. “It is something I miss with the nutrients forced into my systems. Food was an important part of my family life until I was tapped as Negotiator.”

Meri looked at him, captive in his gold armour and surrounded by long, black robes and a cloak. “I am sorry. I can’t imagine you out of that armour. I know it is impolite to ask your original species, and so, I have to use my imagination. My imagination isn’t that good.”

He made a sound she had grown to interpret as a laugh. “I will be able to show you what I am after our final assignment together. You will need those gills for our next planet fall.”

She made a face. “I see. Well, at least I will have my full suit ready for the day. The gill openings are built in, if a little risqué.”

“Do you mind the gills so much?”

“No. It is a change to my personal topography, and it will take some time to get used to them. If I do get used to them, I might even decide to keep them.” She finished her meal and sat back with a hot cup of tea.

“You think so? You are very optimistic for someone trained to stop violence.”

She shrugged and sipped at the rich taste of hot berries. “Stopping violence is beyond me. I can only cool it down in the beginning phases. I keep people calm, Negotiator.”



“Call me Kao when we are not actively involved in a negotiation. I know I have encouraged the formality for far too long, but my time in the armour is coming to a close.”

“Why the change?”

He inclined his shiny, unmarked faceplate. “I am about to resume a life I was not sure I would make it to. Being decanted out of a Negotiator uniform is a traumatic experience, and I will need a friend. There is no one closer to me than you.”

Meri sighed and sipped at her tea again. “Is this the reason for the evening workouts?”

“Yes. It will make the transition easier if I have some muscle tone before the suit comes off.”

Every night, after she removed his cloak and robes, Negotiator Kao engaged in a series of sit-ups, push-ups and yoga moves that were truly impressive given his less-than-flexible armour. The grunts told her that he was not on the hydraulic assist that moved his body day after day.

“How long will we be here?”

“Two days at the outside. Your help has been invaluable, Meribeth. I want you to know that. The last two years with you at my side has made the time slip by and has increased the effectiveness of my work dramatically. Thank you.”

Meri blinked. “Um, are you dying or something?”

The translator on his suit made a peculiar sound before he shook his head. “No. But I am going to change, and I am attempting to adapt my behaviour accordingly. My distance from those around me is about to cease and no one is closer to me than you are.”

It was the second time that he had said that, and though they had worked with each other for two years, she knew nothing about him. The true nature of a Negotiator was a highly guarded secret. He was supposed to be neutral in all negotiations, and therefore, he could not claim a home while he was in the armour. He was a man without a planet, or a woman. Meri couldn’t be sure.

“So, do you have an estimated date when I will need to contact the Alliance for a new assignment?”

To Meri’s surprise, Kao’s right fist clenched on the table where he had been resting his hand. “I will discuss that with the placement officer when I file the report on your service. There is no estimate until your final assignment is complete.”

She inclined her head. “I apologize, Negotiator. I forgot for a moment that I was your employee.”

His hand opened, and he placed his palm flat on the table. “I believe it is time to re-join our negotiation.”

Meri got to her feet, “As you wish, Negotiator.”

His hands clenched again, and she noted that the normal assisted-whirring sound was absent. He was operating on his own, and his body was carrying its own weight and that of the armour. Kao got to his feet and inclined his head.

He turned and left the mess hall, leading her back to the conference room where she would do her job and he would do his.

Whatever he was leading up to in his conversation was forgotten. Meri was tired of being put in her place. She may be the closest person to him, but she didn’t know him at all. Watching him walk ahead of her, she was sure of one thing, he was definitely a him.

Chapter Two

Twelve hours of negotiation across two more days exhausted Meri, but when it was over and done with, she was grimly delighted. Kao had become foul tempered in the extreme, and it got worse whenever she tried to ask him about giving her a good reference for her next Alliance position.

Meribeth was sitting alone in the dining hall and poking at her salad. What had been a calm acquaintance had turned into a twisting morass of conflicting emotions. He was angry with her, curt, and she could swear that he was glaring at her behind the shield of his faceplate.

She didn’t know what to do. Meri was running out of time as his assistant, and he wasn’t helping her to look for her next position like her previous employers had. Her talent was so peculiar that it was hard to quantify. Keeping folks calm was usually a by-product of a projecting empath. Meri was a one-trick pony, and she knew it.

“You aren’t eating.” Kao sat next to her at the table.

“I don’t have much appetite when my mind is spinning.”

“You haven’t eaten for days.”

“You seem to enjoy it when I eat, so I have decided that it is a gift I will not offer you.” Meri pushed her food aside.

“Your colour is pale. Are you tired?”

His concern set off warm flutters in her belly, but she knew that his emotions could rotate without warning, so she said quietly, “I am fine.”

He shifted in his seat. “I…I mean would you…I am being decanted this afternoon and I wish for you to be there.”

Meri sat up and stared at him. “What?”

“I went in alone. I would like someone to be there when I come out. Will you?” He did something she had never heard him do. He cleared his throat, though the vocalization was translated by his suit’s systems.

She sighed. “Of course I would. When is it happening?”

He turned his head, and she saw the medical specialists gathered in the doorway to the dining hall.

“It is happening now. I made them wait to see if you would come with me.”

She smiled weakly. “Well, then, we had best not keep them waiting.”

Meri got to her feet, and Kao stood next to her. She heard his whisper as they walked and almost tripped over her own feet. For the next two hours she would wonder if she really heard what she thought she heard.

“Thank you, Meribeth.” The words out of his lips came the moment that the wires were removed from his skull. He had a tight grip on her hand, and he squeezed it as they eased him into an upright position.

His skin was pale blue, his irises were a dark and vivid purple in a sea of black. Meri called on her knowledge of the species that had gill slits along their collarbones and came up with only one that she could think of. He was a Lahash of Reepha.

“You are welcome, Kao.” She kept hold of his hand as the techs continued to remove the connections between his body and the armour. After the mental leads were removed, there were all the muscle triggers to take care of.

The techs worked quickly and quietly, sealing each hole as the leads were removed.

His skull was hairless and a paler shade than the rest of him.

“You could have told me sooner, Kao. I could have helped ease you to this moment instead of letting you rave on as the mood struck you.”

He blinked those lovely dark eyes at her. “You never tried to calm me.”

“No, it wasn’t my place. People have emotions for a reason. They work through their stimuli and find their true way. The only problem arises when rage or fear takes over and kills common sense. That is when I need to step in. My talent is useful for old feuds and ending wars, but aside from that, it’s pretty silly.”

BOOK: Calm
5.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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