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Authors: Tina Christopher

Tangled Redemption

BOOK: Tangled Redemption
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Tangled Redemption

Tina
Christopher

 

Sydney Radnall is no man’s toy,
despite fate’s attempt to make her just that. But kidnapping puts her at the
mercy of a sadistic Feral commander. Being held prisoner is bad enough, but her
Naema blood is powerful. In her current Vampiric company her presence is like
ringing a dinner bell.

In an attempt to break her, the
commander makes her the pet of two of his lieutenants. Miguel is one of the
most dangerous men she has ever met, but she can’t stop the attraction blazing
between them. Then there is Jayden, a Vampire who is as surprising as he is
sexy. Two Vampires she should not be attracted to, should not want to surrender
to, should not trust.

But things aren’t always what they
seem. Secrets and lies shadow their connections, making it impossible to see
clearly. What are the chances of her finding lifemates while surrounded by
enemies? Making the wrong decision could not just shatter her heart. It could
cost her life.

 

A Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from
Ellora’s Cave

 

Tangled Redemption
Tina Christopher

 

Acknowledgments

 

A huge thank-you to the fabulous Victoria Davies. She has
been asking for Miguel’s story since she first read
Tangled Shadows
. I
am sorry I made you wait so long ;). A big thank-you to Bonnie Starring for
being there no matter when I called and to Gina X. Grant, for your wonderful
advice. Thank you to the wonderful writers on Twitter. #1k1hr rocks!

And as always, a ginormous thank-you to my readers. Thank
you for going on this journey with Sydney, Miguel and Jayden. It was an
adventure to write their story. I hope it is an adventure to read it.

 

Chapter One

 

When the Feral Vampire strode up to her,
a malicious grin curving his thin lips, fangs glistening, Sydney Radnall knew
she would never again allow anyone to take her blood. She would die first.

There were three of them. The other two stayed slightly
behind, fanning out and blocking the entrance.

Marissa, the young human who had been taken from Parvati at
the same time as Sydney, stood beside her. Their shoulders bumped. Marissa’s
shook, but she raised her fists as if to fend off the three Vampires with her
bare hands.

No way in fucking hell.

Sydney straightened her shoulders, rolled her neck and took
a step forward. She smiled.

The lead Feral’s gaze narrowed.

She didn’t give him a chance to respond, but leaped and
rammed her knee into his groin. He folded over with a whimper. She grabbed a
hunk of his hair and slammed the bottom of her palm into his nose. Cartilage
crunched as she jammed the shattered bones into his brain.

Eyes wide he dropped to the floor. Dead.

Sydney panted. She touched the cold synth-metal wall of the
spaceship for a second but stopped herself from rubbing her sore hand. The
other two Ferals gaped at her. She wanted to smirk, but she’d lost the
advantage of surprise.

They recovered and converged on her. Before they had taken
even one step the door slid open and Tall, Dark and Dangerous, the man—no, the
Vampire—responsible for her kidnapping, strode in.

He appeared to grasp the situation with
one look and grabbed the nearest Feral, killing him with a quick twist of the
neck. The third attacker froze.

Sydney took a couple of steps back to give herself more
room. She would fight to the bitter end.

“Honorable Radnall, what are you planning to do?” His
seductive voice slid across her in an inappropriate manner. He was taller than
her, something that didn’t happen often. His skin was darkly tanned. Thick
dark-brown hair framed his arresting face as if he hadn’t had the opportunity
to get it cut for some time. His eyes gave nothing away. With every movement,
every inch of his muscular body, he demonstrated he was a warrior.

She had trained with men like him, had been taught by them,
but she had never managed to best even one of them.

He crossed his arms before his chest. The final Feral moved
against her. Dark and Dangerous gestured and two of the Ferals who had
accompanied him grabbed the attacker.

Sydney was not surprised he was the leader. The power of a
highly trained warrior and powerful Vampire cloaked him. He raised a brow at
her.

Unlike her attackers his eyes were black, not red. The red
identified Ferals as Vampires who drained their prey of blood while inducing
horror and panic. In one of the few instances of cooperation between the three
major species, the Naema Senate, the Vampire Council and the human government
had agreed that Ferals were an unacceptable danger. Law enforcement as well as
civilians had permission to shoot Ferals on sight without repercussions.

Over the last year or so scattered Feral groups had come
together under one leader to smuggle humans as blood slaves, a crime that, if
it became public knowledge, would incite another Human-Vampire War. A war far
more devastating than the one three centuries ago.

She mirrored his stance. “My parents told me not to talk to
strangers.”

His lips quirked. “Miguel Calatrave, at your service,
Honorable Radnall.” He gestured to the dead body. “Now, if you would please
explain?”

She couldn’t defend herself against his voice. Goose bumps
rose in its wake.

Sydney stood even straighter. “They entered with one clear
intent. An intent that I won’t allow.”

His nostrils flared, but the flash of rage was gone too
quickly for her to be certain. It seemed the Ferals had ignored his orders.

“You will not allow? All right, Honorable Radnall. You have
one out of the way. I took care of another. How will you deter anyone from
coming in here to drink your or the human’s blood?”

She stared at him. Was he serious? Why would he want her to
kill one of his own?

Sydney swallowed and observed the Vampire being held by
Calatrave’s men. He’d clenched his jaw. The skin across his face was stretched
tight, muscles bulging, making his two keepers struggle to hold him. His red
eyes, eyes that proved he had killed humans without compassion, blazed.

She didn’t have much time.

Her chest tightened and she looked back
into Calatrave’s jet-black eyes. His expression was impassive.

Her first kill had been self-defense. The next one had to be
an execution.

The last man she had killed had been a traitor to her
country and her planet.

A traitor to her species.

A traitor to her.

Her husband.

Nine months ago she killed him when she was barely alive
after he’d come close to draining her of blood. Then she had been in a daze.
Picking up the gun and firing had been like a dream. It had not involved the
clear intent she had now.

But this confrontation was what she had trained for. She
blamed the Ferals for giving her bastard husband the idea to sell her blood.
Without their horrific smuggling operation he would have had no buyer. Without
them to support her husband she would not have been at death’s door. This was
an opportunity to even the field.

The Feral growled. He pulled back his lips, baring his fully
extended fangs.

Use his emotions against him
, her teacher’s voice
echoed through her mind.

Her muscles tightened in preparation. His rage was his
weakness. She would take him down and therefore rid the galaxy of one more
monster.

Sydney turned to the Feral and raised a brow. He pressed his
lips together but didn’t respond in any other way. Sydney slowly moved closer.
The two keepers stepped aside and released him. The Feral studied her and slid
sideways. They circled each other.

With a sharp snap she allowed her blood-red wings to become
visible.

Distracted, he gaped.

She lunged and tried to punch the side of his face. He
weaved to avoid her. Sydney rammed her upper wing bone into the other side of
his face. He screamed as his nose broke. Blood dripped over his chin.

She had bruised her knuckles. Her wing bone ached from the
impact.

The Feral growled and wrapped his arms around her waist,
trapping her arms at her side. She stiffened her fingers and jammed them into
his groin area. He growled and jumped back but grabbed her by the neck, yanking
it to the side, his nails digging in.

He nearly has you.
Panic threatened to seep through.
Falling back on the training she’d immersed herself in after The Incident, she
slammed one of her steel-toed boots into his shin. He flinched but didn’t let
go. She slammed her forehead against his injured nose. He leaned back enough
for her to yank her arm out his loosening grip and plowed her fist against his
Adam’s apple with all her might. He choked and released her, struggling to
breathe. Gasping he sank to his knees, his face turning blue. No one moved. The
Feral fought to breathe and finally collapsed on the ground.

Calatrave studied her for a moment. Then he addressed the
two Ferals with him. “Honorable Radnall and Miss Adevo are not to be touched by
anyone. Breaking this order is a death sentence.” He didn’t take his eyes off
her as he spoke.

Sydney clasped her aching hands to hide their shaking. There
was so little inflection in his voice he could be talking about the weather
instead about killing his own people.

The Ferals nodded and hurried out. Calatrave walked up to
the wall and pressed a sequence of buttons. “Send a cleanup crew.”

“Where are you taking us?” Marissa’s voice croaked as she
asked the question.

He looked at her. “Somewhere you never wanted to see.” He
turned to Sydney. “You will be safe until we land in a few hours.” He entered
another sequence of numbers. “The door will now work for you. You are able to
lock it, but be aware that if you don’t open it when I come for you the
privilege will be removed.”

“Understood.” Sydney studied him, her body filled with the
need to run away from the dangerous man before her. But at the same time he
drew her in. She wanted to step closer and discover if his body was as hard and
masculine as it appeared, stroke her fingers along his strong jaw and caress
his lips with her own.

She froze. He threatened not only to her life but also to
her mind.

 

Miguel
scrutinized the Naema before him. She stood tall, only a little shorter than
his six-three, and very slender, but not fragile. No, tight muscles ran up and
down her body and her Naema heritage gave her additional strength. Her blonde
hair was cut pixie short and her aquamarine eyes carried darkness.

She had passed his test. Maybe she would have the strength
and fortitude to survive being Nasir Zwelenki’s prisoner. He’d done his best
not to find her when Nasir’s orders came down. When she’d made the stupid
decision to travel to Dahir, a planet close to the central core of the system,
without any protection she’d taken things out of his hands.

He had seen a lot in the five years he’d been with the
Ferals, most of it things he wanted to forget. But watching Sydney Radnall, a
highborn Naema, defend herself against Feral Vampires had impressed him. Her
determination and courage had captured his attention.

His position was too important to risk going against Nasir.
Miguel would do his best to keep the intriguing Honorable Radnall safe, but
there were bigger things at stake. He mentally grimaced when he looked at the
human he’d been saddled with through the idiotic actions of a now dead man.
Miguel sent a quick message through his internal comp. He would sell her to two
of his best customers, Tank and Finn. Miss Adevo looked like she would appeal
to their taste and he needed her out of his hair. If she stayed she could be
used to control Sydney, and that he would not allow.

Sydney had killed and had killed quickly. There was no doubt
what had happened with her husband had turned her into a survivor. He didn’t
know what was in store for her, but he knew she would need that strength.

For the first time in years Miguel found himself hesitating.

The human cleared her voice. “What are you planning to do
with us?”

He saw no reason to pretty things up. “You will be sold as a
blood slave to two Vampires.”

She understood his subtext and turned deathly pale. He
expected her to drop to her knees, but she didn’t. It appeared he had more than
one warrior in captivity. It would be up to Tank and Finn to deal with her. He
had enough on his plate.

“If you want my continued cooperation she stays with me.”

Miguel looked at the Naema. “For now she does, but customers
are already lined up.” He met her gaze and let the shadows of what was to come
shine in his eyes. “You do not want her with you after we have arrived.”

Sydney swallowed. Tension invaded her body.

He shook his head. “Or she can die right here.” He didn’t
want to kill the human, but the stakes were too high to leave anything to
chance.

The human stepped beside her and briefly touched one of the
Naema’s outer wings, which were still visible after she’d used them as a
distraction. She flinched at the touch and snapped the blood-red beauties
together behind her back.

So they are indeed sensitive to the touch.
Miguel had
heard rumors, but nothing had ever been confirmed. Naemas didn’t allow
outsiders to touch their wings.

“Sydney, let it go.” The human’s voice shook. “I’m grateful
for your protection.” She lowered her voice, probably unaware of Vampires’
heightened senses. “I can only fight if I’m alive. You have protected me this
far. I don’t know what you’ll have to face, but it will be even more difficult
if you’re worried about me.” She raised her chin. “I will survive. When I’m
free I’ll bring the might of the Sentinels down on these assholes.”

He remained silent. It would do no good to explain to her
that the human Sentinels would never learn the truth. If knowledge of the
Ferals’ actions leaked out it could destabilize the shaky peace between the
three major species in this galaxy. The Vampire Council would not allow it.
Miguel waited for them to finish their not so secret conversation. “What will
it be?”

The women turned to him. Sydney glared and her wings
disappeared through the inter-dimensional portal Naemas learned to control from
an early age. Her wings were still there, but no longer visible or touchable.
“It’s not as if you’re giving us a choice.”

He didn’t respond. Unlike most people he looked at in this
manner she did not shift or fidget. Instead she copied him. For a moment Miguel
wondered what she saw, but he pushed the thought aside. It wasn’t important.

After a couple of minutes of silence it was the human who
replied. “We’ll remain here during the flight.” She swallowed and her voice
wavered. “When will I meet my…my buyers?”

“They will be waiting for you when we arrive.”

Her knuckles turned white as she clenched her hands even
tighter together. Sydney balled her fists and her face turned blank. Her gaze
was fixed behind him. Her lips moved, but he couldn’t make out what she said.

He filed her response away. The doors slid open and three
Ferals entered, stretchers hovering beside them. They laid them out, moved the
bodies on to them and floated them out of the room.

He gave the two women a small bow and walked out of the
brig.

 

Sydney clung to control as hard as she could as she checked
Calatrave’s promise. She locked the door and rubbed her eyes.

She’d nearly lost it. Not knowing how to process the rage
tearing through her she had turned to counting the infinitesimal marks on the
wall over his shoulder. Numbers were beautiful and always made sense. She could
rely on them as they would not change. One plus one would always be two. People
changed. Numbers stayed the same.

BOOK: Tangled Redemption
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