Natalie's loved and lost, and she's not so sure she wants to risk her heart again. She's willing to settle for a challenging career as a space-pilot instructor and a succession of no-strings-attached lovers. But that's before her boss saddles her with the last thing she wants -- a new partner.
Jebediah recognizes his perfect match in Natalie from the moment she seduces him on a dare. Everything that makes her a top-notch pilot, from her fearlessness to her passion, make a night in her bed both challenging and unforgettable.
A dangerous confrontation with a brutal enemy, an exploding drive engine and a traitor close to home throw everything into perspective. Natalie is going to have to put the past behind her and risk it all, because when your partner is also your lover, failure is not an option.
Publisher's Note: An earlier version of this book existed previously at another house that has since gone dark. The current version has been significantly expanded and edited.
Praise for Her Cyborg Lover (Terras Five)
"I really enjoyed this story. I liked the chemistry between the characters. This is the kind of story that is sweet, action packed, and fun to read. I loved it."
-- 5 Stars from Redz, Redz World Reviews
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Her Cyborg Lover (Terras Five 1)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2017 Anne Kane
Natalie pulled the cerebral interface down over her forehead, scanning the display with a practiced eye. A blip on the bottom corner of the screen caught her attention.
"Identify ship, lower quadrant." She rolled her eyes, waiting impatiently for the ship's avatar to reply. She already knew the answer, or as much as she needed to know. One of the hotshot cadets thought they could sneak up behind her and beat her back to the base.
"Ship identified as delta class reconnaissance pod. Single occupant, unidentified male. No flight plan filed."
No flight plan? That certainly raised questions. Probably a lower-class cadet returning from a routine scouting mission.
Maybe she was wrong about their motives. After spending the last decade on active duty, she'd come to expect the younger pilots to challenge her. They thought mature meant slower and less alert. So long as he or she didn't make any surprise moves, she'd ignore them. "Keep track of their progress."
"Affirmative." The ship's deep voice no longer sent pangs of loss through her. After the accident that had taken her life mate, she'd programmed his voice into her ship's avatar as a way of keeping him close.
That had been a long time ago, though. Now, the voice belonged to her ship, and if she thought of her lost love at all, it was with a fond twinge of nostalgia. Life went on.
"Are we visible to the unidentified craft?"
"Affirmative. We are within visual range."
Even as she prepared to give the cadet the benefit of the doubt, the other vessel began to pick up speed, darting in front of her ship in an obvious show of contempt.
So much for playing Mrs. Nice Gal! "Computer, turn off autopilot. We're going to show that little snot what a real pilot can do."
"Aye, Captain. Autopilot disengaged. Do you wish to hail the craft?"
The scout ship slipped between two asteroids, picking up power as the pilot zigzagged his way through the rock-strewn sky with a flagrant disregard for his ship's safety. Where did kids learn to fly these days? In a vacuum? If he wasn't careful, he'd end up a red smear on one of those asteroids.
"Why not? Open hailing frequency."
A few seconds passed as the avatar located the proper frequency.
Natalie slipped the steering yoke over her shoulders, adrenaline already spiking through her as she prepared to meet the unknown pilot's challenge.
Designed for maximum integration of the ship and its pilot, the yoke made it easy for her to control every nuance of the ship's reactions. She rammed the throttle forward, engaging all four thrusters and leaning left to avoid colliding with a small rock that careened into her path as the ship surged forward.
"Hailing frequency open."
Natalie took a deep breath. "Delta class scout ship. This is Captain Freer, lead instructor on Gamma Base Seven-Two-Seven. Identify yourself immediately."
She waited impatiently for a reply. Even the greenest of cadets knew better than to openly defy her. Dead air lay between her and the scout ship. Seemed this cadet was stupider than most.
"Delta Class Scout ship. I order you to identify yourself, or be prepared to handle the consequences."
A deep male chuckle rolled through the com link.
Natalie blinked. Laughter? Was the idiot actually laughing at her? He was so going to eat her dust, and that would be before she grounded his sorry ass for the next decade or two.
Years of practice gave her the edge every single time one of the cadets pulled a stupid stunt like this. Engaging the infrared overlay on the cerebral interface, she mentally plotted the other ship's most likely course.
Only an experienced space jockey understood that the shortest route was rarely the quickest, or the easiest. Sure enough, the idiot darted between the two large asteroids directly in front of him. A seasoned pilot would know that the combined gravitational fields of the rocks created a braking effect on any smaller object caught between them. Real-life one on one versus theory in the classroom.
She could almost feel sorry for the pilot as he struggled to wrest back control of his ship from the two inanimate objects.
Almost, but not quite. She circled around the trap, putting herself directly between the rocket jockey and base ship. Let him watch her tail for a while before she slapped him into the brig. Waggling her wings in an insulting salute that the unfortunate pilot couldn't possibly miss, she veered toward base ship.
She hadn't quite finished congratulating herself on such a swift victory when her ship careened sideways, almost colliding with one of the smaller asteroids in the field.
What the hell? She jerked her head up, hardly able to believe the display in front of her eyes. The smaller ship had freed itself of the gravity well and moved to parallel her before turning so that his thrusters aimed directly at her side. When he fired them, the shock hit her craft with all the force of a herd of thundering moon-cats.
Crap! This kid had balls. Balls and the makings of a star-class fighter pilot -- if she didn't kill him first.
Getting the ship back under control, she reined in her temper and concentrated on chasing the smaller ship. It had been a long time since anyone had actually given her a run for her money.