When Winter Nayar goes undercover to expose the Humans for Earth Coalition, she doesn’t expect to discover a kidnapped alien. Jeopardizing herself and her story, she helps him escape—and complicates her world in ways she could never imagine.
Kasim Ta’nehr is desperate to get out of the hell-hole lab. He has no reason to trust Winter, but he’s in no position to save himself. Wary of being lured into a trap, he has no choice but to join forces with her.
It’s not long before he realizes Winter is something special. Smart, sexy, and generous—she’s everything Kasim longs for but knows he can never have. His scars run too angry and too deep to risk any kind of emotional intimacy. Keeping his heart cold and frozen is the only way Kasim survives. He can’t afford to break the ice—not even for the woman he’s grown to love.
Be Warned: bondage
Later that evening, Kasim climbed out of a tower SUV in a grimy back alley in Soho. Pulling the hood of his sweatshirt forward to cover his face, he made his way up the rickety metal staircase at the back of building.
He’d called Winter late that afternoon to arrange the meeting, and hearing her voice woke emotions he thought he’d buried over the last week. The feelings he had for her were useless to him, so he’d boxed them up and pushed them aside. But speaking to her had broken that box wide open.
And now he was going see to her face-to-face, breathe in her scent, be close enough to touch. Just the thought of it made him yearn so hard he ached.
Standing at the outer door, he stared at the green peeling paint and waited until he forced his emotions back under control. Then he mentally covered himself in a layer of ice, hard and impenetrable. His desire for Winter was too complex for him to control, so his only choice was to smother it.
And considering the conversation he was about to have with her, what he was going to ask to do, it was best his emotions weren’t engaged. He couldn’t afford to feel sorry for her, and he couldn’t give in to the protective instincts that were a part of every rhe’hashan.
Squaring his shoulders, he knocked on the door.
Footsteps from inside, light and quick. And then the door opened and all his hard work evaporated.
She was so beautiful he could hardly breathe. She wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and form-fitting pants that showed sleek lines of her legs. Her dark hair fell in shiny waves over her shoulders and her dainty feet were bare.
Kasim breathed her in, taking her essence into his body, imprinting her scent on both man and cat.
“Are you okay?” She half-reached for him, but let her hand drop before she made contact.
“Yes,” he lied. “May I come in?”
“Oh, sorry.” Stepping back, she ushered him over the threshold. “Just go on up.”
The entrance way was tall and narrow, with a bare set of wooden stairs that led to a second landing. That space was so small he had to press himself against the wall so Winter could get past him and unlock her apartment door.
Kasim made a mental note to do something about her security. A dark alley, exposed external stairs, an outer door with a single deadlock and no sensor lights. No alarms either. Winter may as well hang out a sign that declared her easy prey.
“Come in.” She preceded him into the apartment and closed the door behind him. Kasim stepped further into the room, curious to see how she lived.
The lounge area was small, as was the kitchen he could see on the other side of the room. But it was neat and tidy in a way that looked comfortable and lived in. The sofas and chairs were clearly second hand, but the colorful throws and cushions made the entire space cozy and welcoming. There were a couple of prints on the walls and an array of photographs on the sideboard. Curious, he walked over to have a look. Most were pictures of Winter and Jasmine, both alone and together. Right at the back, almost teetering on the edge, were two photos of a woman and—presumably—her daughter. In one image the girl was five or six, beaming up at the camera with innocent joy. The other was of a teenager, smiling for the camera but not happy. Those big brown eyes held too much pain for a girl her age.
Carefully, he picked them both up. “You and your mother?”
“You don’t look like her.” Winter’s mother was lovely, in a blonde, blue-eyed kind of way. Nothing like the wild, dark beauty of her daughter.
“I get my coloring from my father.” And with that Winter gently removed the photos from his hands and put them back.
Kasim took the hint and found himself a seat on the largest of the two armchairs. “How are you, Winter?”
“Good, thank you. And you?” She sat opposite him on the other chair, a small scarred table between them.
She folded her arms and looked at him as if he was taking up too much of her time. Clearly she’d moved past whatever bond they formed during their time together. Kasim wished he could say the same.