As ‘Hunting Light’ is so short, I’ll be offering it as a ‘freebie’, hopefully sometime in February. It's aimed at new readers who may be considering giving 'The Lifelight Series' a try - another way for them to get a feel for my style of writing, alongside the 'look inside' option offered by Amazon. Unfortunately, I wrote the scene below with existing readers in mind - and it had to go!
However, I couldn’t bring myself to just discard it – so here it is, for anyone who’s interested:
IMPORTANT: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS OF 'THE LIFELIGHT SERIES'.
Deleted first scene from ‘HUNTING LIGHT’
“They arrived the night my parents died. Not that I knew that then… I didn’t even question why they suddenly appeared. I suppose, to a three year old, it was as understandable and believable as Father Christmas.” Mara Oran took a large gulp of wine and stared at the blonde woman sitting next to her.
The porch swing creaked rhythmically as they gently rocked it back and forth. “It was such a shock, finding out what I am,” she continued, “and I knew about the Lifelights. They’d been a part of my life since that night. I can’t even begin to think what went through your mind when you found out. I mean, I saw how you reacted, but still… I suppose it could have been worse.”
“You think?” Rosa Park shrugged. “No one could ever say that I handled it well. I ran from the man I loved, Mara. I’d known Nathan since I was eleven… but that wasn’t enough to take away the disbelief.”
Mara nodded in understanding. “And then there was all the other stuff,” she said. “Geez, how the hell did you cope with that too? You’re solely responsible for a species-wide link that none of us thought possible and as for the Lancite… I still haven’t got my head round that little gem.”
Rosa laughed. “A gem in more ways than one, huh?” She paused to top up her glass, swirling the dark red liquid around the bowl, before inhaling its rich scent and taking a sip. Her eyes half-closed in contemplation. “You do realise we’re going to have to keep an extra close eye on Lucy Thompson, don’t you? If you think my current cycle has thrown us a curveball, then I dread to think what she’s got in store for us.”
“But she’s human…” Mara said, sounding confused.
“Oh, don’t let that fool you." Rosa sighed. "Hasn’t my life experience taught you anything? Never judge a book by its cover and never judge the future by the past. Things change, Mara. In fact, I'd bet my talents that some pretty big changes have already started...”
Mara’s mouth opened as if she were about to say something, but she became distracted when the ranch’s screen door creaked open, banging shut again a second later. Both women looked up, to find two men heading their way. Even in the dim evening light, the intensity of their gazes had sexual awareness rippling through the air.
The older of the two eyed them both with a lazy smile as he crossed the porch. His Mediterranean colouring, matched with piercing blue-grey eyes, managed to give the phrase ‘tall dark and handsome’ an added, exciting, twist. “Well, well, what have we here, Nathan? Two gorgeous women all alone… think they’ll make room for us too, if we ask them nicely?”
Nathan came to a stop in front of Rosa, tilting his head to one side. He was as blond as his companion was dark. His intense green eyes traced over her reclined figure, with enough heat to set her nerve ends tingling. “We can only hope, Sebastian. What do you think, darlin’ – room for a couple more on there?”
Rosa let out a dramatic sigh, rolling her eyes in a way that suggested he was nothing more than an annoyance. “Well, I suppose there might be… if you insist.” She made a show of putting her wine glass safely on the floor and trying to squash herself to one end of the seat. Mara giggled, mirroring her actions. The gap they cleared wouldn’t have fit one of the men in it, let alone both.
Nathan raised one eyebrow before glancing across at Sebastian. “Looks like they think we’ll give up, if they give us enough cheek… are we going to let them get away with that?”
Sebastian pursed his lips, as if considering the matter, then shook his head. “Not a chance. How will they ever learn to respect us, if we let them get away with stuff like this?”
“Exactly,” Nathan agreed.
Moving with impressive speed and an almost choreographed precision, the two of them stepped forward and bent down to scoop Rosa and Mara up into their arms. With a quick turn, they flopped back onto the porch swing, setting the frame shaking.
“Hey!” Rosa protested, even as she allowed Nathan to wrap his arms around her. “Never mind the space issue, I’m not sure this seat will take your weight!”
Nathan laughed, bending his head to brush the side of her neck with his lips. His warm breath caressed the sensitive skin, sending a shiver of arousal through her body. She felt him smile; pleased with her reaction to him. “Far too much cheek… it’s a good thing I adore you, otherwise I might take exception to a comment like that. I’m a perfect example of how any man in his prime should look.”
Rosa leaned her head back, until it was pillowed on his shoulder, her eyes meeting his. “But you do adore me, cowboy, and I’ve never been more grateful for that.”
Low laughter intruded on the moment. Sebastian’s voice broke through the blanket of sensual heat that had risen up, wrapping itself around Rosa and Nathan. “Cut it out, you two. Newlyweds or not, there’s only so much mushy stuff us oldies can take.”
Mara snorted. “Speak for yourself. You might be on your way to ancient, but I’ve still got enough youth left to enjoy a bit of smooching. If you’re not up to it though, I guess I’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the show.” She batted her eyelashes at Sebastian, giving him an innocent smile, before turning in Rosa and Nathan’s direction. “Get on with it then… if this is as near to the action as I’m getting tonight, it better be good.”
It was debatable whether the blushes that swept into Rosa and Nathan’s cheeks were any less intense than the one that tinged Sebastian’s. Mara’s delighted laughter echoed across the darkening porch. “Oh, that’s priceless! The looks on your faces!” Her shoulders visibly shook as she turned, to muffle her giggles against the front of Sebastian’s shirt.
“Wench,” he muttered.
Finally reining in her laughter, Mara looked up at him and shrugged. “Part of my charm, Mr Oran. It’s how I keep you from turning into a stuffy old man before your time.”
“Now what makes you say that? We’re the same age, my love,” Sebastian pointed out.
“Not according to this body,” Mara immediately responded, drawing his gaze towards her with a sweeping gesture.
It was Sebastian’s turn to roll his eyes as his gaze sought out Rosa and Nathan, who were watching them in fascinated silence. Their mouths hung slightly open, amusement in their eyes. “You see what I have to put up with?” Sebastian complained. “She shows me no respect… none at all. What am I to do with her? Any suggestions?”
“I’ve got a few… some of them involve chocolate sauce,” Mara piped up, only for her husband’s hand to land firmly over her mouth.
“Yes,” he said. “And I don’t need to be a genius to figure out what those would be. Behave yourself.”
Mara’s bright blue eyes crinkled at the corners, laughing at him over his hand.
Sebastian gave her a stern look before returning his gaze to Rosa. “Now, if you’d just ignore my wife’s blatant innuendos… I’ve been wanting to ask you something for a while now. It’s about Synergy…”
Instinctively, Rosa tensed. She felt Nathan’s hands stroke along her arms, soothing her with their light touch.
“What about Synergy?” she queried, aware that Mara had gone uncharacteristically quiet.
Sebastian didn’t reply. Truth be told, Rosa didn’t need him to. She knew. But still… could she do it? The ensuing silence stretched on, becoming tinged with awkwardness.
“You don’t have to tell him anything, honey.” The sound of Nathan’s voice slid into Rosa’s mind on a wave of reassurance.
“I know… but you know Sebastian, and he knows us. He wouldn’t be asking this if it wasn’t important. I’m not stupid, Nathan; I’ve been expecting this. Now that I’ve regained my memories, including those surrounding my abduction… it was only a matter of time before someone came to find out what I know. Synergy is still a threat to us, all of us… the fact is, Giles Cameron was once connected to them and the Chems who escaped could well have access to Lancite. If they decide to go back to Synergy…” she trailed off for a moment as a shudder of apprehension swept through her. “It makes sense to question me. The more information that Sebastian and the Global Response Team have, the more able they’ll be to protect us in the future.” Rosa kept her thoughts keenly focused on the man who held her. His body and mind were working in tandem, giving her what comfort they could. She loved that they were able to communicate this way; in total privacy and with a depth of intimacy that took her breath away. It was so much more than the transference of thought. The telepathic connection between them was powered by emotion. Their love for each other was an inherent part of it all, backing up every word and image that slipped between their minds.
“It’s time, Nathan… time to remember; time to share those memories.” Her eyes stared into his for a long moment, closing as he pulled her closer.
She felt him enfold her in all of the warmth and protection he had to offer, the pressure of his lips brushing against hers, teasing along their sensitive surface. Tense uncertainty hung in the air.
With a rush, their shared energy talent rose up. It poured from their bodies, to crackle along their skin. Wherever they touched, in body or mind, the pull of power deepened the contact, infusing Rosa with the strength she needed. “Stay with me, cowboy," she whispered. "This won’t be an easy thing for me… recalling a child’s terror never is.