Second in the series, this book is another steamy, supernatural romance by Calinda B and includes lots
of out of this world connecting, thrills, excitement, romantic suspense and adventure. Be sure to
read A Wicked Awakening and get caught up!
Summary: Unable to accept his girlfriend's paranormal abilities as a Galaxy Dancer, Cameron Delaney Tyson took off to explore his own dark demons. Now he's left with no girlfriend, a lot of time on his hands and a terrifying creature from another galaxy stalking him - something called a Star Dreamling.
Only through facing this predatory cat-beast can he make amends with his abusive past and claim his powerful future. Will that be enough to be able to win his girlfriend back? Cam Tyson sure hopes so. And he's willing to risk dying if that's what it takes to recapture his heart - the beautiful woman and star being known as Chérie Abella Manhattan.
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Cameron Delaney Tyson awoke with a heaving lurch from another one of those goddamned nightmares he’d been having lately. He’d gone to bed bored, wishing he had more excitement in his life. This was not excitement by any stretch of the imagination. Shit. What the fuck is up? He didn’t usually dream; didn’t even believe in dreams as anything more than the daily recycling of garbage. But he’d been having this same dream now, for weeks, ever since he’d returned from San Diego last fall. The dreams were always the same. Black, gooey gobs shaped like, what was it, bats? These bat things were streaming after him like he was in some horror show. He’d be running and running and running. And there was always a woman, the same woman, in the middle of the goo, chasing him, like some hysterical wraith. She’d claw at him with long, pink fingernails. She’d try and wrap herself around him. She’d try to take his cock into her mouth while all the gooey fuckers would surround him, salivating and slurping as if they were hungry, and he was the main dish. That was the point at which he awoke, every single time.
Fuck. He couldn’t deal with this kind of shit. Flipping back the covers, he sat up, fully clothed. He hadn’t even bothered to undress last night. Yawning, he rubbed his stubble-lined face with his hands, raked his fingers through his blond hair, and surveyed his surroundings. He’d lived here for a few months now, but he just came and went, in and out the door, never really looked around. Today, he decided to examine the space he currently called home. The bed he was sitting on was a double – small, but it sufficed. There was a six-drawer dresser parked on the burnished oak wood floor, pushed up against an apricot painted wall devoid of pictures or art. On the opposite wall, double folding doors opened up to a fairly large closet, which held all his clothes, and most importantly, all his rock-climbing gear. A door to a generous sized bathroom with a huge sunken tub and a separate glass-lined shower stall was on the facing wall. A window opposite his bed opened to Manoko’s amazing garden, which was flooded with bright morning sunlight. A door led to the yard so Cam could come and go in privacy. In addition, he had space enough in the garage for all his kayak gear. The only thing missing was Chérie Abella Manhattan…Cheerio…Chér…whatever she liked to be called. She’s the one for me, Cam thought with a sigh. The things I’d like to do to her in that big tub in the bathroom…for starters, he mused.
He was renting the room from Manoko Wikaira-Williams. The house was a sweet customized home in West Seattle, in a friendly neighborhood close to shops, coffee houses, and places to eat. Mano, as his close friends called him, was a huge 6’5,” 220 lb. guy with tattoos everywhere and a serious ‘don’t fuck with me’ attitude. ½ European Mutt, ¼ Native American, and ¼ Maori, his bronze face sported traditional Moko – Maori tattoos – in homage to his ancestry. His ears sported heavy gold hoops, and he wore his thick, glossy, black hair short, with the exception of one long braid threaded with strands of red silk on the left side. The result was an exotic, scary looking dude with a bad ass looking face. Cam knew the truth about Mano, however, having been friends with the guy for ten years, since they were in their early twenties. Mano could rip the heart out of a rival if he wanted to, but in truth, he was a pussycat whose cooking skills could rival any top chef in the world. The guy gave these awesome dinner parties – he and Chérie had been to a couple of them – with food and drink in abundance. As a result, Mano had a garden out back that was small, but brimming with herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees.
Mano had rented the room to Cam, shortly after Cam and Chérie had split up last autumn. For that, Cam was grateful. Cam had been doing a lot of thinking lately, and this was a good place to think. It made his brain ache to think so much, but he had to sort some things out. For one, what was he going to do with his life now that he was done with school and internships? Second, what was he going to do without his beautiful Chérie? Damn, he missed her. But he knew he had some work to do to get his head right. Last year, when Chérie had found out she’d been molested as a child, he’d awakened some inner demons of his own, buried after he’d split from his abusive family. He’d grown frustrated with Chérie’s distance. He’d also been freaked out by her super human powers and the fact that she began to glow – as in light up like a Christmas tree – which he later discovered she’d learned from a guy he referred to as Fabio – while they were still together, mind you. He left her as a result, heading down to San Diego for a weekend of too much smoke, way too much drink, and angry sex with Angela, a former work associate.
Angela – bah – when he thought of her, his stomach recoiled. That was one fucked up female. Their last sexual foray had happened on the night Chérie had been drugged and nearly raped in a plan conceived by Chérie’s boss Jill Primcott and her Merry Band of Miscreants. Since then he’d kept his distance from Angela, spooked by something Chérie had told him…something about how Angela wanted him like a snake wanted a mouse. Chérie had got that right. Angela had been calling him so much, texting him at every hour of the day, telling him how she was ‘there for him,’ and she wanted to be his ‘comfort,’ blah, blah, blah; he’d finally put a block on her number. He’d finished up at High Road Recovery, the place where he’d done his internship, moved in to Manoko’s, and he was sure she didn’t know Manoko or where he lived. As he wandered into the bathroom to shower, he assumed that was that with Angela. Good riddance.
But Chérie - Chérie is a different matter altogether, he thought, stripping off his clothes and cranking on the water. Sure, they’d evolved as “friends” if you could call it friendship when two people spent time together and one of them lusted for the other and the other seemed to feel the same lust, but kept putting up roadblocks. Sure thing…friendship it was. But Cam was not convinced that they’d remain in this state of confusion forever. He hoped they’d work it out and fucking engage again. Last time he saw her, she was flaming, instant orgasm hot, so gorgeous, he could barely stand to be around her without exploding on sight…bursting into fragments like a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. In fact, thinking of her, his arousal became evident. Glancing down, he thought, Well, shit. This was becoming a regular occurrence for him. The only person he seemed to be having sex with lately was himself. He wasn’t used to this. He’d had a fair amount of female play pals ever since he was 13, but when he met Chérie, he fell hard in love. As a result, he didn’t want anyone else. Not until he proved to himself, for once and for all, that he and Chérie were through…or not…preferably the ‘not through with each other’ option. But how was he going to do that? They hadn’t seen each other lately. That was her call.
Sighing over the lack of sex play in his life, he soaped off his chest, his face, his underarms, his legs, and then got busy taking care of his needs. He brought to mind the last time he and his pretty amber-eyed Chérie had been to the rock climbing gym together. Using her slender 5’4” body, she’d pushed him to the floor, pinned him with her super strength, but then he’d flipped her and turned the scales in his favor, until he kissed her, that is. He’d grabbed her auburn hair and kissed her deeply, French kissed her sweet mouth, savoring her lips and responsive tongue in return. Only this act had awakened some super sexual power she called the ka’kriyayaga or some shit like that. When this force was awakened in her, she did an amazing thing with her hands, stroking his back, pushing a river of sensation up his spine, like Class 5 rapids. The feeling was so sudden and intense it nearly caused him to orgasm, right there on the floor of the gym in front of a crowd. He wondered what it would feel like to be inside of her when she was in that place. Sadly, he’d never had the chance to find out. She’d called it quits.
Lost in thoughts of Chérie, he turned his back to the shower spray and continued to pleasure himself. As his free hand roamed his body, he fantasized about being with Chérie, sucking her nipples, massaging her small, firm breasts, nibbling her neck, and being inside of her, moving in and out and in and out. The thought of it got him hotter and harder. He kept up his fantasy until he exploded, creamy fluids painting the shower stall. After his release, his body relaxed against the wall, and the hot water washed his torso and flushed his juices down the drain.
As he leaned one shoulder against the red, blue and yellow tiles, a loud scratching echoed through the water spray, as if someone was forcefully dragging a dagger tip down the wooden door of the bathroom. Odd. Is someone out there? He wrenched off the faucet and cocked his head.
Maybe Mano’s hyperactive mutt, Severe, is digging along the outside wall? Yeah, that must be it. “Stop it, Severe,” he yelled, pounding his fist a couple times on the wall.
The bathroom door burst open, slamming against the porcelain sink with a crack. Cam jerked and hit his head against the metal shower nozzle. “Shit!” He gingerly ran his fingers across the protruding knot in his skull before wiping the thick condensation off the shower door. Paw print outlines bloomed on the glass. “What the fuck?” He threw open the door and it thwacked against the shower enclosure, vibrating to a halt. Cautiously stepping out, he peered around the spacious room. Nada. The bathroom door hung wide open, but no sign of that mutt, Severe, anywhere. He examined the chipped sink and stared at his blurred image in the foggy mirror. “There’s got to be an explanation.”
Quickly toweling off, he whipped on his green t-shirt and clean jeans and dashed into the kitchen. Mano stood at the stove, stirring vegetables and beans in a simmering pot. “Hey, Mano.”
“Good, you’re here.” Mano replied. “I’m trying out a new recipe I’ve been creating. The flavors have to marry throughout the day. Care to join me for dinner tonight?”
“Uh, sure, man, that’d be great. It smells fantastic.” With a trembling hand, Cam seized a carton of orange juice from the refrigerator shelf. He grabbed a glass from the counter and poured, splashing liquid onto the bright Italian counter. “Say, where’s Severe? She must’ve gotten into my bedroom. She scratched the bathroom door open and jumped up on the shower stall door.”
“I don’t think so, Cam.” Mano brought a spoonful of sauce to his lips. He slurped, paused and snatched a glass container from the spice cabinet. “She’s at the dog park with Jayze and Marilyn.”
Cam’s face contorted. “Oh, really?”
“Yeah, man, really. They picked her up come daybreak. She’s been gone for two hours. They’ll return later this afternoon.”
“Right, I must’ve heard a dog in the neighbor’s yard.” A really, really loud dog…
“Whatever. Hand me that towel, will you?”
Cam tossed the towel to Mano. Abandoning the glass of juice, he raced down the hall to his bedroom. He inspected the bedroom door. No marks of any kind. He slowly inched across the rug-covered floor, looking right and left, and stopped at the bathroom door. Sure enough, colossal claw marks scored the wood. His skin prickled and the hair on the back of his neck bristled. “Hey, Mano” he yelled.
“What?” Mano yelled back.
“I think you should look at this.”
A few minutes later, Mano strode into the bedroom, wiping his hands on an apron tied around his waist. The big man whistled. “What the fuck, Tyson?”
“I know, right? I sure didn’t make those marks.”
Mano scratched the back of his head. “You’re telling me you heard scratches while you were taking a shower just now?”
Cam considered his answer. He hesitated, rubbing his chin with his hand. “I saw the bathroom door fly open.”
“The room and shower door were all foggy. I didn’t see anything enter but I did see paw prints on the glass.”
“Let’s go take a look.”
The two stepped into the still steamy bathroom. The moisture on the stall door was fading, but faint outlines of paw prints were visible. Mano’s face furrowed. “I’ve done some animal tracking up in Canada. Those prints are big, man, about eight inches across. And look at the shape. Those look like a big cat, Cam. Like an enormous lynx or something.”
Beads of sweat popped out of Cam’s face and neck. He ran a hand through his hair.
“What?” Mano asked.
“I don’t know…shit…I had this freaking dream about a lynx when I was staying in the basement a few months back.”
“A dream, huh?” The big guy went back over to the bathroom door. Mano rubbed his palms together briskly and placed them an inch from the scratches. With his eyes closed, he said “Holy Spirits. Feel this, Cam.”
Cam put his palms near the scraped door. “I don’t feel anything.”
“Huh, right. I forgot you’re Mr. Nothing Outside of Your Reality Exists. Well, the energy here is intense. It has a particular signature, and it could only mean one thing. You’ve got a star dreamling on your trail, Cam. And those scratches – those are not from the cat spirit trying to get in. No, those are the dreamling marking the door to say, well, to let all other dreamlings know you are his.”
The skin stretched tight over Cam’s face in a grimace. His arms, legs, and back peppered with little goose bumps. “What the fuck is a star dreamling? Are you fucking serious?”
“Dead serious, Cam. Ancient Ones speak of a tribe of beings known as the Galaxy Dancers. The Dancers roam the universe like gypsies, and they have these creature spirits called star dreamlings. The creatures are usually only visible in dreams but they’re said to move freely through this dream we call reality. And if they mark you, sorry to say, that means you belong to the one that did the marking.” He whistled through his teeth and shook his head, causing the tiny strands of silk in his braid to shimmer.
“Whoa, Mano.” Cam backed away from the door. “This is freaking me out. Are you putting me on?”
“Nah, Cam, I wish I were. Here’s the rub, bro. If a star dreamling marks you, that means that you have ancient ties, and you are either an ally to the dreamling or an enemy.”
Cam narrowed his eyes. “You know I don’t believe in any of this stuff, right Mano? All that psychic mumbo jumbo and energy shit is just that – shit.”
“Yeah, I hear that. Only this has nothing to do with belief. Keep your eyes open. You have been given a sign, bro. Best to heed the call.”
“Heed the call? What the hell does that mean? What do I do?”
“Pay attention, and see what’s next. That’s all you can do.” Mano placed his palms on his knees and pushed himself up to standing. He patted Cam on the shoulder. “If the dreamling is your ally – well, that’s a good thing. It means you’ve got something special inside. If it’s your enemy…” He drew his hand across his neck in a slicing motion. “I gotta get back to the kitchen. It smells like it’s about to burn.”
Another chill washed over Cam’s flesh. “You gotta get back to the kitchen? You just tell me that I’ve got some freaking star dreamling after me, it might be an ally or it might kill me, and then you say you’ve gotta get to the kitchen?”
Mano just shrugged. “Gotta finish what I started, man. Apparently, you do too.”
As Mano wandered away, Cam staggered over and sat down on his bed, his legs shaky. He grabbed a pair of dirty pants from a pile and fished around in the pocket for a stick of gum. Pulling it out of the wrapper, he folded it in two, jammed it in his mouth and chewed with a vengeance. He was trying – operative word “trying” - to quit a recently renewed dance with cigarettes. So far, he was winning, but shit like this sure made him want to reconsider. Fuck. A star dreamling? Manoko and his superstitions - there had to be a better explanation than that. He just wasn’t going to go there. He looked out the window at the beautiful blue sky. Next, he surveyed the floor, searching for his shoes. He had to get out of here…go outside and find something better to do than all this fucking thinking. The phone caught his eye, blinking with a bright green light. He picked up the black Droid, tapped the message icon and pressed it to his ear.
“Cam. It’s me. It’s Chérie. I wondered if you wanted to, er…” Pause. “I wondered if you wanted to go to the river with me. Call me.”
His body flushed with excitement. “Hell, yeah!” He quickly touched the speed dial to her number. He hadn’t had the heart to erase it.
Words spilled from his mouth in a rush. “Hey, Chérie! Sorry I missed your call. I just got your message. It’s good to hear from you. It’s been weeks. Change of heart about me, huh?”
Chérie laughed. “Slow down. It has been weeks. I’ve, uh, I’ve been…”
“Missing me? Say it. Say you’ve been missing me,” Cam blurted. Quiet sprouted in his ear and spread through his cheeks in a flush of heat. He squirmed and tugged at the collar of his t-shirt. “Are you still there? Chérie?”
“I’m still here. I just wondered if you wanted to go to the river today. I’ve got the day off and nothing to do.”
“So I’m your fallback plan?” The words slipped out before he could edit them. Cam’s heart clenched and he gripped the phone. Shit. Say something positive, don’t blow this.
“Cam, don’t. I’ve…”
“That came out wrong. I’ve got the day off, too and there’s nothing I’d like to do better than spend it with you.” He tensed, waiting for her response.
“Good. Good,” she said in a small voice. “Okay.” She paused. “I’ve been missing you. It’s true.”
Thick, weighted silence hung in the air. Cam counted. One breath. Two breaths. Three breaths. Four breaths. “That’s good to hear,” he said at last. “Me, too.”
A big sigh whooshed through the phone. “Whew! That was hard!” She laughed.
“It was,” Cam agreed. He grimaced and raked his hair with his free hand. Don’t blow this. “But we got it out of the way, so let’s do this. It’ll be great to go to the river. What time?” He listened to her reply, relaxed and laughed. “Okay, hot stuff. Just give me time to find my shoes. I’m on my way. Oh wait - want me to bring the kayaks? Or were you thinking of hiking?” He paused, listening. “Cool. That’s what I had in mind. Okay, well, I’ll pop them on top of the car. Bring all your gear, okay?”
After he hung up the phone, he stood in the center of the room, clenching the phone. “Don’t blow this, Tyson,” he urged for the thousandth time. He shoved the mobile in his pocket, threw his fist into the air and whooped. “Hell, yeah! We’re going to do a river run! Fucking awesome!”
As he strode down the hall to the front door, he called to Mano. “Hey, Mano, I’m heading out for the day. I’m going kayaking with Cheerio. Want me to pick anything up on the way back?”
“Maybe some more beer, bro,” Mano called back. “And why don’t you bring Chérie back for dinner? I’d love another victim to try this meal.”
“I’ll ask her, thanks. I’ll let you know before the day is over. Thanks again for the invite.” Cam closed the door behind him with a smile. Today was going to be a good day; he could just sense it in his bones.
He tramped out to the garage, hefted the two single Liquid Logic Remix kayaks on top of his faithful green 1998 Land Rover and strapped them onto the saddles of the Thule rack. Next, the back of the car was loaded up with paddles, Neoprene boots, lifejackets, drysuits, and other kayak gear. When he turned toward the front of the car, a blur of silver and brown disappeared around the back of the garage. The hairs at the back of his neck prickled. Weird. He traipsed over to check. Nothing there. He swallowed, scanning the area. Nada. He looked down. Distinct tracks dotted the dirt. A sudden gulp of air filled his lungs and his face froze. The tracks looked like those on the bathroom door. Calm down. There are lots of critters in the city. Hell, coyotes even prowl the streets, snatching up cats and little dogs for snacks. Still, a sense of unease caused his stomach to knot. Racing back to the car, he leapt into the front seat, and glanced back at the garage. Two bright specter-like eyes peered around the corner at him. “Shit.” With his hair standing on end, he quickly revved the engine, slammed it into reverse, and peeled the fuck outta there.
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