Evanne Lorraine
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Warriors’ Woman


 

Blurb:

Book one in the Seduction Mission series

After a pandemic decimated the world’s population, life became a deadly game of survival and Minka a wary contestant. An ordinary woman caught in an extraordinary situation, she battles weather, feral gangs and dangerous armored men. While she appreciates the help of three sinfully sexy mech warriors, she’s not buying into their time travel delusion.

Letting Minka continue her journey without their protection is unacceptable to the triad. But once in the safety of a remote cabin, their plan to simply win her cooperation backfires when the warriors fall into bed with her…and into love. Stranded in a hazardous past with Minka, they turn their powers to winning her heart with irresistible erotic pleasure.

Their safe haven doesn’t last long and the triad is forced to move Minka to their intended location. Although each man has special talents vital to her rescue, in the end their success depends on her willingness to accept the men as her own.

Excerpt:

Cold seeped through her boots and both pairs of socks, turning Minka’s toes into ice cubes. She stamped her feet every few steps to keep away the numbness of frostbite. Staying off the highway meant moving slower. Snow was nearly as serious a hazard as the roving gangs of survivors. Nearly being the keyword. Hypothermia might kill her, but winter wouldn’t rape or torture her first.

Nigel arched and stretched in the improvised traveling pouch. She’d fashioned the sling from what used to be a rich paisley wool challis. The tattered scarf wrapped underneath the front of her warm, reversible, quilted coat.

Meow?

“We’ll stop before dark. I’m looking for a good spot, pal.” Either he understood her words through the layers of cloth or else her tone reassured him. After a moment’s rearranging, his warm body snuggled back against her chest.
They’d been together since the cat found her in September. She’d been picking up groceries at a Cheyenne supermarket when he laid a plump rat across her boot as a token of his esteem. In an oddly civilized and grave exchange, she’d slit open a can of shrimp for him and decided he looked like an aloof, fastidious and inky Nigel.

A sullen sun slid toward the snowy peaks still ahead. Gusts of northern wind pelted her with stinging sideways flurries. Minka searched for a level campsite and settled for a crevice between two boulders. She shed her pack, rolled the loose powder compact, and set up while Nigel took care of business.

Huddled under the space blanket, they had the usual quick dinner of canned tuna, bottled water and a rubbery carrot—the last of the fresh food she’d scrounged in Laramie.

Nigel passed on the mediocre veggie selection with a dainty sniff, lapped his water, and purred enthusiastically over his share of tuna.

She gave him a scratch in his favorite spot between his black ears with a tired smile. “Good stuff, huh? Wait ’til we get to California. It stays warm all year and there’s bound to be scads of fresh fish in the lake. You’re going to love it there.” She moved her hand to pet his back with long, soothing strokes. “Other people are already there working to build a saner world. You know they’ll need a good mouser.”

They’ll need soldiers too. Although outmatched in most hand-to-hand combat situations, Minka shot competitively in high school and college. She still qualified as excellent with a handgun or rifle.

Maybe someday, when the world was a safer place there would be room for artists again. Teaching art, painting with watercolors, and a strong intuitiveness about her closest friends and family were her only other gifts.

At least I hope the rumors of a new society are true…

By the time Nigel began cleaning his whiskers with a moistened paw, it was already dark. She used her floss and toothbrush then loosened her clothing enough to quickly apply a chilly baby wipe to the most important areas. After rolling out the sleeping bag, she stripped off her coat and reversed the excellent camouflage garment. With the ease of routine, she folded it white side in and warm black side out, and fluffed the rectangle into a pillow. As she arranged the quilted fabric, she checked for rips or spots. Concealment was often her best defense and the long coat helped her blend into the snowy landscape.

Satisfied the outer layer was holding up well, she took off her boots and heavy socks. With numb fingers she changed the thin lining socks for a fresher pair before she tugged back on the warmer ones. She laid the faintly musty, damp liners over her pack to air.

Only the glow of Nigel’s amber eyes was visible inside their synthetic cave. By weary touch she removed the HG semiautomatic from the back of her pants and tucked it under her coat then tightened down the space blanket that kept them warm and dry.

The soft weight of drifting snow would soon cover the bright-orange exterior of the survival blanket, providing extra insulation and concealment. Minka curled on her side and tried to get warm. Nigel nestled under her chin, a comforting ball of warm fur. She fingered her mother’s pearl earrings, the only mementos of her old life, and silent tears slid down her face. At last, she fell asleep and dreamed about a hot shower.

She woke alone.

“Where’s your mama, huh, kitty?” A man’s voice jerked her to full consciousness.

Why would anyone be looking for me?

Whatever they wanted, she was already sure she wouldn’t like it. Fear quickened her pulse and banded her chest, making a deep breath impossible. She stayed as rigid as the rest of rocky mountainside. In slow motion, she felt for the gun and palmed it with a silent prayer of thanks.

Instead of sticking the HG into the back of her pants, caution made her set the weapon within easy reach. She stayed hunched over so her small camp would look like another boulder more than a woman and moved as little as possible as she slipped on her boots.

A different man grumbled, “How do we know it’s even her cat?”

“Look at him, Hec.” The first man’s words were sharpened by apparent thinning patience. “Someone is feeding him regularly. Minka Dubiniski was rescued from this sector on this date. If we grab her first and take her back to the future we win.”

She was right about not liking anything she’d heard. The men were clearly delusional and they wanted to capture her.
The voices were far enough away for her to risk peeking through a small gap in the blanket. She couldn’t see them. But her limited field of vision didn’t mean they couldn’t see her.

“I’m tired of standing around in the snow. Let’s kill the cat and find her,” a third man complained from somewhere to her left.

Rage flared bright red in her mind’s eye.

Kill Nigel? Not happening while I’m breathing.

She forced herself to move in the slow motion of drifting snow as she angled her gap. Then she spotted them, roughly a hundred feet south of her camp. Three big men stood in front of a vehicle, maybe a sports car prototype. They waited for her to make a mistake so they could snatch her. One held Nigel by the scruff of his neck.

Minka’s temper went up another notch and her eyes narrowed as she watched them through her weapon’s sight.

The creeps were clean shaven, wearing jeans, western shirts and cowboy boots. Despite the freezing temperature, they scanned the area with no obvious urgency or even signs of discomfort. They didn’t seem to have anything in common with the roving gangs of survivors she’d avoided. These men were dressed like escapees from a dude ranch, which made no sense. The airborne contagion hadn’t spared anyone, not even the most isolated ranch hands or visitors.

Nothing about them made sense.

She held the pistol in the steady two-handed grip she’d used during competition.

“Fucker tried to scratch me.” The angry words were followed by a soft thud and Nigel’s weak yowl of pain as he hit the rocks.

Minka blinked back instant tears.

I used to be a nice woman. I taught art to middle school kids. I never even had a traffic ticket. Then some maniac deliberately released the kind of bio-weapon that should never have been invented. The contagion killed almost everyone—everyone I cared about is gone. Now all I want to do is get Nigel and me to California where we can help build a saner world.

You creeps should be shivering in your fancy boots, because I’m not that nice school teacher anymore. I sleep with a loaded gun and you bastards hurt my cat.

The man strode toward her. Minka took careful aim, leading the steadily moving target ever so slightly, and then squeezed the trigger.

Her stomach lurched, along with the gun’s recoil, at shooting another human being, even an animal abuser. She’d aimed for his shoulder and watched his arm jerk. She was certain she’d hit him, but he wasn’t screaming or bleeding. Three pairs of eyes swiveled toward her thin shelter.

They stalked toward her in a vee formation. Behind the advancing enemies, Nigel still lay exactly where he’d been thrown.

Another stomach clench accompanied her sinking heart, but her resolved strengthened.

Wounding them wasn’t enough.

If Nigel died, she would mourn the rest of her life. Right now she was his only chance. She had to survive and the men’s plans would interfere with her modest goal to keep breathing.

At the grim realization, something inside her snapped, leaving her deadly calm. She shook off the snow-covered blanket, stood, and aimed again. She hit the point man just above his nose. A tidy black hole appeared where the bullet entered his brain. He fell.

Weirdly, the other two coldhearted bastards didn’t say a word or even pause. Neither did she. Sighting in on the closest creep, she took a second head shot. He dropped.

A tiny shift brought her weapon a few degrees to the right and put the last man in her sights. Faster than she would have believed possible, he flipped a metal face shield down. Her shot ricocheted off his strange helmet. She adjusted her aim and fired at his chest. Again, the bullet careened after hitting whatever body armor hid under his shirt.
His pace stayed steady as he narrowed the distance between them.

Minka sighted in on his right knee.

The prototype behind him shimmered and vanished.

She fired.

Distracted by the vehicle’s disappearance, she’d pulled her shot and missed.

His fingers clamped her wrist. Her bones cracked, snapped and crunched. The sounds made her wince and silently swear. And then she couldn’t hang on to the gun.

The HG hit the ground.

Batzorg, one of three, triad unit 341926, crouched and rolled out of the ship before the portal had opened all the way. He zeroed his Annihilator 2300 in on the enemy hurting Minka. Curses filled the silence of his mind when the cyborg turned, keeping her in front of him. The scrap metal piece of scum used Batzorg’s Minka as a fragile, living shield.

Of course Batzorg’s ownership of Minka was not a matter of technical accuracy. The woman had never met him. He had adored her since his introduction to the founders’ biographies as a mech trainee.

She had always been a bigger than life hero to him. Now next to the towering cyborg, she seemed very slight—her delicate frame no match for the powerful enemy gripping her.

Shaken by her fragility, he fought to focus on the current problem. Any distraction, even fear for his dream-woman’s survival, was unacceptable. Her life depended on him. With ruthless calm, he evaluated the battle zone.

They were a dozen meters away. At this range, he hit targets with one hundred percent accuracy, but he had no clean shot.

The triad’s mission remained clear and unchanged—rescue Minka and transport her back to their time where she would be kept safe in suspended animation until she could be reinserted in her own time in a location nearer the California compound with fewer hazards. To avoid altering the course of future events, her memories of him—of all her experiences with the mechs—would be erased.

A mech warrior did not fail, especially not a triad leader. There had to be a way to save her from the scrap metal excuse of a cyborg—not even a weapons specialist. Fortune smiled on the triad in this instance. If the enemy had been armed he would have blown Batzorg to particle dust.

Flipping down his face plate, Batzorg focused the video input receptor to enable his onboard processor to find a shooting solution.

“A throat shot would eliminate the target. The damage to the woman’s head should be within acceptable limits,” the computer’s artificial voice spoke directly into Batzorg’s mind.

Not acceptable to me.

Then Minka slumped in the cyborg’s grasp. With no hesitation, Batzorg locked on the enemy’s neck and fired. His weapon whined. The cyborg’s throat vaporized and the remainder of his helmeted head toppled off his shoulders. A good kill.

Minka slid into the snow.

Batzorg ceased breathing on the sprint toward her. He knelt beside her small body and sought for a pulse. His finger’s sensor on her slim wrist registered her heart rate at one hundred fifty beats per minute. Too fast. Already swelling, her right forearm changed color, darkening to deep-purple bruises. Her lips were too pale. She might have serious internal injuries. The ground was too cold for her. He wanted to hold her and comfort her, but he feared moving her. She needed a full med-scan.

He flipped up his face shield with an impatient yank. Where the hell is Vilmos two of three, the triad med-tech?
She rolled to her left and used her uninjured arm to prop herself to a half-sitting position. “If you’re not going to kill me, then back off so I can check on Nigel.”

Who the hell is Nigel? Did she know one of the cyborg scum?

“You lost consciousness. You will wait for a medical evaluation.”

“I’m fine. I just pretended to faint to give you a clear shot. Now either help me up or get out of my way.”

In an effective demonstration of her determination, she struggled to her feet in spite of her injured arm. To Batzorg’s dismay, his choices narrowed to restraining her, possibly aggravating any undetected internal damage, or assisting her.

Still reluctant, he helped while he eyed the three dead bodies littering the snow and brooded about which one was Nigel and wondered how long the cyborgs had been with her. Had they lied to her? Hurt her? He wanted to kill all of them again. This time slower and much more painfully. He unclenched his jaw enough to say, “There are no life signs.”

Without a word of complaint about her own wounds, she marched past the fallen enemies. Her steps did not slow.

Batzorg caught up with her in two long strides and watched mystified as she crouched by a patch of dark fur.
Icy gusts of wind blew flurries of snow at them. Her teeth clacked from the cold and snowflakes caught on her thick lashes. She turned toward him with tears streaming from her beautiful silver eyes. “Nigel’s not breathing.”

Her tears made him desperate to ease her distress, but he could do nothing to lessen her unhappiness. This weakness left him uncomfortable and ashamed of his inadequacy—a new experience that triggered an illogical anger. Smashing a boulder or two should bleed off some of his fury, but such actions might frighten Minka. So he gritted his teeth and stayed still. “I regret your sorrow.”

Helpless to alleviate her pain, Batzorg positioned himself to shelter her from the wind and turned up his thermal output to keep her warm.

The patch of fur was an animal, logically her pet. He searched his data bank for information and found a match. A cat. Nigel was her cat. Not one of the damn cyborgs.

He had read every account of her life so many times he had memorized several long passages. There had been no mention of her cat in the founders’ histories. He shifted his considerable weight, uneasy with an inaccuracy in their records. What other vital details had been omitted?

Vilmos stepped around him, med-scan already moving over Minka’s slender back. “I will repair your arm as soon as my readings are complete.”

She turned and stared open-mouthed at Vilmos for a long moment. Then asked, “Can you actually fix my arm?”

“As soon as I am certain there are no more serious injuries.” Vilmos continued his usual thorough examination, pausing to peer at the results every other second.

She tugged on Vilmos’s sleeve with her left hand, her attention zeroed in on her pet. “Never mind my wrist, help Nigel.”

“The cat,” Batzorg explained aloud for Minka’s benefit.

Vilmos finished his scan, looked at Batzorg for instructions. When Batzorg offered him no guidance, the med-tech blinked at her. “I have not been trained in veterinary medicine.” He turned back to eye the cat with what Batzorg always thought of as a scientist’s keen focus. “However I’ve always been intrigued by different animal forms.”

“Try, please.” Minka turned her tear-stained face toward Vilmos again.

Irrationally disturbed by her tears, Batzorg spoke gruffly to Vilmos, “The attempt would do no further damage.”
Vilmos nodded soberly, exchanging the scanner for a cell repair unit. He stood and crossed to the injured cat and began working.

While his second hovered over her fallen pet, Lorcan, his third, joined them. “Why’s Vilmos treating an animal when Minka is hurt?”

“The cat is her cherished pet, Nigel,” Batzorg informed Lorcan evenly. “What detained the two of you?”

“Unstable craft. We got caught in a time loop back at—” He changed his focus to where Minka and Vilmos huddled, casting a nervous glance over his shoulder toward the transporter. Lowering his voice, he continued, “Headquarters for several minutes. I’m not sure how long the craft will be stable in this period.”

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