Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

 Loved In Space Anthology

Now Available! Get your copy today!

Limited Availability: Releases March 10 (Disappears April 10)

Amazon Kindle Amazon UK amazon canada  amazonaustralia peyton 313


Six BRAND new stories of love and romance among the stars by NYT & USA Today Bestsellers Mina Carter, Eve Langlais, Cara Bristol, Donna McDonald, Susan Hayes and J Thompson.

Woken by a kiss, she didn’t expect her prince to be a handsome alien warrior. Kissed by the Alien Mercenary: Warriors of the Lathar by Mina Carter.

Clarabelle isn’t about to take orders from anyone. Not even the alien hottie who has a disturbing tendency of shifting into a giant lizardman. Mate Abduction by Eve Langlais.

When a dating agency claims to match Earth women with extraterrestrials, fraud investigator Cyan Blue goes undercover as a client to expose the scam. She’s not interested in finding love and certainly not with a pretend alien! KRASH: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides by Cara Bristol.

No risk. No reward. When time runs out, she’ll have to make a choice that will change her life forever… Chance of a Lifetime by Susan Hayes.

Bethany Walker lost everything the day she watched her husband die. Trapped in a bitter cycle of loneliness and grief, the arrival of a gorgeous cyborg with a familiar face changes everything. Betraying Ko’ran by J Thompson.

She was searching for her cyborg husband and found an alien instead. Ashland 297 by Donna McDonald.

Prologue from Ashland 297

Despite new UCN initiatives to find Cyber Soldiers who fought in the last World War on Earth, they haven’t found all the missing cyborgs. This story is about one man who remains among the missing and the woman who refuses to give up looking for him…

Dia Daniels stood at her sink and sipped her coffee as the shower down the hall shut off. Did she feel a sense of anticipation about who would soon join her? Or just a warm feeling of gratitude from not having had to spend last night alone?

She waited for the telltale burst of happiness to hit when a tall blond male with broad shoulders and a bright blue gaze walked into her kitchen. Some part of her advised that staying open to the possibility might sway her to feel something more. But it didn’t happen.

Instead, the moment her handsome companion walked across her kitchen’s threshold, Dia immediately imagined a shorter, darker, and comatose-in-the-morning male stumbling over to her. He’d press his insistent male body against her, promising all kinds of sexual favors as he stole her morning coffee from her lax fingers. That unpredictable man would continue to lean against her as he drank what coffee was left in her cup. His favorite pastime had been luring her into unglamorous kitchen sex punctuated with talented tongue kisses and masculine groans of need when she made him work for her concession.

But that imaginary man was gone. He’d been gone a very long time. That’s why the other man was here.

Why didn’t she have Ashland declared dead? It wasn’t hard to do, especially not with someone who’d been converted into a cyborg during the war. Maybe memories of them together would finally fade if she gave herself closure. That’s what her shrink kept telling her.

Her morning after etiquette sucked at the best of times so Dia was grateful this morning that her tall, blond lover was unaware of her internal debate. Sergei was open and naïve in the wonderful way all young men managed to be before they settled down and got serious.

Since Sergei was smiling at her, and because she was still feeling guilty about her memories, Dia poured him a cup of coffee and put the four sugars in it that he always took.

Spasibo,” he said, thanking her in his family’s version of Russian.

Sergei Baranov was an amazing man. He was smart, a great bed partner, and the same age Ash was the last time she saw her legal husband alive over a decade ago. Like her, Sergei was a rocket rider which meant he understood trying to talk your body into going much faster than mother nature designed it to.

They’d been friends for many years and lovers for two. Dia liked that she never had to explain the demands of her work to Sergei. It was a blessing to find such understanding in a companion—she knew that. Most women didn’t get lucky enough to find an understanding life partner at all in life and here she’d come across two of them.

Outside of being a little overly fond of his portable com, Sergei was a pleasant companion and a very good man. Her problem was that he just wasn’t the right man.

“What’s that?” Dia asked when Sergei set a small box on the counter and pushed it over beside her.

“It’s a treasure for you. I brought it from Mother Russia with me. You should feel honored, zvezda moya.”

Dia smiled at his accent thickening. Sergei always called her his star, but usually he called her that it in English.

She pretended to ignore his gift. “Do you have a time machine you haven’t told me about, Sergei? Last time I checked, Mother Russia was long gone and the entire continent is actually called the Unified Soviet Republic.”

“Bah…” he said with a hand wave. “You and your facts, Dia. You ruin the romance of my gift. Open it now and let the weeping begin. This is real life, not your facts.”

Dia rolled her eyes at his dramatic command, set down her coffee, and opened the box. Inside it was a key card. She looked up at him. “At the risk of being trite, is this supposed to be the key to your heart?”

Sergei shrugged. “That is yet to be seen. Until we can be sure, that is the key to my apartment in New St. Petersburg. I want us to be exclusive, Dia. I want you to give up your quest for a dead man. There… I have spoken aloud my only two wishes in the entire world. What do you have to say about my offer?”

Dia stared at the key card and rolled it over in her fingers. Sergei—out of all the men she’d tested out over the last few years—might give her a life that wouldn’t bore her or be a massive disappointment. The man’s offer was certainly one most other women would have wept over. Wasn’t it time for her to move the hell on? Dead men were of no use when a woman was horny or lonely or when she couldn’t stand her own company for a second longer.

Dia’s gaze raised to the man who was now drinking coffee and checking his com for messages. Despite his inability to be someone else, Sergei might still give her a good life. But what could she give him?

Dia thought about it and decided that what mattered most was what she couldn’t give Sergei, which was her whole heart. Part of hers still belonged to the man she married before the last World War. Sergei deserved someone who could commit to a relationship with him and that wasn’t her.

Dia put the key card back in the box and pushed it toward him.

Sergei looked down at her action and then back up at her. He lifted one shoulder as he stared. “I knew the odds were against me, but I had to try. Unless this has ruined what we have, perhaps I will one day try again. Chto budet, to budet. A wise man knows he cannot force love.”

Sighing over his niceness, Dia stepped into Sergei’s arms to hug him. He felt good against her—solid and alive. She felt Sergei kiss her hair and hug back without overwhelming her own remorse. If she was being an idiot about him, why couldn’t she see it that way?

“You wound me with your hug and sighs, Dia. If I had known today would be our goodbye, I would have never let you out of bed this morning. You have taught me a lot, but you did not teach me how to be happy in love. I was hopeful you would do so.”

“You deserve someone who will love you far more than I ever could, Sergei. You deserve to become a father and I know that’s what you want. Motherhood isn’t for me. I’m broken.”

Sergei sighed as he held her close. “You are wrong, Dia. I deserve you, but you won’t let me have you. An invisible competitor still owns your heart. How is that fair? I will say that it is not fair. I hope one day you say that too.”

Dia closed her eyes and didn’t answer as she slipped loose from his embrace. Sergei offered a chance for a future when no one else had offered anything but a few hours of company.

What the hell was wrong with her?

Dia put some physical distance between them. Letting go had to be done gently, carefully, and with whatever fragments of caring you could offer a person who’d been a light in the dark for you.

She would never toss her bald feelings in Sergei’s face, but Dia also would not apologize for loving the man she married… or for continuing to look for him. It’s what Ash would have done for her. She had no doubts about that at all. Until she took her dying breath, Dia would keep searching for her husband, his body, or at least a story she could accept about Ash’s fate. Someone knew something, and one day that person would find her and tell her. She refused to believe otherwise.

And if she never found out what happened?

Well, like Sergei said, life wasn’t fair.

Chapter 1 from Ashland 297

“Dr. Winters?”

“Yes,” Kyra said as she rose from the desk she hadn’t used in nearly a year.

It was strange being back at Norton after spending so much time traveling the globe. So far, she and Peyton had shut down two more work camps that were hiding cyborgs. Combined with the broken cyborgs finally being released from military prisons, they’d recovered all but thirty registered ones. Or at least that was Eric’s most current count… the number changed frequently.

“Dr. Logan can see you now. She wanted me to tell you that Nero—I mean, Dr. Bastion—will join you both for the UCN conference.”

“Thanks, Jake. It is Jake, right?” Kyra asked as she let the young man lead her down the hall.

A lot had changed at Norton in the year since Rachel had taken it over. Many of the cyber labs had changed. Most of the restorations were being done with neural processors instead of using replicates of older processors like the kind her cyborg husband, Peyton, refused to change.

“Yes, ma’am,” Jake said with a smile as he tapped the spot on his scalp that hid his panel. “I’m on my third tweak and feeling pretty sure of myself these days. Rachel says I’m as normal as a person can be, but I want it all back. Originally, I thought about going back to medical school when I discovered I could, but now I’ve stayed on in the program. I think I’ve found where I belong—where I can make up for what I did when Creator Omega had me under his control.”

Kyra nodded. She still wasn’t able to think clearly about her evil ex-husband, Jackson Channing, who’d faked his death and done his vile work for years while calling himself Creator Omega. She told herself not to feel stupid for believing he’d been dead all that time, but the truth was that she still did. Even at the end, he’d nearly killed Lucy, aka Captain Lucille Pennington, who was the most dangerous and deadly female cyborg her husband ever made. Luckily, Lucy had killed him instead. The video of their fight to the death was the only reason Kyra believed Jackson was finally dead this time.

“I see you kept some of your musculature,” Kyra said to change the subject. She would not spend the day dwelling on the past. She intended to break that habit.

Jake nodded and folded one white-coated, corded arm for her to see. “I kept most of it, but only what we deemed safe for my body size. I enjoyed working with Nero on finding the healthiest limits for me.”

“Don’t you mean you enjoyed being his test subject?” Kyra asked, knowing exactly how Nero was.

Grinning, Jake shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah, I guess you could call it that. The time he spent on me allowed us to get the answers in time to restore both Tad and me before we lost any more of our original lives.

Kyra smiled. “Good then. How is your friend doing these days?”

Jake’s grin widened. “Tad loves working with Seetha. He’s back in school part-time and getting an engineering degree now. His heart wasn’t really in medicine anyway. Mine never really left it no matter what Creator Omega did to me. I don’t know how that works, but I’m proud of myself for keeping what I did on my own.”

When they stopped in front of the conference door, Kyra put a hand on Jake’s arm and turned him to look at her. “I have a lot of experience in wondering about what ‘might have been’ and living in ‘if only’ land. Let the past completely go, Jake. None of us can move backward in time. Give your time and energy to what you love today and let that be enough restoration. That human mind of yours is too precious to waste on regrets.”

Jake hung his head and nodded as he pushed open the conference door. “It’s kind of you to care and I’ll keep that in mind, Dr. Winters.”

“See that you do,” Kyra ordered before slipping inside.

* * *

Kyra’s hand flew to her stomach as she stepped to the table. Rachel and Nero stopped talking to stare at her.

“I’m fine,” Kyra said, holding up a hand. “The sick stomach reaction will lessen once I’ve gotten desensitized to this room again. Few good things ever happened for me in here.”

Rachel reached a hand across the table. Kyra stared at Rachel’s hand then took it. Rachel smiled. “What you fear no longer exists as a reality, Kyra. The application of your theories truly have changed the world.”

“But we can’t fix how everyone thinks,” Kyra whispered as she squeezed Rachel’s fingers. “And we don’t have the right to decide who needs to become a nicer person. Conflict brings change to the world. The balance of good and evil are necessary. There are limitations to what we should alter, even when we know how.”

“I agree, which is why I applied your mental adjustment protocols three times only. You have my word on that,” Rachel whispered back.

Kyra nodded and squeezed once more before she released Rachel’s fingers. She turned and gave Nero her bravest smile. “You’ll looking well, Nero. How are you and Aja doing in your new home?”

Nero lifted an eyebrow. “There is no need for subterfuge, Nani Winters. I know you’re really asking about how your adopted grandchildren are adjusting.”

Kyra lifted a shoulder. “Perhaps I am, but I still admire the two of you for taking on the entirety of your cousin’s young family. Five children under the age of twelve would be a lot for anyone to raise. Despite being barely the oldest, Soriah sends me update coms every week about what’s happening to you all. She says she loves, loves, loves her purple room.”

“They each have their own color—some more discordant than the rest—but childhood is childhood.”

“Are their biological parents still cooperating with you?”

“The authorities are no longer involved or threatening to take the children into custody, which is a relief to everyone in my family. Aja and I allow my cousin and his wife to visit the children, but we do not allow the children to leave with them. It is quite obvious to everyone that Aja and I are far superior parents.”

“It never crossed my mind that you would be anything other than perfect,” Kyra said with a smile.

The conference call came in and interrupted their personal conversation.

Rachel cleared her throat and smiled at the screen. It took a moment or two, but all three UCN chancellors eventually mirrored her smile back to her. “Greetings, Chancellors. I hope the esteemed members of the UCN council are having a blessed day.”

“We are indeed, Dr. Logan. Congratulations on receiving your third official doctorate. I’m sure there will be many more to come.”

Rachel bowed her head respectfully. “Thank you for the compliment and the well wishes.” She looked at Kyra and lifted a hand. “As you can see, I have lured Dr. Winters here as you requested. I believe you said you had something important to discuss with her.”

Chancellor Owens leaned forward in his chair. “Greetings, Dr. Winters. We have some information to share with you about some missing cyborgs that will not reflect well on some of the UCN’s previous actions. However, we must address this old situation because we face a difficult decision about it.”

Kyra stiffened in her seat. “I appreciate your willingness to give me any information that will aid my efforts to find those missing men. I will do my best to listen with an open mind.”

“Thank you,” Chancellor Owens replied with a head bow. “I will let Chancellor Lee explain the situation. As a former member of the global space program, he’s the most qualified.”

Kyra’s gaze shifted to the quieter man who cleared his throat and lifted a hand as if he wasn’t sure where to start. She let him off the hook. “Chancellor, you’re looking uncomfortable. I think we’re all aware that there may be no good way to explain the situation concerning the missing cyborgs. I suggest telling me about the circumstances as plainly as possible no matter how unsavory they are.”

“That’s very magnanimous of you, Dr. Winters,” Chancellor Lee said with a nod. “We had forgotten this group until a request came through last week asking to set a departure date. Our visitors from the stars are nearly ready to take their hybrid specimens off-planet.”

Kyra leaned on the table and rubbed her face. No, this couldn’t be happening. She raised her face. “Are you trying to tell me that some of those chosen for the hybridization program were cyborgs from the war?”

Lee dropped his head and nodded. “Some is not the proper term. What I’m saying is that all thirty cyborgs you’re still searching for are in the program. While I can regret our former military’s behavior in doing that to them, I cannot undo what has come to pass, nor can we change our agreement with the off-planet visitors. They’ve been preparing the men for years and now they appear to have succeeded with their… alterations.”

Kyra sighed. “So much has happened since the war ended that I’d forgotten about the hybridization program. Last time I checked, cyborgs weren’t among those being considered.”

“No. They weren’t originally. It was the military who decided lone cyborgs were the perfect candidate. The report stipulates that they have restored all thirty men to full physical, non-mechanical functionality. In essence, the program focused on their complete restoration back to human, except they did so with greater success than you could manage.”

Kyra lifted an eyebrow. “I think calling the hybridization process a success is debatable, Chancellor. I at least left the cyborgs human. Can you say the same?”

Kyra straightened in her seat. She’d worked toward full restoration herself, but the genetic route to regrow a limb was still beyond Earth’s science. Cybernetics remained the only option for replacing body parts.

Chancellor Lee lifted a hand. “Regardless of anyone’s political views on the matter, the men were successfully altered, Dr. Winters. On the whole, hybridization is a success from a scientific point of view.”

Kyra ignored the finality of Chancellor Lee’s statement to focus on the human thing to do for the cyborgs. “I need a copy of the report about what they have done to them and a list of their names and former cyborg identification. Their families need to be told something before they are sent off-planet. I think we can all agree that the soldiers deserve that much.”

Chancellor Owens bent forward toward the screen. “We can see this is upsetting news to you, Dr. Winters. Our understanding is that they chose these thirty men precisely for their lack of family connections. No one should miss them or care what’s happening to them. It will be up to the UCN to make sure we do not forget their sacrifices, which the three of us will do. You have our word.”

“I believe you, Chancellor, but I still want to cross-check the list with our database of registered cyborgs. Despite the story you keep touting, some family members are still looking for their lost soldiers. I know this for a fact,” Kyra insisted.

Chancellor Owens leaned back in his chair and stared. “Dr. Winters, I’m sure we don’t have to remind you that keeping the hybridization program discreet is a matter of global security.”

Kyra barely held back a disgusted laugh. “How can we speak so calmly about those human men undergoing massive amounts of genetic alterations when it’s something our scientists can’t do? They are not disposable commodities to be used as bargaining chips. You’re talking about sending former soldiers away from Earth forever, and yet not talking about the fact that aliens have been on Earth for over a hundred thousand years. Like most of our global secrets, gentlemen, keeping this one does not serve our planet or the humans on it. I urge you again to reconsider your stance on informing the public.”

“The dissemination of the truth is being discussed far more frequently since the request to take the men off-planet came through, but you know we must handle it with great care. The foundation of most Earth societies does not allow for belief in the existence of other beings in the universe,” Chancellor Smith interjected.

Kyra sighed. She didn’t know Smith as well as she knew the other two, but all three of them had a ring of sincerity in their words. She reluctantly nodded. “Very well. I’ll play by your rules for as long as I can. Send me the list of cyborgs who were given to the program. The families of those men deserve to be told a story they can live with so they don’t think poorly of those soldiers for not returning from duty. And we owe it to ourselves as humans not to lie any more than necessary.”

“I think we can all agree with the need to honor their military past and their current service to Earth within the program,” Chancellor Owens said, folding his hands. “Perhaps you can find it in yourself to spare their loved ones from a story that will only force the UCN to deny it.”

“In other words, you want me to tell those men’s families that they died in the line of duty,” Kyra said coldly. She frowned when all three Chancellors nodded.

“Since they will never see them again, it is close to being the whole truth. Surely, you can agree that sort of explanation is more kind than destructive,” Chancellor Smith stated calmly as he stared.

Kyra turned and noticed Rachel and Nero had their mouths open in shock. They might both be more intelligent than her, but she’d been alive and around the UCN long enough to know when she had to play by their rules and not her own. She had her hands full dealing with cyborg revelations and restorations. She couldn’t take on the world’s alien problems too.

Kyra lifted her face and nodded at the men on the screen. “Very well. Peyton and I will get in touch with the families and let them know their loved one is never coming back. I guess lying thirty more times in my life won’t kill me.”

“It’s for the greater good and you could send registered communications instead of verbally delivering the news. It’s official and a sanctioned method of delivering such news,” Chancellor Lee suggested.

“Not for me. I prefer to contact the families personally,” Kyra said, glaring at the three men. “Send me the list, gentlemen. You can deliver it to my private number since I’m sure you don’t want those names getting out.”

“Be well, Dr. Winters. The UCN thanks you for your cooperation.”

“Be well, Gentlemen. I will cooperate until such time as I see it is the wrong thing to do.”

Kyra turned Rachel and Nero when the com went silent. “Before you ask… no, I can’t tell you anything more. And no, there is nothing you can do to change this situation. Alien weapons, technology, and just about anything else you can think of make the people of Earth look like we’re still living in the stone age. Luckily for us, the aliens seem committed to seeing humans survive as a species. When we master space travel, the truth about their involvement will be shared with everyone. Or at least that’s the ongoing story…”

Nero pondered all Kyra’s words before asking the one question he thought she might answer. “So, what have they done to the cyborgs they’ve kept hidden in their program all these years?”

Kyra shook her head and frowned. “The group working with our alien overseers were supposed to be recruiting astronauts and scientists for their off-planet program. Since they were given cyborgs instead, I imagine they’ve done any damn thing they wanted to them.”

Chapter 2 from Ashland 297

Kyra sat at the com station in her lab watching Peyton pace and shake his head.

“When my cyborg logic chip cannot comprehend something, you can bet your ass it’s bad.”

Kyra cleared her throat. “Yes, it’s bad, but so were the rest of the ways the world took advantage of Cyber Soldiers.”

Peyton frowned as he walked. “Hiding beings from other planets poses an enormous global security risk. It eludes me how they could grant permission to anyone to keep thirty good soldiers from returning to their lives. I thought getting put in the Cyber Husband program was a shitty reward for my military duty. This is worse to me. Our leaders are fucked-up in their thinking. There’s no other way to look at shit like this.”

“I think of it as the soldiers having been prisoners of war all this time. At least they avoided fates like yours, Lucy’s, and William’s. The one positive is that the cyborgs were physically restored in a way I could never have done for them. I read it took years, but they regenerated all limbs and organs. None of those men are cybernetic anymore.”

Peyton shook his head. “But why put them through years of regenerating? Having cybernetic parts is not the end of the world. Most of the time they’re an asset.”

“The cybernetics interfered with the alterations. They genetically changed the soldiers to allow them to travel into space and go live on planets that are not like Earth. The reports don’t give details of all their changes, but it says their bodies can’t function in Earth’s atmosphere anymore. The men live in a containment center where a unique atmosphere supports them until they can leave our atmosphere.”

“All I can see is the worst-case scenarios. I keep imagining those abominations Jackson Channing made by grafting people to animals. Or those fucking man-tanks with a nearly dead human incorporated into the machine. Good men don’t deserve to live like that, Kyra. They’d be better off dead.”

“I know,” Kyra said quietly. “I’m scared to see what they have done to them, but I will go look anyway. Someone more neutral than the chancellors needs to stay informed on what happens in the hybridization process.”

Peyton stopped pacing to stare. “Did the UCN make arrangements for you to see the missing cyborgs?”

Kyra shook her head. “No, the UCN just sent me a list of their names. I recognized one person on the list. His profile is too high level still for them to deny me anything at this point.” She lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “I made a few calls that made more than a few people uncomfortable. I demanded to see the men and to be briefed on what they had done to all of them.”

Peyton crossed his arms. “What did you do, Kyra? Threaten to go public?”

“No,” Kyra said. “I told them my research showed that over half of those soldiers still had family who were looking for them. That was a lie because I’ve already started informing the families their soldier is dead. However, one family member was someone important enough to make them cooperate with me. They issued a reluctant invitation with the understanding that I wouldn’t let things get out of hand.”

Peyton grabbed a chair and slid it over. “You have my attention.”

Kyra smiled. “I always wondered what it would take to get you to stop pacing. If I knew how to bat my eyelashes coyly, I would do that for you and we could call it flirting.”

Peyton leaned forward. “It’s easy. Do it like this,” he said, moving his amber cybernetic eyes rapidly up and down.

“Stop, Peyton, that’s scary and you know it,” Kyra said with a laugh.

Peyton grinned and grabbed the front of Kyra’s lab coat to pull her close and kiss her. “It’s good to hear you laugh once in a while. A few months ago, I thought those bastards might have finally broken you.”

Kyra sighed. “I’d laugh more for you, except this list is no laughing matter. The UCN may be ninety-nine percent right about this list. The people who pulled this group of soldiers for the program picked men who were alone in the world. The only person still looking for anyone on the list is Colonel Dia Daniels.”

“Daniels? Isn’t she the astronaut who broke all those human flight records?” Peyton asked. “I thought she was married.”

“She is married,” Kyra said. “Her husband is one of the missing cyborgs on the list.”

“Her husband? Those backstabbing bastards,” Peyton said.

“Yes, but keep in mind her husband allegedly volunteered. Even under duress, signing your life away to the military counts. I’m guessing Lieutenant Colonel Ashland Daniels believed it was the only way he’d get to see his astronaut wife again one day. I’m also sure his handlers made sure he believed their lies.”

“The UCN council knew he was in the program all this time, didn’t they?”

Kyra shrugged again. “My guess is yes. Rachel’s tweaks helped make the Chancellors act nicer, but their default setting is still to cover their high level asses. I don’t think that will ever change.”

Peyton thought about it. “I don’t get it. If Lieutenant Colonel Daniels survived the war, and his wife wanted him back, she would have and could have bought him. Other legal wives did that after the UCN put their husbands into the Cyber Husband program. Astronaut Dia Daniels probably made tons of money during her career. The UCN could have taken a good part of her astronaut salary back in the transaction of his sale.”

Kyra lifted a hand. “I asked myself the same thing. Why wasn’t her husband put into the Cyber Husband program? I think they kept those two apart on purpose. Imagine cyborgs having had a public voice all those years through the Daniels couple living happily ever after. The woman is a global hero. People would have believed whatever Dia Daniels said about the cyborg situation. The UCN couldn’t let that happen. Jackson probably advised them to stash him there.”

“All too plausible,” Peyton said with a grunt of anger. “What does Astronaut Daniels believe about her husband’s situation now? A decade has passed. Didn’t she have him declared dead?”

“No. Just the opposite. She continues to make her campaign to find him public. I’m fairly sure Dia Daniels believes the UCN and the military continue to lie to her.”

“You’re saying on some level Dia Daniels knows the truth.”

“Knows it, but can’t prove it,” Kyra admitted. “Eric has no less than twenty letters from the woman. When she first heard what I was doing, she hired private investigators to look for him and sent me all her research to use. There have been other men in Dia Daniels’s life but none have stopped her from looking for her missing husband. She never filed for a divorce and still does not believe her husband is dead. She thinks he’s just missing in action, which has now turned out to be absolutely true. Those are some hellacious instincts she has, Peyton.”

Peyton dropped his gaze to study his shoes. “I understand being determined to find out the truth. I wanted the truth about what had happened to me as much as I wanted to escape my captivity.”

Kyra sighed. “What the fuck did they think would happen with a woman like that? She and Seetha have a lot in common concerning their men.”

Peyton smiled at her swearing. It revealed how mad his scientist wife truly was. “So, what are you planning to do? You’re supposed to tell Astronaut Daniels that her husband is dead. Right?”

Kyra crossed her arms and glared at her com. “I kept my word twenty-five times and not once in those cases did anyone’s family care. I expect to keep it four times more. However, I’m not lying thirty times. I warned the UCN council that I would do what I believed was right. Telling Dia Daniels about what happened to her husband is right. My problem will be to keep her from acting on what she learns.”

Chuckling, Peyton rolled his cybernetic eyes at her. “You don’t think she’ll challenge aliens for him, do you?”

Kyra turned to her husband and lifted her chin. “Why not? I would in her shoes. I wouldn’t let anyone or anything keep me from saving you.”

Peyton chuckled as he leaned in to steal a kiss. “I hope Astronaut Daniels is a badass like you then. She will need to be.”

“Well, I’m not planning on letting her fight aliens alone.”

“Of course not,” Peyton said, brushing her hair behind her shoulder. “Can we do it tomorrow? I thought we’d have dinner at King’s and call it an early night.”

Kyra smiled and put her hand on her husband’s chest. A cybernetic heart beat within his body but it beat for her. “Do you ever wish you had a normal wife?”

“Are you talking about my normal wife who just today informed me that aliens existed for real on Earth? How could that be a problem?”

“One day I will learn to stop asking you rhetorical questions.”

“Honey, I’ve given up on that. I’ll take you like you are. This is your normal.”

Kyra laughed when Peyton pulled her from her seat and started dragging her out of the lab.