Genres = Science Fiction, Space Opera, Fantasy, Romance
The Siren’s Call
***Also Available to Be Read in Kind Unlimited
Length: 91,800 words/294 pages
Zade has forgotten her. How is Gwen supposed to save him when he wants her dead?
Book 3 continues the epic adventure with an unofficial mission of rescuing one of their own. Commander Gwen Jet’s Siren mate and his mother have been abducted by slave traders. Finally accepting that Dorian Zade is her mate, she is willing to do what it takes to get them back, even going undercover as a slave. But when she and Ania are both captured, the situation goes from bad to worse.
Gwen escapes only to find a drugged, angry, and very dangerous Zade who doesn’t remember her. The energy cord from answering the Siren’s call may be the only weapon Gwen can use to save them all.
“Did you let me do that?” Gwen demanded, glaring down at the female splayed out on the mat at her feet.
Ania reached a hand out asking for help. “We’ve been fighting for weeks. Have I not thrown you down enough for you to know I would never willingly let you best me? Stop glaring and help me up.”
Gwen reached out a hand to Ania, still unable to believe she had truly put the new and now more robust version of Ania down on the mat. She yanked the female to her feet, barely exerting any effort. Getting stronger was just one of many changes she had discovered happening to her body since the mating cord to Dorian had been completed.
“You and I both know damn well I’m not that good yet. So if you didn’t let me toss your ass, how the hell did it happen?” Gwen demanded, her promise to talk more respectfully to her trainer, teacher, and friend temporarily forgotten.
Ania retrieved her fighting stick and leaned on it. “I’m not quite sure. You went into some kind of fighting zone that I couldn’t penetrate. It was much like the way Dorian fights. Perhaps he gave his skill to you with your mating. Sirens share all they are with their chosen mates, though I have never seen it take this form.”
Gwen shrugged. “It was like I saw everything you were going to do in my head. One minute I was contemplating whether or not to trust what I was seeing, and the next—you were on the mat. Hell, I didn’t even know I had moved until I saw you at my feet.”
“What you did in besting me was most impressive for a Khalsa warrior with your limited training,” Ania praised, bowing her head. “Do you think your intuition is growing as well?”
Gwen shrugged. “Yes. It’s just one more thing you were right about I guess. Though it’s more like I’m reading minds than predicting the future like Zade and Synar do.”
She watched Jurek walk through the door of the gym and give Ania a long, assessing look—a look Ania missed with her back turned. Reading minds was a lot more common for her now than she was comfortable admitting, even to Ania.
“I still don’t see the benefit of intuition. For example, I don’t need to read my old trainer’s mind to know Jurek has a crush on you. I saw his expression when the two of you met. As for the rest, I’d just as soon not see what form Jurek wishes his admiration could take,” Gwen said, tossing her fighting stick from hand to hand because she needed something to do. Being still was almost impossible these days.
Ania laughed, unaffected by the passing desires of any other males for her. There was only one male in her life that counted, a fact she was grateful for because the Norblade she had mated was enough of a distraction. Synar had been talking about having children for the last two days, and she couldn’t get him to cease. He had already made her confess that she had dreamed of their children years ago when they were still new to each other.
Though she hadn’t come up with a way to tell him, Ania’s dreams of children had died completely after Malachi had informed her they would be daemon babies too. It was bad enough she shared a daemon’s fate. The last thing she wanted was to force the same destiny on innocent children.
“Odd that you are able to read Jurek so well. I would say that in addition to your enhanced fighting skills, you have also acquired Dorian’s ability to read personal energy. Combined with what you already biologically inherited from your Thelorian father, your intuitive skills should be more than equal to Synar’s now,” Ania said, nodding in approval. “Of course, learning to control those abilities will still prove a great challenge for the irrational Earthling you mostly still are.”
Gwen settled for glaring at Ania for the snide comment. Ignoring her trainer’s teasing to focus on the bigger picture was teaching her to keep her mind calm even when her emotions got out of control. It was more than being calm under pressure. It was the ability to calm herself when she wanted to be calm, something she’d thought she’d mastered until she ended up bound to the now missing Siren.
“This mating deal with Zade just keeps getting worse,” Gwen complained. “I’m married to an invisible groom who made me perceptive to other people’s sexual needs when I’m personally unable to do anything except long for his missing ass. That was not a very good mating gift if you ask me. Sure, I like the part about being physically stronger, but Zade could have kept the mind voyeurism stuff to himself. I do not need to read minds.”
Ania shrugged. She did not need to be schooled in Earth mating customs to hear the disappointment in Gwen’s voice about her mating. “The Creators sometimes use circumstances like your unusual mating with Dorian to bestow unusual gifts they wish a being to have. That is what I think is happening in your case, Gwen. Since he was drugged and unconscious for most of it, I doubt Dorian had that much control over what you received from him.”
“Are you telling me you believe your deities are partly responsible for the emotional roller coaster I’m riding?”
“Possibly,” Ania said, nodding.
Gwen rolled her eyes at how ridiculous such a notion sounded to her. Her father would laugh and make some scathing reply about Ania’s suggestion. While she might not personally buy into Ania’s or Zade’s spiritual ideas about the Creators of All, she saw no reason to be disrespectful to their beliefs. She preferred to keep her agnosticism to herself.
“Do you think your deities hate me that much? I don’t think I’ve ever done anything bad to them.”
Ania smiled. “It took Dorian three years of training to put me on the mat. You managed to do it less than a week after your Siren mating cord was completed. Doesn’t that make you feel at least a little better about some of your new skills?”
Gwen laughed, but finally nodded. “Yes. I suppose being capable of putting a real Khalsa warrior on the mat makes up for the rest of it a little.”
“Of course I was a lot younger when I trained Dorian. Maybe after several hundred years I’ve slowed down enough to be bested by an Earthling,” Ania said, grinning at the flash of irritation in Gwen’s eyes. “Perhaps I should even be ashamed.”
Ania saw the punch in the arm coming but figured she deserved it when it landed harder than she’d anticipated. Laughing, she danced away from Gwen to rub the mock wound. The young warrior definitely was getting stronger. She hit like a male lately.
“You just had to ruin the moment for me, didn’t you?” Gwen demanded.
“You make it too easy with your mixed feelings about Dorian all over your energy. Why don’t we try meditating again? I know you say you can’t quiet your mind enough, but I think we should practice each day regardless,” Ania said. “Visions come during meditation much as they do through dreams.”
“If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have said no yesterday. Let’s go then,” Gwen said, jogging off the mat and putting the fighting stick back on the wall. “I haven’t seen Zade in my head in several days. I’m ready to send Malachi inside me to try again. Anything is better than waiting for something to happen.”
Ania shook her head. “No. Malachi said it would do no good because there’s an energy block on Dorian’s end of the cord. Malachi can’t break through it without harming him. He said Dorian probably blocked it off to keep his captors from knowing it was there. When the daemon has nothing to personally gain from being less than truthful about a situation, I find I can believe him completely.”
Gwen sighed, hoping whatever Zade was doing wasn’t hurting him. She didn’t need more worry. She was already worried enough. In fact, worrying about Zade and Sarinnea seemed like all she did when she wasn’t working or training.
Ania hung up her fighting stick and went to retrieve her shoes, stalling while Gwen mentally wrestled with her concerns. She was all too aware of the turmoil in her pupil and friend but had said little about it. She didn’t want to throw Gwen into a depression. So far Gwen had managed to push away the worry on her own.
“Let’s try a different location. Have you seen Dorian’s meditation room?” Ania didn’t question Gwen’s quiet frown or the single shake of her head she got in reply. “I think you’ll like it. It’s very comforting inside. A lot of his energy is there.”
“If being there makes me cry more, I’m knocking you on your ass again. All I do is worry and cry. Both are nothing but a waste of energy and time,” Gwen said.
“Do not be so prideful, Gwen. Besides, if you cry in the room, who will see or care?” Ania said with shrug. “Your tears are not a sign of weakness, but rather evidence of the depth of your feelings for your mate. They break down your physical and mental walls.”
Gwen sighed as they headed out the door and down the hall. Being full up on the torture of missing a mate she hadn’t even wanted to begin with, she had intentionally never visited Zade’s workspace. Just walking up to the closed door, she could tell Zade’s energy was in the room, even if the real male wasn’t.
When Ania held the door wide, Gwen took a deep breath and reluctantly stepped across the threshold. Inside was the same calm Dorian Zade always exuded. Unable to stop herself from grieving again, tears rolled unchecked down her face. She had never fully appreciated the calming effect Zade had on her until he was gone. Now it was one of the things she missed the most.
“Here—wear this,” Ania ordered, holding up one of Dorian’s robes as they both slipped off their shoes. She was pleased when Gwen slipped her arms into it without debate. “When his absence makes you mad, use the sleeves to dry the tears you shed for him. Dorian would hate that. He’s very particular about his clothes.”
Gwen snickered at Ania’s teasing even as she sniffed. “God—it feels like he’s here. I expect him any moment to come through the door frowning and complaining.”
Ania nodded and smiled. “Yes. Dorian has embedded his energy into everything in this space. No holy place has ever been guarded better. His energy stands in defiance of any energy coming through the door that might disrupt the peace. Dorian is more than just strong in body. His spirit is immense.”
Gwen sniffed as Ania’s comment made her gut clench. Missing him as badly as she did was the biggest irony of her life. “I can’t let myself believe that it ends like this—with Zade abducted and us not able to find him.”
She lifted her arms and saw the robe’s long sleeves hanging over her fingertips. She was tall enough to handle the overall length but having been made to fit a tall Siren male, the arms were far too long for her. It was like wearing a boyfriend’s sweater in school. Now why did Zade always make her think of the sentimental aspects of her mother’s culture?
“I swear—Zade has turned me into some damn wimpy Earth female. All I want to do is wrap myself in his robe, lie down, and cry myself to sleep. Only sheer willpower, and the knowledge of how stupid that would be, keeps me from doing it,” Gwen confessed.
Ania bowed her head in sympathy. “I can feel your suffering, but I do not think it is necessarily a negative. It validates how close in spirit you are with your missing mate. Kneel down on the pillow over there.” She pointed to the braided rug and pillow that Dorian had brought from Rylen.
“Do I have to do the kneeling thing?” Gwen asked, hating that she sounded like a child begging its mother not to have to do a chore. She was a commander. Damn it. Where was her pride? In fact, where was her ability to say “no”?
Ania nodded as she continued to point. “Yes. Close contact with the room’s surface is a necessary concession. Kneeling will ground you to the ship. It is not as good as grounding to planetary soil, but out here it is all we can do. While you kneel, allow yourself to experience how much it hurts to miss your mate and try to make peace with those feelings. I assure you doing so will only make you fiercer as a warrior. Vulnerability is the other side of great strength.”
“But what if I fail? What if nothing I do helps us find him?” Gwen asked. All the questions and concerns were a swirl of pain inside her.
“Gwen Shenu Jet, you made your mate proud the moment you stepped into this room where so much of his energy and power is invested. Now, do as I request,” Ania ordered softly. She turned her pupil to face where she wanted her to go, before stepping back to give Gwen the choice.
Gwen sighed as she walked to the pillow, doing as Ania asked as she knelt. She pulled Dorian’s robe tighter around her body, reveling in the scent of him that still clung to it. It was tempting to take it back with her to his quarters where she had been sleeping every night he’d been gone.
As she took a deep cleansing breath, suddenly regret for not spending those last nights with Zade filled her heart. Then her mind went back to the day they had gone to rescue Ania from the tribunal. She had been so resentful of his advice and help that day. She had acted so hatefully to him when he had offered her comfort, which was typical of most of her interactions with him up to then. Yet Zade had sent calming vibrations into her despite her bad attitude and her insistence of not needing his help.
As she brought that moment to mind, Gwen could actually feel Zade’s calming vibrations settle over her again. Maybe they had been stored in the robe she was wearing and she was draining them off. What if this was the last time she was ever going to feel his energy? The pain of that possibility was nearly unbearable to her. Gwen bit her lip to keep from saying so out loud.
Hot tears ran unchecked down her face as she wished for nothing more than one more chance to wrap her arms around the arrogant, yet compassionate Siren. She might never be an easy female to live with, but she for sure would not be cold and hateful to him again when he came back. Instead, she would thank Zade for always caring for her no matter what she had said or done. She would tell him how much she truly appreciated all that he was.
“Where are you Zade?” Gwen whispered, pulling his robe as tightly around her body as she could.
Ania padded silently across the back of the room in bare feet, careful to not disrupt what was happening. A grieving Gwen was calling Dorian’s energy to her. In all her years of spiritual work, she had not seen anything like it happen before. The room and all the objects in it were giving up his energy to comfort Dorian’s mate in his absence.
While she paced and waited for what was happening to reach completion, Ania chanted the names of the Creators under her breath, hoping they would hear her prayers and aid Gwen. Feeling the resonation of her chant settle in her gut, Ania’s head whipped instinctively toward Gwen when she groaned and fell forward.
She ran to the now unconscious female, positioning Gwen carefully with the meditation pillow under her head. Dorian’s worried mate was tangled in his robe, but instead of removing it, Ania tucked it more tightly around her.
Knowing that vision trances were unpredictable in length, Ania found a comfortable position on the floor where she could best guard Gwen’s body until the female’s spirit returned from wherever it had gone to look for her mate.
* * *
When Gwen finally became aware of herself and her surroundings, she feared the worst—that somehow she had been captured too. Looking down at her body she decided that she had to be having another vision because she was just as sparsely clothed as she had been in the first one about where Zade was being held.
Once again she had no weapon and no shoes as she crept along the sides of buildings and across rough ground that hurt her bare feet. Gwen headed for the larger building she recalled contained Zade, but this time she made herself look around before rushing inside. Finding it hard to turn her head as easily as she wished, she raised hands to her neck. She was wearing a collar. Even without a mirror to check, she would bet a year’s wages it was the same type of restraining device she had seen on Zade before.
Dropping her hands, Gwen looked around, finally noticing a single female wearing a collar who was working in what appeared to be a small garden outside one of the residences.
Walking within hearing distance, Gwen stopped far enough away not to alarm her. “Hello.”
“Are you here to free me?” the female asked.
Gwen thought the tone of the question sounded hopeful even though the female never once raised her head from her task to look at who she addressed. She pondered briefly whether or not a lie would serve her goal of obtaining information, but in the end, opted for bald truth. “I’m not sure what I’m here to do other than find my abducted mate.”
“If you are not here to save me, then I cannot help you,” the female said, turning away.
“No—don’t go yet. Look, I’m Commander Gwen Jet. I work on a Peace Alliance rescue ship. If you help me, I’ll make sure the Peace Alliance knows you’re being held here as a slave against your will. That’s all I can do.”
Gwen waited for an answer, or at least recognition that she’d heard, but the female just continued to ignore her.
“Shades of Kellnor—I’m here only because I’m having a vision. They don’t seem to last long so please tell me what the name of this planet is before I wake up,” Gwen demanded, running a restless hand through her short hair. She noticed the female had short hair as well. What did the captors of this planet’s people have against long hair?
“I cannot be a slave,” the female said firmly.
“Of course not—no one is meant to be a slave,” Gwen agreed. “Now please, I’m begging you. Tell me where I am—where you are.”
The female finally stopped working and looked Gwen full in the face. Startled awareness grew in Gwen as she recognized her, but she said nothing because the female seemed finally ready to talk.
“My name is Sarinnea. This is the planet of Terris Rein. I cannot become a bonding slave again. You must rescue me,” she demanded.
Gwen nodded. “Yes, I see that now. When I come to get Dorian Zade, I will rescue you as well. You have my word.”
“Dorian Zade? You’re coming for Dorian? Hurry then because his owner is very unhappy with him,” Sarinnea said, beginning to cry. “He—he is damaged and cannot perform his duties to his mistress. I fear she will tire of trying to fix him. I hear talk of his mistress selling him to someone else.”
“Would this matter to you?” Gwen asked, testing the female of her vision.
Sarinnea sniffled and nodded, going back to her tasks. “Dorian is my child. Of course, I would care.”
“Sarinnea,” Gwen said, reaching out only to see her hand was transparent. “The vision is ending, but we’re on our way. I swear it. We’re coming to get you both.”
“What can you do, Gwen Jet? You’re just another slave,” Sarinnea said sadly, sniffling as she went back to her work.
“Trust me,” Gwen said fiercely, her voice fading. “I’m not a slave.”
“When you wear the collar, you have to be a slave,” Sarinnea said. “Dorian has been rendered unconscious by his several times, yet he still resists his fate.”
“We’re coming, Sarinnea. Tell him we’re coming. This is not just a dream,” Gwen said.
Then the world she’d been in receded and Gwen heard herself moaning. She had a headache far worse than any she’d ever known.
“Raging fires of Helios—having a vision hurts,” she said, bringing both hands to her head. “I can’t keep doing this shit.”
Yet ironically, as badly as she hurt, Gwen was still wishing she’d been able to control the vision long enough to check on Zade again. Instead, she had spent too long talking to Zade’s mother. But at least she knew where they were now.
Trying to fight her way out of the darkness, Gwen wanted to ask Ania for help, but the words seemed to be frozen on her tongue. Or her tongue seemed to be frozen and unable to form the words. It was hard to tell the difference, but whatever was happening, was only making her madder.
Meanwhile, her mind continued to churn with what needed to be done.