Jarek(Dragons of Preor Book 1)(5)By: Celia Kyle & Erin Tate
The Ujal youngling had a set of lungs on her rivaling any creature from their home world. At least, that’s what she’d been told. When Theresa nearly shattered her eardrums with a yell, Melissa could believe it.
Don’t touch my Miss Meli!
Her position as a family member was acknowledged even more firmly at Christmas. Before talks with Preor truly began, a human councilman attempted to destroy any negotiations by stealing Theresa. She supposed the intent was to blame the Preor—or even Melissa due to her family’s history—and she’d ended up with a knife cutting her from belly button to sternum. And still the perpetrators ended up with little Reesa in their clutches. It’d been the Preor who recovered the youngling safely, endearing them even more to the people—Ujal and humans—of Earth.
A rustling nearby—one of the Preor guards shifting position—reminded her they weren’t on Earth at UST—Ujal Station Tau. She’d boarded the transport that took the royal family from the Tampa, Florida, base up to meet the Preor vessel. She’d been convinced Tave and Rina wouldn’t want Reesa with them, but she’d been surprised by the overprotective prince.
“They need to see evidence of what they can have. Evidence of what they saved and what can be their future.” He’d looked at Rina with such love, his gaze touching on his previously human mate and then their daughter.
Which was how she’d ended up the only human on a ship filled with aliens.
“Miss Meliiii…” Two little legs kicked and then Theresa popped to her feet. The youngling attacked her, fingers fighting to find Melissa’s “tickle spots.”
Melissa suppressed her wince when Reesa’s fingers got to close to her sensitive wound. Tiny fingers always managed to find the tenderest spots on her abdomen, but she didn’t have the heart to stop their playing. Not when Reesa was happy and distracted from staring at the large dragon-shifting aliens.
She wiggled and pretended to fight the youngling, acting as if Theresa found the perfect places to make her laugh uncontrollably. She let her giggles grow louder, but not enough to drown out the adults in the room. Her task was to keep the child occupied and happy, not interrupt the talks soon to start.
At the moment, they were just waiting on the Preor “War Master” to arrive. The title sent a shiver down her spine. War Master. What had the Preors experienced that they needed War Masters? Tave tried to explain the title was no worse than a human general, but it just had a different connotation in her mind. The word general didn’t give her visions of swords and guns. Not the way War Master did.
The youngling attacked her once more and Melissa released another loud laugh, tilting her head back as she lost herself to the fun for a spare moment.
And it was in that moment… the world changed. Her world anyway.
Theresa continued her wiggles and pokes, some jabbing right at the edge of her tender cut as the youngling attempted to lure more chuckles forward, but there was no way the sound would escape. At least, not now. At the moment, Melissa’s every action surrounded trying to breathe.
Air refused to fill her lungs, her chest compressed by… something. Some weird, unidentifiable sensation. It was hot yet cool, scorching and soothing at once while her skin felt as if she stood in the middle of a rainstorm while burned by the sun. She became a living, breathing contrast of sensations and she couldn’t separate each feeling from the next.
“Miss Meli?” Reesa quieted and froze.
Melissa opened her mouth, intent on soothing the youngling, except she couldn’t talk. Her lungs were unmoving in her chest and refused to draw in much needed oxygen. She was a slave to whatever overcame her and fear slammed into her like a hovotruck. Something inside the Preor ship had done this. Or someone. Tave hadn’t hinted the Preor had the ability to control a human’s body in such a way, but who knew how honest Preors were.
Just when she thought she’d pass out, her ability to breathe returned. She gasped and sucked in air, welcoming the oxygen and unsure what’d caused her to stop. She opened her mouth to soothe Theresa but that’s when something else happened.
Movement to her right drew her attention and she turned her head toward the room’s entry. A single man stood framed in the doorway, his gaze firmly locked on hers. She took in his appearance in a rapid glance, noting his broad shoulders and heavily carved muscles covering his body.