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Perilous Flames: A House L'u-cif-er Story (ch. 1) by Acton BellSUMMARY: When a mysterious monolith appears out of nowhere and the man who has haunted her dreams since she was a child shows up soon after, Colonel Brenda Lind of Sol System knows it's going to be a bad day.
"Are you an angel?"
The young man's golden skin flushed to a deeper bronze. "No," he said. "I'm not an angel."
He sounded like an angel would sound though. She was sure of that. His voice was clear and low and smooth. It slid over her like cool water, but it made her feel warm too.
She wanted to touch him, to see if he was real. His golden eyes were shining like suns as she reached for him. He was so close. "What's your name?" she asked, but she knew it. It was—
Brenda Lind sat up with a gasp. Her heart was pounding heavily and her breathing was loud in the stillness of the room. Pushing a swatch of hair aside, she squinted at the clock. The luminescent hands read 5:19. She sighed and swung her legs over the side of the narrow bed. Might as well get up, she thought. The alarm was set for six anyway. She could use the extra time to do some more packing.
"Ow!" she exclaimed as she stubbed her toe against one of the many crates that cluttered the miniscule living area. Limping forward she threaded a path to the even smaller kitchenette and fell into the one chair that wasn't piled high with books, clothes, or the assorted paraphernalia that had accumulated over the years. "Definitely time to move," she said, not for the first time. The stack of technical manuals was unresponsive.
Brenda had been a MiCo brat her entire life. Her parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and great-grandparents on both sides of the family were all Sol System Military-Corporation officers. Packing and moving had been part of her existence since birth. The three years posting on Rudpar had been her longest stay anywhere. Had it been possible, she was sure the Corp. would have kept her here longer.
She pushed the bitter thought aside firmly as she fixed a cup of tea. Better to think about something more pleasant.
She raised the mug and blew over the liquid gently, the golden tea color reminding her of her dream. She felt her cheeks warm in a way that had nothing to do with the mug in her hands. She couldn't remember a time when she hadn't had the vision of the golden boy in her mind. It was one of the few constants in her chaotic life; but she'd never known if it was just a dream or an actual memory.
In her more objective moments she knew it had to be a dream. No man could be that hauntingly good looking. She didn't even need to close her eyes to summon up the image of the mane of unruly golden hair tied back with a black ribbon and the golden eyes in the sculpted face. When she was younger, she'd thought he was a grown-up. As she grew older, she'd pegged him at about fifteen or sixteen, eleven or twelve years older than herself. "What he must look like now," she murmured, then shook herself. She was too old to be daydreaming about daydreams.
She was trying to fit seven manuals into a carrier that was meant to hold five when her com beeped. Reaching over, she punched it on with a curt "Yes?"
"Colonel Lind? We have a problem?"
Brenda suppressed a sigh. In the three years she had known Theopholis Atambe, he had never once succeeded in making a statement in her presence.