Circle of Light
- Publisher: Orange Grove Press
- Series: The Light Years , 1
- Release Date: Coming Soon
- Genre: Science Fiction Romance
- Available Formats: eBook
Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth by Captain Teir Reylock of the Coalition Defense League. His mission is to deliver her to the High Council for her marriage to Lord Cam’brii, a member of the ruling House of Raimorrda. It is through this union that she will become the legendary Great Healer, thus saving the galaxy from a devastating plague.
At the capital city of Bimordus Two, Sarina is awakened to wondrous new discoveries of an advanced civilization. She also awakens to her own desire for Captain Reylock. But Teir is a man of duty and honor. Although he is attracted to the woman from Earth, he must deliver Sarina to the High Council for her marriage to Lord Cam’brii. He didn’t count on being assigned as Sarina’s personal bodyguard as she gets to know the nobleman.
Danger follows them as their enemies try to prevent the marriage from taking place. Sarina and Teir, drawn together by passion but torn apart by destiny, must overcome their obstacles until the final shocking revelations reveal the legend’s truth.
Winner of the HOLT Medallion Award
“Nancy Cohen sparks your imagination and melts your heart with her wonderful tale of galactic adventure and star-crossed lovers.” Marilyn Campbell, Award-Winning Author
NOTE: This title was previously published by Dorchester and written as Nancy Cane, then subsequently reprinted by iUniverse and Belgrave House. New Author’s Edition coming soon!
Awards & Accolades:
“Nancy Cane is a shining light in the futuristic galaxy; a writer whose amazing talent propels readers into a universe filled with strange new worlds, amazing technologies, and unusual species that would have made George Lucas sit up and take notice. Circle of Light glows with a radiance that few writers can ever achieve.” — 4+ Hearts, Affaire de Coeur
“Nancy Cane sparks your imagination and melts your heart with her wonderful tale of galactic adventure and star-crossed lovers.”— Marilyn Campbell, Award-Winning Author
“Ms. Cane captures your imagination with her explicitly described characters and innovative conflicts and settings. Circle of Light is an extraordinary reading adventure you cannot pass up.” — Rendezvous
“The heavens will shine quite a bit brighter with the futuristic romance debut of the talented Nancy Cane…her adventurous and exciting imagination is an appealing guarantee of reading enjoyment.” — Romantic Times
“Circle of Light is a well-constructed Futuristic Romance that will appeal even to die-hard Star Trek and general Science Fiction readers. Great plot, believable aliens, and interesting locations all make Nancy Cane an author to keep your eyes on.” — The Paperback Trader
CIRCLE OF LIGHT
Sarina Bretton stared out of her office window at the dazzling cityscape below. The Miami skyline dipped and blended into the pristine blue of Biscayne Bay. Numerous white sailboats plied the glistening sundrenched waters, and far in the distance, a barge chugged out to sea.
Her eyes glazed over, and in her mind she saw another scene from the space adventure film she’d viewed over the weekend. In her imagination, she became the pilot of the starship. With supreme skill, she evaded enemy laser blasts, dodged asteroids, fired photon torpedoes, and soared over new planetary horizons.
Sarina sighed and drew her attention back to the client list on her desk. As an attorney, she dealt in facts, not fantasy. To imagine herself in any other role was a waste of time. Toughen up, girl. Those were Mother’s words, but she was right. Sarina always needed reminding to curb her soft side.
She attempted to focus on the work in front of her, but the viewphone rang before she could accomplish anything.
“Sarina?” Her boss, Hiram Simmons, looked harried as he stared at her from the monitor screen. “I’ve assigned you a new client by the name of Pierce Mitchells. He should be on his way there now. Can you come up to my office when he arrives?”
“Certainly, sir.” She straightened her shoulders, feeling uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the gray-haired managing partner of the firm.
“I’ll fill you in on the case once you’re here.”
“Okay, thanks.” She was about to hang up when another call came through. Recognizing the number, she pushed the flash button. “Hello?”
“Hi, babe.” Her fiancé’s face came into view, his solemn brown eyes endearingly familiar.
Robert, one of the partners in the firm, had an office upstairs along with the rest of the upper echelon. Junior lawyers like herself were relegated to the lower floors. She’d been working here for over a year now and didn’t even have her own personal assistant, but hopefully that would change soon enough.
“I got wind of the Goroka case,” Robert said. “How the hell did you get involved in something like that?”
Uh-oh. She’d known he wouldn’t approve. “I couldn’t help it. The woman was so pitiful. She had nowhere else to go.”
“She can’t pay, for God’s sake.”
“I’m only giving her legal advice, and I’ll work on it in my spare time. Don’t worry, it won’t cost the firm anything.”
“That’s not the issue. If you’re going to be accepted as a full-fledged Associate, you have to stop being a sucker for these hard-luck cases. This isn’t the first time you’ve used your resources unwisely. Simmons won’t like it.”
Sarina’s lips thinned. “Not everyone can afford the high fees he charges, you know.”
“So let them go elsewhere. What do you want, a welfare job or a position that’s going to pay your bills for years to come?”
“Some things are more important than money, Robert.”
“Yeah, like what?” When she didn’t answer, he went on. “You’re up for the big promotion, sweetheart. Don’t screw up now.”
“Why? Are you going to delay our wedding again if I miss out?” Sarina asked. He’d already changed the date twice.
“I’m only interested in your career,” Robert said, his tone sincere. “This week is crucial. Simmons is going to put you to the test.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’ll tell you he’s sending you a client, but it’ll be some wacko. Your reactions are what count. We all have to pass this nutty psych test to move ahead.”
Her heart thumped with excitement. “Robert, Mr. Simmons called right before you did. He said he’s sending in a new client, and we’re to go to his office together.”
Robert sucked in his breath. “This might be it, then. You can do it, babe.”
“What should I expect?” Sarina’s palms grew moist as her anxiety escalated.
“If your test is anything like mine, this ‘client’ will tell you a totally wild story. Simmons will be observing your responses, so act professionally. Go along with it and pretend like you believe every word. He wants to see how you’d handle a difficult situation.”
“But I’m supposed to take the client up to Mr. Simmons’s office. Won’t he admit the ruse then?”
“Only after he’s satisfied you’ve passed the test.” Robert chuckled. “You might not exactly end up in his office either. I was led to a special suite of rooms he uses just for this purpose. It was decorated like a boudoir. The so-called client told me that if I handled his case satisfactorily, I could have my choice of any of the lovely ladies present. Of course, it was clearly a setup, but the women acted their parts convincingly.”
“You never told me about this. So I can expect a really crazy scenario?”
“That’s right. Just act cool and play along, but don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable.”
Sarina couldn’t imagine what might be planned for her, nor could she picture her staid boss getting his kicks out of games like these, but apparently there was a side to him she hadn’t known existed.
“Good luck,” Robert told her. “Call me later and let me know what happened.”
“Wait.” She wanted to ask him how he’d solved his own test situation, but he hung up before she got the chance. Damn the man! Now she’d have to struggle through on her own.
They’d been engaged ever since she graduated from law school and took the position at the firm. Robert’s recommendation had helped her land the spot, and his influence was important in getting her promotion approved. She should be grateful to him, but gratitude wasn’t what she felt. He kept postponing their wedding, saying she should concentrate on getting ahead. His attitude made her wonder which was more important to him—her job status or herself?
Their wedding was set for December, five months from now, and if Robert put it off one more time, she’d need to reevaluate their relationship. During the past few weeks, she’d felt increasingly dissatisfied. It was difficult to pinpoint the cause. Robert irritated her, but that could be because she felt pressured. She’d applied for Associate after he’d urged her to do so, and yet this job wasn’t fulfilling her expectations.
She couldn’t admit her doubts to Robert without starting an argument. Besides, she felt this problem wasn’t the real issue bothering her. Something else tugged at her from beneath the surface of her mind, but she hadn’t a clue what it meant.
Realizing the new client might walk in at any moment, she patted her French braid at the back of her head. It was still smooth and sleek, so she reached into her handbag to reapply her lipstick before he arrived.
Just as she was putting her mirror away, a loud rapping sounded at the door.
“Come in,” Sarina called, her heartbeat accelerating.
The door opened and in strolled the most gorgeous hunk she had ever seen in all of her twenty-six years. The man was tall and powerfully built, but the dominant feature that drew her was the strange color of his eyes. Never had she seen a blue shade so deep, so celestial. It was as though the sky was mirrored in his gaze. His eyes locked on hers as he approached.
“You are Sarina Bretton?” His masculine tone reverberated throughout the room and seemed to touch a chord within her very soul.
“Yes,” Sarina stated as the man strode forward. She lifted her chin, intending to present a professional image.
He stopped directly in front of her and bent his head to examine the identification badge pinned to her crimson dress. Her I.D. picture showed her in a relaxed pose, her wavy blond hair hanging down her back, her gray eyes wide in an oval face. She knew her pink lips parted in a silly grin, but the photographer had been a friend who knew how to make her laugh.
She surveyed the stranger’s thick black hair that grew long in the back, curling at his nape. His features were angular, firm and strong. Her gaze wandered down to the strange metallic silver jumpsuit that he wore. It molded to his powerful body like an animal skin.
“Excuse me—I had to make certain,” the man said.
Sarina glanced at him, startled. He watched her with a flat expression. She searched his eyes for contact lenses but saw no telltale outlines. The intense color fascinated her.
“Certain of what?” she asked, wondering if his weird responses were part of the game set up by her boss.
“Of your identity.” He grasped her right hand and turned it palm up. He touched the round area of pigmentation on her soft flesh. “You see? You have the mark as prophesied.”
A shiver of delight ran through her at his touch. “That’s just a birthmark,” she said, withdrawing her hand. “Look, Mister, uh—”
“You can call me Teir.”
Teir? She looked down at her desk where she’d scrawled the name Pierce Mitchells on her message pad.
“You are needed. I am to escort you,” Teir explained, a hint of irritation in his tone.
“Escort me? Where?” But then she answered her own question. “Oh, you mean to Mr. Simmons’s office.” Obviously this guy was the test case Robert had mentioned. Remembering her fiancé had advised her to play along, she stuffed a notebook into her handbag.
“You won’t need that where we’re going,” Teir said with a bemused curve of his mouth.
“I may have to take notes. Shall we go?” She stood and smoothed her dress.
A look of astonishment dawned on the man’s face, as though he hadn’t expected her to be so cooperative. Hmm, this test might turn out to be fun, Sarina thought.
Grinning at the idea, she strode from her office and out into the carpeted corridor. Teir followed, his booted footsteps thudding behind her.
She waited until he caught up. “Has the initial data on your case been filed?” she asked as they walked down the hallway. The main bank of elevators was situated at the opposite end.
Teir didn’t respond. Halfway down the hall, he came to an abrupt halt and pointed to a closed door. “This way. You can go first.”
Sarina shot him a sharp glance. “That’s a storage closet.”
Wordlessly, Teir opened the door, and Sarina gasped. Facing them was an elevator car.
“A private lift? I never knew this existed. Where does it go?”
“Up,” Teir said, without a trace of a smile.
It must lead to Mr. Simmons’s penthouse suite. She’d better be on the alert in case her boss was watching them via hidden cameras. This had to be part of the test.
At Teir’s urging, Sarina stepped inside the padded interior. He entered the elevator after her, his tall muscular form seeming to take up most of the small space. Sarina’s breath quickened at his nearness. She edged away until she bumped into a wall. Her apprehension rose when she noticed there was no control panel.
“How do you operate this thing?” she asked, her pulse racing despite her resolve to keep calm.
As the door slid shut and they began a slow ascent, Teir showed her a small remote control device he held in his hand. “You’d better hold on,” he said, securing the object in a previously hidden pocket of his jumpsuit. He slipped his hands into two loops protruding from the padded walls of the lift. “This thing starts slow, but it accelerates fast.”
How peculiar. She didn’t have time to speculate because just then a big thump rocked the elevator. Sarina grabbed for the two remaining loops on the wall and clung tightly as the lift shot upward at an incredible speed. Her stomach dropped, like it would in an airplane that suddenly developed lift. A whoosh of air sounded in her ears, and a smell similar to a pressurized cabin filled her nose.
Then just as suddenly as it had started, the acceleration stopped. An eerie sense of motionlessness gripped her.
“What happened?” she asked in a squeaky voice. Her head reeled, and she felt disoriented.
Tier gave her a solemn glance. “The antigravity device activated. We’re out of the atmosphere now. That’s the worst part of the ride, but thankfully, it’s over.” He did a quick calculation on his handheld device. “Another one of your Earth minutes and sixteen seconds and we’ll be there.”
Earth minutes? When Robert had said she’d be sent a wacko client, he really meant it.
The elevator swayed, and her throat constricted. She maintained her grip with frozen fingers. A gentle bump rocked the lift, and then the motion stopped.
She withdrew her hands from the loops. As she massaged the ridges they’d left on her skin, a buzzer sounded somewhere outside. The steel door slid open to reveal a short corridor with a blank white wall at the far end.
She peered out into unfamiliar territory. This was definitely not the penthouse suite where Mr. Simmons had his office, nor was it anywhere else in the building to her knowledge.
“After you.” Teir jerked his thumb toward the exit.
“Right.” Sarina swallowed, wondering where he was taking her. Would Mr. Simmons be waiting to join them? If so, she’d better not show any hesitation.
She stepped boldly forward. As Teir followed her into the corridor, the lift door closed behind them.
“Now what—” she began, but Teir prodded her ahead until they reached the white wall.
He pressed his hand against a raised panel, and a hidden door slid open with a hiss. Sarina gasped as a surreal vision unfolded in front of her.
They faced a space that reminded her of an airplane cockpit, with rows of switches and buttons blinking in various colored lights. The symbols displayed an unrecognizable language. But her attention didn’t linger on the instrumentation. She swung her gaze to the wide viewscreen. In front of them was a blackness so profound she could only wonder at it. Pinpricks of lights twinkled in the distance, reminding her of the night sky in a planetarium.
“What is this place?” she asked in a hoarse tone.
“We’re on my ship,” Teir responded. He pointed to the two modular seats facing the viewscreen. “Sit there,” he commanded, indicating the one on the right.
When Sarina didn’t move, he grunted with impatience and tugged her forward. Her knees weakening, she didn’t resist when he pushed her down and buckled her into a safety harness.
“I don’t understand. What’s going on? Is this some kind of a flight simulator?”
Surely Mr. Simmons wouldn’t go to such extremes just to tap into her favorite fantasy. No one in his right mind would incur such exorbitant expense merely to test an employee. And for what purpose? This scenario had nothing to do with her legal expertise.
Come to think of it, Robert’s hadn’t either. He must have been tested to see if he would take a bribe, albeit in the form of seductive women. But Robert had at least known his location, whereas Sarina wasn’t certain of anything.
“I think there must be some mistake,” she said, wondering how to get back to her office.
Teir dropped into the pilot’s chair beside her and strapped himself in. He released a lever and manipulated the steering column so a different view came into sight.
“Say farewell,” he told her.
Sarina’s mouth dropped open. That greenish-blue globe spinning against the dark backdrop of space looked very much like the planet Earth. Her mind going numb, she turned to stare at Teir.
“Firing thrusters,” was all he said. He punched a button and a roaring noise sounded. A huge surge came from somewhere beneath them as their forward motion increased.
“Tell me what’s happening,” Sarina demanded, doubting her own senses. I have to get out of here. Is this man the fake client my boss has sent, or is he not?
The alternative was even too bizarre to contemplate.
Teir entered a code into the computer and then leaned back, folding his hands behind his head as though blasting from the atmosphere was all in a day’s work for him.
“You want an explanation? Fine, I’ll give you one. You’ve been identified as the legendary Great Healer. A terrible disease called the Farg is sweeping through the galaxy, killing billions of people. Those who survive are being enslaved by a warrior race known as the Morgots. You are destined to stop these horrors and save everyone.”
He spoke in a sarcastic tone as though he didn’t believe she could be a savior. “I’m taking you to the High Council where you will wed our esteemed prince, Lord Cam’brii of the ruling House of Raimorrda. Supposedly, the prophecy will be fulfilled through this marriage.”
Sarina stared at him in disbelief. Obviously, this man wasn’t Pierce Mitchells, the client Mr. Simmons had sent to her. Then who the hell was he?
Surely his story couldn’t be true? No, it was too preposterous. This had to be a simulation, or some kind of theatrical set.
But even as she tried to find a rational explanation, her imaginative mind discarded it. That view of Earth had been much too realistic. She didn’t know of any technology capable of producing such an effect. And if this setup was real, she had just been abducted by an alien in a spaceship.
She fumbled with her safety strap, desperate to find an exit.
“Stay in your seat,” Teir ordered. “We’re about to enter space warp.”
Her anxiety escalated. She tugged at the buckle, but her hands shook so much she couldn’t unlatch it.
“Nine seconds to go. Eight, seven…”
Her neck whipped back as the ship lurched forward. The stars became a kaleidoscope of color, a blur of passing images. She was pressed down into her seat.
The transition to real space came just as abruptly. Soon they were gliding smoothly through space again. Some of the stars seemed larger, closer than they’d been before.
She couldn’t stand another moment of this uncertainty. Wrestling with the catch on her safety harness, she finally unhooked it and jumped up.
“I want to go home. Where’s the exit?” She peered around at the unfamiliar surroundings. Even if she did find one, she had no idea where it would lead. If this really was a spaceship…
“Get back in your seat,” Teir commanded.
Ignoring his stern tone, Sarina charged for the opposite wall. Behind her, she heard a growl as Teir leapt up and chased after her. He grabbed her by the wrist.
“You’re hurting me,” she cried as the pressure of his fingers forced her to turn around. His use of force confirmed her suspicion that he wasn’t an actor hired by her boss to play the part of a client. She wasn’t even sure he was a man. Maybe he was an alien life form who’d taken on the shape of a human so as not to frighten her.
“Either you do as you’re told, or I’ll have to restrain you,” Teir said in a dangerously quiet voice. “The ship’s on autopilot right now, but there’s some tricky navigation ahead. I have to pay attention to the helm.”
“Let me go.” Sarina struggled to free herself, but it was like fighting against solid rock. Teir maintained his tight grip on her arm, and even as she kicked and squirmed, he drew her against his body.
“You’ll obey me, woman.” As he stared into her defiant eyes, something within him softened. With a sound of disgust, he thrust her away.
As soon as he released her, Sarina raced to the door at the rear of the cockpit. She wouldn’t be trapped here. The walls felt as if they were closing in on her. She searched for a means of activating the exit, hoping it would reveal the elevator or a familiar corridor on the other side.
“Storms of the sun, woman, get away from that wall. You can’t go anywhere.”
Realizing he spoke the truth, Sarina turned to face him. This man—or whatever he was—had lured her here and used her ignorance of the situation to his advantage. Now she was his prisoner. Her head reeled as she remembered what he’d said. She was needed. She had to marry someone. It didn’t make any sense, but then, none of this did.
Glancing his way, she noted how his contoured muscles stretched the fabric of his silvery jumpsuit. From the demonstration he’d already given her, he could easily enforce his demands. She’d better do as he said until she learned what he had in mind.
Previous Edition: Dorchester. ISBN: 978-0-5055-1949-8, May 1994, $4.99