The Universe Chronicles Book 1
by Claire Davon
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Maya Wingfield was raised to trust no one—least of all the dueling U.S. and Russian paranormal agencies, Universe and Night Stars, who’d love to harness her mind-reading gift.
She thought Richmond a safe place to escape their influence and hide from a rising psychic malevolence that drove her out of San Diego. But when she gets yet another call to retrieve her drunken roommate, her mind shows her an amber-eyed Universe operative with an impenetrable net around his deepest secret—and a voice that sends shock waves of awareness down her nerve endings.
Maya’s curves and aquamarine eyes aren’t the only things that jolt Ian Sanderson’s mental shields, bringing sexual tension thrumming back to life. It’s a power his Universe-trained mind knows he shouldn’t trust. And a vulnerability that makes his telekinetic power burn in his palms to protect her.
But to Universe, she is just one of too many unanswered questions. A target for Whisper, a shadowy new group of paranormals with powers beyond anything Universe has ever seen. Once before, Ian failed to protect a sensitive from a brain-scrambling attack. He will not fail again . . . even if it means using his talent—or his body—to stop a bullet.
The metallic squeal in the distance indicated the train was arriving. A light in the tunnel swept across the concrete wall as it rounded a curve and the brakes continued to shriek. People began to crowd the yellow line, jostling for position, trying to determine where the doors would open so they could leap on and get a seat, a premium on the Metro. By now the train was visible, moving at a rate that didn’t seem normal. His experience with the Washington Metro was limited, but the tube in London would have been slowing by now. Awareness flowed through the air, and there was a shift in the commuters as they began to understand that something wasn’t right. Ian released Maya and shoved her behind him. People scattered as the train started screaming into the station at too high a speed. “Bugger all,” Ian said and reached out with his talent. Without warning, Maya was yanked from behind him and hurtled toward the moving train before he could halt her. He split his mind, one focusing on the subway cars and one on her. People were flowing around her, one or two pausing to try and help the woman jerking past them. Maya careered forward, out of their grasp. Sparks lit the tracks as the wheels lifted off the rails, the engineer no doubt applying the brakes in an effort to make the cars stop. Ian’s talent blazed through him, starting in his belly and moving up his body. It pulsed and crackled, filling him with power fueled by fury and desperation. He reached out his hand, the palm glowing red as his ability hissed out in an arc. Maya halted on the demarcation line that had just been vacated, her eyes wide and staring. Her body was stiff, and her head was bent backwards in an attempt to clear it from the path of the oncoming train. Beads of sweat broke out along Ian’s body as he found the train’s brakes on the wheels, applying pressure via his telekinesis. The conductor was already applying everything to the pedals, but they were going all the way to the floor. Instead, Ian focused everything on those pads, stomping down as if he were physically there. The train lurched and made a shrieking sound as it slowed. It slid by Maya, her hair blowing back from the rush of displaced air. For a panicked moment, Ian saw Maya falling onto the tracks in his mind’s eye. Inside, the people standing were thrown forward and then back as the brakes caught. The train shuddered and ground to a halt. Ian stumbled when he released his grasp on the train. Maya ran to him as he slumped, his shaking hands still glowing with red light. Energy drained from him but all that mattered was Maya, safe. The train doors opened, and frightened passengers disembarked rapidly. The tourists had wide eyes and open mouths while the regulars seemed more sanguine. They were used to the vagaries of the subway and to them it was nothing more than a bad stop. A very bad stop, to be sure, but just a random day on the Washington Metro. “Ian?” Maya asked, and he tasted the acrid, metallic scent of fear. It had been a long time since anyone had mattered. “What did you sense? Anything?” “I . . . it was so brief. Someone surfaced and before I could react to his mind—it felt like a he— I was being shoved forward. I reached out and tried to stop him, but I didn’t know how. It had to be a telekinetic, right?” By her expression he didn’t think she expected an answer. “It was only a flash, and then it was gone. Why, Ian? What did he want?” The oath on Ian’s lips was savage. “I don’t know who it was, but they won’t get away with this. Blast. Yin was right. You’re in danger.”
The Universe Chronicles Book 2
Since the day Jiana Falco was forced to join the paranormal agency Night Stars, she’s been planning her escape. She uses her bodyguard’s split-second of distraction to vanish into the shadows, and burns the last bridge by saving Quillan Hardis.
But now, locked in Quillan’s muscular arms, pinned by his calculating amber gaze, his invisibility talent shielding them both, she’s in even deeper trouble. If that’s possible.
Quillan didn’t get to Universe Corps’ highest echelons by being a fool. The rare shadow manipulator in his grip is too easy a prize to be anything but a setup. A pretty lure he should send back to Night Stars. Instead, he holds on—and in changing her fate, he seals his own.
Under a secret order to unlock her untapped power—by any means necessary—Quillan takes Jiana on the run with only a precog’s vague direction, and a spark of desire that blooms into something warm and genuine. But her fear of being clawed back into Night Stars’ control could drive Jiana so deep into the shadows nothing will get her out. Not even the light of Quillan’s love.
But her fear of Night Stars could drives Jiana so deep into the shadows nothing can lead her out. Not even the light of Quillan’s love.
The shadows were thicker now as the day progressed. It had been a nice walk, but not a long one. She wished it had been longer. There was something erotic about walking with Quillan in the woods, with the hushed promise of soft leaves and moss under your feet . . . and body if you chose to lay down. There were people here but she could imagine a copse of trees on one of the private islands, where she could indulge her fantasy that stirred to life as they walked. They would make love on the forest floor, Quillan’s wild dark looks part of the landscape, his nude body part of the tableau. She would also be naked, wanting nothing more than this man, and this time. She focused on the alligator, wondering how silly it would be to take their own selfie with the monster in the background, as a memorial of this crazy adventure. He was half in and half out of the water, about twenty feet from the people. There was nothing between them and him except distance and the wary respect humans gave to large predators who could take them down in single combat. She noticed something and stepped closer. The shadow moved. Spots danced in front of her and Jiana blinked, then considered the space again. No question that the tree shadows shimmered and changed. The halos were thick around everything, much the same as she imagined that Maya saw auras. Quillan must have noticed her preoccupation and tugged on her hand but she resisted. Her head throbbed and burned like a flame lit inside her skull. Yet she focused, adrenaline rushing through her veins and sharpening her sight, despite the halos and the pain. “Jiana?” he persisted. The tourists continued to snap selfies, unaware of anything going on. The spots continued and she kept blinking, trying to get her vision to clear. She could still see but everything was hazy and a bit out of focus. Her head ached like a band was drawn across her forehead, but she didn’t feel like a headache was coming on. It was when Quillan was regarding the water and she was seeing their shadow through her blurred vision, that it happened. The alligator, who until that moment had seemed to be happy to take selfies, lurched forward onto the dry ground, his long body emerging. The closest people shrieked and scattered. His big head swung around from side to side. Then he focused on them and charged. The volunteers shouted at the people to get out of the way. The tourists fled, screams audible around them. The alligator headed straight toward Jiana and Quillan as though he had been prodded to do so, his jaws snapping. She still was hand in hand with Quillan. The alligator was closing way too fast. Something broke inside her and her vision cleared without warning, the spots and halos vanishing. Jiana picked out the nearest shadow, one from a tall oak, its dappled leaves casting intermittent shadows on the ground. Its trunk was large and solid, showing an old growth tree despite the shallow waters of this region. She tightened her grip on Quillan, who was turning away, shifting and bracing his body to fight the monster. Without even a tug to signal her intentions, Jiana took two steps, and into shadow, Quillan next to her. The tableau shone and the halos once again blazed around everything. The moment she stepped into the shadow it transformed, becoming a sort of sideslip spirit world where she could move in the dark as easily as she moved in the light. Instead of the shadows against the light there was light against the shadows, the brightness of the outer world reflecting against the water. The confused alligator looked around, trying to figure out where his meal had gone. She took in all of that in the split second it took for Quillan to follow her and then she was moving again, using one of the other shadows to move across to another tree, further this time. There was no sound in this shadow world and although it seemed that Quillan was trying to speak, she detected nothing. No birds chirped. No leaves crunched underneath. She couldn’t even hear them breathing. Just like a negative, it all seemed flat and unreal. There was no resistance as Quillan followed her, seeming to understand that she would lead them to safety. Not taking any chances, she moved them through one more tree, until they were in the forest some distance away from the threat. Then she released her hold on the shadows. They stumbled out of the darkness halfway across the Blue Hole, hundreds of feet from the alligator. The beast and the volunteers who had stayed behind to wrangle him back into the water were inspecting the area where Jiana and Quillan had been. “Merde,” he exclaimed, blowing out a breath. “What was that?” Her heart was pounding so hard Jiana didn’t know if she’d be able to speak. While she was lightheaded, she didn’t feel like she was going to pass out. She felt . . . liberated by the power that must have been lurking inside her. She’d known you could hide in the shadows, and move in the shadows, but use them to teleport from one spot to another? She’d never heard of such a thing. “I don’t know,” she said, letting out her own shaky breath. “We were in danger and I acted on instinct. The trees intersect and I, well, I moved in their shadows from one place to another.” The shouts increased from beyond them as people gawped in confusion. She could imagine what they were feeling. Jiana and Quillan had vanished in front of them. The alligator seemed to be focusing on where they now lurked. Quillan pursed his lips. “Is it still in you? Can you get us to the car without being seen? I think I know why you are so interesting to Night Stars and Whisper now.” She used the shadows to get them to the edge of the dirt parking lot. Once there, they sprinted for the car and made their way back onto the road heading for the motel. “We have to keep going. While it’s unlikely this will be reported as anything more than an alligator attack, in case someone mentions the couple who vanished we’ve got to get out of here. I have agents that check for anomalies all the time and Night Stars will be no different. If this wasn’t arranged by them,” he said. “What . . . what did I just do?” Jiana asked. It had been good, and natural, to move through the shadows like that. Once she had done it she couldn’t imagine how she didn’t always know how to do it. Something hidden had broken loose inside her. It may have been born out of fear and desperation, but whatever the reason, it was now unleashed. “That’s what I’m going to find out,” Quillan said, his voice grim. He was dialing as he drove, putting the phone on speakerphone. “Quillan.” Thomas’s voice was calm but there was a taut edge to it. “You called my private number. What news?” “Jiana just teleported through shadows,” Quillan said, glancing at Jiana as he relayed the events of the past hour. “What was that?” “Ah,” Thomas said. Even though she had never met the man Jiana could almost picture him pacing. “I wondered if that was the reason you called.”
Claire can’t remember a time when writing wasn’t part of her life. Growing up, she used to write stories with her friends. As a teenager she started out reading fantasy and science fiction, but her diet quickly changed to romance and happily-ever-after’s. A native of Massachusetts and cold weather, she left all that behind to move to the sun and fun of California, but has always lived no more than twenty miles from the ocean.
In college she studied acting with a minor in creative writing. In hindsight she should have flipped course studies. Before she was published, she sold books on eBay and discovered some of her favorite authors by sampling the goods, which was the perfect solution. Claire has many book-irons in the fire, most notably her urban fantasy series, The Elementals’ Challenge series, but writes contemporary and shifter romances as well as.
While she’s not a movie mogul or actor, she does work in the film industry with her office firmly situated in the 90210 district of Hollywood. Prone to break out into song, she is quick on feet and just as quick with snappy dialogue. In addition to writing she does animal rescue, reads, and goes to movies. She loves to hear from fans, so feel free to drop her a line.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
Does rock and roll count? I spent several years hanging out on the Sunset Strip in the late eighties/early nineties and met all manner of rock stars. We primarily hung out at the Rainbow, back in the “day” and I met or saw so many people that it boggles the mind. So many stories…
What are some of your pet peeves?
Oh boy, pet peeves! As a writer, I have two pet peeve word confusions that drive me batty. The first one is when people use the word “mute” when meaning “moot.” They are two very different things. The other one is the lose/loose mix-up. I know that we writers can be pedants, and I do try not to be that “grammar police” person that everyone avoids at parties, but those two in particular make me wince.
My other pet peeve is time. I am chronically early to things, and usually have to force myself not to leave too soon and get places before I am supposed to be there. That works great for work, not so much for parties. But yea, time. If I’m supposed to be somewhere at nine, that means nine to me, not five after nine, or nine-fifteen, etcetera. I’m the person glaring at my watch while waiting in the restaurant for my companions to arrive. Part of it is a respect thing for me. In this busy world we all have a million competing priorities and if you are consistently late it says to me that you value your time over mine, and mine is not important. Right or wrong, that’s how I feel.
I actually stopped being friends with an old pal over her chronic lateness. This was years ago in my club going days. If she was supposed to come over at nine to go somewhere she would start getting ready at nine. She was a minimum hour late to anywhere we went and I just couldn’t handle it. I hate being late. I really really hate it.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for more than half my life, so it basically is home. However, I grew up around the Boston area. We lived in several different towns in my early life and then when I was in fourth grade settled in a town called Brookline, which borders Boston but is its own autonomous town.
Brookline is also on the subway lines, so it was easy to get around. From an early age, like nine, I was taking the “T” into Boston, exploring the city. It was part of our culture, and something I missed when I moved to Los Angeles. It is a great city, Boston, with its deep history and culture. It’s not perfect, of course (drat those winters) but it was a terrific place to grow up.
I often set stories in and around Boston. I may not live there anymore, but that doesn’t mean it is forgotten!
Who is your hero and why?
Anne McCaffrey. She was the person whose books grabbed me when I was twelve or thirteen and made my imagination take flight. I used to spin elaborate tales of being a dragonrider on Pern, and the stories that would ensue are ones I wish I’d written down. I created sequels in my head to Dragonflight and Dragonquest (I read them before The White Dragon or even Dragonsong came out). It was early fangirl stuff for me and I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to meet her several times in my teenage years going to Boston conventions and even book signings. One of my prized possessions is a poster from a book signing she did at the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, if I am not mistaken, when she released Dragondrums.
As I got older I realized what a true pioneer she was. She was a woman writing in the late sixties, when science fiction was predominately a man’s game, and she succeeded in ways that must have seemed impossible back then. Winning the Hugo award in 1968 for Weyr Search (which was the basis for Dragonflight) must have been amazing. I think she might have been the first woman to win any sort of Hugo – I would have to check on that. She melded fantasy, romance and science fiction into one amazing novel and she still stands as my heroine today for all of those reasons.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Oh lord. The responsibility. I can barely lead a team of ten, never mind billions.
The thing is with something as huge as being a world leader you think you know all the answers but every time you dig into a question the problem gets bigger. I like to think that I would be an environmentally conscious, socially aware and giving/forgiving leader who is kind to animals and wants to make the world a better place…but who knows. Anything can change when you are handed ultimate authority.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Honestly, my life is very busy. My day job is not a forty hour a week job so I spend a great deal of time on that. During the week I do about two hours of writing/editing in the morning and then on the weekends, which is when I tackle my social media, I wind up doing about six hours per day. Then there are the responsibilities of being on the board of my local RWA chapter. So when it comes to unwinding/relaxing, for that rare free time I usually wind up just zoning. Free time is all too rare.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
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