I was delighted when I learned I’d been granted an interview with Kyra and Cale—the staring characters from Kiersten Fay’s paranormal romance book, The Demon’s Retribution—that is until I discovered I would need to board a shuttle and travel millions of miles through treacherous regions of space in order to meet them face to face. But after a screaming match with my boss, and maybe a bit of biting and scratching, I pulled up my boot straps and stepped onto (was forced onto) the company transport shuttle.
The craft was in the air before I even reached my seat, which is quite a feat considering the incredibly, claustrophobically, small interior of the three time refurbished (POS) junkyard-refugee acting as my only protection from the harsh realities of space.
Luckily, we managed to cross the vast distance free of havoc, and I boarded Marada, the ship that is home to many different races from all over the universe.
To my surprise, I was greeted by the captain himself, Sebastian. I tried not to swoon, but suspect I failed miserably because he smirked at me as he introduced himself, and then requested I follow him to where Cale and Kyra waited.
I did, all the while taking in his magnificent physique. I quickly determined him to be the most handsome creature I’d ever had the pleasure to look upon. A conclusion that only lasted until Cale came into view a few moments later, perched at a small table with his hand wrapped around an open bottle.
At seeing his striking blue eyes, aimlessly spiked blond hair that almost masked his demon horns, and sinfully sexy smile, butterflies splashed down into my stomach. I’d heard he was handsome, but the word was grossly inadequate.
I must have been staring (Gods know what my face looked like) because someone cleared their throat, followed by the snapping of fingers. That’s when Sebastian introduced Kyra, sitting directly next to Cale. Had she been there the whole time? I took in the rest of my surroundings, realizing I stood in what looked like a tavern of sorts.
“Uh, hello,” I said, trying to regain my composure. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me.”
Kyra nodded politely, but I sensed her irritation under the surface. She covered it well. I made a point to meet her eyes and gave a reassuring smile before I glanced back at Cale, whose expression was flooded with smug amusement. I could feel my cheeks grow warm, but ignored it.
“I’ll leave you to it,” Sebastian announced, seeming distracted by a petite blonde planted on a stool in the corner of the room. She smiled brightly at me and waved, compelling me to return the gesture. The woman was surrounded by an entourage of demons and few others whose species I couldn’t place.
“Sit, lass. Don’t be shy,” Cale muttered in a too appealing voice as he pushed out a chair with his boot and took a swig of his drink. “Seems a waste to come all this way merely for sightseeing.”
I produced a nervous laugh and took the offered seat, reminding myself that I was here to do a job and then get out. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me,” I started.
“You said that already,” Cale replied.
“Oh, right. Well, let’s get started shall we?”
Cale raised his brow and shot Kyra an irritated look, which I knew was caused by the shake in my voice, announcing my blatant inexperience. She responded by jabbing him in his side before commenting, “We’re happy to answer any question you may have.”
“Almost any,” Cale amended.
“Great,” I said. “My first question is for Cale.”
Cale laid his hand out flat, palm up. I wasn’t sure if the gesture was giving me permission to proceed or more of a bring-it-on.
“You recently traveled to Earth, I’m told. What did you think of the planet?”
“Could be nice, if there weren’t so many humans running around. It’s not hard to get a grasp of the place. The ignorant fools willingly provide all the information one could need. Which is especially odd when you discover how easily frightened they are. I’m surprised they’ve lasted this long without being invaded.” He paused. “But the females were hot.”
“Ugh,” Kyra groaned. “Cale, I’m sitting right here.”
He offered her a playful, sexy grin. “Nowhere near your league, love.”
Kyra’s lips thinned, but she seemed mollified by that. Hell, I would have been mollified by that playful grin. “Kyra,” I interjected, facing her. “You’ve lived on Earth for quite a while, isn’t that right?”
“Yes. About four centuries.”
My eyes widened, but I quickly schooled my expression. I myself was nearing twenty-six, but I would make it to four-hundred soon enough, and, according to the elders of my people, it would feel like the blink of an eye. “And what is your opinion of the planet?” I continued.
Kyra became thoughtful. “Well, the humans have come a long way, and I’m grateful to have been able to call Earth my home all these years, but I fear their pettiness and greed threaten to destroy them. They could use a little intervention from a wiser, more benevolent race. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. I’m worried for their future, but I must think of my people now.”
“Yes. The Faieara back on Evlon.”
I’d heard stories of Evlon. An entire planet overtaken by the warmongering Kayadon. Reportedly more intelligent than even the dragons, the Kayadon were infamously feared in every corner of the universe.
Hoping to keep this interview upbeat, I changed the subject. “So tell me, you two. When you first met, was it love at first sight?”
They both laughed.
Cale spoke first. “I’d say it was lust at first sight.”
“For you, maybe,” Kyra argued.
“Aw, are you saying you loved me from the start?” Cale teased.
“If by love you mean shooting you three times after you broke into my apartment while I was inebriated, then yes.”
“So yes, then.” Cale leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“No.” She stubbornly mimicked his posture.
Merriment danced over Cale’s features. “I heard yes.”
Kyra rolled her eyes. “You would.”
I broke in to what could potentially become a circular argument. “Hm. I think I’ll skip that question for now. Kyra, I hear you have some pretty impressive powers. Can you tell me about them?”
Kyra visibly shrank, growing uncomfortable. “I don’t know about impressive. Maybe if I could control them as easily as my sister Anya can—”
“Bollocks. Don’t listen to her,” Cale interrupted. “Her gift is the shit.”
“Cale,” Kyra warned before addressing me in a softer tone. “He’s been working with me, helping me to master my gift, but I can’t train on the ship for fear of destroying us all.”
A hard lump rose to the center of my throat as the gravity of her words set in. I decided to move on. “Cale, I’ve been reading about what you demons call the Edge. Can you describe what it’s like?”
Cale leaned forward as he finished off his drink. “It’s not something that can be put into words with any sort of accuracy,” he replied. “In a way, it’s like Kyra’s gift. You don’t want to invoke it if you haven’t mastered it. Conversely, in order to master the Edge, you have to clock a lot of time. However, once you’ve established a measure of control, the Edge can be invaluable in battle.”
“And have you clocked a lot of time on the Edge?” I asked.
“More than most.”
“Why is that?”
Cale narrowed his eyes dangerously, and a chill crawled up my spine.
“Next question,” he replied.
Okaay. “What do you do to unwind and relax?”
A corner of Cale’s mouth curled up, and his expression transformed into one of impish mischief.
Kyra broke in. “Cale, do not answer that.”
He turned to her. “You want to answer it for me?”
Kyra snorted. “Next question.”
I had to smile. “Okay, I’d like to direct my next question to both of you. What are you most afraid of?”
Kyra’s face fell, and she let out a sigh. “Losing my family, my home. Failing my people.”
Cale reached out and took Kyra’s hand. Their eyes locked, and something unspoken seemed to pass between them. I envied her in that moment. “And you, Cale?”
Without looking at me, Cale muttered, “Losing her.”
The lump of fear in my throat that had nearly dissipated, reemerged for an entirely new reason, and jealousy spiked through me. Why couldn’t I find a guy like that?
A warm hand met my shoulder, and I looked up. Sebastian had returned.
“We are about to enter a dangerous section of space,” he announced. “I’m afraid you’ll have to wrap this up if you intend to get home safely.”
“Alright. Thank you. I think I have enough.” I stood and bid them all farewell, taking one last look at Cale and Kyra’s hands, still locked together. It made me smile all the way back to my shuttle.
Love could be found in the strangest of places. There was hope for me yet.