Please welcome Angela Castle author of Healing Fire.
Healing Fire: Book Three in the Kingdom of Kell Series
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 5
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Melor, an elite warrior of the planet Kell, has come to Earth and the city of L.A to find a Protected to call his own, but all the women reject his attempts to court them. Dejected, he decides to return to Kell, but an earthquake sends Melor through the portal and right into the path of an oncoming car.
Summer Rose, a widow, lives near the Humboldt Redwood Forest of California with her daughter, Blossom. While driving home late one night, she hits someone with her car.
A powerful attraction pulls them together, but when he tells her he is from another planet, Summer is convinced Melor is crazy. Melor is determined to heal the pain of Summer’s body and heart, and prove to the stubborn woman that he is not crazy.
Rejected again, Melor clenched his fist as he watched his friend kneel down and present the protector's bracelet to the woman they both had been courting the past four days.
Chosen by Jane, with the aid of the Ruby of Worth, it would glow every time a woman worthy to live in Kell came into the dating agency.
The beautiful ebony-skinned woman had now chosen the youthful warrior, Kina. Melor turned away, marching quickly through the narrow halls. He had obviously wasted his time.
In the city of Los Angeles, he met many beautiful earth women, of different sizes and personalities, the most desirable ones, soft tall with attractive curves to drive any sane Kell man mad with desire. His smiles and words of flattery; nothing but wasted breath for all eight women had chosen other Kell men, over him.
Was he too gruff or tall for the smaller human woman? The other Kell men had been a few inches shorter. They had also cut their hair to attract a female, while he refused to change anything other than his clothing. Was he really so different and undesirable as a protector?
He left the embracing couple, making his way to the adjoining comfortable room set up for Kell men. The larger sized room held a plain wooden table, a few chairs, some bookcases and a row of lockers. One to hold their weapons and another with larger sized human clothes so the Kell men could make themselves appear more human before they greeted the human women.
He yanked open the cabinet which held his blades and clothing. He wanted to get back to the familiarity of his home; to ride his stag again and train with the other men. He needed to work out his angry disappointment before his rage got the better of him.
A soft hand touched his arm. He spun around to stare straight at Lady Jane, wife or protected of his Kell commander Drystan.
Concern shadowed her lovely blue gaze. He had been with the warrior party the day they found her. Jane had defied death after falling though a portal, which connected their worlds. Every warrior had desired her. She was the first female they had seen since the brutal murder of their own women and children by the Drac. But the Commander's fierce possessiveness over the earth woman made them all keep a safe distance.
A pang of envy mixed with his rage. His hopes and expectations of finding one woman seemed to crumble at his feet. He longed to find a woman who looked at him the same way the other women looked at their Kell men. Every rejection left him feeling bitter and hollow inside.
"Forgive me, Lady Jane." He stepped back to give her a respectful bow. "I wish to return to Kell. There is nothing for me here."
"Don't lose heart, Melor. Just because you have not found your protected today, does not mean you won't. These things take time."
"Do you know why? … Have any of the ladies told you why I am not worthy?" He needed to know, to understand.
"I am sorry, Melor. One of them did mention you tended to scowl a lot, but you are far from unworthy. You are brave and handsome. I just know there is a lady out there for you. You should not let a few rejections make you give up. I know you would never give up in a battle." She raised a challenging eyebrow.
Melor shook his head. "A battle and the blade is all I know. This battle of the heart is a very different matter. Not everyone is destined to find someone. My place is on Kell, to protect and guard the people, including the new women."
Jane studied him for along moment. "I think you are wrong. I strongly believe there is someone for everyone. You need to believe it too."
The conviction of her words did nothing to relieve the lonely ache in his heart. But he had made his choice.
"I have been a warrior for too long; have witnessed and been the cause of too much death. Women from this world are not for me. I thank you for your concern and for your efforts, but I must insist on returning to Kell."
Her chest heaved in a soft sigh. "Very well if that is what you want. There is another lady who's just come into the office, maybe…"
"No," he snapped with a little more force than he had intended. He immediately regretted his burst of anger. Jane had worked tirelessly to help the men of Kell; to find them brides from among her people. Women who could accept the fact they were from another world. Women of great value and worth.
"Forgive me. I would appreciate it if a portal back to Kell could be opened."
"I shall go fetch the crystal and tell Drystan you are leaving." She turned away.
Melor watched her walk out of the door. He ripped off the t-shirt, replacing the coarse fabric with the softer Kell shirt; put on his belt and attached the blade. His crystal dagger, he slipped into his boot.
From his pocket, he pulled out the golden promise bracelet; the same one his father had given his mother. The gems gleamed even in the dull light of the artificially lit room. He shook his head before shoving the bracelet back into his pocket. Perhaps he would gift it to one of the younger warriors. His life and duty was to protect the Kingdom of Kell. He would continue to do so until the end of his days.
Jane returned and close behind her was his commander, head of the King's warriors. They had fought many battles side by side and Melor was proud to see his commander so content with his protected lady. Cupped in his large arms, a little infant girl wiggled and fussed. The large man handed the babe to her mother.
They named the first human-Kell child, Joy. He still remembered the week-long celebration; much Kell wine had been drunk by all.
Kina walked in from the other room, tightly holding his new wife's hand.
"Lady Jane, I wish to take my protected Lady Maria to Kell."
"This is so exciting. I can hardly believe this is real, that I'd ever find someone as wonderful as Kina," the dark-haired beauty exclaimed, smiling up at her new protector.
Melor stiffened and gave a curt bow to the couple. "Congratulations. May the Moon Goddess bless your union."
Drystan stared at him. "Jane tells me you wish to leave too, Melor."
"Yes, Commander. I think it best."
"Not everyone finds their match first try, my friend. I hope you will come back and try again."
Melor held his tongue not wishing to have another conversation as to his reasons in wanting to return to Kell.
Drystan nodded. "Very well."
Thankfully, his commander did not say anything else, but must have seen the unspoken words in the other man's eyes. No doubt the commander would speak when it was time to return to Kell.
"Oh, isn't she the cutest little thing you ever saw?" Maria broke away from Kina to coo over the infant. Her round chubby face and wide, dark blue eyes made her the center of attention wherever Jane and Drystan took their daughter.
Jane's smiled with loving pride.
Another pang of envy hit him knowing he would never know the feeling of holding his own child. It did not matter anymore.
"If you please commander, a portal." He did not wish to sound insistent, but being in the room with the happy couples made his stomach knot.
Drystan pulled out a long slim shiny black box from his back pocket. Opening it, he saw several gleaming blue gems. He picked one out, handing it Melor.
"Proceed, and the portal will close after you. See the Palace courtyard in your mind and will it to open; and it shall."
Melor took the gem, smooth and cool in his palm, and did as Drystan instructed. In his mind, he saw the wide expanse of calming grey stone of the floor, the tall walls of the palace imbued with colorful crystals. Before them a blue swirling mist began to grow rapidly until it was large enough to accommodate his size.
Kina retrieved Maria, scooping her up into his arms. She gazed in awe at the amazing display of gently swirling blue mist.
"It is a new custom to carry our protected through the portal." Kina grinned at Maria, carrying her forward, vanishing into the portal. Melor made to follow, but the infant's sudden screams jolted him, and he turned to look at her.
Jane rocked her child trying to calm her, just as the ground began to shake under their feet.
"Earthquake! Get under the door frame!" Jane yelled.
Drystan grabbed hold of Jane and the baby, pushing them under the door frame and holding on to the edge.
Melor lurched forward, unstable on the shaking ground. He braced his feet apart to steady himself. From the corner of his eye, he saw the normally placid swirling portal begin to spark. The swirl turned into a fast churning vortex. Bright blue and white lightning bolts shot out in haphazard directions. The lightning struck objects at random, exploding chairs into splinters, and shredding the books on the shelves.
Melor ducked one lightning bolt as it whizzed by his ear narrowly missing his head and hitting the weapons locker behind him, blowing it into a million pieces. He dived and rolled to avoid a flying dagger. He jumped to his feet, right on the edge of the violent portal. His arms cart-wheeled as the ground continued to shake, but he was too far off balance; he tumbled backwards into the darkness.