Vareen & Mica (The Alliance Book 2), page 1
Vareen & Mica
Copyright and Disclaimer
Copyright pending, Stormy McKnight
Published by Stormy McKnight
Vareen & Mica is the second book in The Alliance series. I would advise the books be read in order, to enhance the experience. However, I do try to write them as stand-alone as possible.
Vareen & Mica is a work of fiction and the characters, events, and dialogue found within the story are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, either living or deceased, is completely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or shared in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to digital copying, file sharing, audio recording, email and printing without the permission in writing from the author.
Table of Contents
Copyright and Disclaimer
Table of Contents
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About the Author
Vareen Nas stood uncertainly in the doorway to the classroom. When she noticed that almost all of the seats were already taken, she shook her head. History of Advanced Cultures 300 was a core subject you had to pass if you wanted to get into the Cestori Space Program. After this semester, only one-fourth of the students would continue in this field. The rest would have to make changes to their career paths and study something else.
“I don’t know why she even bothers to attend. It’s not like a teacher would dare fail her.” Vareen overheard a few of her classmates speaking to each other. “Her mother is Aicen Edal.”
Vareen looked toward where the platinum-haired Calinae Edal stood with another student. A tall, dark-haired male that stood head and shoulders above everyone else. Vathral Dax, another child of prominence. His mother wasn’t the leader of the Council of Three, but Tonn Dax sat on the council with Taspa Lor and Aicen Edal.
“Look at her with Vathral Dax.” The girls continued in their gossip, unaware or uncaring that she was listening in. “As if getting handed a degree from the Academy isn’t enough, she has to steal the best male in our class as well.”
Vareen wasn’t a friend of either Calinae Edal or Vathral Dax. They were far above her in social standing. She did, however, have a pet peeve about idle gossip. It had started in primary school when gossips had spread a vicious rumor about her. Since her parents had died when she was young, she had been a ward of the state and easy pickings for unkind children. Living off the charity of others, belonging to no family line. Listening to these girls talk brought up all Vareen’s resentment.
Since she was taller than average, at five-foot-eight she towered over most of her classmates. It was with relish that she used that height to intimidate the foolish gossipers. Moving closer until she got their attention she spoke clearly.
“What logic is there in your thinking?” Vareen demanded and both girls started at being caught gossiping. “You don’t know the details of another person's life. Worry about passing this class, not hating someone you don’t even know.”
Vareen kept walking down the aisle to find a seat. She should have kept her mouth shut because now she was the target for the girl’s hateful words.
“What does she know. I hear she’s an orphan, in the care of the state.” The female talking put enough scandal into her voice to impress her friend.
Vareen stopped listening. Those girls were going to say what they wanted. It wasn’t logical of her to have said anything. She’d lost count of how many times over the years her primary teachers had punished her for emotional responses. She found a seat and determined to keep to herself once and for all.
“You didn’t have to do that you know.” A soft voice spoke next to her and Vareen looked up. “I’m Cali, this is Vathral. Do you mind if we sit here?” Without waiting for an answer the petite blonde sat down. “I do appreciate that you tried, but Vathral and I have gotten used to that kind of talk.”
Vareen noticed that Cali had a way of waving her hands when she spoke. They were flying about and almost knocked her books off her lap a few times in her zeal.
“I’ve seen you around the campus before. Even though we haven’t had the same classes, I wonder why we haven’t talked before now?” She bit her lip in concentration then shrugged. “It doesn’t matter…is what that girl said true. Are you a ward of the state?”
“Yes,” Vareen answered sharply and didn’t offer any further details.
“Well, it’s not like it will make a difference here. We’re all at this level of study at the Academy because of merit. You’ve got to be good, or you wouldn’t have made it this far.”
Vareen took her eyes off the teacher who’d just entered to stare at Calinae Edal. Could she really be this nice? Her eyes were a liquid amber, framed by dark eyelashes. Her face was perfect, her figure was perfect, her hair was perfect. There wasn’t a single flaw that Vareen could see.
“Why get worked up now? I mean. Think how long it is until placement. We’ve got to make the cut for the next four years or find another career path. I’m taking advanced classes in diplomacy, trade, and finance along with the space courses. If anyone burns out, it’ll be me.” She laughed a full sound that echoed around the room.
Okay, Vareen had found a flaw. Calinae Edal liked to talk. A lot. Chancing a glance at Vathral Dax she noted that he had a blasé smile on his handsome face. He must be used to this kind of chatter from his friend.
“The teacher is about to start his lecture,” Vareen warned, hoping to get Cali’s rant to stop.
“That he is.” The small blonde whipped out the required reading material, along with a notebook and writing supplies. “Vathral and I are going to The Diner after class. You should come.”
The Diner was a hangout for Academy students. It was exclusive in that it served only upperclassmen and those of the social elite. Vareen didn’t have the money units or the genetic lineage to get into the establishment. Unsure what to say, she remained silent.
“I won’t take no for an answer.” Cali was listening to the teacher with one ear and chewing on the eraser of her pencil. Without warning, her hand shot up.
“Yes, Ms. Edal.” The professors of upper-class subjects could be temperamental and Vareen waited for him to jump onto Cali for interrupting the lecture.
“In the reading material you assigned before class started, it states that the people of Atheon are unable to be reached for diplomatic talks. However, in the notes you posted and all other historical references, nobody has
“You’ve read the entire book and posted notes already?” The teacher was obviously flabbergasted.
“It was assigned reading,” Cali argued, looking slightly embarrassed.
Vareen was quickly rethinking her earlier assessment of Cali. She had read all of the required material, twice, because she wanted to be prepared. She hadn’t expected anyone else to do the same.
“We’ll get to those discussions in good time Ms. Edal.” The teacher tried to rally his composure at getting caught unprepared. “Today’s posted lesson is a history of logic in Cestori. Don’t get ahead of yourself.”
“I’m sorry professor but isn’t this class History of Advanced Cultures. I already know the logic of Cestori—”
“Ms. Edal.” The professor interrupted and Cali drew short on her argument. “I’ll overlook this interruption one time, because of your…lineage. Do not interrupt me again.” The man then went droning on. It wasn’t anything they hadn’t heard a thousand times in primary school and in the underclasses to reach this point.
Cali looked deflated at not getting an answer to her question and Vareen took pity on her. “I read the material as well. I’m sure that the professor will get to your question eventually.”
“I try to get something out of my classes that don't revolve around logic,” Cali muttered and Vareen smiled at her dogged expression. This class might be interesting after all.
After what felt like a mind-numbing amount of time listening to the boring professor, the alarm finally chimed that class time was over. Vareen stood to gather her things and with dismay, she saw that Cali and Vathral were waiting for her.
“Ready?” Cali looked at her expectantly.
“I really should study.” Vareen tried to move around the bubbly blonde and make her escape.
“I didn’t catch your name,” Cali had her things stashed in record time and was standing in the aisle watching her.
“Vareen,” The blonde exclaimed. “I like that name. We’re going to be great friends, I can tell, so let me be frank with you. I don’t care about your lineage. I don’t care about my lineage. I care about people who are honest, open-minded and can make me laugh.”
Vareen noticed that Vathral Dax had positioned himself next to Cali in the aisle, forcing everyone to walk a wide berth around her.
“Shall we?” Cali didn’t let her argue just drew her along.
As they walked her trepidation grew. She wouldn’t be allowed in. Even if she got past the bouncer, she would have to eat dry noodles for a month to pay for one meal at The Diner.
Trying to think logically Vareen reasoned that it might be a good idea to try. The people she could meet in a place like The Diner would be invaluable. Against her better judgment, she decided to give it a shot. It would be a good study on keeping her emotions in check when she got turned away.
Since The Diner was right across from the main campus, they reached the doorway much faster than Vareen was ready for. Her palms were sweating; her nerves were frayed.
Cali and Vathral went up to the doors, ignoring the bouncer. Vareen went to follow and was stopped by a beefy hand.
Cali turned from where she stood at the door. “She is Vareen Nas.”
“Ms. Edal.” The bouncer was deferential to Cali. “I don’t have a Vareen Nas on the list.”
“Please add her Eldon,” Cali stated warmly. “She’s someone special to keep your eye on.”
“As you wish.” The bouncer moved back and Vareen followed Cali and Vathral into the interior.
“I’m not entirely ignorant and know that you are probably worried about the money units,” Cali whispered as they moved toward a sectioned area at the back of the large main room. “I’m ashamed to admit it, but we don’t pay in here. They never let us. Eldon will have told all of the staff by now that you’re special. You won’t get turned away, even if I’m not with you…and they’ll never make you pay. You can, of course, leave a generous tip, but anything you pay over that will end up back in your accounts. Don’t ask me how they do it. I haven’t figured it out yet, but they manage to return my payments every time.”
They reached a secluded table and Vareen saw three other women and a few males sitting around it.
“Everyone. This is Vareen Nas.” Cali pulled her forward and Vareen felt their eyes examining her. “Vareen, this is Nellia, Diandra, Conndra, Markus, Tobias, and Phineath.”
So began the most unlikely friendship in the history of the Academy. The seemingly logical, orphaned ward of the state became best friends with Calinae Edal. The daughter of the most powerful woman on Cestori.
Vareen vowed that day that she would do anything for her friends. She had no way of knowing the course her life would take honoring that promise.
“You can’t keep me here.” Vareen paced the small area allotted in the security holding cell. Since it was supposed to be a deterrent, not comfortable, the area was quite small.
“I’ve claimed you,” the hulking male said softly. “Judging by your resistance, this holding cell is a good idea.”
Vareen glared at the stubborn ox of a male and resumed her silence. She had only herself to blame. All of her troubles could be traced back to that day in class when she’d confronted the gossiping girls. If she’d just left well enough alone she wouldn’t have befriended Cali, used The Reliant to escape with her to the Buffer Zone, found a stasis pod floating in space, found additional stasis pods, and finally ended up over the shoulder of the brute holding her captive.
She had heard one of the others in the medical unit calling him Mica. He was a friend of Drake’s, who if she wasn’t mistaken, had wrangled his way into her best friend’s heart. How was Cali taking the events of the last few hours?
She didn’t know because Mica refused to release her.
“Why did you take me out of the medical unit? Drake arrived and everything would’ve been explained.”
“I claimed you as mine,” the dark-haired behemoth stated again as if this was obvious. “I don’t require Drake to explain. Reason dictates that our pods were located and we’re on another spacecraft.”
Vareen sat on the small bed built into one wall. “That’s true. We found Drake’s pod first. I used the strange metallic signature of his stasis pod to locate yours. You and the other three were caught in the orbit of a distant moon of Titus. If not for me, you’d still be floating in space. Maybe I should’ve left you there.” It wasn’t a very nice or logical thing to say but Vareen felt justified in saying it.
When the computer chimed alerting everyone that there was a message coming, Vareen held her breath.
“This is the captain.” That was Cali. She sounded a bit tense, but that was to be expected. It’s not every day that you find four hulking males in stasis pods and have them attack your guard when they wake up. Vareen hadn’t ever witnessed a sight like the three men flashing around the room. Mica had stayed with her, leaving Cali and Nellia in the medical unit. Not that Nellia had been awake. Upon seeing the men flashing past her, she’d collapsed out cold on the floor.
Listening to Cali talk Vareen would like to know what Drake had told her friend to keep her calm. She could use some of that information herself.
“There was an emergency in the medical unit, but it has been seen to and everything is under control. Please continue to follow your normal routine. Thank you. Clear.” Finished with relaying the information to the crew, the intercom went silent.
Keeping the details short and to the point would help when dealing with the rest of the crew. They would’ve seen or heard about the commotion and it was smart to keep them on task. As far as she knew, the only damage done to the ship was in the medical unit when Drake had torn through the walls.
“There you see.” Vareen shifted on the bed. “You can let me go and we can find the others.”
Vareen felt a small thrill at the idea of intimacy with the man scowling at her. The moment Cali had opened the stasis pod in the docking bay and she’d seen Mica inside, something strange had happened. It wasn’t simply the fact that he was exceptionally handsome, rugged, and oozed masculine appeal. It was as if she was magnetically drawn to him. If he was looking for a lover, she might be interested. It was the fact that he kept using words like claimed and mate that threw her off. She wasn’t looking for anything long term.
To hide her reaction Vareen snorted, “I don’t know who you’re talking about, and even if I did, I don’t prefer any of you as a mate. I just want answers.”
When his friends had woken and attacked the guards in the medical unit, Vareen didn’t feel fear. When Cali had drawn a weapon on him and threatened to shoot him she had been afraid, but only for his safety. That is what bugged her. Why be worried about his welfare? She didn’t even know him.
Now here she was, locked in a security cell with no idea what was going on outside this room. It wasn’t a feeling she was comfortable with.
“I propose a give and take. You ask me a question and I’ll answer. Then I get to ask you one. If the other person doesn’t answer, a concession will be awarded. Do we have a deal?” Mica’s big brown eyes assessed her from top to bottom. Vareen had caught him doing that a few times and the resulting thrill she experienced washed over her again.
That a virile male like Mica found her attractive was flattering. At her height, there were few men on Cestori that were taller than she was. Finding a male that she didn’t intimidate with either her size or intellect was hard. She had a feeling that Mica wasn’t daunted by her. At around six foot six, he towered over her. He was heavily muscled and had to weigh twice as much as her. His black hair was short, almost to the point of a shorn look. There were faint scars on his face. One along the left cheek, another across his forehead, and a smaller one on his chin. Nothing that detracted from his good looks, in her opinion the marks added to his appeal. Along with the scruff of beard he hadn’t shaved off, she realized the man was entirely too dangerous to her libido.
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