Five years ago they landed on Earth. Thirty-one aliens called Ruinos became fugitives from a lifetime of hardship, slavery, and cruelty. Now they were dispersed among the populace, unidentifiable because of their shape-shifting abilities. Forms they were locked into during the day, but not at night. Not while under the light of the moon.
Tiron had found sanctuary in Crescent City as "Roni". But circumstances and her own self-hatred beaten into her by her imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Arra had her earning her living as a common street prostitute. She despised herself and everything she did to survive, knowing she would be spending the rest of her life in misery.
Lt. Thom DeGrassi worked vice for the police department. He had busted prostitutes in the past, but eight years on the force had never prepared him for what he felt when he met Roni. Not only was it impossible, but it went against everything he believed.
To make matters worse, there was some sicko out there getting his jollies cutting up hookers. Now DeGrassi was faced with two impossible situations—keeping Roni off the streets while he sorted out his feelings for this woman, and trying to find the man responsible for the deaths of four other women.
Excerpt: (adult content)
The light switch wasn’t too difficult to find. He kept his eyes closed for several long moments after flipping the switch, then gradually opened them until he could see.
He was right. The bed was made. But over against the corner sat a narrow chair with a tufted seat. Black garments lay over it, tossed there randomly. DeGrassi walked over and picked one up. It was the black leather vest Roni had worn that day. In that instant, a sense of immense relief washed over him. In the next, he wondered if she had any more of those black-leather thingies.
The closet was within arm’s reach. He opened the bi-fold doors.
The thing was filled with Jekyll and Hyde. One side of the closet held a profusion of color. A rainbow of clothing, ranging from powder blue to brilliant red, pale yellow to green, made up the left side of the small space. Dresses, blouses, pants...DeGrassi held up the sleeve of one blouse in a leafy green. The tags were still on it. In fact, most of the clothing on that side was still tagged. He recognized the name of the department store. It was good quality without the exorbitant price.
The other side of the closet held what he thought of as her hooker wear. All of it was black—bustiers and more pants. Vests. Some sheer things that laced up. All kinds of kinky wear in satin, and fur, and velveteen, and leather. He saw rhinestones and black lace, not to mention a piece that looked like it was made of alligator.
This was crazy. She had bought all this pretty stuff but never worn it. Looking at a long, soft skirt in butter yellow, DeGrassi began to see a side of the woman he had suspected existed. Four years on the street had not made her callous. That part of Roni continued to exist inside her. The part that hid from the sun.
Yeah. DeGrassi smiled. That was exactly what she was like. She hid her true self from the sun, from the bright, hopeful, uplifting side of life. The clothes, this house. She was never here during the day. That’s when she went on the streets, to separate the person she wanted to be from the person she had no choice but to be. She never wore these clothes because they would reveal that part of herself that was too vulnerable.
But the dark clothes were like a disguise. Anything that would reveal her softer side was kept hidden. She hooked as far away from her home, her sanctuary, as she could so that that part of her life would never intrude upon it.
And the plants. DeGrassi glanced around the room. Sweet heavens, the place would rival any nursery.
His eyes settled once again on the made bed. A made bed. Visions of his own never-made bed came to him. He bet that if he went into the tiny kitchen, there wouldn’t be a single dirty dish in the sink. And the fridge would have food in it.
"Roni, dammit, where the hell are you?" he growled.
His eyes lit on the small bureau. On top was a hand mirror and a brush. A brush. Grabbing the brush, he examined the strands of dark hair caught in between the bristles. Unconsciously, he held the brush to his nose and inhaled.
There. It was there. The sweet scent of maple syrup.
And then it hit him—what his mind had been trying to tell him all this time. The body. The victim. There had been no scent of her when he’d viewed the remains. None. Yet he knew that he had been able to detect her scent even when she had sat in that chair next to his desk, and that was...what? Two, three feet away from where he’d sat?
He took another whiff of the brush. Her smell still clung to the fine strands, which meant he should have smelled her when he’d lifted the tarp. But the smell had not been there. The victim wasn’t Roni. He would swear to it. The DNA on the hair follicles would prove it wasn’t her. Going into the bathroom, he grabbed a hand towel from the bar to wrap the brush in and left it on top of the dresser.
So where on Earth was she?
Maybe she went to spend the night with a friend.
He started. A boyfriend? No, asshole. One of her girlfriends. Maybe one of those two who worked with her.
But what if it was a boyfriend?
DeGrassi caught himself grinding his teeth at the thought. What kind of man would put up with a woman who had been selling her body all day? He refused to listen to the little voice inside his head—the one that kept prodding him, asking why should he care.
Without his realizing it, his eyes drifted back to the black garments lying on the chair. Taking a mental step back, he slid on his police persona and scoured the room. There was absolutely nothing in the place that even indicated she had a significant other. There were no personal photos, no pictures except for the framed paintings and posters of trees and forest landscapes hanging on the walls. No mementoes. No cutesy stuffed animals. Nothing.
In fact, the place seemed unusually barren of personal effects.
"RONI!" he suddenly bellowed. Pivoting on his heel, DeGrassi strode out into the living room and barreled into the kitchen. Just as he had suspected, the sink was gleaming white. There weren’t even any dishes drying on the counter top. He jerked open the refrigerator door to see all sorts of vegetables and salad stuff sitting on the shelves. A half bottle of orange juice was the only drinkable thing he could see. Angrily, he closed the fridge and walked back into the living room.
After another quick glance around, he re-entered the bedroom, grabbed the wrapped brush, and exited the cottage the same way he had come in, through the window. However, he pulled down the sash until it was nearly closed. She might have left it up for a reason, but he would feel better knowing it wasn’t so blatantly open and inviting.
Roni wasn’t here, but the voice still screaming inside his head told him the Cutter’s latest victim wasn’t her. The brush would provide the evidence needed to prove it. He would take it over to the lab tonight, and later today they would run their tests on it.
Giving the house one last look, DeGrassi pulled the car out of the driveway and headed downtown. Soon, he promised himself. He would find out where she was, and soon. Or else he would come back and sit down on that big comfy couch and wait for her if he had to. He didn’t care how long it took.
Strangely, the idea seemed very appealing.
Runner’s Moon: Tiron
(Book 2 of the "Runner’s Moon" series.)
An erotic sci-fi romance novel
by Linda Mooney
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press Torrid
Genre: sci-fi erotic romance
Heat rating: sensuous/explicit
Buy Link: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/torrid/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=248
On Fictionwise: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook55858.htm
Readers' Choice #1 Torrid Bestseller Of The Month