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Sunday Snippet: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett

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 About the Book

Phoenix AdventuresOn a Rogue Planet
Author:  Anna Hackett
Publisher:   Anna Hackett
Released:  November 14, 2014
Series:   The Phoenix Adventures #3
Genre:  Science Fiction Romance
Author contact links:   Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Website
Purchase links:  More Info

Snippet

Xander knew something was wrong with his systems. The first sign was that he couldn’t pull up the retinal display that would overlay tactical information on his vision. A small countdown at the bottom of his right eye’s vision told him the system was rebooting and would be back online shortly.

Second sign was that his enhanced senses were offline. Usually he could switch to thermal imaging or zoom his view. All he had now was his regular vision. Same for his auditory and olfactory senses.

The third sign was the pain. It was…unpleasant, but until his filters were back up and running he couldn’t block it.

Ten minutes and fifty-one seconds until reboot completion.

The woman’s scent tickled his nose. She smelled like starship fuel and coconut. For some strange reason he liked it.

She was soft under his hands, her small, compact body pressed against his. The heat of her, the strength of her, the smoothness of her skin—it all overwhelmed him. Then he frowned. Even without his enhanced senses, he detected her racing heartbeat. She was afraid.

He didn’t like that. He felt a bewildering and overwhelming need to soothe her fear, to protect her.

That was the final sign that he was not functioning correctly. He felt.

Xander gentled his grip on her fine-boned wrist and slowed his pace until he reached the end of the walkway. Another walkway lined the adjacent wall, spearing off into the darkness. There was a five-point-three meter gap between them.

He gripped the woman securely and leaped across the gap.

She dug her fingers his shoulders, turning her face into his bare chest. They landed safely and he was happy to hear the voices of their pursuers fading into the distance.

Eight minutes and thirty-three seconds until reboot completion.

Xander found a shadowed alcove and crouched in the darkness, setting the woman down. “Are you okay?”

She blinked up at him. Her face narrowed down to a pointed chin and ink black hair was cut sprite-short around her face in a choppy, uneven style. Her mouth was a little too wide for her face. Her eyes were a brilliant purple-blue. For some reason, he wanted to stare into them.

Xander frowned. He must have sustained some damage.

“I’m fine. What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Those purple eyes sparked. “You’re injured and need more time under the medscanner.”

Xander blinked. This woman…she was…berating him. On Centax, people were afraid of him. They followed his orders without question. No one reprimanded him.

No one except this spirited little pixie. The indignation on her face made him want to…smile? Shock reverberated through him. Normally, his emotions were dampened to the point where he felt nothing. Too many implants, too many filters. They helped make him the perfect cyborg, the perfect CenSec, the perfect protector of his planet.

Six minutes and three seconds until reboot completion.

“Hey—” she snapped her fingers in front of his face “—are you listening to me?”

He tilted his head, fascinated that she had no fear of him. “Yes.”

“What’s with the superhero tactics?”

“I’m…not fully functioning.”

“No shit. You were hurt.” Her hand slid up his mechanical arm.

Xander stared at the slim fingers resting on him. Receptors in the arm meant he could sense her touch, but it wasn’t as deep a sensation as on his real skin. He lifted her hand and placed it on his human arm.

She paused for a second, but kept her touch there.

Three minutes and eleven seconds until reboot completion.

“You like that?” she said quietly.

“Yes.”

Her fingers curled into his skin. Her calluses scraping against him.

She winced. “Sorry, my hands are rough—”

“They look strong to me. Competent.”

Her eyes were wide as she stared at him.

The reboot completed and all his systems flashed up. Online and functioning normally.

Xander blinked. “Malin?”

“Xander?” She let out a huge gush of air. “You’re back?”

“I…yes.”

“You were hurt. That giant merc shot you on Centax, and clawed you, and then our ship was shot at. It scrambled your…” she waved a hand at his head.

“I remember. I also remember you faced down that merc with more bravery than a team of CenSecs.”

She smiled. “Well, after you’d saved me, I felt compelled to return the favor.”

At her smile, he felt something unfamiliar deep inside. No one ever smiled at him. “My systems had gone offline. They’re back now.” Emotion rose up, made him want to cup her face in his hands. “I may have sustained some damage, however.”

Because even with his filters functioning, emotions were still running through him in a liquid rush. Dizzying sensations raced across his skin.

All centered on the small woman in front of him.

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