A Desert Breeze Publishing Free Read
For eighteen years, Nik has been a solitary man... focused on his career and his career alone after he lost his wife and son. Now, a chance meeting has given him something else, something more, someone to love again.
CJ Montgomery is young, naïve and moldable when she meets Colonel Nik Tanner... except he is the only person not trying to make her into something else.
Time and distance would eventually heal the rift that meddling, vindictive hands create, but their story is just as much in the past as in the future... A lifetime Ago
Saturday, February 21, 2043
Presidential Ballroom Edward J. Holbrook Center for Areth-Earth Alliance
Washington, Northern Hemisphere Capital City
Former United States of America
Soft music, laced with subtle string melodies, echoed through the expansive ballroom as military leaders, political figures and scientific pioneers mingled with Areth dignitaries and ambassadors. Subdued conversation hummed just below the surface of the music, blending with the tinkle of crystal and china.
Doctor CJ Montgomery stood at the top of the sweeping staircase that led to the ballroom floor, taking in the crowd as a giddy excitement danced up her spine. She tightened her hold on the arm of the gentleman walking beside her. He patted her hand affectionately.
"I take it you've never attended a soiree on this grand a scale, Miss Montgomery?"
"No," she said as she released a pent-up breath, then blinked and turned to look at Professor Abernathy. "No, Professor." Her voice was stronger this time.
He smiled behind his full, white beard and took a step forward. CJ walked with him, the flared hem of her silk skirt whistling around her ankles as they took the stairs. "You are the next generation of Genetics Engineering geniuses, Miss Montgomery. It's high time you rub elbows with the men and women that will lead our world into a future full of promise and advancements like none we have ever imagined."
They reached the bottom of the stairs, and Professor Abernathy led her directly to a small crowd of people gathered together in conversation. She immediately recognized Warrick, High Commander of the Areth fleet, and her heart jumped into her throat. He was dressed in a long robe of deep brown, five gold cubes on each shoulder the only indication of his rank within the Areth Chain of Command. He needed no insignia to set himself apart. There wasn't a person on Earth who didn't know Warrick by sight. She barely heard the exchange between Professor Abernathy and the Areth leader until the saying of her own name snapped her out of her daze.
"I consider Doctor Montgomery my prodigy, and predict her contribution to the study of Theoretical Genetics will be groundbreaking. She is a brilliant doctor."
Heat rose in her cheeks and she glanced away from the professor and Warrick… and found herself looking into the most intense brown eyes she had ever seen.
"Doctor Montgomery, allow me to introduce Colonel Tanner," said someone's voice on the edges of her perception. "Colonel Tanner is one of our honorees this evening."
Colonel Tanner towered over her, or so it seemed. CJ was five-foot-ten and had on heels and yet she still had to raise her chin to meet his gaze. He was at least six-foot-three, and the blue dress Earth Force uniform he wore accentuated his broad shoulders and a trim physique. His brown hair was cut close in standard military fashion, with the slightest hint of gray at the temples. That, with his rank, told her he had to be in his late thirties at least. Slight lines bracketed his thin, chiseled lips.
He extended his hand and CJ took it, his long fingers engulfing hers.
"Doctor?" he said, and his voice was like honey over gravel.
"Yes," she managed to say, her voice lost somewhere in her throat.